Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 87.djvu/166

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162
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

Some ages ago Nature, as we may say, made a great and wonderful discovery, that of the survival value of intelligence, supplemented later by the discovery of the survival value of sympathy and cooperation. It was no longer, thereafter, a question of tooth and claw, of swift foot, strong arm and warm fur; it was a question of the manufacture and use of weapons and tools and clothes and houses. Psychologically, it was a question of the development of certain new and wonderful mental traits, those of cunning and dexterity, attention and concentration, abstraction, analysis and invention. But these required a large brain, and Nature therefore produced an erect, top-heavy animal, who acquired speech and called himself man. Physically this animal ceased further development. He needed nothing but a large and ever larger brain and a dexterous hand, and, finally, the dexterous hand also was scarcely needed, but brain and brain alone. The brain, however, required nourishment and a certain physical support, hence stomach, heart, lungs, and a circulatory system must needs be retained after some fashion, but the main intent was to develop brain and only brain.

This process is now at its height. Nature we may say is more than ever elated at her discovery of the survival value of intelligence and this discovery is being worked for all that it is worth. There is no limit, it would seem, to the power of the mind. Other animal species are no longer feared. They are not even needed as servants. Electricity can be made to do all things better than the horse. Against intelligence the elements have no longer any power. Storm and lightning and flood are now only interesting episodes. Night is no longer a harbinger of evil but under the glare of the electric light a joy and great delight. Heat and cold are no longer to be considered. Steam and the electric current turn winter into benign summer and night into day. Neither is distance to be reckoned with any more. It is short-circuited by steam, gasoline and electricity.

Especially in continental Europe, in England and America, during the past fifty years, has the march of mind gone forward with dizzy-like rapidity. More than ever has man become master. More than ever are the higher brain centers the only significant organs in the body. Less than ever has Nature found it necessary for her immediate needs to care for stomach, heart and lungs, or muscle and reproductive system. It is mind that counts and mind alone. Nineteenth and twentieth century man has become a high-power efficiency machine combining a marvelous capacity for thought with an unconquerable force of will, but working inevitably under high pressure and dangerous tension.

A gigantic system of wireless telegraphy is not invented and extended over the whole face of the earth in a few years (one might almost say in a few months) without thought and effort. Dreadnoughts and superdreadnoughts, mortars and machine-guns, dirigibles and aeroplanes,