Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/230

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218
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

builds the ricks. Science has thus greatly reduced the actual cost of labor, and yet it has increased the wages of the laborer.

It was to the British Association, at Glasgow, in 1841, that Baron Liebig first communicated his work "On the Application of Chemistry to Vegetable Physiology," while we have also from time to time received accounts of the persevering and important experiments which Mr. Lawes, with the assistance of Dr. Gilbert, has now carried on for more than forty years at Rothamsted, and which have given so great an impulse to agriculture by directing attention to the principles of cropping, and by leading to the more philosophical application of manures.

I feel that, in quitting Section F so soon, I owe an apology to our fellow-workers in that branch of science, but I doubt not that my shortcomings will be more than made up for by the address of their excellent President, Mr. Grant-Duff, whose appointment to the governorship of Madras, while occasioning so sad a loss to his friends, will unquestionably prove a great advantage to India, and materially conduce to the progress of science in that country.

Moreover, several other subjects of much importance, which might have been referred to in connection with these latter sections, I have already dealt with under their more purely scientific aspect.

Indeed, one very marked feature in modern discovery is the manner in which distinct branches of science have thrown, and are throwing, light on one another. Thus the study of geographical distribution of living beings, to the knowledge of which our late general secretary, Mr. Sclater, has so greatly contributed, has done much to illustrate ancient geography. The existence of high northern forms in the Pyrenees and Alps points to the existence of a period of cold when Arctic species occupied the whole of habitable Europe. Wallace's line—as it has been justly named after that distinguished naturalist—points to the very ancient separation between the Malayan and Australian regions; and the study of corals has thown light upon the nature and significance of atolls and barrier-reefs.

In studying the antiquity of man, the archæologist has to invoke the aid of the chemist, the geologist, the physicist, and the mathematician. The recent progress in astronomy is greatly due to physics and chemistry. In geology the composition of rocks is a question of chemistry; the determination of the boundaries of the different formations falls within the limits of geography; while paleontology is the biology of the past.

 

And now I must conclude. I fear I ought to apologize to you for keeping you so long, but still more strongly do I wish to express my regret that there are almost innumerable researches of great interest and importance which fall within the last fifty years (many even among those with which our Association has been connected) to which I have