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Book 12-1
Copyright
Church of Light
August 2002
Natural Alchemy
Evolution of Life
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Chapter 1
Serial No. 125
Original Copyright 1949
Elbert Benjamine
Copyright
August 2002
Church of Light
Origin of the Earth
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Chapter 1
Origin of the Earth
BECAUSE it regulates his conduct, it is difficult to conceive anything of greater
importance to man than his religion. Even though it be unconscious and ill-defined,
every person has a philosophy of life which determines his thoughts and actions in
the face of innumerable circumstances by which, from day to day, he is confronted.
He is aware of his own existence, and he is aware of the existence of other entities and
forces than himself. It is impossible to ignore these other energies and persons and
things, for continued existence demands they be recognized and due allowance made
for their value as life-supporting or life-destroying factors. Thus each person is
constantly called upon to make an adjustment to meet the requirements of contact
with this or that entity, person or force. The nature of the adjustment so made depends
upon his philosophy of life, conscious or unconscious, and which, although he may
be inclined to reject the word may, in its broadest sense, be termed his religion.
Because his conduct is regulated by his philosophy of life, perfect conduct depends
upon a perfect religion, and a perfect civilization, depending as it does upon man's
conduct, is impossible without a perfect philosophy. Such a perfect religion must
define man's proper relation to all other entities in the universe. But we can only
formulate a system of relations between man and other men and entities from a
knowledge of the man and his functions and a knowledge of other men and entities
and their functions. Perfect relationship can only be determined from a complete
knowledge of the man and a complete knowledge of other men and other entities.
Such complete knowledge of man and such complete knowledge of all other entities
and forces in the universe is not at hand. Consequently there can be no such thing as a
complete and perfect religion.
Perfection is too much to expect, for this is a progressive existence, and progress
demands new adjustments from time to time. We can conceive of no limit to the
information it may be possible for man to obtain. New information must be
assimilated by any adequate religion, and is thus being assimilated by The Religion
of the Stars as fast as it is amply verified. To be adequate, religion must be based upon
as complete a knowledge of man and other entities as possible. It must not remain
stationary. It must progress even as knowledge progresses.
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Such knowledge is not to be obtained by theorizing, nor by building fantasies-much
as the human mind is prone to follow this line of minimum resistance- but by
painstaking observation of man and other entities, by careful research into the
life-histories of men and all other living things, by investigating the psychology of
the human mind and that of other creatures, and by extensive research on other than
the physical plane. Only upon the most inclusive knowledge of both the inner plane
and the outer plane can we hope, at last, to build a theory accurately and truthfully
portraying, in so far as present day circumstances will permit, man's proper relation
to all.
The theory of human life and conduct so derived, which we call The Religion of the
Stars, must be logical inferences based upon as many inner-plane facts and
outer-plane facts as it is possible to acquire.
Nature, in her various ramifications is so vast that any one man may personally
investigate thoroughly only a small fraction of the whole. Hence, men of science
usually specialize and devote their chief endeavor to some single section, or small
department, of nature. They attain great skill in research, and gain much precise
knowledge concerning the minute region of the universe to which they direct lifelong
attention. But because of this they are hardly better fitted to pass judgment on the
whole than the man who has made no study. To pass competent judgment about the
universe, there must be available for comparison facts, not merely about a single
department, but fundamental facts regarding as many departments and sections of
nature as possible.
Nor are scientists who specialize in one field competent to pass judgment on the facts
in an unrelated field of science. Yet often they are prone to do so. Comments Jan
Ehrenwald, M.D., in an article on the Neurobiological Aspects of Telepathy,
appearing in the October, 1948, The Journal of the American Society for Psychical
Research:
"An increasing amount of experimental evidence of telepathy and related
phenomena has been accumulated during the past fifteen years. The problem no
longer is to convince the skeptics who, by their stubborn disbelief, prove only their
inability to digest food for thinking that had not been included in their diet during
their childhood years."
During the first thirteen of the years mentioned, up to 1947, Duke University
Laboratory alone conducted over one-million trials of extra-sensory perception;
other university laboratories, following similar methods reported over two million
trials, and there were something over a million trials, with responses from over
46,000 subjects made by the Zenith radio program in the winter of 1937-38.
Dr. J. B. Rhine, of Duke University, the instigator of the experiments there
conducted, at the commencement of his book, The Reach of the Mind (1947) says:
"Henceforth I will assume that science will in time accept ESP and PK and that Psi is
a normal human capacity, nonphysical in nature."
