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ethereal medium pervading space, which, communicated to the optic nerves, produce the phenomena of vision. The experiments of our illustrious countryman, Dr. Thomas Young, and those of the celebrated Fresnel, show that this theory accords better with all the observed phenomena than that of the emission of particles from the luminous body. As sound is propagated by the undulations of the air, its theory is in a great many respects similar to that of light. The grave or low tones are produced by very slow vibrations, which increase in frequency progressively as the note becomes more acute. When the vibrations of a musical chord, for example, are less than sixteen in a second, it will not communicate a continued sound to the ear; the vibrations or pulses increase in number with the acuteness of the note, till at last all sense of pitch is lost. The whole extent of human hearing, from the lowest notes of the organ to the highest known cry of insects, as of the cricket, includes about nine octaves.

The undulations of light are much more rapid than those of sound, but they are analogous in this respect, that as the frequency of the pulsations in sound increases from the low tones to the higher, so those of light augment in frequency, from the red rays of the solar spectrum to the extreme violet. By the experiments of Sir William Herschel, it appears that the heat communicated by the spectrum increases from the violet to the red rays; but that the maximum of the hot invisible rays is beyond the extreme red. Heat in all probability consists, like light and sound, in the undulations of an elastic medium. All the principal phenomena of heat may actually be illustrated by a comparison with those of sound. The excitation of heat and sound are not only similar, but often identical, as in friction and percussion; they are both communicated by contact and by radiation; and Dr. Young observes, that the effect of radiant heat in raising the temperature of a body upon which it falls, resembles the sympathetic agitation of a string, when the sound of another string, which is in unison with it, is transmitted to it through the air. Light, heat, sound, and the waves of fluids are all subject to the same laws of reflection, and, indeed, their undulating theories are perfectly similar. If, therefore, we may judge from analogy, the undu.

lations of the heat producing rays must be less frequent tnan those of the extreme red of the solar spectrum; but if the analogy were perfect, the interference of two hot rays ought to produce cold, since darkness results from the interference of two undulations of light, silence ensues from the interference of two undulations of sound; and still water, or no tide, is the of the interference of two tides.


The propagation of sound requires a much denser medium than that of either light or heat; its intensity diminishes as the rarity of the air increases; so that, at a very small height above the surface of the earth, the noise of the tempest ceases, and the thunder is heard no more in those boundless regions where the heavenly bodies accomplish their periods in eternal and sublime silence.

What the body of the sun may be, it is impossible to conjecture; but he seems to be surrounded by an ocean of flame, through which his dark nucleus appears like black spots, often of enormous size. The solar rays, which probably arise from the chemical processes that continually take place at his surface, are transmitted through space in all directions; but, notwithstanding the sun's magnitude, and the inconceivable heat that must exist where such combustion is going on, as the intensity both of his light and heat diminishes with the square of the distance, his kindly influence can hardly be felt at the boundaries of our system. Much depends on the manner in which the rays fall, as we readily perceive from the different climates on our globe. In winter the earth is nearer the sun byth than in summer, but the rays strike the northern hemisphere more obliquely in winter than in the other half of the year. In Uranus the sun must be seen like a small but brilliant star, not above the hundred and fiftieth part so bright as he appears to us; that is however 2000 times brighter than our moon to us, so that he really is a sun to Uranus, and probably imparts some degree of warmth. But if we consider that water would not remain fluid in any part of Mars, even at his equator, and that in the temperate zones of the same planet even alcohol and quicksilver would freeze, we may form some idea of the cold that must reign in Uranus, unless indeed the ether has a temperature. The climate of Venus more nearly

resembles that of the earth, though, excepting perhaps at her poles, much too hot for animal and vegetable life as they exist here; but in Mercury the mean heat, arising only from the intensity of the sun's rays, must be above that of boiling quicksilver, and water would boil even at his poles. Thus the planets, though kindred with the earth in motion and structure, are totally unfit for the habitation of such a being as man.

The direct light of the sun has been estimated to be equal to that of 5563 wax candles of a moderate size, supposed to be placed at the distance of one foot from the object: that of the moon is probably only equal to the light of one candle at the distance of twelve feet; consequently the light of the sun is more than three hundred thousand times greater than that of the moon; for which reason the light of the moon imparts no heat, even when brought to a focus by a mirror.

