The Fairy-Land of Science eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 211 pages of information about The Fairy-Land of Science.
like the snowdrop in the garden of to-day, they caught the sunbeams and worked them into their leaves.  Then the plants died and were buried deep in the earth and the sunbeams with them; and like the gnomes they lay imprisoned till the coals were dug out by the miners, and brought to your grate; and just now you yourself took hold of the fairy wand which was to release them.  You struck a match, and its atoms clashing with atoms of oxygen in the air, set the invisible fairies “heat” and “chemical attraction” to work, and they were soon busy within the wood and the coals causing their atoms too to clash; and the sunbeams, so long imprisoned, leapt into flame.  Then you spread out your hands and cried, “Oh, how nice and warm!” and little thought that you were warming yourself with the sunbeams of ages and ages ago.

This is no fancy tale; it is literally true, as we shall see in Lecture VIII, that the warmth of a coal fire could not exist if the plants of long ago had not used the sunbeams to make their leaves, holding them ready to give up their warmth again whenever those crushed leaves are consumed.

Now, do you believe in, and care for, my fairy-land?  Can you see in your imagination fairy ‘Cohesion’ ever ready to lock atoms together when they draw very near to each other:  or fairy ‘Gravitation’ dragging rain-drops down to the earth:  or the fairy of ‘Crystallization’ building up the snow-flakes in the clouds?  Can you picture tiny sunbeam-waves of light and heat travelling from the sun to the earth?  Do you care to know how another strange fairy, ‘Electricity,’ flings the lightning across the sky and causes the rumbling thunder?  Would you like to learn how the sun makes pictures of the world on which he shines, so that we can carry about with us photographs or sun-pictures of all the beautiful scenery of the earth?  And have you any curiosity about ‘Chemical action,’ which works such wonders in air, and land, and sea?  If you have any wish to know and make friends of these invisible forces, the next question is

How are you to enter the fairy-land of science?

There is but one way.  Like the knight or peasant in the fairy tales, you must open you eyes.  There is no lack of objects, everything around you will tell some history if touched with the fairy wand of imagination.  I have often thought, when seeing some sickly child drawn along the street, lying on its back while other children romp and play, how much happiness might be given to sick children at home or in hospitals, if only they were told the stories which lie hidden in the things around them.  They need not even move from their beds, for sunbeams can fall on them there, and in a sunbeam there are stories enough to occupy a month.  The fire in the grate, the lamp by the bedside, the water in the tumbler, the fly on the ceiling above, the flower in the vase on the table, anything, everything, has its history, and can reveal to us nature’s invisible fairies.

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The Fairy-Land of Science from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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