Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/707

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I have diminished him in other respects but not in intelligence, and that I should have given him only a half, a quarter, or an eighth of judgment. There would be no reason in this. I have received from Biskra a uromastix—a kind of herbivorous lizard, with its tail armed with points. Not having any Algerian plants to feed it, I put it in a field where there were all kinds of wild flowers. The animal found the flowers of the smartweed to its taste. Wishing to vary its diet, and particularly to find something it would eat in winter, I tried to feed it other things; but, though it was docile and ate smartweed, fumitory flowers, and wood violets from the hand, it showed a marked aversion or indifference to clover. One day, in my impatience, not having found any smartweed, I opened its mouth and forced in a clover blossom which it finally swallowed. The next day, to my astonishment, having some clover blossoms in my hand, the animal seized them and devoured them with evident greedy pleasure. It recognized the plant it had been forced to swallow and had found good, though it had despised it before. It had got rid of a prejudice. Would a rhinoceros have acted more rationally? Who would have thought of its large size giving it more intelligence?

A very important conclusion results from our discussion. Laplace's law is true mechanically, within the strict limits in which it is announced. But the psychical consequences Laplace draws from it are fallacies, and the simplest phenomena of elasticity make the fallacy evident. Yet if the law of universal attraction were all we had by which to account for every kind of manifestations, psychical as well as physical, or, in other words, if there were nothing in the universe but material atoms situated at perceptible distances apart, and attracting one another in proportion to their masses and inversely as the squares of their distances, Laplace's conclusion would be impregnable; an observer could not perceive any diminution or augmentation in the universe. But why? Because there would be no longer an observer. As I have demonstrated, the moment there is an observer, he will perceive a change; and if he perceives it, it is undoubtedly because the faculty of observation escapes—with others—the law of universal attraction; because it does not depend solely upon the mass of the atoms and their distance. It is the same with the ant and with the elephant.

A final conclusion is that if all these deductions are exact, real space is different from geometrical space, and the dimensions of the universe are absolute.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from Ciel et Terre.