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Scientific American Supplement No. 822, October 3, 1891 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 128 pages of information about Scientific American Supplement No. 822, October 3, 1891.

The country about this interior basin is heavily wooded, and spars of 75 feet can be obtained in generous numbers.  Were it not for the native inhabitants, mosquitoes, and flies, the interior would present conditions charming enough to tempt any lover of nature.  It is the abundance of these invincible foes which make interior life a burden and almost an impossibility.  To these inhabitants alone Grand Falls has ceased to chant its melodious tune.  Hereafter its melodious ripple will be heard by Bowdoin College, which, in the name of its explorers, Cary and Cole, claims the honor of its discovery.—­New York Times.

* * * * *

ANTS.

By RUTH WARD KAHN.

Astronomy has made us all familiar with the conception of the world over our heads.  We no longer speculate with Epicurus and Anaxagoras whether the sun may be as large as a quoit, or even as large as Peloponnesus.  We are satisfied that the greater and the lesser lights are worlds, some of them greatly exceeding our own in magnitude.

In a little poem of Dante Rossetti’s, he describes a mood of violent grief in which, sitting with his head bowed between his knees, he unconsciously eyes the wood spurge growing at his feet, till from those terrible moments he carries away the one trivial fact cut into his brain for all time, that “the wood spurge has a cup of three.”  In some such mood of troubled thought, flung perhaps full length on the turf, have we not as unconsciously and intently watched a little ant, trudging across our prostrate form, intent upon its glorious polity:  a creature to which we, with our great spiritual world of thought and emotion and will, have no existence except as a sudden and inconvenient upheaval of parti-colored earth to be scaled, of unknown geological formation, but wholly worthless as having no bearing upon the one great end of their life—­the care of larvae.

If we hold with Mr. Wallace that the chief difference between man and the lower animals is that of kind and not of degree—­that man is possessed of an intelligent will that appoints its own ends, of a conscience that imposes upon him a “categorical imperative,” of spiritual faculties that apprehend and worship the invisible—­yet we must admit that his lower animal nature, which forms, as it, were, the platform of the spiritual, is built up of lower organisms.

If we hold with Professor Allman that thought, will, and conscience, though only manifesting themselves through the medium of cerebral protoplasm, are not its properties any more than the invisible earth elements which lie beyond the violet are the property of the medium which, by altering their refrangibility, makes them its own—­then the study of the exact nature and properties of the transmitting medium is equally necessary.  Indeed, the whole position can only be finally established of defining experimentally the necessary limitation of the medium, and proving the inefficiency of the lower data to account with the higher.

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