Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/352

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and all make up a picture suggestive rather of the Inferno[1] or the wars of thunderbolt and tempest than an exemplification of the most important of the arts of peace.

[To be continued.]


IT is wonderful what a mass of evidence confirmatory of the nebular hypothesis in its broadest sense has been accumulated within the past few years. Most of this new testimony in favor of an old theory has been furnished by Astronomical Photography, that giant that sees the invisible, which has recently risen to the aid of astronomers with the startling suddenness and unexpectedness of the Arab fisherman's afrite escaping from the despised bottle. Perhaps the most notable of these celestial photographs, in the direct light that it throws upon the nebular hypothesis, is Mr. Roberts's already famous picture of the Andromeda nebula. Nobody can look upon the vast nebulous spirals that this photograph reveals, surrounding a great central condensation, and showing here and there a brighter knot where a satellite of the huge focal mass is in process of formation, without feeling that Laplace and Kant were not very far astray in their guess as to the mode of formation of the solar system.

But, although stars in abundance are scattered over and around the Andromeda nebula, there is little in their appearance to suggest a connection between them and the nebula. It is different with the nebulæ in the Pleiades and in Orion. In the wonderful photographs of the Pleiades by the Henry brothers of Paris one not only sees masses of nebulous matter clinging, so to speak, to some of the more conspicuous stars, but in one place a long, straight, narrow strip of nebula has stars dotted along its whole length, like diamonds strung upon a ribbon. It becomes more difficult to resist the conclusion that in this strange nebulous streak, with its starry file, we possess an indication of the mode

  1. I am reminded of a stalwart iron-master who formerly owned a forge in New England, and whose ideas of futurity, apparently, were not perfectly definite—at any rate, he was disposed to be somewhat inquisitive in his way in regard thereto. Whenever he could tempt a clergyman to visit his forge, he would place him immediately in front of the largest furnace, and, as the attendant on a signal raised the door, revealing a temperature within that Nebuchadnezzar's furnace could not have surpassed, he would howl in the ear of the scorched and thoroughly frightened preacher the inquiry, "Is hell any hotter than that?" It has not been recorded that he ever obtained any positive information in answer to this question, the circumstances of which doubtless afforded food for thought to the parties to whom it was put.