Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 27.djvu/790

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Of course, if the effect of any electric discharges or other conditions has been to change the potential of the particle from positive to negative, or the reverse, as the case may be, then the repulsion would be changed into an attraction acting in the same direction as gravity. In Mr. Wesley's drawings of the corona, especially in those of the eclipse of 1871, the longer rays or streamers appear not to end, but to be lost in increasing faintness and diffusion, but certain of the shorter rays are seen to turn round and to descend to the sun.[1]

It is difficult for us living in dense air to conceive of the state of attenuation probably present in the outer parts of the corona. Mr. Johnstone Stoney has calculated that more than twenty figures are needed to express the number of molecules in a cubic centimetre of ordinary air; and Mr. Crookes shows us in his tubes that matter, even when reduced to one-millionth part of the density of ordinary air, can become luminous under electrical excitement. [A glass bulb about four inches in diameter, kindly lent to me by Mr. Crookes, was exhibited, in which a metal ball about half an inch in diameter formed the negative pole. Under a suitable condition of the induction-current, this ball was seen to be surrounded by a corona of bluish-gray light which was sufficiently bright to be seen from all parts of the theatre.] Yet it is probable that these tubes must be looked upon as crowded cities of molecules as compared with the sparse molecular population of the great coronal wastes.

I forbear to speculate further, as we may expect more information as to the state of things in the corona from the daily photographs which will be shortly commenced at the Cape of Good Hope by Mr. Ray Woods under the direction of Dr. Gill.




IN the United States it has not been an uncommon practice for rail-road corporations, looking to their own immediate immunity from prosecution, to aid their servants in securing, in various ways, some protection from or indemnity for the effects of injuries received in the performance of duty; but such efforts, being usually spasmodic, and always conditioned upon releasing the company from all liability, have

  1. For a history of opinion of the nature of the corona, see papers by Professor Norton, Professor Young, and Professor Langley, in the "American Journal of Science"; also "The Sun," by Professor Young; and "The Sun the Ruler of the Planetary System," and various essays, by Mr. R. A. Proctor.