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About The Oregon daily journal. (Portland, Or.) 1902-1972 | View Entire Issue (Sept. 3, 1911)
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J ' J. A
PORTLAND, OREGON, SUNDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER. 3, 1911
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Serin tirc tecf
The Eff orts of Science
to Seize Upon the
lsible opark or Lire
Through Use of Many
-TT T HAT is the human sci'il?
11 It ii the nyslery of the ages,
' , the despair of psychology, the
hope of religion but ever unknown, un
solved, even unproved to exist at all, if the
long succession of doubting Thomases be
admitted to the endless controversy.
. Is it life? Is it that very essence of life
which distinguishes sentient beings from the
masses of inert matter? Is it the essence of
that life which man alone rejoices in, while
the animals perish for. eternity? Is it the. life
higher than the brute's which a man's dog can acquire in
sufficient part to accompany him to heaven? Is it pet'
haps, some faintest, most intimate spark of life which
flits from the body of man and beast alike when death
at last takes the ultimate citadel of their being and inev
itable corruption hastens its inexorable ruin?
Today science, which has dared all mysteries, even
this, in the name of the truth which should prevail,
sweeps its instruments of precision upon the human soul
in a new, sincere endeavor to make life's spark visible,
to seize with the gross senses of the body, the elusive,
imponderable reality of the soul.
On this one score, at least, science, so often positive
and aggressive, fears to speak firmly. Some of its pro
fessors, with the daring of pioneer discoverers, have
indeed announced their seizure of the light of that van
ishing spark; but science at large, so supreme would be
the importance of their fact, admits as yet nothitr&more
than the faint possibility. r.
There have been too many claims, too many theories,
too man faiths as to the existence of the soul. If is as
though, out of a cloud of guesses, a single flash had come,
leaving the startled eye dazzled, wondering doubtful
whether from that murk of the ages any real lifd can
ever appear .
w Jn Jr. A rthnr w I JnnianWii rii rort nt nt rna nfl-
, f ?l . t !..... ii. tt:
' , Ponnsylvania, that remorseless physicist
. sion3 of Keeley's motor, to make a serious
investigation. It is possible, just possible, Pro
fessor Qoodspeed admits, that something real
has been demonstrated.
"I do not think there is anything in it," pref
aced Doctor Goodspeed.. "But science treas
ures, as its greatest possession, the endowment
oFthe open niind. The experiments will be con
ducted along the lines suggested by Doctor Kil
ner, of London. The special apparatus necessary
.will be made. The president of -the Roentgen
Manufacturing Company,' H. Clyde Snook, asso
' eiates himself in the investigation. We will par
s.allel the London experiments and give them
; Whatever time is requisite for a complete inquiry.
" ' But, however distinguished and able the men who
announce discoveries so exceptional as these, we
-can accord "tEern "nothing more than the 'willing
ness to examine their evidence. So great a oi
, entist as Blondlot, of Paris, belieye'd he had dis
covered a wholly new set of rays the famous
N-rays, or Blondlot rays. Yet, sincere as he un
doubtedly was, his ability and honesty had not
safeguarded him, from simply making a mistake.
"For my own part, speaking solely from the
small knowledge which we actually possess re
garding' our life forces, I tttink the amount of
energy involved in any such change as the death
of a human being is too infinitesimal fco be
tected by any of our means of observation. The
spark of human vitality is too slight an energy
when it is fading away in death. There may be
possibly some diffopence in its intensity when the
individual is in full health. But I am skeptical
of it all. Yet, in the interest of science, it is
not well to be too skeptical."
"Should not the long tradition of the exist
ence of the nimbus or aureole have weight aa
f4 v". r
T IS no new thing, this endeavor to approach
the soul through the forces of life and
The rapt spirit of the East Indian seer
gazing into his priceless crystal ball in his
persistent effort to detach his soul from all
earthly objects, has stood for the visions of the
occult, and tho hard-headed, matter-of-f act westf
cm peoples have provicfed coteries of believers
in the possibility of projecting sortie astral body
leagues away from the brown, unconscious form,
evea as they have assented to the truth of the
visions' that have come to the still, receptive s6ul !
forth a halo or a nimbus, that shall apprize be-:
holders of the glory that abides within.
