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regularly surrounded by dense nebulous matter, an irregular nebula, in which one point is brighter than the rest, a nebula in which all idea of a stellar point is lost,--all these present instances of appearance, gradually yet totally different, and entirely dissimilar from every permanent body in our system. The resolvibility of some of these nebulæ, implying the existence of an immense number of stars at a proximity apparently much greater, in proportion to their individual brightness, than the stars which we commonly see, is a very striking phenomenon ; but far more striking is the irresolvibility of others, whose magnitude seems to imply comparative nearness, which, nevertheless, defy our telescopes, and whose general appearance seems obviously to contradict the notion of consisting of groups of stars. Among the inost remarkable of these, I may mention the two most conspicuous—those of Andromeda and Orion. No one, I think, who has seen these in a telescope of great lightthe one like a lamp shining through a homogeneous fog, the other like a pile of cumuli-clouds, tossed together in the same capricious manner in which we see them in our surimer-skies,-can persuade himself that these can be anything but masses of nebulous matter, the causes and the laws of whose arrangement we should vainly endeavour to detect.
In these remarks I have alluded only to the difference between the present appearance of these bodies, and that of the planets depending on our sun. We may now, however, consider the matter in another point of view. The phenomena of the solar system impress upon us the notion, not only of similarity, but of contemporaneity; at least, they seem to inform us that the time which has elapsed since the states of the planets were sensibly different must be immensely greater than the time during which a gradation of formation could have been sensible. But the contemplation of different nebulæ suggests a new idea—the idea of change. In one, we find nebulous matter in the wildest confusion ; in another, there are spots in which, apparently, a concentration of the matter has been formed by drawing together the nebula from a large space, aud leaving the neighbourhood comparatively dark an effect exhibited in such various ways, that it is impossible to consider it as an optical illusion, the effect of contrast): in others, we have rings of nebulous matter enclosing a dark space. A more common case is the concentration which, in various degrees, exhibits the various appearances of planetary nebulæ and nebulous stars. And one very curious instance has been pointed out in which the segregation has taken place in a honeycomb form, the lines of the honeycomb being nearly accompanied by lines of stars. But, has astronomy yet observed any change in these bodies? We cannot say with certainty that it has; yet the notion of change is not the less impressed upon us. To use the powerful illustration of Laplace, we look among them as among the trees of a forest. The change during the interval of a glance is undiscoverable, yet we perceive that there are plants in all different stages. We see that these stages are probably related to each other in the order of time; and we are irresistibly led to the conclusion, that the vegetable world in one case, and the sidereal world in the other, exhibit to us, at one instant, a succession of changes requiring time, which the life of man, or the duration of a solar system, are alone sufficient to trace out in any one instance.
Let it not be thought that the telescopic minuteness of some of these bodies is any argument against the importance of the investigation into their nature. The question as to the annual parallax of any nebula, has hardly, perhaps, received sufficient attention; and its practical determination must
necessarily be embarrassed with difficulties. This only we can assert, that the parallax of those most frequently observed is not conspicuous, and, probably, is not sensible. If the parallax of the great nebula of Orion be no greater than that of the stars most carefully observed, the breadth of that nebula may be fifty or a hundred times as great as the diameter of the earth's orbit. It may, then, well contain a sufficiency of matter for the formation of a sun and a system of planets. With this consideration, the examination of nebulæ acquires a new interest. It is not merely the inspection of a series of natural changes, in which we have no greater interest than in the transitions from an egg to a moth; but it is the study of the successive steps hy which worlds like that which we inhabit, and that which regulates our motions and our seasons, may have been organized from the most chaotic of all conceivable states. When to this we add, that the combination of relative motion of parts with gradual concentration of mass is sufficient to account generally for the formation of planets and satellites, possessing that remarkable property which is possessed by the bodies of our system, of revolving all in the same direction, and describing orbits nearly circular, we must acknowledge that the examination of nebulæ, in all their stages, presents not merely a chance, but a highlyplausible chance, of forming a distinct theory of cosmogony. And if we admire the genius of the mighty mathematician who first pointed out the simple reasoning by which the transition from nebulous fluid to discrete planets may be shown to be physically possible and probable, let us at the same time pay our tribute of admiration to the great astronomer whose accurate observations, and sagacious reflections, gave the first ground for such a theory. Little time has elapsed since the first observation of these sidereal bodies: the obser vations of the greatest part of them have been made within our lifetimes: the first page in that part of the history of astronomy which relates to these subjects is hardly yet traced. But the history of astronomy may yet be long enough to comprehend a series of visible changes; and the most important element for the value of that particular branch of it will be the fulness and accuracy of the commencement. Happy would it be for other parts of the science, if the first pages of their history were as well traced."— Astron. Soc. Report, 1836.
