Fragments of Science for Unscientific People; a Series of Detached Essays, Lectures and Reviews

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D. Appleton, 1872 - 422 pages

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Page vii - In the application of law in nature the terms "great" and "small" are unknown. Thus the principle referred to teaches us that the Italian wind, gliding over the crest of the Matterhorn, is as firmly ruled as the earth in its orbital revolution round the sun ; and that the fall of its vapour into clouds is exactly as much a matter of necessity as the return of the seasons. The dispersion, therefore, of the slightest mist by the special volition of the Eternal would be as much a miracle as the rolling...
Page vi - ... of the Conservation of Energy. This principle asserts that no power can make its appearance in nature without an equivalent expenditure of some other power ; that natural agents are so related to each other as to be mutually convertible, but that no new agency is created. Light runs into heat ; heat into electricity ; electricity into magnetism ; magnetism into mechanical force; and mechanical force again into light and heat. The Proteus changes, but he is ever the same ; and his changes in nature,...
Page 6 - Why are these notions absurd, and why should sanity reject them ? The law of Relativity, of which we have previously spoken, may find its application here. These Evolution notions are absurd, monstrous, and fit only for the intellectual gibbet, in relation to the ideas concerning matter which were drilled into us when young. Spirit and matter have ever been presented to us in the rudest contrast, the one as all-noble, the other as all-vile.
Page 27 - As soon as it occupies the space crossed by the beam, the luminous track is instantly abolished. Lifting the shade so as to bring the common boundary of gas and air above the beam, the track flashes forth. After the shade is full, if it be inverted, the gas passes upwards like a black smoke among the illuminated particles.
Page 7 - ... be considerably abated ? Without this total revolution of the notions now prevalent, the Evolution hypothesis must stand condemned; "but in many profoundly thoughtful minds such a revolution has already taken place. They degrade neither member of the mysterious duality referred to ; but they exalt one of them from its abasement, and repeal the divorce hitherto existing between both. In substance, if not in words, their position as regards the relation of spirit and matter is : ' What God hath...
Page vii - ... by showing that we sometimes pray for the performance of a miracle when we do not intend it. She does assert, for example, that without a disturbance of natural law, quite as serious as the stoppage of an eclipse, or the rolling of the river Niagara up the Falls, no act of humiliation, individual or national, could call one shower from heaven, or deflect towards us a single beam of the sun.
Page i - My motive in writing these papers was a desire to extend sympathy for science beyond the limits of the scientific public. . . . From America the impulse came which induced me to gather these * Fragments/ and to my friends in the United States I dedicate them."— From AUTHOR'S PREFACE.
Page 27 - However ordinary daylight may permit it to disguise itself, a sufficiently powerful beam causes the air in which the dust is suspended to appear as a semi-solid rather than as a gas. Nobody could, in the first instance, without repugnance place the mouth at the illuminated. focus of the electric beam and inhale the dirt revealed there.
Page xv - The scientific imagination, which is here authoritative, demands, as the origin and cause of a series of ether-waves, a particle of vibrating matter . quite as definite, though it may be excessively minute, as that which gives origin to a musical sound.
Page viii - the power of Free Will in man,' so strongly claimed by Professor Mansel in his admirable defence of the belief in miracles, and assuming the efficacy of free prayer to produce changes in external nature, it necessarily follows that natural laws are more or less at the mercy of man's volition, and no conclusion founded on the assumed permanence of those laws would be worthy of confidence.

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