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2 32 FRAGMEN TS OF SCIENCE.

lin-black dresses are more potent than white ones as ab-
sorbers of solar heat.

Thus, in brief outline, I have brought before you a few
of the results of recent inquiry. If you ask me what is the
use of them, I can hardly answer you, unless you define the
term use. If you meant to ask me whether those dark
rays which clear away the Alpine snows will ever be ap-
plied to the roasting of turkeys or the driving of steam-
engines, while affirming their power to do both, I would
frankly confess that they are not at present capable of
competing profitably with coal in these particulars. Still
they may have great uses unknown to me; and when our
coal-fields are exhausted, it is possible that a more ethereal
race than ourselves may cook their victuals and. perform
their work in this transcendental way. But is it necessary
that the student of science should have his labors tested by
their possible practical applications ? What is the prac-
tical value of Homer’s Iliad ? You smile, and possibly
think that Homer’s Iliad is good as a means of culture.
There’s the rub. The people who demand of science prac-
tical uses, forget, or do not know, that it also is great as a
means of culture; that the knoWledge of this wonderful
universe is a thing profitable in itself, and requiring no
practical application to justify its pursuit. But while the
student of Nature distinctly refuses to have his labors
judged by their practical issues, unless the term practical
be made to include mental as well as material good, he
knows full well that the greatest practical triumphs have
been episodes in the search after pure natural truth. The
electric telegraph is the standing wonder of this age, and
the men whose scientific knowledge and mechanical skill
have made the telegraph what it is are deserving of all
honor. In fact, they have their reward, both in reputation
and in those more substantial benefits which the direct ser-
vice of the public always carries in its train. But who, I

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