Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/570

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

A NOVEL PHENOMENON.

Messrs. Editors;

While several students of the University of Nebraska were geologizing in an outcrop of the Dakota group, situated in the western portion of Lancaster County, Nebraska, about thirteen miles west of Lincoln, they brought to light a curious freak of Nature. This was a leaf-impression, or rather the fragment of an impression, that preserved the green color which it wore several million years ago at the commencement of the Cretaceous period in geological time.

The deposit in which the leaf was found is a maroon-tinted sandstone, quite soft when first quarried, but solidifying rapidly after exposure to the atmosphere. The total thickness of the layers which outcrop at this point is about forty feet. The true dip is too slight to be accurately measured.

None of the layers of sandstone—and this is the sole kind of rock found in the Dakota group of Lancaster County—are of the peculiar reddish shade except that which contains the leaves. This layer averages nine inches in thickness, and is situated near the upper surface of the group.

The leaf-impressions obtained were many of them very beautiful and complete, representing various species of Juglans, Laurea, Liquidambar, Salix, and Quereus, with many others. They were very numerous, as many as two thousand specimens being obtained in a few hours.

The unique green leaf-fragment was too small to allow of successfully determining its genus or species. It is probably Laurea, however, since it was found in a mass containing impressions of Laurea almost exclusively.

C. G. McMillan.
1503 H Street, Lincoln, Nebraska,

October 23, 1884.
 


EDITOR'S TABLE.

 

"MIND AS A SOCIAL FACTOR."

THIS is the title of an article contributed by Mr. Lester F. Ward to the quarterly periodical "Mind." Mr. Ward, as is well known, is the author of "Dynamic Sociology," which contains an elaborate attack, with all the weapons of science and philosophy, upon the doctrine of laissez faire, as it is termed, or the policy of meddling less, and leaving things social more to their own natural courses. One of the chief arguments of the hook is reproduced in this paper, and, as the subject is important, we propose briefly to examine it, and offer some objections to the view taken.

Mr. Ward argues that the laissez-faire school of thinkers fail to recognize the true office of intelligence in controlling social activities and accomplishing social ends. He begins by stating that they make their constant appeal to Nature, to the laws of Nature, and the method of Nature, as all-sufficient for working out social good, BO that man's agency in the matter, where not mischievous, is superfluous. He then proceeds to show that this view leaves out of account the most momentous fact in the history of this world, namely, the advent of mind as a controlling agency in terrestrial affairs. He does not deny that there is, or has been, a method of Nature, and that in past times it has accomplished great things. He recognizes that it worked on, by the law of evolution, through vast periods, reaching higher and higher stages, until at length was ushered in the grand era of mind. A new order of things was now initiated. In the matured epoch of mind, advanced human intelligence took control of the planet. Its forces were subjugated and pressed into human service. The old method of Nature, by which progress came through destruction, wastefulness, and cruelty, gave place to a new method, that of art, which is the antithesis of Nature, and of humane protection of the weak instead of their remorseless destruction. The new era of mind was marked by invention?, constructions, and industries, by the rise of institutions of justice and beneficence, of governments, civilizations, and all the regulative agencies of human affairs.

Mr. Ward then takes the ground that those who still talk of following