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The Imperfections Of Science


 

MR. ROBERT WARD, discussing the questions of Heat and Light in the November Journal of Science, shows us how utterly ignorant is science about one of the commonest facts of nature--the heat of the sun. He says:--"The question of the temperature of the sun has been the subject of investigation by many scientists. Newton, one of the first investigators of the problem, tried to determine it, and after him all the scientists who have been occupied with calorimetry have followed his example. All have believed themselves successful, and have formulated their results with great confidence. The following, in the chronological order of the publication of the results, are the temperature (in centigrade degrees) found by each of them: Newton, 1,669,300°; Pouillet, 1,461°; Zöllner, 102,200°; Secchi, 5,344,840°; Ericsson, 2,726,700°, Fizeau, 7,500°; Waterston, 9,000,000°; Spoeren, 27,000°; . . . Deville, 9,500°; Soret, 5,801,846°; Vicaire, 1,398°; Violle, 1,500°; Rosetti, 20,000°. The difference is, as 1,400° against 9,000,000°, or no less than 8,998,600°! There probably does not exist in science a more astonishing contradiction than that revealed in these figures." And again. Ever since the science of geology was born, scientists have accepted the theory that the heart of our globe is still a mass of molten matter, or liquid fire and only a thin crust is cool and solid. Assuming the earth's diameter to be about 9,000 miles, this crust they have estimated to be relatively to it only as thick as the film of a huge soap-bubble to its entire diameter. And they have assumed that the alleged increasing temperature in certain deep mines as we go from the surface downwards supported this theory. But science, through the mouth of Mr. Ward, rebukes this as a fallacious theory though still without sufficient data--"it is confidently asserted that the interior of the earth is in a red-hot molten condition, and that it is radiating its heat into space, and so growing colder. One of the results of the Challenger and other explorations of the deep ocean is to determine that the water towards its bottom is freezing cold. Considering that the ocean covers nearly three-fourths of the entire globe, this fact certainly does not support the theory of central heat accompanied by radiation. The coldest water, it is true, usually sinks by its greater weight towards the bottom, and that, it may be said, accounts for its coldness; but, on the theory of radiation the water of the ocean has been for long geological ages supported on the thin crust of the earth, through which the central heat has been constantly escaping, and yet it is still of freezing coldness! Experience would say that the heat cannot have escaped through the water without warming it, because the capacity of water for heat is greater than that of any other substance. We can no more imagine such a radiation, and consequent accumulation of heat in the ocean, without the natural result of a great rise in temperature, than we can believe in a pot resting for hours on a hot fire without the usual result of boiling water. We have no reason, therefore, to believe, as has been suggested, that the earth is growing colder, or that we, in common with all living things, are destined to be frozen out of existence and the earth itself finally swallowed up by the sun."

And now let us ask our smart young graduates of Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and Lahore how they like this view of the infallibility of that modern science for whose sake they are ready to abandon the teachings of their ancestors. Is there anything more unscientific in their speculations, granting, even, that they are as stupid?

Theosophist, February, 1881