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No intelligent person who follows the scientific experiments with psi phenomena
over the years can fail to be convinced that the soul continues to live beyond the
tomb, and that its personality there is in essential respects that which it exhibited
while on earth. Nor can any intelligent person who learns to erect and progress a
birth-chart fail to be convinced that the inner-plane weather, which consists of
astrological energies, has as much or more influence over human life than the
physical weather.
Man lives in, and is influenced by, both an outer plane world and an inner-plane
world. And there has been a vast amount of observation, carefully checked, which
indicates that if we consider man to consist of his physical body, his astral body, his
mind or soul, and the thoughts which he thinks, the inner plane environment-which
includes objects, the actions and thoughts of intelligent entities, and astrological
energies-has as much influence over his thoughts, feelings and behavior as do all
outer-plane conditions and energies, including the influence of his associates.
The facts thus far discovered relative to the inner plane, its energies and the way its
inhabitants live are set forth in the other 20 Brotherhood of Light courses. In this
course a survey of the fundamental facts having to do with the progress and
development of life and religion on earth will be made, in so far as it is possible to
cover so vast a field in so limited a space. Necessarily this outline must be brief, and
because the scope of nature is so limitless, that which is included is as a pebble to a
mountain to that which is both interesting and important that must be omitted. Yet if I
can sketch even so brief, though clear a picture of the processes that, according to the
latest findings of science, have brought the world from its primitive star-dust to
where it is inhabited by civilized man, and show the steps by which his religion has
reached the present stage, I shall be quite satisfied.
But in addition to explaining the processes by which life on earth has made constant
progress, I believe I should also point out the factor which during 1900 years most
retarded the acquisition of knowledge of the physical world, and which at the present
time is the greatest hindrance to the dissemination of information about the inner
world.
The Iron Curtain of
Orthodoxy
--Orthodoxy for centuries kept the Western World behind an iron curtain by means
of the Inquisition. It no longer resorts to ruthless violence, but it persists in building
an iron curtain that effectively prevents most from learning the facts. In their
emotionally impressionable childhood people are taught they should make no
investigation of religion. They are impressed that instead they should place reliance
on blind belief. And to keep them behind this iron curtain of ignorance they are
threatened with eternal suffering after earthly life is done.
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In 1163, acting in conjunction with the Council of Tours, Pope Alexander III forbade
ecclesiastics to study "physics or the laws of the world." Roger Bacon, over a
hundred years later, failed to obey this order. He explained the rainbow and other
natural phenomena by scientific methods. In 1278 the Franciscan order condemned
his teachings, and later the Pope threw him in prison for 14 years. He was not released
until he was 80 years of age.
In 1243 the Dominicans forbade every member of their order to study medicine or
natural philosophy, and in 1287 forbade them to study chemistry. In 1380, Charles V
of France, at the insistence of religious authorities, forbade any person to possess
furnaces and apparatus necessary for chemical processes, and in 1404 Henry IV of
England made a similar law, as did Venice in 1418.
Eufame Macalyane, a lady of high position, in 1591 was charged with "seeking the
aid of Agnes Sampson for the relief of pain at the time of the birth of her two sons,"
and as church authorities held that woman should suffer pain in childbirth, she "was
burned alive on the Castle Hill of Edinburgh."
Later, when James Young Simpson advocated the use of anesthetics in childbirth he
was furiously denounced by church authorities and told that what he proposed was
"to avoid one part of the primeval curse on woman."
In England, Scotland and New England as late as the eighteenth century it was
considered "flying in the fact of providence" to attempt to prevent smallpox. God had
sent it in his judgment, and to attempt "to avert it is to provoke Him more."
The introduction of quinine in Europe was bitterly fought by orthodox Protestants,
and it was not used in England until 1653. The natives of South America held coca in
great esteem. But the Second Council of Lima, in 1567, condemned its use, and in
1569 a royal decree was issued declaring that "the notions entertained by the natives
regarding it are an illusion of the devil."
In spite of the fast accumulating evidence that the earth is a sphere, Luther, Calvin,
Zwingli and Melanchton among the Protestants held steadfastly to the Bible dictum
that its shape is four-cornered. As to the possibility of people living at the antipodes,
the early church held that to be heresy. Said St. Augustine, such teaching was to "give
the lie to King David and to St. Paul, and therefore to the Holy Ghost."