Uncertainty of the Signs of Death. In the Clinique Chirurgiale of M. Larrey, the case of a French officer is stated, who, though still living, has been already twice interred
Weather at Brussels.
The climate of Brussels is far from being attractive, M. Quetelet gives the following results from observations made at the Observatory there, during the last three years.
1833. 1834. 1835. Number of days of Rain
180 166 161 Hail
8 12 Snow
11 8 12 Frost
21 46 Thunder .
25 19 25 Sky, entirely cloudy 48 27 42 Sky, entirely clear 12
New Milling-Press, and Assay-Weights in the United States' Mint. MR. Franklin Peale is about to introduce a new Press for milling coins into the mint of the United States. This gentleman has recently returned from a mission, undertaken at the expense of his government, for the purpose of examining the assaying and coining processes of Europe.
It is, we believe, also, on the recommendation of Mr. F. P., that the decimal assay-weights of the French are about to be introduced into the assaying department of the same establishment, instead of the miniature ounce, and its divisions, of the English assayers, which have hitherto been used in the United States. The simplicity which this change will produce in the laboratory calculations, we can understand; but unless Great Britain takes a similar measure, we suspect it must be attended with some commercial inconvenience. It is, however, a step in advance; for though the decimal division is far from being satisfactory in all cases, it is very superior to our complicated system, which has two kinds of ounces, and divides one of them into twenty parts, and each of these subdivisions into twenty-four more Thus setting at defiance all correct mental estimates of proportion on the inspection of numerical quantity.
Royal Astronomical Society, February, 1836. The number of the existing Fellows of the Royal Astronomical Society of London, after deducting defaulters, was, in February last, 287
Ditto of Associates
324 His Majesty Frederick VI., King of Denmark, has been unanimously elected an Honorary Member of this Society, as a testimony of the Society's gratitude for His Majesty's beneficent intentions and useful services with regard to astronomy and astronomers.
New Meteorological Observatory. In the Annual Report made on the Anniversary of the United Service Museum, in March last, is the following passage.
“ It is proposed to keep a Meteorological Journal at the Museum, for which purpose necessary instruments will be provided, and the results noted." The utmost care should be taken that these “
necessary instruments" are of the most accurate construction, and made after approved models, so that the “ results noted" may be compared with others. It appears to us from the number of meteorological observers of the present day, and their dispersion over nearly the whole globe, that it is time there was a general understanding between them as to the hours, instruments, registry, &c. of observations. At present, an immense quantity of valuable time is thrown away in making and recording perhaps excellent observations, but on which no confidence can be placed, because the circumstances under which they are made are not known.
Patents in 1835. THE total number of grants made for Patents in England, in 1835, was 231
(unknown). The total number of Patents issued from the Patent-office of the United States of America, in the same year, was
Planetary Ephemeris. The first idea of this work, so useful in a working observatory, was due to Mr. Sheepshanks, who calculated and printed the first, at his own expense, in 1830. The expense, &c., up to the present year inclusive, was afterwards borne successively by the Astronomical Society, and by Mr. Baily. Upon a representation to the Government, by the Society, of the importance and public character of such a work, and that its utility had been verified by experience, it is gratifying to be able to state that prompt attention was immediately paid to it by the Lords of the Admiralty, and a communication made by them to the Society, that in future its publication would be undertaken and paid for by the Government.
