Popular Science Monthly/Volume 16/November 1879/Editor's Table



FROM Professor Langley's address at the Saratoga Scientific Association, on the recent progress of solar physics, which is herewith printed, we get a vivid idea of the rapidity with which knowledge upon this subject has advanced within a very few years. We have found out more about the most conspicuous and familiar object in the universe in the last twenty years than all that was known before put together. A late writer in the London "Times" draws attention to the views now taken in regard to the solar surroundings. He considers that recent observations have tended toward marked agreement in the opinions entertained respecting coronal phenomena, and their relation to the zodiacal light. In presenting the results of observations on the eclipse of 1878 those are first taken which give the luminous effects displayed nearest the sun. Mr. Lockyer's drawing represents the black body of the moon as surrounded by a narrow ring of light, the inner corona. Outside this ring are three projections nearly in the ecliptic, and therefore coinciding with the axis of the zodiacal light. The longest of these projections extended to about one and a quarter of the sun's diameter, or not far from one million miles. General Myer described the corona as showing five radial lines of a golden color, beyond which in the direction of the ecliptic were prolonged bright silver rays. General Myer had observed effects so similar in the eclipse of 1869 as to make probable the inference that the objects extending far away from the sun are not subject to change like the prominences. Mr. Alfred C. Thomas also observed streamers of light extending for about one and a half time the diameter of the moon, and also in the plane of the ecliptic. Professor Cleveland Abbe saw the streamers which other observers had compared to a wind-vane, but he traced them to a much greater distance than they had done. The point of the vane as he saw it reached away from the sun to fully six diameters, or more than five million miles. The breadth of the vane, where it crosses the sun, is almost exactly equal to the solar diameter. On the other side of the sun the double streamer forming the tail of the vane did not extend more than three million miles. He also saw other luminous streaks at right angles with these, but of less breadth and length. Professor Langley saw the coronal light extending farther than the long rays observed by Professor Abbe. He traced it to a distance of twelve diameters of the sun on one side and three on the other. Its extension was in the direction of the ecliptic and the light resembled the zodiacal. At its extreme distance from the sun it was a faint and softly graduated luminosity, and not the separate rays discerned at about half the distance. Professor Newcomb saw a similar luminosity, and traced it to the same distance from the sun that had been assigned by Professor Langley. The results are thus summed up by the "Times" writer:

From a comparison of all the observations the following important conclusions seem established beyond all possibility of doubt or question: Outside the solar sierra, averaging some 6,000 or 7,000 miles in height, comes the prominence region, extending about 100,000 miles from the sun's surface. Outside this comes the inner corona, shining in part with its own light, sometimes coming chiefly from multitudes of solid or liquid bodies in a state of incandescence, sometimes chiefly from glowing vaporous matter. This region

extends from 200,000 to 500,000 miles from the sun. Beyond the inner corona is the outer corona as already known and photographed during the eclipses of 1870 and 1871, and extending about a million miles from the sun. But far outside the outer corona there is a region occupied by matter so situated and so illuminated (or possibly self-luminous) as to present the appearance of long rays extending, if we may judge from observations hitherto made, directly from the sun to a distance of 5,000,000 miles. Outside this region again lies another in which, whether by the combination of multitudes of such rays as are seen separately close to the sun or through the presence of matter in other forms, a softened luminosity prevails which during total eclipse can be traced along the zodiac at least 10,000,000 miles from the surface of the sun. Lastly, from observations made during evening twilight in spring and during morning twilight in autumn (at which twilight hours the zodiac near the sun is most nearly upright during the year) we can trace the extension of the zodiacal luminosity seen by Langley and Newcomb, to distances exceeding seven or eight times at least those to which they traced it during total eclipse. Kay, there are reasons for believing that at times this luminosity has been traced to such a distance from the sun as to show that the zodiacal matter extends much farther from him than the orbit of our own earth.

Now, in one sense, the relations here presented are not new. The zodiacal light has been known from the time of Childrey, if not from that of Tycho Brahe. Mathematicians have long seen that it must belong to a solar appendage, rejecting utterly the doctrine advanced by some that it comes from matter traveling round our own earth. Again, the long coronal rays had been very confidently regarded by most mathematical astronomers, and indeed by all who had sufficiently studied the evidence, as belonging to matter near the sun. And though the zodiacal had never before been recognized during totality, and so the gap between the outermost coronal rays and the innermost part of the zodiacal seen during twilight had never been observationally filled up, yet the mind's eye of science had clearly discerned even that portion of the zodiacal. Still the recognition of the whole range of solar surroundings, in such sort that no question can any longer, it should seem, be raised as to their reality, even by those least able to follow scientific reasoning, can not but be regarded as an important step.