Having set the date of creation, orthodoxy did all in its power to discredit the records
of the rocks and the evidence of early man. Fossils to it were the remains of the flood
of Noah, and the artifacts of primitive man were those of people living later than
4,000 B.C. There was a great outcry when in 1844 Robert Chambers published his
Vestiges of Creation, still greater anger when on July 1, 1858, the papers of Charles
Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace were read before the Linnean Society of London,
and a tirade of abuse in 1859 when Darwin's Origin of Species was first published.
It is not surprising that man in the past had erroneous ideas about himself, about the
earth, and about life after physical dissolution. Nor at the present day do we possess
all important information on these subjects. It is not to criticize the ignorance of the
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past, or that of the present, that these matters are being mentioned. It is to point out
how the iron curtain of fear erected by orthodoxy has impeded investigation and has
made people afraid to recognize facts which are essential to their present and future
well being. And to emphasize that this iron curtain of fear erected by orthodoxy must
be lifted if man is to live to best advantage. Raising the iron curtain of orthodoxy has
been difficult even where the physical world is concerned. But to raise it where
inner-plane facts are concerned, even though this is equally important, is a far harder
job.
Relative to the earth itself, Archbishop Ussher of Ireland in 1654 declared from his
study of the Scriptures that Creation had taken place in the year 4004 B.C. This was
then inserted in the authorized version of the Bible. It became, along with the notions
of other church men of previous times, part of the orthodox dogma.
As such it discouraged all research as to the actual age of the earth, and brought
denunciation on the head of any person who made such investigation. Yet in 1778
Buffon had the courage to estimate the age of geologic time as 75,000 years. In 1860
Phillips shocked his contemporaries by placing the age of the earth at 60 million
years. But by 1900, as the result of studies of time taken by erosion to level mountain
chains, build sedimentary rocks, and to cut canyons thousands of feet deep in these
rocks, geologists usually accepted 100 million years as the probable age of the earth.
They found that in recent years Niagara Falls had retreated 5 feet a year, wind erosion
at certain places in the Gobi Desert was at the rate of 5 feet in 156 years, the bluffs of
till along the shore of Cape Cod were receding at the rate of from 1 to 3 feet a year,
peat was accumulating in marches at Lynn, Massachusetts, at the rate of 3 to 4 inches
in 50 years, the rate of down cutting of the Nile at the Cataracts has been at the rate of
25 feet in 4,500 years, and certain glaciers deepen their cirques 0.57 millimeters a
year.
Where periods are not too long, estimates derived from such rates of change are fairly
accurate. For shorter periods where each annual layer of sediment remains distinct
enough to be counted, as are rings of a cut tree, there is a still more precise measure.
For instance, such annual varves of clay representing 20,000 years or more have been
counted in many lake beds.
There was no precise measure of the longer periods of time which had elapsed since
the rocks of earth were formed until after 1902. That year radium was discovered,
initiating the study of simple elements which are subject to spontaneous
disintegration. About twenty such atoms are known in nature which expel parts of
their nuclei. The process is quite regular, very slow, and the speed of such
disintegration cannot be changed by heat, pressure, or any other known external
influence. In one year heavy uranium spontaneously loses one atom out of 6,570
million; light uranium (actino-uranium) loses one atom out of 1,030 million, and
thorium loses one atom out of 20,000 million.
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The atoms thus lost go through various changes some of which require only a fraction
of a second and some of which not less than a million years. These changes follow a
regular known sequence, and finally become stable nuclei each of which is an isotope
of lead. Lead of non-radioactive origin always contains a slight proportion of an
isotope with an atomic weight of 204. This never appears in the course of radioactive
disintegration. Instead, the isotopes of lead resulting from the disintegration of heavy
uranium, light uranium and thorium have atomic weights of 206, 207, and 208.
Therefore natural lead in rocks can readily be distinguished from lead due to
radioactive disintegration.
If a rock containing ordinary uranium was formed a billion years ago, about 14 per
cent of the original uranium atoms will have disintegrated and been replaced by an
equal number of atoms of lead. The weight of the lead will be 12 per cent of the
original uranium, and the weight of the helium liberated in the disintegration will be
2 per cent. The ratio between the amount of lead and the amount of uranium found in
the rock provides a faithful and very sensitive clock for timing the age of the rock.
On the basis of such calculations, uranite deposits at Great Bear Lake are 1,375
million years old, and dykes in the Black Hills at Keystone, So. Dakota, are 1,420
million years old. The oldest dated rocks thus far found are a formation in Carelia,
Russia. They are 1,800 million years old. These dated rocks, however, are not the
oldest, for they consist of intrusive material thrust through older surrounding rocks
which contain no radioactive minerals. It is assumed, therefore, that the oldest rocks
are about two billion (2,000,000,000) years old.
