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the last twenty years by confining our attention to the THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 1889.
measure of success which these pages have won. It has been attained, as we have shown, by the aid of nearly all
the best-known scientific writers and workers, not in Britain TWENTY YEARS.
only but in many countries old and new; and we cannot
believe that they would thus have banded themselves A
REMINDER that to-day is the twentieth anni. together if evidence had not been given of an honest
versary of the first issue of NATURE, will not, desire for the good of science and for the “promotion of perhaps, be without interest to our readers, and certainly natural knowledge," or if the attainment of these objects affords food for reflection to those who in various capaci- had not been regarded by us as of more importance than ties have been more or less closely connected with this a journalistic success. Thus, on its twentieth birthday, journal from the first.
we would think not so much of the growth of NATURE “When another half-century has passed,” said Prof. as of the advance which in the last twenty years it has Huxley in our first number, "curious readers of the back chronicled. numbers of NATURE will probably look on our best 'not A formal history of science for that period would be a without a smile.""
formidable task, but it is already possible to discern what It will probably be so, but though twenty years is will probably appear to posterity to be the most salient hardly a sufficient interval to make our smiles at our characteristics of the last two decades. earlier efforts supercilious, it is enough to test whether In the physical sciences, the enormous development progress has been made, and whether the forward path of the atomic theory, and the establishment of a conis pursued with growing or with waning force.
nection between the theories of electricity and light, are As regards this journal itself, we may claim that it has perhaps the two main achievements of the years we are not disappointed the hopes of its founders, nor failed in considering. Methods of accomplishing the at first the task it undertook; and we make this claim all the sight impossible task of measuring atomic magnitudes more emphatically because we feel that what has been have been devised. Our own volumes contain some of accomplished has not been due to our own efforts so the most interesting papers of Sir William Thomson on much as to the unfailing help we have always received this subject, and the close agreement in the results from the leaders in all branches of natural science. This attained by very different methods is sufficient proof that, help has not been limited to their contributions to our if only approximations, they are approximations we may columns, but has consisted also of advice and suggestions trust. The brilliant vortex atom theory of Sir William which have been freely asked and as freely given. Not Thomson has not as yet achieved the position of a proved the least part of our duty, and even privilege, to-day is hypothesis, but has stimulated mathematical inquiry. A to state openly how small our own part has been, and number of very powerful researches have added to our to render grateful thanks to those to whom it is chiefly knowledge of a most difficult branch of mathematics, due that NATURE has a recognized place in the machinery which may yet furnish the basis of a theory which shall of science, and has secured an audience in all parts of the deduce the nature of matter and the phenomena of civilized world.
radiation from a single group of assumptions. We do not wish, however, to narrow our retrospect of The theory of gases has been extended in both direcVOL. XLI.—No. 1045.
tions. The able attempt of Van der Waals to bring both branches of science which relate to astronomy. Stars vapour and liquid within the grasp of a single theory is which no human eye will ever see are now known to us as complementary to the extension by Crookes, Hittorf, and surely as those which are clearly visible. The efforts Osborne Reynolds of our knowledge of phenomena which to reduce nebulæ, comets, and stars under one common are best studied in gases of great tenuity.
! law, as various cases of the collision or aggregation The gradual expansion of thermodynamics, and in, of meteoritic swarms, and the striking investigations of general of the domain of dynamics from molar to mole- 'Prof. Darwin on the effects of tidal action, and on the cular phenomena, has been carried on by Willard Gibbs, application of the laws of gases to a meteoritic plenum, J. J. Thomson, and others, until, in many cases, theory give promise of a fuller knowledge of the birth and seems to have outrun not only our present experimental death of worlds. powers, but almost any conceivable extension which they' In the biological sciences, the progress during the last may hereafter undergo.
twenty years has consisted chiefly in the firm establishThe pregnant suggestion of Maxwell that light is ment of the Darwinian doctrine, and the application of an electro-magnetic phenomenon has borne good fruit. it and its subordinate conceptions in a variety of fields of Gradually the theory is taking form and shape, and the investigation. The progress of experimental physiology epoch-making experiments of Hertz, together with the has been marked by increasing exactitude in the applirecent work of Lodge, J. J. Thomson, and Glazebrook, i cation of physical methods to the study of the properties furnish a complete proof of its fundamental hypotheses. of living bodies, but it has not as yet benefited, as The great development of the technical applications of have other branches of biology, from the fecundating electricity has stimulated the public interest in this science, influence of Darwin's writings: bence there is no very and has necessitated a more detailed study of magnetism prominent physiological discovery to be recorded. The and of the laws of periodic currents. The telephone and the generation of scientific men which is now coming to microphone have eclipsed the wonders of the telegraph,and middle age has been brought up in familiarity with Mr. furnish new means of wresting fresh secrets from Nature. Darwin's teaching, and is not affected by anything like
Science has become more than ever cosmopolitan, hostility or a priori antagonism to such views. The owing chiefly to the imperative necessity for an early result is seen in the vast number of embryological reagreement as to the values of various units for a com- searches (stimulated by the theory that the development mon nomenclature, and for simultaneous observations in of the individual is an epitome of the development of the widely separated localities. International Conferences race) which these twenty years have produced, and in the are the order of the day, and the new units which they daily increasing attention to that study of the organism as have defined are based upon experiments by many first- : living thing definitely related to its conditions which rate observers in many lands, amongst whom the name o Darwin himself set on foot. The marine laboratories Lord Rayleigh stands second to none.
of Naples, Newport, Beaufort, and Plymouth, have come On the side of chemistry the periodic law of Mendeleeff into existence (as in earlier years their forerunners on has become established as a generalization of the first the coast of France, and served to organize and faciliimportance, and the extraordinary feat of foretelling the tate the study of living plants and animals. The physical properties of an as yet undiscovered element has Challenger and other deep-sea exploring expeditions attracted to it the attention of the whole scientific world.
have sailed forth and returned with their booty, which The once permanent gases are permanent no more. has been described with a detail and precision unknown Dulong and Petit's law has found a complement in the in former times. The precise methods of microscopic methods of Raoult. The old doctrine of valency is giving study by means of section-cutting-due originally to way to more elastic hypotheses. The extraordinary pro- Stricker, of Vienna-have within these twenty years made gress of organic chemistry, which originated in the work the study of cell-structure and cell-activity as essential a and influence of Liebig and the Giessen school, has con- part of morphology as it had already become of physiotinued at an accelerated rate. The practical value of even logy. These, and the frank adoption of the theory of the most recondite investigations of pure science has again descent, have swept away old ideas of classification and been exemplified by the enormous development of the affinities, and have relegated the Ascidian “polyps ” of coal-tar industry, and by the numerous syntheses of old days to the group of l’ertebrata, and the Sponges to organic products which have added to the material re- the Coelenterates. The nucleus of the protoplasmic cell sources of the community.
--which twenty years ago had fallen from the high The increase of our knowledge of the sun by means of position of importance accorded to it by Schwannlocalized spectroscopic observation ; the application of has, through the researches of Butschli, Flemming, and photography to astronomy, and more recently still the Van Beneden, been reinstated, and is now shown to be extension and generalization of the nebular hypothesis the seat of all-important activities in connection with cellare perhaps the most remarkable developments of those division and the fertilization of the egg. The discovery of