Mr. Cyrus W. Field has dedicated a memorial stone to the memory of André. It marks the place of his execution and burial. It was uncovered at noon, October 2d, as nearly as possible at the same hour that André was banged. But few persons were present, and not a word was spoken by any one.

The monument is a plain polished block of Maine granite, five feet in height and three and one half feet square. On the side toward the west is the following inscription:

"Here died, October 2, 1780, Major John André, of the British Army, who, entering the American lines on a secret mission to Benedict Arnold for the surrender of West Point, was taken prisoner, tried and condemned as a spy. His death, though according to the stern code of war, moved even his enemies to pity, and both armies mourned the fate of one so young and so brave. In 1821 his remains were received at Westminster Abbey. A hundred years after his execution this stone was placed above the spot where he lay, by a citizen of the States against which he fought, not to perpetuate the record of strife, but in token of those better feelings which have since united two nations one in race, in language, and in religion, with the earnest hope that this friendly union will never be broken."

Beneath was the name—

"Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Dean of Westminster."

On the south side the inscription reads as follows:

"Sunt Lacrymæ rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt."—Virgil, "Æneid," I., 462.

The only other inscription is upon the north side, and is this:

"He was more unfortunate than criminal. An accomplished man and a gallant officer."
George Washington.

An inscription will be placed on the east side next year, the centennial of the execution.

The spot where the monument stands is about two miles from the Hudson River, and is high ground, overlooking a beautiful country. Mr. Field has purchased thirteen acres of land surrounding it, which he proposes to convert into a park; and, when completed, he will present the property to the citizens of Tappan. The shaft is to be surrounded by an iron railing, and around it at the cardinal points are to be planted four trees, oaks or elms, two English and two American.

The remains of Major André repose with the illustrious dead in Westminster Abbey. They were exhumed and carried to England in 1821 by the Duke of York, who was sent over by the British Government for that purpose.

We are glad that this monument has been erected. It indicates the strengthening and a triumph of the nobler sentiments of civilization and a decline of the intensity of international prejudice. And it is especially fitting that Mr. Cyrus W. Field, to whom we so largely owe that grandest of all unifying agencies among nations, the intercontinental telegraph, should have carried out the spirit of this great work, by doing honor to the memory of an enemy of his country, which has been especially odious for these hundred years. To be sure, André was hanged, but that was merely one of the chances of war. Washington would have been hanged also, if the luck of war had run differently. Is it not time to begin to judge of the merits of men independently of the casualties that happen to befall them? We should be sorry not to go behind the gallows, the cross, and the axe, in estimating the characters of their victims.

But another aspect of the matter is noteworthy: Mr. Field is reported to have said that, if he were granted permission, he would erect a monument to the memory of Nathan Hale, the American spy, who was hanged in the public grounds near Hamilton Park in this city. It would have been especially graceful if Dean Stanley had reciprocated Mr. Field's generosity by taking the initiative as an Englishman in doing honor to the memory of Hale. But that was not necessary. The main thing is the concession that the monument was deserved. No one will deny that the young American who gave his life for his country, and only lamented that he had but one to give, well deserves a monument.

But in thus doing honor to the memory of spies it is important to discriminate between the motives that animate them and the traits of character displayed. The military spy represents his country's side in war, and is justified by the ethics of patriotism. The soldier encounters the chance of an honorable death on the field of battle, but is safe if taken prisoner. The spy, on the other hand, if he fails, is certain of an ignominious death. He takes a deadlier risk than the soldier, and requires a firmer courage to meet it. Let the military spy, therefore, who perils and loses his life, have his posthumous honors, the honors due to courageous, unselfish conduct, on whatever side enlisted.

But there is another class of spies who should be hanged without the benefit of monuments; we mean Sherman's custom-house spies. We have revenue laws so scandalous that the regularly appointed officers are ashamed to enforce them. They shrink from branding all American citizens upon their return home after foreign travel as thieves and swindlers, and so the Government sets spies upon its own officers to see that they carry out our revenue regulations in the full measure of their meanness. These spies, employed by Government in time of peace, from purely sordid considerations on both sides, and who are destitute of every manly impulse, abundantly deserve the ropes they do not get, and the spies that are hanged should not be disgraced by being classed with them.


