Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/198

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184
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

it, "Life is life which generates," and generation implies an energy to which all other energy in a living cell yields homage.

In thus measuring the energy which cells exert, it seems to me we lay our finger on the very pulse of the living world; we feel the push of its ceaseless stream, and in the impact of the latest wave catch the full force of that primal impulse in which life's history on earth began.


GEOLOGY OF THE ATLANTIC OCEAN.[1]
By Sir WILLIAM DAWSON,

PRINCIPAL OF McGILL COLLEGE, MONTREAL.

II.

THUS far our discussion has been limited almost entirely to physical causes and effects. If we now turn to the life-history of the Atlantic, we are met at the threshold with the question of climate, not as a thing fixed and immutable, but as changing from age to age in harmony with geographical mutations, and producing long cosmic summers and winters of alternate warmth and refrigeration. We can scarcely doubt that the close connection of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans is one factor in those remarkable vicissitudes of climate experienced by the former, and in which the Pacific area has also shared in connection with the Antarctic Sea. No geological facts are indeed at first sight more strange and inexplicable than the changes of climate in the Atlantic area, even in comparatively modern periods. We know that in the early Tertiary perpetual summer reigned as far north as the middle of Greenland, and that in the Pleistocene the Arctic cold advanced until an almost perennial winter prevailed half-way to the equator.

It is no wonder that nearly every cause available in the heavens and the earth has been invoked to account for these astounding facts. It will, I hope, meet with the approval of your veteran glaciologist, Dr. Crosskey, if, neglecting most of these theoretical views, I venture to invite your attention in connection with this question chiefly to the old Lyellian doctrine of the modification of climate by geographical changes. Let us, at least, consider how much these are able to account for. The ocean is a great equalizer of extremes of temperature. It does this by its great capacity for heat and by its cooling and heating power when passing from the solid into the liquid and gaseous states, and the reverse. It also acts by its mobility, its currents serving to convey heat to great distances or to cool the air by the movement of cold, icy waters. The land, on the other hand, cools or warms rapidly, and can transmit its influence to a distance only

  1. From the inaugural address of the President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, delivered at Birmingham, England, September 1, 1886.