Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/175

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169
THE WORLD'S CONSERVATION PROBLEM

country not only in the study of nervous and mental diseases, but also in advancing our knowledge of many questions of immediate importance for educators and those interested in the solution of social problems. The way has been prepared by science for the establishment of a new type of institution dedicated to the study of the brain and nervous system along broad biological lines. This field of investigation would include, for example, such problems as an enquiry into the nature of the nerve impulse, the manner in which it is transmitted, the changes produced by it in the body, the agents modifying its action, the factors determining the growth of the nervous system and the possibility of inducing regeneration, after the nerve cells and fibers have been injured, and the mechanism of transmission by heredity of specific functions of the brain. The neuro-biological institute should contain laboratories fully equipped for the study of complex chemical and physical problems, the determination of the laws of animal behavior, the mechanism of development of the nervous system as well as the character of structure of these organs. The selection of investigators should be made with care and the greatest amount of liberty given to them in selecting and determining the scope of their own problems, for in attempting to answer the questions of fundamental importance in connection with the brain and nervous system we are brought face to face with a line of work which leads us straight back to consider the origin of the life processes.

The advance of humanity during the past fifty years has been illuminated by the acts of an intelligent philanthropy. The noble list of benefactions includes libraries, schools, colleges, universities, laboratories, observatories, hospitals and an international tribunal for the abolishment of wars. The future progress of mankind will be directly proportional to the additions made to our knowledge of the brain and nervous system. Whether the conventional form of education proves to be a blessing or a curse will depend upon its power to minister to the needs of brain and nervous system. The reign of universal peace will come at last, not as an official act of international agreement, but as the result of the study of the individual and the adoption of methods to suppress and eliminate those undesirable mental traits which at times make the resort to arbitration impossible.

Far more important than the discovery of a new continent or a new star is the determination of the laws governing brain action, for upon our knowledge of these phenomena depends "the prosperous voyaging of humanity."