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LEARNED mathematician of the seventeenth century, Ozanam by name, a member of the Academy of Sciences and author of several distinguished works, did not think it derogatory to his dignity to write, under the title of “Mathematical and Physical Recreations,” a book designed for the
amusement of youth, in which science lends itself to every pastime, even jugglery and tricks of legerdemain.
" Jeux d'esprit,” says Ozanam, “are for all seasons and all ages; they instruct the young, they amuse the old, they are welcomed by the rich, and are not above the reach of the poor.
The object of the book now presented to the reader is also to instruct while it amuses, but we have not thought proper to make use, as Ozanam did, of any physical feats, so called amusing. Such do not constitute experiments, and are but ingenious deceptions, intended to disguise the true mode of operation, and we have not desired to make use of or popularise such methods. We wish, on the contrary, that every game we describe, every pastime or amusement of which we give the exposition, should be rigorously based on the scientific method, and looked upon as a genuine exercise in physics, chemistry, mechanics, or natural science. It does not appear to us desirable to teach deception, even in play.
Science in the open air, in the fields, in the sunshine, is our first study ; we point out how, in the country, it is possible, pleasantly and unceasingly, to occupy one's leisure in observing nature, in capturing insects or aquatic animals, or in noting atmospheric phenomena.
We next teach a complete course of physics without any apparatus, and point out the methods for studying the different phenomena
of heat, light, optics, and electricity, by means of a simple waterbottle, tumbler, stick of sealing-wax, and other ordinary objects, such as everyone has at hand. A series of chemical experiments, performed by means of some phials and inexpensive appliances, completes that part of the book relating to the physical sciences.
Another kind of recreation, both intelligent and useful, consists in collecting the ingenious inventions which are constantly being supplied to our requirements by the applied sciences, and learning how to use them. We have collected a number of mechanical inventions and appliances, with which most ingenious and skilful people will wish to supply themselves, from Edison's electric pen, or the chromograph, which will produce a large number of copies of a letter, drawing, etc., to the more complicated, but not less valuable contrivances, for making science useful in the house.
Having described some scientific toys for the young, we have endeavoured to point out those interesting to persons of riper years, and have grouped together curious sytems of locomotion, and ingenious mechanical appliances, such as small steam-boats, iceboats, swimming apparatus, etc., under proper
heads. In addition to the foregoing subjects, we have included some of the experimental details of Chemical Science, with illustrations. We have added a chapter upon Aërial Navigation and Ballooning, with anecdotes of some of our celebrated aëronauts. We have also enlarged upon Light, Sound, Heat, Physical Geography, Mineralogy, Geology, Electrical Appliances, the Electric Light, and most of the latest adaptations of electricity.
It will be seen, therefore, that the present work is not only intended for the young ; everyone, it is hoped, will find in it something interesting and also profitable, which, if not desired for selfinstruction, may at any rate be turned to account as a means of teaching others that science, which is universal, can, when rightly apprehended, preside even over our pleasures and amusements.
SCIENCE AND RECREATION—THE BOOK OF NATURE—THE SENSES—
NATURAL HISTORI-NATURAL PHILOSOPHY—MATTER— OBJECTS—
T may at the first glance
appear paradoxical to combine Science and Recreation, but we hope to show that true scientific recreation is anything but the dry bones of learning. To those who study science with us, we will point out first how easy and pleasant it is to watch the sky and the plants and Nature generally in the
Then we will
carry our readers along with us, and by means of illustrations and diagrams instruct them pleasantly in the reasons for things. “How ?” and “Why?” will be questions fully answered. Not only will the usual scientific courses be touched upon, but we will show how Science is applied to Domestic Economy. We will have Chemistry put before us without needing a laboratory, and we will experiment in Physics without elaborate apparatus. We will have, in short, a complete Encyclopædia of Science free from dryness and technicalitiesan amusing volume suited to old and young who wish to find out what is going on around them in their daily life in earth and sea and sky.
Bernard Palissy used to say that he wished “no other book than the earth and the sky," and that "it was given to all to read this wonderful book.”
It is indeed by the study of the material world that discoveries are accomplished. Let an attentive observer watch a ray of light passing from the air into water, and he will see it deviate from the straight line by refraction ; let him seek the origin of a sound, and he will discover that it results from a shock or a vibration. This is physical science in its infancy. It is said that Newton was led to discover the laws of universal gravitation by beholding an apple fall to the ground, and that Montgolfier first dreamt of air-balloons while watching fogs floating in the atmosphere. The idea of
Luminous Cross seen at Havre, May 7ın, 1877 Sketched from Nature,
the inner chamber of the eye may, in like manner, be developed in the mind of any observer, who, seated beneath the shade of a tree, looks fixedly at the round form of the sun through the openings in the leaves.
Every one, of course, may not possess the ambition to make such
discoveries, but there is no one who cannot compel himself to lcarn to enjoy the plcasure that can be derived from the observation of Nature.
It must not be imagined that in order to cultivate science it is absolutely necessary to have laboratories and scientific work-rooms. The book of which Palissy spoke is ever present; its pages are always open, wherever we turn our eyes or direct our steps. So we may hope to introduce all our friends to a pleasant and lasting acquaintance with Dame Nature.
“But what is Nature ?” We are fond of admiring Nature, and the effects of certain causes in the world, and we want to know why things are
Very well-So you shall; and as to the question “What is Nature ?" we will endeavour to answer you at once.
Nature is the united totality of all that the various Senses can perceive. In fact, all that cannot be made by man is termed "Nature"; i.e., God's crcation,
From the earliest ages man has sought to read the open leaves of the Book of Nature, and even now, with all our attainments, we cannot grasp all, or nearly all. One discovery only leads up to another. Cause and Effect are followed up step by step till we lose ourselves in the search. Every effect must have a cause. One thing depends upon another in the world, and it does not need Divine revelation to tell us that. Nothing happens by "mere chance." “ Chance!” said a Professor to us at thc University, “Chance !—Remember, there is no such thing in the world as chance."
Between our minds or consciousness and Nature are our Senses. We feel, we see, we hear, we taste, we smell,—so it is only through the Senscs that we can come to any knowledge of the outer world. These attributes, or Senses, act directly upon a certain "primary faculty” called Consciousness, and thus we arc enabled to understand what is going on around us. The more this great existing faculty is educated and trained, the more useful it will become. So if we accustom our minds to observation of Nature, we shall find out certain causes and effects, and discover Objects. Now an Object is a thing perceptible both to feeling and sight, and an Object occupies space. Therefore there are objects Artificial as well as Natural. The former are created by man from one or more Natural products. Natural Objects are those such as trees, rocks, piants, and animals. We may also class the heavenly bodies, etc., as Objects, though we cannot touch them, but we can feel their effects, and see them. The PHENOMENA cf Nature include those results which are perceptible by only one sense, as thunder; light and sound may also be classed as Phenomena.
Take a familiar instance. A stone is a Natural Object. We take it up, open our fingers, and it falls. The motion of that object is a Phenomenon. We know it falls because we see it fall, and it possesses what we term weight; but we cannot tell why it possesses weight.
[Professor Huxley says: “Stones do not fall to the ground in consequence of a law od liature," for a law is not a cause. “A law of nature