Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/260

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the eclipse of 1901 probably failed to add much to our knowledge of the sun.

Aside from the problems relating to the sun's constitution, there is still outstanding the question as to the existence of an intramercurial planet. This problem can be studied to much greater advantage at total eclipses than at other times. Photographic charts can be made of the whole region about the sun during totality. An examination of several sets of such photographs, taken at different eclipses, should confirm or refute the existence of such a planet. For greater certainty the sky should be photographed in duplicate at each eclipse. Although sufficient material for the decision of this question could apparently he accumulated rapidly, this has not yet been accomplished for a variety of reasons. At the eclipse of 1900, several parties were provided with apparatus especially planned for this work. The weather was everywhere perfect, but accidents of one kind or another affected the results. The Smithsonian party, however, obtained photographs, one of which showed stars fainter than the eighth magnitude. Several suspicious objects were found on these plates, which remain unconfirmed, owing to the failure of other attempts. This and other questions, which, it was hoped, would be decided by the eclipse of 1901, must await some later eclipse for their solution.

To-day, although much is known about the sun, its deeper secrets are yet unraveled. The foundations of physical science appear, indeed, to be somewhat shaken. It is hinted that molecules and atoms are, after all, but 'convenient fictions,' signifying, perhaps, that the human mind is not capable of grasping the ultimate conditions of matter. We hear of corpuscles, which are inconceivably small 'fragments of atoms.' These corpuscles are carriers of electricity. It may be that in this line lies the explanation of many terrestrial, solar, and even cosmical, phenomena.