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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/203

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lision of two gas-molecules—time enough for thousands and tens of thousands of generations of living beings to rise, flourish, and decay, before a perceptible alteration of their starry firmament can be recorded.

It remains to fancy to picture further how those atom-inhabitants imagine their world as the only world civilized and blessed by divine ordaining, for they know as little of other worlds as we do. Millions of their years may pass—by thousands the rise and fall of their nations, the dynasties of their rulers, the triumphs of their philosophers and poets may be recorded—before the water-glass with the little air-bubble, in which their planet is merely the tiniest atom, is seized by human hands, and billions of worlds are drawn in by human lips.

What an endless vista of life is here presented to us! Not enough that the vast space which surrounds us is peopled by innumerable worlds like ours, but within the latter new worlds are presented in the atoms, which in their turn again may harbor others still smaller, and so on in infinite succession.

And now the same step upward! Let us regard our earth as an atom, our solar system as a molecule. Of what larger body may it, with all the galaxies and star-clusters, constitute a particle? What a giant-world may that be, what creatures may inhabit it? Our universe, encircled by its galaxy of myriad suns, is it but a stray bubble floating on some mighty ocean of that greater world? This stellar system of ours, does it perhaps, in that giant-world, represent a molecule in some complicated organic structure—a nerve-cell in a giant organism, perhaps a brain-particle in the head of a Titan, whose feet rest on ground in the abysmal distances of space?

That Titan would have a height, if his body were proportional to ours, equal to a billion Sirius-distances! What thoughts, what sensations may move him, when, in his brain-cells, our suns clash in stupendous conflict and meet their doom in universal conflagration! And those Titans, whose bodies, whose terra firma is composed of veritable oceans of star-clusters, what a starry world may they behold above them! On the atoms now vibrating in our own brains, in the blood coursing through our veins, the destinies of nations may be fulfilled, destinies on the planets, which again are but the atoms of a higher world, destinies on the giant-worlds, and none of the beings is aware of the existence of the others; each has the solid ground beneath him, and above him the silence of the stars.

Therefore, if this thought should make us feel uneasy—the thought that this cherished world of ours is but an atom in a giant-world—let us take consolation in this: the giants are in no way better situated than we are in reference to the dwarfs which