As to how old the earth was before it was cool enough for its crust to solidify as rock,
science is today in as much of a predicament as it was at the turn of the century in
estimating the age of rocks. To replace the nineteenth century Laplacian nebular
hypothesis, there has appeared in the present century the tidal friction theory of Jeans
and Jefferies, the planetesimal theory of Chamberlin and Moulton, and a still newer
theory of Jefferies. The tidal friction theory and the planetesimal theory assume the
close approach of two stars, and the newer theory of Jefferies a side swiping collision
between them.
In each case one of the stars, or what is left of it after the side swiping collision, passes
off in a hyperbolic orbit. The close approach or the collision is supposed to have
caused the ejection of material from the star which we call the sun. The planetesimal
theory postulates that the ejected material condensed and solidified quickly into
small objects known as planetesimals, and that the planets were formed by the
gathering together of the small planetesimals about nuclei. The tidal theory and the
later one of Jefferies assume the planets were formed by the condensation of large
masses of hot diffused material.
On the basis of these theories it has been assumed the earth was in existence about a
billion years before it solidified. Thus a geological time clock in the American
Museum of Natural History made in 1931 gives the gaseous stage of the earth as 400
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million years, at which time, 2,600 million years ago, meteors began to fall. Then
followed 600 million years of Azoic time before the earth's crust formed about 2
billion years ago.
However, not only have discrepancies been found in each of these three theories, but
the most eminent astronomers in this year of 1949 believe our universe cannot be
much more than 2 billion years old. Even as in the opinion of science since the turn of
the century the age of the earth has increased, so in its opinion has the age of the
universe decreased. Since the commencement of this century Milne demonstrated
that the sun cannot have existed more than 5,000 billion years, and Eddington held
that it seemed unlikely the age of the stars, systems and galaxies could go back more
than 10,000 billion years.
The spiral nebulae, which are galaxies beyond our own galaxy of the Milky Way, are
each made up of hundreds of millions of stars. And they all appear to be moving away
from us and from each other at speeds that increase in proportion to their distance. If
this expansion has been continuous at the indicated rate, not much over 2 billion
years ago all of the observable universe must have been concentrated near one point.
The theory is that the universe in its present form resulted from atomic explosion
within this once compact mass.
The movements of stellar bodies can be observed only through the aid of light. The
red shift in the spectrum indicates the movement of these galaxies away from us. One
of the problems astronomers hope eventually to solve by means of the 200-inch
telescope on Palomar Mountain is whether the red shift is due to some hitherto
undiscovered law of nature, or actually indicates the universe is expanding.
In 1940 work was begun on the 4,000-ton atom smashing apparatus at the University
of California. Its construction, interrupted by World War II, was resumed in 1945.
Then the original design had to be modified to adapt it to the newly-recognized
principle of frequency modulation. It had to be modified to make correction for the
effect indicated by the Special Theory of Relativity which makes particles increase
rapidly in mass as their velocity approaches that of light. And it is possible-as
relativity affects not only gravitation, as is also demonstrated by psychokinesis, but
distance, as demonstrated by its apparent lack of interference with extra-sensory
perception and telepathy, and time, as demonstrated by the ability of extra-sensory
perception to perceive events both in the past and the future-that light rays traveling
through space for hundreds of millions of years are subject to laws not yet
recognized.
Not only is matter converted into atomic energy for many present day uses, but it has
been proved that when an electron meets a positron both are annihilated with the
release of gamma radiation. And it has been proved that the action of a gamma ray on
the electromagnetic field can call an electron and a positron into existence. That is,
matter can be created from energy. Although other scientists do not all agree with
him, Professor R. A. Millikan, one of the two outstanding authorities on the cosmic
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ray, holds that in their primary form they are a result of the synthesis of certain types
of atom in outer space and that they represent the "mass defect" energy of these
atoms.
At least we now know, due to progress in photography, that interstellar space, two
decades ago believed to be empty, contains a tremendous amount of microscopic
matter. Jan Oort, in 1948 president of the International Astronomical Union,
calculates that the interstellar gas and dust contains as much matter as all the stars. In
the Milky Way, only a minute segment of the observed universe, this comes to 300
million million times the mass of the earth. Hydrogen and helium are prevalent, and
some think these two gases are the building blocks from which by nuclear synthesis
many of the other elements were made.
