Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/485

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the calcium carbonate shells of animals as they sink to the bottom, and during the long and very slow journey from the surface to the bottom of the deepest seas these shells are completely dissolved. The first to be dissolved would be the thin, delicate shells of the pteropods and heteropods, for besides the fact that they present a wider surface to the solvent action of the water they are probably influenced more by tide and currents, sink more slowly and erratically, and thus have a longer journey to perform. Then the smaller but more solid and compact shells of the foraminifera are dissolved, and lastly, in the deepest water only the siliceous skeletons of the radiolaria and diatoms are able to reach their last resting place at the bottom of the ocean.

These four oozes then are characteristic of the floor of the deep oceans. In the proximity of land and in inland seas where deep water occurs, other muds are found differing from one another in accordance with the character of the coasts in their vicinity.

One more character of the deep-sea region must be referred to, and that is the absence of vegetable life. It has not been determined yet with any degree of accuracy where we are to place the limit of vegetable life, but it seems probable that below a hundred fathoms no organisms, excepting a few parasitic fungi, are to be found that can be included in the vegetable kingdom. While then the researches of recent times have proved beyond a doubt that there is no depth of the ocean that can be called azoic, they have but confirmed the perfectly just beliefs of the older naturalists that there is a limit where vegetable life becomes extinct. It is not difficult to see the reason for this. All plants, except a few parasites and saprophytes, are dependent upon the influence of direct sunlight, and as it has been shown above that the sunlight can not penetrate more than a few hundred fathoms of sea water, it is impossible for plants to live below that depth.


Noticing the proceedings of the recent meeting of the British Association at Nottingham, the London Spectator remarks upon "a singular deficiency in those careful descriptions of the precise position of any science which have so frequently wakened up ordinary men to careful thought." There is a popular side to the association's work which is not less important than the one hy which it seeks to advance science. The aim of that side is "to arouse such general interest in science that the minds which are fitted for such study will be inclined to devote themselves to it. To obtain the ablest in any pursuit we need a vast reservoir of men who are more or less interested in it. You can not have your Napoleon of science without an army to draw him from, and the work of increasing the area of recruiting is not unworthy a great association. Of course, 'interesting papers' often add little to positive science; but then, neither do music and banners and fine uniforms add to military force. But they bring recruits, without which such force remains latent and useless."