Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/674

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654
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Against such assumption we must protest. I have nothing against the doctrines save that they are not yet true. In themselves, as I have said, they are attractive. One may naturally feel a hopeful interest in wide-reaching theories which seem possible, but are still unproved or unworkable. This is, however, not "belief." It is rather open-mindedness, open to negative evidence as well as to the positive.

As science goes wherever the facts lead, so science must stop where the facts stop. It can not add to its methods the running high jump, nor place the divining rod with the microscope, crucible, and calculus among its instruments of precision. Beyond the range of scientific knowledge extend the working and the unworkable hypotheses. Beyond the confines of these extends the universe of the mind, the boundless realm which is the abode of philosophy. None should better realize those distinctions than men of science.

[To be continued.]

 

A YEAR OF THE X RAYS.
By D. W. HERING,

PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY.

THE incredulity which greeted the first reports of Prof. Röntgen's famous discovery gave place, upon their confirmation, to a delirium of enthusiasm, experimentation, and expectation. So startling and so novel were the facts reported by the discoverer that no prediction seemed too wild, no penetration into the unknown either impossible or improbable. The condition of mind actually prevailing at that time with a large number of persons is admirably shown by President Jordan's amusing article on the Sympsychograph in the Popular Science Monthly for September, 1896.

Prof. Röntgen reported his investigations in a paper before the Physico-Medical Society of Würzburg, in December, 1895. The account of his paper was transmitted to America in a few brief statements, January 7, 1896, the full report not arriving until some weeks later. Popular interest was focused upon the fact that the X rays, as its discoverer provisionally named the mysterious agency, would reveal a bony skeleton within its case of fleshy tissue, and the famous picture of a hand in which the bones thus stood revealed was soon to be found in every city of Europe and America. The realism of this weird picture simply fascinated all who beheld it. Attempts were made to repeat and extend the original experiments wherever there was any semblance of apparatus suited to the purpose. An electric poten-