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12 FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

tence, with these burning orbs ? To this question the man
of science, if he confine himself within his own limits, will
give no answer, though it must be remarked that in the
formation of an opinion he has better materials to guide
him than anybody else. He can clearly show, however,
that the present state of things may be derivative. He
can even assign reasons which render prObable its deriva-
tive origin—that it was not originally what it now is. At
all events, he can prove that out of common non-luminous
matter this whole pomp of stars might have been evolved.

The law of gravitation enunciated by Newton is, that
every particle of matter in the universe attracts every other
particle with a force which diminishes as the square of the
distance increases. Thus the sun and the earth mutually
pull each other; thus the earth and the moon are kept in
company; the force which holds every respective pair of
masses together being the integrated force of their com-
ponent parts. Under the operation of this force, a stone
falls to the ground and is warmed by the shock ; under its
operation meteors plunge into our atmOSphere and rise to
incandescence. Showers of such doubtless fall incessantly
upon the sun. Acted on by this force, were it stopped in
its orbit to-morrow, the earth would rush toward, and finally
combine with, the sun. Heat would also be developed by
this collision, and Mayer, Helmholtz, and Thomson, have
calculated its amount. It would equal that produced by
the combustion of more than five thousand worlds of solid
coal, all this heat being generated at the instant of collision.
In the attraction of gravity, therefOre, acting upon non-
luminous matter, we have a source of heat more powerful
than could be derived from any terrestrial combustion. And
were the matter of the universe cast in cold detached frag-
ments into space, and there abandoned to the mutual gravi-
tation of its own parts, the collision of the fragments would
in the end produce the fires of the stars.

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