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{The ratio of condensation}


The radical assumptions of this Discourse suggest to me, and in fact imply, certain important modifications of the Nebular Theory as given by Laplace.

The efforts of the repulsive power I have considered as made for the purpose of preventing contact among the atoms, and thus as made in the ratio of the approach to contact – that is to say, in the ratio of condensation. In other words, Electricity, with its involute phænomena, heat, light and magnetism, is to be understood as proceeding as condensation proceeds, and, of course, inversely as density proceeds, or the cessation to condense. Thus the Sun, in the process of its aggregation, must soon, in developing repulsion, have become excessively heated – perhaps incandescent: and we can perceive how the operation of discarding its rings must have been materially assisted by the slight incrustation of its surface consequent on cooling. Any common experiment shows us how readily a crust of the character suggested, is separated, through heterogeneity, from the interior mass. But, on every successive rejection of the crust, the new surface would appear incandescent as before; and the period at which it would again become so far encrusted as to be readily loosened and discharged, may well be imagined as exactly coincident with that at which a new effort would be needed, by the whole mass, to restore the equilibrium of its two forces, disarranged through condensation. In other words: – by the time the electric influence (Repulsion) has prepared the surface for rejection, we are to understand that the gravitating influence (Attraction) is precisely ready to reject it. Here, then, as everywhere, the Body and the Soul walk hand in hand.

These ideas are empirically confirmed at all points. Since condensation can never, in any body, be considered as absolutely at an end, we are warranted in anticipating that, whenever we have an opportunity of testing the matter, we shall find indications of resident luminosity in all the stellar bodies – moons and planets as well as suns. That our Moon is strongly self-luminous, we see at her every total eclipse, when, if not so, she would disappear. On the dark part of the satellite, too, during her phases, we often observe flashes like our own Auroras; and that these latter, with our various other so-called electrical phænomena, without reference to any more steady radiance, must give our Earth a certain appearance of luminosity to an inhabitant of the Moon, is quite evident. In fact, we should regard all the phænomena referred to, as mere manifestations, in different moods and degrees, of the Earth's feebly-continued condensation.

If my views are tenable, we should be prepared to find the newer planets – that is to say, those nearer the Sun – more luminous than those older and more remote: – and the extreme brilliancy of Venus (on whose dark portions, during her phases, the Auroras are frequently visible) does not seem to be altogether accounted for by her mere proximity to the central orb. She is no doubt vividly self-luminous, although less so than Mercury: while the luminosity of Neptune may be comparatively nothing.

Admitting what I have urged, it is clear that, from the moment of the Sun's discarding a ring, there must be a continuous diminution both of his heat and light, on account of the continuous encrustation of his surface; and that a period would arrive – the period immediately previous to a new discharge – when a very material decrease of both light and heat, must become apparent. Now, we know that tokens of such changes are distinctly recognizable. On the Melville islands – to adduce merely one out of a hundred examples – we find traces of ultra-tropical vegetation – of plants that never could have flourished without immensely more light and heat than are at present afforded by our Sun to any portion of the surface of the Earth. Is such vegetation referable to an epoch immediately subsequent to the whirling-off of Venus? At this epoch must have occurred to us our greatest access of solar influence; and, in fact, this influence must then have attained its maximum: – leaving out of view, of course, the period when the Earth itself was discarded – the period of its mere organization.

Again: – we know that there exist non-luminous suns – that is to say, suns whose existence we determine through the movements of others, but whose luminosity is not sufficient to impress us. Are these suns invisible merely on account of the length of time elapsed since their discharge of a planet? And yet again: – may we not – at least in certain cases – account for the sudden appearances of suns where none had been previously suspected, by the hypothesis that, having rolled with encrusted surfaces throughout the few thousand years of our astronomical history, each of these suns, in whirling off a new secondary, has at length been enabled to display the glories of its still incandescent interior? – To the well-ascertained fact of the proportional increase of heat as we descend into the Earth, I need of course, do nothing more than refer: – it comes in the strongest possible corroboration of all that I have said on the topic now at issue.

In speaking, not long ago, of the repulsive or electrical influence, I remarked that »the important phænomena of vitality, consciousness, and thought, whether we observe them generally or in detail, seem to proceed at least in the ratio of the heterogeneous.« I mentioned, too, that I would recur to the suggestion: – and this is the proper point at which to do so. Looking at the matter, first, in detail, we perceive that not merely the manifestation of vitality, but its importance, consequences, and elevation of character, keep pace, very closely, with the heterogeneity, or complexity, of the animal structure. Looking at the question, now, in its generality, and referring to the first movements of the atoms towards mass-constitution, we find that heterogeneousness, brought about directly through condensation, is proportional with it forever. We thus reach the proposition that the importance of the development of the terrestrial vitality proceeds equably with the terrestrial condensation.

Now this is in precise accordance with what we know of the succession of animals on the Earth. As it has proceeded in its condensation, superior and still superior races have appeared. Is it impossible that the successive geological revolutions which have attended, at least, if not immediately caused, these successive elevations of vitalic character – is it improbable that these revolutions have themselves been produced by the successive planetary discharges from the Sun – in other words, by the successive variations in the solar influence on the Earth? Were this idea tenable, we should not be unwarranted in the fancy that the discharge of yet a new planet, interior to Mercury, may give rise to yet a new modification of the terrestrial surface – a modification from which may spring a race both materially and spiritually superior to Man. These thoughts impress me with all the force of truth – but I throw them out, of course, merely in their obvious character of suggestion.


 &c; textlog.de 2004 • 21.10.2017 18:00:21 •
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