The season has again come which drives people into their houses to pass a large portion of their time in closed apartments where they can keep warm. But the house so tight as to exclude the cold excludes also the air, so that good warmth is apt to involve bad breathing. There will be renewed complaints of deficient ventilation, and plenty of grounds for them. And as people suffer they will exclaim against the backwardness of the art of ventilating, and wonder that science does not bring forward some satisfactory system of furnishing fresh air and plenty of it to those who are shut up in houses during the cold season. Yet the inventors and constructors are ahead of the people, and already furnish many excellent devices which are not appreciated or used. It is perfectly well known, not only that fresh air ought to be furnished to inhabited apartments, but how much should be furnished in given conditions, and how it may be effectually introduced. The problem was in fact practically solved more than a hundred years ago with the invention of the Polignac fireplace, which not only warmed the room where it was set up, but provided for ventilation by bringing in a stream of air from without through suitable ducts, warming it and then throwing it into the apartment. Various modifications of this contrivance have appeared in the shape of ventilating grates which furnish warm fresh air to occupied rooms. But grates are constantly put into houses now which have no more reference to ventilating arrangements than as if nothing of the kind had ever been thought of. Steam and hot-water apparatus, and furnaces to warm large quantities of air for distribution through buildings, have come into extensive use, by which heat and adequate ventilation are well secured; but, after all, these engines are employed by but a small part of the population. A large proportion of the inhabitants of towns, and the great majority of country people, use stoves for warmth in cold weather. But here, again, we see the same neglect in providing fresh air to breathe that is observable in the current use of grates. Stoves are economical and efficient means of warming, and their use for this purpose must long continue. But they are generally non-ventilating, and give us the worst effects of bad air. They draw off from apartments only the air required for combustion, and which is replaced by more air from without to be used for the same purpose. Then there is complaint again, and with abundant reason, of bad ventilation. It seems to be forgotten that there are such things as ventilating stoves. But they have long been in use. The Franklin stove as originally constructed had a provision for ventilation. Ruttan's "Air Warmer" is a double box-stove, which heats by radiation, and also by air which is brought from without, warmed by passing between the inner and outer plates, and delivered into the apartment. The inventor, however, was so intent upon a "system of ventilation" which implied the adaptation of the house to it, that he failed to make his stoves readily available for ordinary use.

The best contrivance we have seen of this kind is the ventilating stove or fireplace known as the "Fire on the Hearth." This combines the advantages of a stove within the room to warm by radiation, a grate giving an open fire, which is prized by many, and a passage or chamber open below and above through which warm air ascends into the room. An opening in the floor with a duct leading to the outside of the house brings in a supply of fresh air which is passed through the stove, warmed, and streams into the apartment. We have tried this stove, and found it satisfactory, both as a heater and a ventilator. We used one of moderate size, which, as tested by the anemometer, gave from eight to ten thousand cubic feet of air per hour in the room, and thus secured excellent ventilation. The difference between an ordinary stove and this ventilating stove in an occupied apartment was most marked to all the inmates, while to gain its advantages it is only needful to incur the small outlay necessary for bringing in the outer air. Fresh air is happily very cheap, but it must have a channel for introduction. If people will not go to the small trouble and expense required to give it entrance, they should not complain of the difficulties and imperfections of ventilation.


We have received various communications from widely different and distant sources in relation to the reputation and works of the late Professor Daniel Vaughan. Severe animadversions have been passed upon the depreciatory tone of comment that has been indulged in with regard to his personality and life; and there has been inquiry as to where his writings may be obtained. Several suggestions have been made respecting the publication of an edition of the most important and popular of his scientific contributions. A correspondent of Salem, Massachusetts, suggests that a very attractive and valuable volume could be made up by his papers on "The Tides," "The Rings of Saturn," "The Origin and End of the World," "The Advent and Appearance of New Stars," "The Nebular Hypothesis," "The Plurality of Worlds," "The Primitive Earth," "The Ancient Atmosphere," "Physics of the Internal Earth," "Volcanoes," "The Moon," "Revelations of Spectrum Analysis," and "The Catastrophes in Celestial Space."

These are certainly interesting topics, and they were handled by Professor Vaughan not only with the ability of an able expositor, but with the freshness of an independent thinker, who had formed his own opinions upon many of the questions involved. Professor Vaughan, as we, however, understand, left no property to pay for the publication of his works, and whether such a volume can be issued will depend upon how publishers regard the venture, or whether he has any friends sufficiently interested in his memory and productions to cooperate in bringing out a collection of his essays.