Story type: Essay
All our fussing and fuming about little matters must end in time.
It is a comfort to feel sure that the time will come when questions of wages, starvation, justice, supply and demand, finance, and all the miserable worries of to-day, from Presidential elections to the digging of sewers, will be things of the past.
Had we been intended for such things exclusively, we might as well have been put in a hole in the ground or in some cool corner of Hades to fight out our troubles. We should not have needed for our home a beautiful globe, swinging through endless space, bathed in sunlight or blessed with the companionship of other suns and planets whirling with us on mysterious errands.
Man’s work of to-day–the fighting, the sweating, the starving, the cheating and lying, the miserable births and the dull, stupid, monotonous living–will end soon. Real HUMAN life will dawn and end the period of savage life.
Control of nature’s forces will supply every man with what he needs to keep his body alive, his soul and his brain free from care.
Then men will cease their animal lives, cease eating to live and living to eat. They will live to think. The brain, which differentiates them from the animals, will give the real interest to their lives. Mental work–art, science and things worth while–will occupy them. —-
Does it not seem probable that when the day of organized life comes our chief interest will be the study of the universe–the other worlds outside of our own?
The great man will be he whose genius shall cross interstellar space as Columbus crossed the ocean. The great newspaper editor will be the first to get a signed statement from Mars.
The discoverer of that day will get from some older planet information millions of years ahead of our own.
As the dull mind of the field-plodder now looks toward the great cities–toward the vast movement outside his own little life–so shall men look away from this little, limited, but by that time well regulated, planet, to the mysteries and the grandeurs of the worlds outside.
Life will be complete in those coming days. Men will look back with pity to the time when they quarreled about little metal money tokens, locked each other up in jail, or choked each other to death legally.
Let us hope and believe that we may come back then to share the pleasure of the world’s mature days, since we are sentenced to exist here to-day in the greasy, clammy period of struggle and half-bakedness. —-
While the infant sits drawing milk, with never a dream of solid food, the teeth are growing beneath its gums. And while we crawl around here now, with no conception of our future state, some of the forces at work among us are preparing for the days when real life shall begin. Among these forces you may count the constructors of the great cosmic eye–the huge telescope that is now building in Paris. Compared with all other exhibits at the Paris Fair, that great instrument will be as a giant among babies, a Corliss engine among children’s toys.
It is the precursor of the great instruments which in the future will take man on his travels through space. Imperfect as it is, it fills the mind with awe and the imagination with delight. —-
Think of the great celestial eye, flint and crown glass lenses more than four feet in diameter, weighing a ton, and suspended at the end of a tube one hundred feet long! It will reach out thousands of billions of miles into space, giving us, perhaps, new secrets of the universe. Yet it is but a child’s toy compared to the instruments which must follow it.
And you who read this, if your mind is fresh and your imagination not jaded, may be the man who shall add to the power of this instrument as Galileo added to that given to the world by Lippershey, the humble Dutchman.
We invite the young American of ambition to study this latest proof of man’s growing skill, and see whether he can imagine anything to add to it. —-
“I have not seen it” say you. If you are the right man, you do not need to SEE it. Galileo only HEARD of Lippershey’s discovery. He thought hard on the problems of refraction for one night, and as a result produced a telescope capable of magnifying threefold. He finally produced a telescope of thirty-two-fold power.
This French telescope magnifies six thousand times, but it is only a baby telescope, full of faults. It is rendered imperfect by the wavy motion of the air, which affects our sight just as the motion of the waves affects the sight of a fish. It lacks any adequate arrangement for light supply. The great trouble of the astronomer is the getting of more light in his telescopes. You may be the man to tell him how to do it without adding to the diameter of his object glass.
Anyhow, think about the big telescope. If it does not make you an astronomer or a great inventor, it may stir up your brain to the pitch of inventing a really good chicken coop. That is still lacking, and in great demand.