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Shall We "go To Blazes?"

Shall We "go To Blazes?" image
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A startling predictioD hus recently been made that tliere was great danger of the world's coniing ro an end sometime during Uie year. 1 1 was stated that there is at prcs ent n the universe a body of alraost incon oeivable density which is going direetly toward the sun. Soiuetime during this year, the predietion alleged, thi masa would f all into the sun, and thtí immense heat suddenly geoerated thereby would destroy all the higher forma of ufe od the earth. It was very soberly stated that tho people at the poles, akhough the tenjperature there would be greatly increased, might possibly survive tfais terrible heal and thus re-people the earth. In order to obtain light on this question, a l'ost reporter has been obtaining the views of the governiaent astrononiers on the subject. The naval obtervatory was tlir tir.-t place visited. Prof. Hall, thouuh able to discover Mar's satellite, has notyet found the cornet wbich is to paly such an important part in the destruciion of the world. " It is the first time I have been made aware of the mpetidiog danger," he said. " But can there be any foundation for such a prediction ? " " Only in thin, that I have seen somewbere a statement tht the cornet of 1812 was to return abom this time; but the likelihood that it wiil fall into the sun or strike the eartli, even fit did return, is infinitesimal. Tharais about one chance in millions anJ oiillions that the earlh will evr-r be truck by a con "Andifitdid?" In my opini"" n -- J c - l- p 'nc,.iHnoes in the !¦ " Then you are not concerned about this prediction ? " " Not much. I do not care even to speculate about it, for there are many niatters of far more value to which my time can be better devoted." Professor Eastman was found in bis room busily at work. He laughed as he read the article which the reporter showed him. "I don't know anvthmi; about it," he said, as he laid it on hi desk. "You'see therc are periodic waves of ppoculation araong amateur astronomers, and I soppose tlii.s il the latest These gentlemen speculaie ingeniously, and people alwaysread thatsort of matter, without once endeavoring to asc rtain the real facts in the cae. For in stance, there is an apparently well authenticated tradition that Tycho Brahe, an early astronomer, predicled that this year would be one of great sickness and several other terrible things, because four planets -Venus, Júpiter, Saturn and Neptune- would be in conjunctioo." " Is that not so ? " The professor laughed more heartilv tlmn ever. "Of course nnt," he said. " The planeta do not come into conjunction this year at all. ín addition o this, Neptune was not discurered until Tycho Brahe had bcco dpad about 300 years, and he cuuld not, therefore have predieted its conjunction with anything. My idea is that this a,rticle, if it did not origínate altogether in some imagioative brain, was bised on a statement regarding Swift's eoH. " 'rWhat was that?" "That it was moving directly towurd the earth. Three comets have been . covered recently, one of which was Swift's. It was announced from the first that two of the eomets were moving in an orbit which would never come near the earth, but Swift states that he could detect no raotion in his cornet, and he reasonod therefore that t was moving directly toward the earth. Had his obsorvations been correot his conclusión would have been jusiitiable. When, however, we looked at it throueh our glas we detocted a very rapid inotion visible, even without the aid of measurements urdinarily_ used. I'rof. Frisby, wbo has been makfng a ciudy of the orbit of Swift's cornet, find.s that t has a period of five and a half years, so there is no danger of it striking the earth or falling into the sun. lf there is any other coromet coming I do not know it." Prof. IIarknes8 was also busy with some astronómica! tables, but tnok time carefully to read over the article. " What do you think of it?" asked the reporter. " I can dispose of ia three sentenoes. In the first place thero is no evidence that any cornet is about to fall into the sun. Second)y, ifa cornet did fall into the san it is not likely that it would increwe the heat of that body suffioiently to cause any serious datnage to the earth. And lastly, puysicists do not believe, as the article states, that the falling of raetecrites into the sun is the principal sonree of its heat. So far as is now known the only adequate source seeuis to bc the shrinking of the sun's diameter produced by the action of if own gravity. 1 thinlc that articles of that kind," he oontinued, pointing to the extract, " are not worth a momeat's consideration except to exposé their very absurdity." Prof. Newcomb, who was found at his bouse, did not see why people should get nterested in such "unmitigatcd nonsense. " '" But they do get intereBted, for the other in iriiink! I found on my desk a letter from a gentleman who had read thia article, and who wantod to know whether it was true I imm you rnight as well teil your readers what I told him- that he nught to know letter lliin la troubl hitBanlt' bont a matter which on its very face is nonsensical and absurd."


Ann Arbor Courier
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