Page images

sky is continuously and often brilliantly clear, while the dryness and purity of the air are such that the silvered surfaces retain their brilliancy without any care on the part of the observer. Within the last week, however, the smoke from forest fires (from which there seems to be no escape in even the remotest corners of the Earth) has greatly dulled the brightness of the sky, and has interfered most annoyingly with the photographic work. In the winter months, on the other hand, the conditions are generally bad, on account of storms, snow, fog, or dampness; yet there are many nights, between the spells of bad weather, on which the telescope can be used.

To one who, like myself, has always worked with refracting telescopes, the photographic power of a large reflector is surprising. In this respect, the Crossley reflector does not, of course, surpass any other reflecting telescope of like dimensions, but its photographic “rapidity" is certainly very considerably greater than that of a refracting telescope of the same angular aperture. This is due to the fact that the silvered surfaces absorb less of the chemically active light than the glass lenses of a refractor, and it is noteworthy that this superiority of the reflector becomes more pronounced the finer the atmospheric conditions under which the two classes of instruments are compared. On one of the fine nights which I have mentioned, when the Milky Way shines with astonishing splendor and the whole heavens look phosphorescent, the photographic activity of the reflector is remarkably increased. But the performance of the refractor is not greatly changed, for the reason that the short light-waves, which are transmitted more abundantly by the unusually clear air, are in any case strongly absorbed by glass.

To illustrate the photographic rapidity of the Crossley telescope, I give the following examples of exposure-times in which well-known nebulæ have been photographed :

The Ring nebula in Lyra has been photographed on several occasions, and the results are described in another part of the present number of the Publications. It will be seen that the best general representation of the nebula was obtained with an exposure of ten minutes. On this plate the stars are perfectly round and very small. The disc of the central star of the nebula has a diameter of 3".5; that of the smallest stars shown does not exceed 1.5. On the same plate is a double star (not resolved) the equal components of which are about 2" apart, while their magnitude is not less than 17 or 18. It will hardly be observed visually. The central star, which has a visual mag

nitude of 15.4, according to Burnham, gave a distinct image in one minute.

Photographs of small planetary nebulæ have been made, not only for the purpose of ascertaining the exposure-times required for such objects, but to see what amount of detail can be shown in a surface of such small dimensions. With regard to the latter purpose, it was found that a large amount of detail was shown, but that visual observation with the 36-inch refractor was more satisfactory than photographic observations with the reflector.

In the case of the small but remarkable planetary nebula G. C. 4628 (26" x 16"), the best general picture was obtained in two minutes, while with the "ansæ," extending outward from and connected with the main nebula, were well shown in ten minutes.

Another planetary nebula which has been photographed is G. C. 4964. Eight images were obtained on the same plate by slightly changing the position of the plate-holder between the exposures, which ranged from two minutes to one second. The images which received exposures of one minute, thirty seconds, and twenty seconds respectively, were the best. A weak image, in which the central star was just visible, was produced in two seconds, and a bare trace of the nebula was visible at the place where the exposure was one second.

The planetary nebula in Draco, G. C. 4373, has also been photographed, with quite similar results; and small nebula discovered by Professor Barnard near the star Merope is distinctly shown on a negative of the Pleiades which was exposed for thirty seconds.

The photographic power of the reflector which is illustrated in the foregoing examples is very advantageous in the case of objects which are of very unequal brightness, as a very full lightaction, and consequently softening of contrasts, is obtained with a comparatively short exposure. If, for instance a plate is exposed for ten minutes to such an object as the great cluster in Hercules, and rather strongly developed, a negative is obtained which shows very distinctly all the brighter stars. If the plate is exposed for two hours, and is then very lightly developed, the brighter stars appear much as belore, but the swarms of minute stars, to which a globular cluster seems to owe its nebulous aspect, also appear on the plate, so that the photograph closely represents the appearance of the cluster as seen in a large telescope. On a photograph of the cluster in Hercules, made with

the Crossley reflector on July 13th, with an exposure of two honrs, over 5,400 stars were counted within the limits of the cluster. The average diameter of a star disc is 3".5. A discussion of stars in the cluster, as shown by this photograph, has been made by Mr. Palmer.

With exposures of four hours, stars and nebulæ are photographed which are far beyond the range of the 36-inch refractor. On one plate (34 x 41⁄44 in.) sixteen new nebulæ were found. It would be easy with this instrument greatly to increase the number of known nebule; but the discovery of new nebulæ, all of which would necessarily be faint, seems to be much less important than the gain of further information about nebula already known. For this reason no search has been made for new objects, though a catalogue will be made in due time of those which have been found in the course of other investigations."



"Projective Geometry proper," says Russell, "does not employ the conception of magnitude."

Now it is in metrical properties alone that non-Euclidean and Euclidean spaces differ. The distinction between Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries so important in metrical investigations, disappears in projective geometry proper. Therefore projective geometry deals with a wider conception, a conception. which includes both, and neglects the attributes in which they differ. This conception Mr. Russell calls a form of externality.' It follows that the assumptions of projective geometry must be the simplest expression of the indispensable requisites of all geometrical reasoning.

