Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/550

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

is an animal, nothing more, nothing less; hence all the animal forces act in him.

But is it by his body that man has acquired that empire that we have seen he possesses? You know very well it is not; you know very well that, if he reigns over all around him, over inanimate Nature as over organized Nature, he owes it to his intelligence, of like nature, but immensely superior to that of animals.

Finally, man has his own attributes—faculties that belong exclusively to him—morality and religion. Well, these exclusively human faculties seem admirably to complete this exceptional being. It is these that ennoble him, and justify the incontestable empire that he claims over the globe; for it is these which, along with the sentiment of punishment, give birth to the idea of duty, the thought of responsibility.

Here, gentlemen, is the summing up that one is led to make of man when he is studied exclusively from knowledge by the naturalist. I hope you will find that you have lost nothing.

 

THE PHOTOSPHERE AND SUN-SPOTS.
By Prof. S. P. LANGLEY,

DIRECTOR OF THE ALLEGHANY OBSERVATORY.

WHY is it that almost any one who was offered the opportunity of witnessing an eruption of Etna, or the effects of a tropical cyclone, would embrace such an occasion with eagerness, while phenomena so similar in kind, and on so far grander a scale, visible daily on the surface of the sun, excite a comparatively feeble interest in all but those devoted to their study?

It is doubtless, in part, because we have a more intimate and awe-inspired interest in disturbances which happen so near us, and which we do not extend to others with which we conceive we have less personal concern; but the difference of the kind, as well as the degree of our interest in solar phenomena, from that which we take in those which occur, as it were, at home, is due in part perhaps to a remoter cause, and forms a portion of the unconscious bias which the modern mind has inherited from ancient modes of thought.

Deeply impressed by the fact that the sun had warmed and lighted the world from unknown time, with a fire which never seemed to be fed, yet which never burned low like a terrestrial flame, ancient philosophy concluded that the sun was formed of something quite other than any gross earthly elements––of an element of pure fire, which shone and warmed forever without fuel, because it was its "nature" to; just as it is the "nature" of a fire on the hearth to burn only