The most plausible theory of today (1949) is that our solar system once consisted of a
vast dust cloud which began to condense under gravity. As the Milky Way itself
rotates, dust clouds within this area would also rotate. According to the law of
conservation of angular momentum, as it shrunk in size it would rotate more rapidly.
With resistance diminishing and gravity increasing the cloud would collapse faster
and faster, its final collapse to a size equal to that of the solar system requiring only a
few hundred years. Due to increased pressure the temperature would rise
tremendously, and in its final white-hot phase the sun would become hot enough to
start the nuclear reactions among carbon, hydrogen and helium which some believe
is the source of its continued heat.
It is held that some of the revolving cloud condensed into minor clouds and in the
final collapse of the sun these were left stranded to become planets. A number of
known laws, including that of the pressure of light from the sun, are called in to
account for their behavior and that of their satellites. According to this theory, neither
the earth nor the universe need to have been in existence over about 2 billion years,
and thus its materials could have resulted from an atomic explosion of a central mass
not much longer than that ago.
The Part Played by
Psychokinesis
--The evolution of life, as will be made plain in subsequent lessons, is from the
simple toward the more complex. But inorganic evolution, in obeyance to the
Carnot-Clausius law, moves successively from the more complex to the simple.
According to this law every successive inorganic state entails a definitive decrease in
its available energy. Unless it is able to borrow energy from some other system-such
as the astral plane-the material universe is running down and in time will reach a state
of inert symmetry.
From whence came these molecules, atoms, protons, neutrons, positrons, electrons,
mesons, photons and possibly neutrinos of the inorganic world which are now
running down? And from whence came life which is now evolving from the simple to
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the complex? Lecomte du Nouy in 1947 showed by probability calculations the
inconsistency of believing the appearance of the first living cell to be due to a chance
combination of inorganic molecules.
Psychical researchers have found that whenever physical conditions were present
that would permit the manifestation of intelligence, that intelligence always was
present there to manifest itself. In other words, there is an inner plane, nonphysical in
nature, and not subject to physical laws, where intelligence of incalculable grades at
all time persists. It is on this plane that the unconscious mind or soul of man exists
while it functions through his physical body, and it is on this plane that it will
continue to function and develop after the dissolution of the physical vehicle.
There is no evidence of the existence of a God who has human frailties, a God who
unjustly can be persuaded to favor some special nation, Who punishes those who
strictly follow religious doctrines in which they believe, but which do not conform to
those of some other creed, and Who can be cajoled or bribed into granting special,
and quite unjust favors to those who give Him praise and beseech Him in prayer.
But that there is an all-pervading Super-Intelligence which can be contacted there is
much ESP evidence to prove. But not a God of whim and cruelty, such as would
condemn to eternal suffering those who had no opportunity to embrace, or whose
early conditioning in belief determined by environment over which they had no
control caused them to reject, some special faith.
If, as has been amply demonstrated in university laboratories, the mind can
manipulate physical objects, and if, as psychical researchers have demonstrated,
mind on the inner plane with various grades of intelligence is at all times present,
there seems good reason to conclude that the trend of evolution is in response to the
psychokinetic power of images within the mind of the all-pervading inner-plane
Super-Intelligence.
Under the jurisdiction of the overall Super-Intelligence, lesser intelligences on the
inner plane perform their psychokinetic functions. According to the old Hermetic
teaching, substance, motion and intelligence are inseparable and eternal. According
to this teaching the positron and the electron which can be manufactured from the
energy of an electromagnetic field are merely the high-velocity astral substance of
the inner plane which has been slowed down through polarity.
Lecomte du Nouy in his book Human Destiny, has pointed to the fact that material
science has utterly failed to account for life even in its most elementary form. To
account for it, and to account for its evolution, the existence of an inner plane where
mind resides and exerts a formative pressure on the lower-velocity physical
substance must be recognized.
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The Material Universe
--After studies with the 200-inch telescope on Palomar Mountain, which start this
year, have been completed, there will be much revision of present views about the
universe. This glass will reach twice as far into space as the 100-inch telescope on
Mt. Wilson, which is the largest used previous to this year.
According to calculations made from observation with it and smaller telescopes our
sidereal universe, or galactic system embraced within the Milky Way, is in the shape
of a lens between 200,000 and 300,000 light-years in maximum diameter and about
one-tenth of this in thickness. It is estimated to contain about 100 billion stars.
Within this main galactic system in the vicinity of the sun is a local system which also
is somewhat lens shaped, having a maximum diameter of about 20,000 light-years.