Any two points uniquely determine a line, the straight. But any two points and the straight are, in pure projective geometry, utterly indistinguishable from any other point pair and their straight. It is of the essence of metric geometry that two points shall completely determine a spatial quantity, the sect (German strecke). If Mr. Russell had used for this fundamental spatial magnitude this name, or any name but 'distance,' his exposition would have gained wonderfully in clearness. It is a misfortune to use the already overworked and often misused word 'distance' * Continued from page 523.

as a confounding and confusing designation for a sect itself and also the measure of that sect, whether by superposition, ordinary ratio, indeterminate as depending on the choice of a unit; or by projective metrics, indeterminate as depending on the fixing of the two points to be taken as constant in the varying cross ratios.

That Mr. Russell's chapter 'A Short History of Metageometry,' contains all the stock errors in particularly irritating form, and some others peculiarly grotesque, I have pointed out in extenso, in Science, Vol. VI., pp. 478-491. Nevertheless the book is epochmaking. It finds that projective geometry, which has no reference to quantity, is necessarily true of any form of externality. In metrical geometry is an empirical element, arising out of the alternatives of Euclidean and non-Euclidean space."

One of the most pleasing aspects of the universal permanent progress in all things non-Euclidean is the making accessible of the original masterpieces.

The marvellous Tentamen' of Bolyai Farkas, as Appendix to which the Science Absolute' of Bolyai János appeared, a book so rare that except my own two copies, I know of no copy on the Western Continent, a book which has never been translated, a field which has lain fallow for sixty-five years, is now being re-issued in sumptuous quarto form by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The first volume appeared in 1897, edited, with sixtythree pages of notes in Latin, by König and Réthy of Budapest. Professor Réthy, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Kolozsvár, tells me the second volume is in press, and he is working on it this summer.

Bolyai Farkas is the forerunner of Helmholtz, Riemann, Lie, though one would scarcely expect it from the poetic exaltation with which he begins his great work. "Lectori salutem! Scarce superficially imbued with the rudiments of first principles, of my own accord, without any other end, but led by internal thirst for truth, seeking its very fount, as yet a beardless youth, I laid the foundations of this Tentamen.'

"Only fundamental principles is it proposed here so to present, that Tyros, to whom it is not given to cross on light wings the abyss, and, pure spirits, glad of no original, to be borne up in airs scarce respirable, may, proceeding with firmer step, attain to the heights.

"You may have pronounced this a thankless task, since lofty genius, above the windings of the valleys, steps by the Alpine peaks; but truly everywhere are present gordian knots needing swords of giants. Nor for these was this written.

"Forsooth I wish the youth by my example warned, lest having attacked the labor of six thousand years, alone, they wear away life in seeking now what long ago was found. Gratefully learn first what predecessors teach, and after forethought build. Whatever of good comes, is antecedent term of an infinite series."

His analysis of space starts with the principle of continuity: spatium est quantitas, est continuum (p. 442). This Euclid had used unconsciously, or at least without specific mention; Riemann and Helmholtz consciously. Second comes what he calls. the axiom of congruence, p. 444, § 3, "corpus idem in alio quoque loco videnti, quæstio succurrit: num loca ejusdem diversa æquaila sint? Intuitus ostendit, æqualia esse."

Riemann: "Setzt man voraus, dass die Körper unabhängig von Ort existieren, so ist das Krümmungsmass überall constant." See also the second hypothesis of Helmholtz.

Third, any point may be moved into any other; the free mobility of rigid bodies. If any point remains at rest any region in which it is may be moved about it in innumerable ways, and so that any point other than the one at rest may recur. If two points are fixed, motion is still possible in a specific way. Three fixed points not costraight prevent all motion (p. 446, § 5).

Thus we have the third assumption of Helmholtz, combined with his celebrated principle of Monodromy.

Bolyai Farkas deduces from these asumptions not only Euclid but the non-Euclidean systems of his son János, referring to the approximate measurements of astronomy as showing that the parallel postulate is not sufficiently in error to interfere with practice (p. 489). This is just what Riemann and Helmholtz afterward did, only by casting off also the assumption of the infinity of space they got also as a possibility for the universe an elliptic geometry, the existence of a case of which independently of parallels was first proven by Bolyai János when he proved spherics independent of Euclid's assumption. So if Sophus Lie had ever seen the Tentamen," he might have called his great investigation the Bolyai-Farkas Space Problem instead of the Riemann Helmholtz Space Problem.

The first volume of the Tentamen' as issued by the Hungarian Academy does not contain the famous appendix. But in 1897, Franz Schmidt, that heroic figure, ever the bridge between János and the world, issued at Budapest, the Latin text of the Science Absolute, with a biography of Bolyai János in Magyar, and a Magyar translation of the text by Suták József.

« PreviousContinue »