Railroad Acts.- Present Session.--(April 24th, incl.) The first Railroad Bill which has passed into an Act of Parliament this Session, is the Birmingham and Gloucester. It received the Royal Assent on the 22nd. No other is ready for it; but the following have passed the House of Commons, and are in progress in the House of Lords, viz. Arbroath and Forfar,
Bristol and Exeter,
Cheltenham and Great Western,
Bolton and Leigh,
London Grand Junction. The Birmingham and Derby has passed both Houses, but having received an amendment in the Lords, it is returned to the Commons for their consideration.
Softening effect of Water on Cast-Iron. Some large brass and cast-iron guns, which went down with the Royal George in 1782, are now lying in the the Tower. The brass ones are little affected by their long immersion in the sea; but those of cast-iron are changed throughout their whole substance. They resemble plumbago or pencil-lead, and, like it, may be easily cut with a knife.
Cast-iron pipes, attached to a pumping-apparatus, in a mine, 140 fathoms deep, in the north of England, have been so softened in five years, as scarcely to hold together on removal.
Tides in the Western Hemisphere. An extensive series of Tide Observations was made along the Atlantic coast of the United States, in June last, under the direction of the commander-inchief of the United States' army, in consequence of a request made to the executive of the United States, by the government of Great Britain. Some of the journals ought, perhaps, before this, to have contained, at least, a general account of these observations. Journ. Franklin Institute.
United Service Museum.
The establishment of the United Service Museum, in Scotland Yard, is rapidly advancing in extent and utility.
The number of Subscribers on the 5th of March last, was . 4193 The number of Visiters to the Museum during the year 1835, was 8537
Pension to Mr. Peter Nicholson. A PETITION to His Majesty is now in the course of signature in the metropolis, requesting the grant of a Pension to Mr. Peter Nicholson. A more deserving object of the Royal and National Bounty was never recommended to its attention. After a long and eminently-useful life, this teacher of practical science, whose works have enriched others, and have extended, and will continue for ages to extend, the application of science to some of the most necessary and valuable arts of life, is now, at an advanced age, depending upon a subscription which his private friends of Newcastle and its neighbourhood have raised, and which, though not yet exhausted, is daily approaching to its end. Without intending to excite any invidious comparison, we are ready to maintain and to prove, that as a citizen deserving distinction and aid, for useful intellectual labour rendered to his country, Mr. Nicholson's claim is as strong as any one on that list, so honourable to the government, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer lately gave in the House of Commons. In one respect, it has unhappily an additional title to attention. Mr. Nicholson is in want.
Astronomical Society's Medal for 1836. The Catalogue of Nebulæ and Clusters of Stars, made by Sir J. F. W. Herschel, and published in the Philosophical Transactions for 1833, has been decided to be worthy of the Gold Medal of the Astronomical Society; and was on the 12th of February last publicly consigned to the care of Captain W. H. Smyth, Foreign Secretary, by the President of the Society, in the following terms: “Captain Smyth,-Transmit this Medal, in the name of the Royal Astronomical Society, to Sir John Herschel. Assure him that we admire the genius and appreciate the perseverance which have produced the Catalogue of Nebulæ and Clusters of Stars,—that we respect the motive which has prompted him to establish himself for a time at a distance from his country, and that we join in the warmest wishes that his residence there may be one of enjoyment and satisfaction, and that his returñ may be happy and honourable.'
Fire-proof Chest. A WOODEN Chest, lined inside and outside with asbestos, and then enclosed in a stout sheet-iron case, has been constructed as a Fire-proof Chest, by Mr. Scott of Philadelphia. An instance of its preservative power occurred during the recent immense fire at New York.
Opposing Opinions on Radiation. “Dr. Stark of Edinburgh has endea- “ Professor Bache of Pennsylvania, voured to show, that black substances has made an extensive series of exradiate better than white ones. He periments on a similar method to that of has made a few experiments, directly Dr. Stark, the result of which is, that applicable to the subject, which, as far colour does not appear to influence as they go, warrant this conclusion." the radiation of heat, unaccompanied
by light.”—Journ. Franklin Institute.
Patent Law Grievance.-No. 2. Up to the 26th ult. has the Government taken, in the present year only, out of the pockets of Inventors, for stamps and fees in the passing of Patents, in Great Britain, very considerably more than £15,000. We hope to be able to state that Mr. Mackinnon, on the 28th, reported this heavy grievance to the House of Commons. To what purpose are all these thousands applied ?