Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/866

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
846
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

more to revolutionize life than even the discovery of Galvani as developed in the electric telegraph.

In the fourth place, science, instead of repressing, as some erroneously believe, tends to develop the imagination. Our author puts the case well: "All great scientists have, in a certain sense, been great artists; the man with no imagination may collect facts, but he can not make great discoveries. If I were compelled to name the Englishmen who during our generation have had the widest imaginations and exercised them most beneficially, I think I should put the novelists and poets on one side, and say Michael Faraday and Charles Darwin." When facts have been accumulated and classified and their relations have been carefully traced, the next step is the discovery of some comprehensive formula which, conceived as a law or principle in nature, will sum up and explain the totality of the phenomena. This, as Prof. Pearson states, "is the work not of the mere cataloguer but of the man endowed with creative imagination."

Finally, science not only stimulates but disciplines the imagination and, with it, the aesthetic faculty. "With the growth of scientific knowledge," it is well remarked, "the basis of the aesthetic judgment is changing and must change. Many things in poetry and art which pleased our grandfathers, or even our fathers, are becoming to us, from our changed point of view, insipid and foolish. Many expressions that were part of the recognized stock in trade of poetry are losing, if they have not already lost, all their value for aesthetic purposes. It is not that our generation is growing less susceptible to beauty, but that, it can not recognize as beauty that which is not felt to repose on the true." In the conclusion of his introductory chapter Prof. Pearson states that science endeavors to provide a mental resume of the universe; and, though this great synthesis is not complete, and probably never will be, "it is better to be content with the fraction of a right solution than to beguile ourselves with the whole of a wrong solution"—words which we heartily echo. We do not think there is a point in this truly valuable chapter—the introduction to what is on the whole a most valuable book—on which we have not ourselves insisted at one time or another; but, as stated above, we rejoice at the appearance in the field of every new prophet of scientific truth. Prof. Pearson is not a new writer entirely, but in this work he appeals to a new circle of readers, to many of whom we have no doubt he will bring home a new and salutary conception of the place and function of science in the modern world. The battle of science seems to be nearly won, but overconfidence is always dangerous, and, as our author himself remarks, we see in our time "the highest intellectual power accompanied by the strangest recrudescence of superstition." Let the guardians and champions of truth be, therefore, unremitting in their vigilance and ceaseless in their efforts, till science has become to all mankind the symbol of blessing and of hope.

 

 

THE ROCHESTER MEETING OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION.

Under the dignified and tactful presidency of Prof. Joseph Le Conte, of the University of California, the American Association for the Advancement of Science held a pleasant and profitable meeting at Rochester, August 17th to 23d. The University of Rochester placed its commodious buildings at the disposal of the Association; within a few paces stood open the doors of the Ward Natural Science Establishment; the nurseries, for which the city is famous, were of easy access; and in its Silurian outcroppings and glacial drift the vicinity had much to attract the geologist. In his address as retiring president, Prof. A. B. Prescott, of the University of