A Botticelli; in depicting the infant Savior
in his mother's lap, with good' St. John beside
her, is presenting only the conventional halo into
which Christian faith has transformed its idea
of the radiance whnch; emanates from the sanc
tity of such West souls. '
The newest expef itqents pf science have been
said to make visible at leiast the spark of hum,an
life, if not'tho soul' itself Dr.' Patrick S. 0'Don-:
ncll, expert in X-rays, followed up. ia his Chicago
Idboratory the; methods by which Dr.. W. 'J'.- Kil-
ner, of L6ndon, hod. achieved his demonstrations)
who contemplate the whiteness 'of the crystal
sphere. t i of the existence of a spark'of life that passes at,
Christien faith and art have perpetuated the" the instant of death. In the presence of other
belief that, in some more favored, more blessed . physicians ''at Mercy, Hospital, when a man pa-,
beings, the luminous, radiants spirit, is, able to, tient was passing Way,' )ig employed the Kilner
L..m4 Itnnla ilia' Ananiia flciciK nrlA UtlfA. u .it. 1 Lf' J.w.3.Kiiiii! ' i J f i. i tV.1 1 . A
uuiat mo vf v :n . iiieuuvu vt- ueiuuusiraiiuu, aim n whs ueciureu
that, around the body of the patient, at the mo
ment of death, an aura of faint light appeared
and presently faded, ' '
He cftllud tbgethcr thirty-fiyc physicians, and
under conditions of light or, better, of darkness
they were enabled to' see the a'urae emanating,
from the. forms of. four girls, models from the
Chicago Art Institute", who had consented to the
experiment. It was no .question of death with
them. They w'ere .'demonstrating merely the ex-
' iste'nee of what, for lack" of 'more defjriito knowl
edge, was called the'"human atmosphero."' In
a dark' cabinet at Mercy .Hospital the drapery
that enveloped the0 models'' was removed,' and
through a screen of chemicals. specially qualified
to bring out the visibility 'of -the light their bodies
.'emitted; it ra3 discerned. ; ' '
eJidwKH' in favor of the viitible aura, whether it
'i or'is not tho actual sotilt" ' ' ,
- "That ti'aditiun has 'not influenced my de
cision to investigate the phenomena as reported.
It is,: however, not at' all impossible that there
'in uyf be. some influence,; such as an aura or" nlm
bj.ts, stirrouriding tlvethuman body. Bigger men
than-1 have con tende.d.tliat there is some truth
ih it.";''(". . - . ' ' -
, ; ; jjo 'tho pe'rsisteht. faiths, the repeated -en
dcayors, the numberless conjectures a to tin
-nature of the soul have': come to this: That un
prejudiced science is willing to admit tbo possi-
said, did seem to prove it was -the cufwnt of life, . bility of discerning soino manifestfttjons of th
the animating power, of human' beings. 1 ' - tinanown agency, oi me uynaimu joruo j which
1 v If r not the most reliaTle.V these demonstra- ' nian lives here and, ift,the hopes of tho multi-
tions ire at least the newest Rttcrdpts to make, ..tudes are based upon some etcrpal yerty,ls dos
tahglble "that' spark of life 'which' is thought to" tmed to; live hereafter.
1- .1-" 1 , l" io '1 ...it- 1 I TAA'htt& knon: All
moBi cioseiy laenyneu wim :iup, niibuiiice oj.
tho' soul. They hav
What was it? Doctor ODonnell could not
undertake to state. He' would not aver it to be
the soul or the. spirit. He attempted a descrip
tion rather than a definition : ' "It is tho impal
pable atmosphere J emanating fom ' the body,
which," like" all forces, is inyisiblc in itself, but
which becomes perceptible (hy means of its action
on the ether or atmosphere." He' thought it
rtVight bo radio-activity of some 'sort, made vis
ible by the chemical. screen. His experiments, ho
to- live 'hereafter. ' e
There have.hpen strange (Vmomstrationa in
ve ufiicedtb " induce Dr.'" ' ",."'! '. (cxJNTlNtiED oN lNSIDB.PAajC)