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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/453

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NEWS FROM JUPITER.

the aspect of Jupiter with adequate telescopic power. We have in Jupiter's mean density an argument of irresistible force against the only view which enables us even hypothetically to escape from the conclusions just indicated. Let it be granted, for the sake of argument, that Jupiter's cloud-layer is less than fourteen miles in depth, so that we are freed for the moment from the inference that at the lower part of the atmosphere there is either an intense heat or else a density and pressure incompatible with the gaseous condition. We cannot, in this case, strike off more than twenty-eight miles from the planet's apparent diameter to obtain the real diameter of his solid globe—solid, at least, if we are to maintain the theory of his resemblance to our earth. This leaves his real diameter appreciably the same as his apparent diameter, and as a result we have the mean density of his solid globe equal to a fourth of the earth's mean density, precisely as when we leave his atmosphere out of the question. Now, I apprehend that the time has long since passed when we can seriously proceed at this stage to say, as it was the fashion to say in text-books of astronomy, "Therefore the substance of which Jupiter is composed must be of less specific gravity than oak and other heavy woods." We know that Brewster gravely reasoned that the solid materials of Jupiter might be of the nature of pumice-stone, so that, with oceans resembling ours, a certain latitude was allowed for increase of density in Jupiter's interior. But, in the presence of the teachings of spectroscopic analysis, few would now care to maintain, as probable, so preposterous a theory as this. Every thing that has hitherto been learned, respecting the constitution of the heavenly bodies, renders it quite unlikely that the elementary constitution of Jupiter differs from that of our earth. Again, it was formerly customary to speak of the possibility that Jupiter and Saturn might be hollow globes, mere shells, composed of materials as heavy as terrestrial elements. But, whatever opinion we may form as to the possibility that a great intensity of heat may vaporize a portion of Jupiter's interior, we know quite certainly that there must be enormous pressure throughout the whole of the planet's globe, and that even a vaporous nucleus would be of great density. For it is to be remembered that all that I have said above respecting the possibility of gases existing at great pressures applies only to ordinary temperatures—such temperatures, for example, as living creatures can endure. At exceedingly high temperatures much greater pressure, and therefore much greater density, can be attained without liquefaction or solidification. And, in considering the effect of pressure on the materials of a solid globe, we must not fall into the mistake of supposing that the strength of such solid materials can protect the material from compression and its effects. We must extend our conceptions beyond what is familiar to us. We know that any ordinary mass of some strong, heavy solid—as iron, copper, or gold—is not affected by its own weight so as to change in structure to