Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/161

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pursuing their prey in the American woods ere Asia and Europe had risen from their baptism under the sea.

And not zoological only, but may we not read, in this "comprehensive type," a geological prophecy also, that, in the far-off future, our continent shall again sink into the transforming waters, when His behest cometh, who maketh all things new?



THE science of the weather may be said to have sprung up within the last half century, and we must not therefore wonder that, until very recently, meteorological science has rather been concerned with the weather as it has been, than in prophesying what kind of weather may be expected. Indeed, this is almost the case at the present day; for, were it not for the telegraph, storm-signals would be of little avail. Much was gained when, from the conclusions drawn from a large number of observations, a storm could be telegraphed from any place as coming, instead of as happened. This stage of the science is perhaps as far as can be usually attained in the present day; in some future time, from the careful study of the laws, it may be possible to predict, with average certainty, the state of the weather from day to day, or even for several days to come. It remains to be seen how far this power has been attained; and it may not be uninteresting to notice, in passing, the very unstable ground upon which weather predictions were founded before meteorology included this second division.

Whether we take as type the old dame's faith in the gambols of her cat, the high flight of some birds and the low flight of others, the "camel" in the clouds, or the chirruping of grasshoppers, we have much the same arbitrary system, or, rather, want of system, although these signs may not be without some definite cause, more or less remotely connected with coming changes in the weather. In many country places it is common to hear it remarked that "the rain will soon clear up, for the birds are singing;" the coming change is perhaps already sensible to their more delicate organization. There is also the appearance of the clouds; and to this indication even the lamented Sir John Herschel attached somewhat of a reliance, in that "anvil-shaped clouds" portended a gale of wind. But, as a rule, the moon may be considered to hold the first place of influence upon weather predictions. Halos round the moon are the phenomena most commonly observed, and are readily explained by the laws of the reflection of light from the particles of aqueous vapor suspended in the atmosphere. When these halos are colored, we may infer the presence of watery particles in the higher regions of the atmosphere; when the