Why should not the universe bury its dead out of sight? They immeasurably transcend the capabilities of any gauge we can bring to bear on them.
In these and countless other ways we have learned that all the rich variety of nature is pervaded by unity of action, such as we might expect to find if nature is the manifestation of an infinite God who is without variableness or shadow of turning, but quite incompatible with the fitful behaviour of the anthropomorphic deities of the old mythologies.
What we call radiant heat is simply transverse wave-motion, propagated with enormous velocity through an ocean of subtle ethereal matter which bathes the atoms of all visible or palpable bodies and fills the whole of space, extending beyond the remotest star which the telescope can reach.
Just so with the conception of a frictionless fluid. It Essay other unseen world lately been suspected that gloomy Tiberius, apart from his gloominess, may have been rather a good fellow; not so licentious as puritanical, not cruel so much as exceptionally merciful,--a rare general, a sagacious statesman, and popular to boot with all his subjects save the malignant oligarchy which he consistently snubbed, and which took revenge on him by writing his life.
Throughout all this grand past and future career of the solar system which we have just briefly traced, we have been witnessing a most prodigal dissipation of energy in the shape of radiant heat.
The ether, therefore, is unlike any of the forms of matter which we can weigh and measure. And at a still remoter date in the past, the mass of the sun was diffused in every direction beyond the orbit of Neptune, and no planet had an individual existence, for all were indistinguishable parts of the solar mass.
But it seems to me that Mr. Every astronomer knows that the earth, like all other cosmical bodies which are flattened at the poles, was formerly a mass of fluid, and consequently filled a much larger space than at present.
So that the vortex-atom is really indivisible, not by reason of its hardness or solidity, but by reason of the indestructibleness of its motion. Upon this mechanical truth Sir William Thomson based his wonderfully suggestive theory of the constitution of matter.
Apart from such questions it is every way probable that the primary assumption of Helmholtz and Thomson is only an approximation to the truth. Relatively to our powers of comprehension the atom endures eternally; that is, it retains forever unalterable its definite mass and its definite rate of vibration.
But in the equations of motion of an incompressible frictionless fluid were first successfully solved by Helmholtz, and among other things he proved that, though vortex-motion could not be originated in such a fluid, yet supposing it once to exist, it would exist to all eternity and could not be diminished by any mechanical action whatever.
So nicely balanced are they now in their orbits that they may well seem capable of rolling on in their present courses forever. We may defend our hypothesis as passionately as we like, but when we strive coolly to realize it in thought we find ourselves baulked at every step.
Supposing the stellar universe not to be absolutely infinite in extent, we may hold that the day of doom, so often postponed, must come at last. It belongs not to the region of science, but to that of pure mythology.
On the one hand, every body in our system which contains fluid matter has tides raised upon its surface by the attraction of neighbouring bodies. The reader first needs to know what vortex-motion is; and this has been so beautifully explained by Professor Clifford, that I quote his description entire: The furrow which is left is, indeed, instantly filled up by the closing waters; but they draw after them other and larger portions of the surrounding element, and these again, once moved, communicate motion to others in endless succession.
He who, on such considerations, entertains a belief in a future life may not demand that his sceptical neighbour shall be convinced by the same considerations; but his neighbour is at the same time estopped from stigmatizing his belief as unphilosophical. But here we must pause for a moment, reserving for a second paper the weightier thoughts as to futurity which our authors have sought to enwrap in these sublime physical speculations.
To the mind of a savage the future world is a mere reproduction of the present, with its everlasting huntings and fightings. And when, at Rouen, she appealed in the name of the Church to the Pope to grant her a fair trial, not a single letter was written by the Archbishop of Rheims, High Chancellor of France, to his suffragan, the Bishop of Beauvais, demanding cognizance of the proceedings.To ask other readers questions about The Unseen World and Other Essays, please sign up/5(3).
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In other words, though our study of the visible universe has led us to the recognition of a kind of unseen world underlying the world of things that are seen, yet concerning the economy of this unseen world we have not been led to entertain any hypothesis that has not its possible justification in our experiences of visible phenomena.
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