In adverting to the peculiarities in the form and nature of the earth and planets, it is impossible to pass in silence the magnetism of the earth, the director of the mariner's compass, and his guide through the ocean. This property probably arises from metallic iron in the interior of the earth, or from the circulation of currents of electricity round it: its influence extends over every part of its surface, but its accumulation and deficiency determine the two poles of this great magnet, which are by no means the same as the poles of the earth's rotation. In consequence of their attraction and repulsion, a needle freely suspended, whether it be magnetic or not, only remains in equilibrio when in the magnetic meridian, that is, in the plane which passes through the north and south magnetic poles. There are places where the magnetic meridian coincides with the terrestrial meridian; in these a magnetic needle freely suspended, points to the true north, but if it be carried successively to different places on the earth's sur face, its direction will deviate sometimes to the east and sometimes to the west of north. Lines drawn on the globe through all the places where the needle points due north and south, are called lines of no variation, and are extremely complicated. The direction of the needle is not even constant in the same place, but changes in a few years, according to a law not yet determined. In 1657, the line of no variation passed through

London. In the year 1819, Captain Parry, in his voyage to discover the north-west passage round America, sailed directly over the magnetic pole; and in 1824, Captain Lyon, when on an expedition for the same purpose, found that the variation of the compass was 37° 30′ west, and that the magnetic pole was then situate in 63° 26′ 51′′ north latitude, and in 80° 51′ 25" west longitude. It appears however from later researches that the law of terrestrial magnetism is of considerable complication, and the existence of more than one magnetic pole in either hemisphere has been rendered highly probable. The needle is also subject to diurnal variations; in our latitudes it moves slowly westward from about three in the morning till two, and returns to its former position in the evening.

A needle suspended so as only to be moveable in the vertical plane, dips or becomes more and more inclined to the horizon the nearer it is brought to the magnetic pole. Captain Lyon found that the dip in the latitude and longitude mentioned was 86° 32'. What properties the planets may have in this respect, it is impossible to know, but it is probable that the moon has become highly magnetic, in consequence of her proximity to the earth, and because her greatest diameter always points towards it.

The passage of comets has never sensibly disturbed the stability of the solar system; their nucleus is rare, and their transit so rapid, that the time has not been long enough to admit of a sufficient accumulation of impetus to produce a perceptible effect. The comet of 1770 passed within 80000 miles of the earth without even affecting our tides, and swept through the midst of Jupiter's satellites without deranging the motions of those little moons. Had the mass of that comet been equal to the mass of the earth, its disturbing action would have shortened the year by the ninth of a day; but, as Delambre's computations from the Greenwich observations of the sun, show that the length of the year has not been sensibly affected by the approach of the comet, La Place proved that its mass could not be so much as the 5000th part of that of the earth. The paths of comets have every possible inclination to the plane of the ecliptic, and unlike the planets, their motion is frequently retrograde. Comets are only visible when near

their perihelia. Then their velocity is such that its square is twice as great as that of a body moving in a circle at the same distance; they consequently remain a very short time within the planetary orbits; and as all the conic sections of the same focal distance sensibly coincide through a small arc on each side of the extremity of their axis, it is difficult to ascertain in which of these curves the comets move, from observations made, as they necessarily must be, at their perihelia: but probably they all move in extremely eccentric ellipses, although, in most cases, the parabolic curve coincides most nearly with their observed motions. Even if the orbit be determined with all the accuracy that the case admits of, it may be difficult, or even impossible, to recognise a comet on its return, because its orbit would be very much changed if it passed near any of the large planets of this or of any other system, in consequence of their disturbing energy, which would be very great on bodies of so rare a nature. Halley and Clairaut predicted that, in consequence of the attraction of Jupiter and Saturn, the return of the comet of 1759 would be retarded 618 days, which was verified by the event as nearly as could be expected.

The nebulous appearance of comets is perhaps occasioned by the vapours which the solar heat raises at their surfaces in their passage at the perihelia, and which are again condensed as they recede from the sun. The comet of 1680 when in its perihelion was only at the distance of one-sixth of the sun's diameter, or about 148000 miles from its surface; it consequently would be exposed to a heat 27500 times greater than that received by the earth. As the sun's heat is supposed to be in proportion to the intensity of his light, it is probable that a degree of heat so very intense would be sufficient to convert into vapour every terrestrial substance with which we are acquainted.

In those positions of comets where only half of their enlightened hemisphere ought to be seen, they exhibit no phases even when viewed with high magnifying powers. Some slight indications however were once observed by Hevelius and La Hire in 1682; and in 1811 Sir William Herschel discovered a small luminous point, which he concluded to be the disc of the comet. In general their masses are so minute,

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