The sun is about 275 light-years from the center of this local system, which inclines
to the plane of the main system at an angle of about 12 degrees. The local galaxy is
about 65,000 light years from the center of the main galactic system. In this main
galactic system there appears to be a central condensation of material in the general
direction of the constellation Sagittarius.
Beyond our sidereal universe are between 50 million and 100 million extra-galactic
nebulae within the one billion light-year observational scope of the 100-inch
telescope. These are of three types: spirals, elliptical and irregular. About 77% are
spirals, 20% elliptical and 3% irregular. It has been proved that these extra-galactic
nebulae are immense groups of stars. It is believed by many that viewed from the
outside our sidereal universe, or Milky Way, which appears to be rotating, would
appear as a huge spiral nebula, such as the spiral nebula in Andromeda appears to us.
If this is the case, although other spiral nebulae are tremendously large, that of
Andromeda, measuring 28,000 light-years (light travels 186,284 miles per second
according to measurements in 1942) in greatest length, our Milky Way is the largest
of any of the galactic systems thus far measured.
The Stars: The stars which are found both in the extra-galactic systems and in our
own galactic system, are undergoing a process of evolution. Further advances in
nuclear physics will shed light on the changes they undergo. In their early stage they
are supposed to be of the type known as Red Giants, and in their last visible stage they
are supposed to be of the type known as Red Dwarfs which, while so much smaller,
have approximately the same mass as the red giants. The largest red giant thus far
measured is the star in the constellation Scorpio known as Antares. Measured with
the stellar interferometer it shows a diameter of 390 million miles. As the earth is
only 92,897,000 miles mean distance from the sun, and Mars is only 141,500,000
miles mean distance from the sun, if Antares were to occupy the place of the sun, both
earth and Mars would be far interior to its surface.
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The giants are largely composed of diffused gas at low temperature. As they contract
they are supposed to get hotter and hotter until they reach the blue-white stage, when
they start cooling off. Like an iron in a furnace they first become red, then orange,
then yellow, then yellow-white, then white and finally blue-white. To conform to the
2 billion year expanding universe theory they reach the blue-white stage quickly,
from then on cooling gradually. Thus the red giant Antares, 480 times the diameter of
the sun, has a density of only 0.000,000,3, and a temperature of only 3,100 degrees.
But the orange giant Capella in the constellation Auriga, with a diameter only 12
times that of the sun, has a density of 0.002 and a temperature of 5,500 degrees, and
the blue-white B Centauri, with a diameter 11 times that of the sun, seems to have
reached the maximum temperature before it starts to cool. Its density is 0.02 and its
temperature is 21,000 degrees.
After a star reaches the blue-white stage witnessed in B Centauri it begins to radiate
heat faster than its continued condensation generates it. From then on radiation
pressure acts against gravitational contraction and tends to hold the mass in
approximate equilibrium and permits it to cool slowly. Growing smaller and smaller
it passes in reverse order through the colors white, yellow-white, yellow, orange and
red. Finally it becomes black and invisible. There are supposed to be many more
black stars in our universe than those that emit light.
Sirius, in the constellation Canis Major, with a diameter 1.8 times that of the sun, has
cooled to the white stage with a density of 0.4 and a temperature of 11,200 degrees.
Our sun, an orange dwarf star similar in color to the orange giant Capella, has a
temperature of 6,000 degrees, only 500 degrees higher than Capella, but has a density
of 1.4, which is tremendously greater.
Antares has a luminosity 3,500 times that of the sun, Capella 150 times that of the
sun, Sirius 26 times that of the sun, and Krueger 60A has a luminosity only 0.002 that
of the sun. Our sun is well past its prime, for it is an orange dwarf. But it has a long
way to go before it becomes one of the countless dead suns that clutter up the
universe; even a long way to go before reaching the red dwarf stage of Kreuger 60A
which, with a diameter of 0.3 that of the sun has a temperature of only 3,300 degrees,
but a density of 9.
White Dwarfs: More than 99% of the observed stars fit into the evolutionary
sequence of stars just set forth. But there are a few that do not fit into this general
scheme. Because they are so small and faint they are difficult to locate. With the
progress of nuclear physics more about their origin will be learned. The present
theory is that they consist of atomic nuclei stripped of all external electrons and
tightly packed together by gravitational compression. The first of these white dwarfs
to be discovered was the companion star to Sirius. Its mass is about that of the sun, but
although hotter than the sun, its luminosity is only about 1/360 as great. This means
that about the same mass of material found in the sun with a mean diameter of
864,000 miles is compressed into the 30,000-mile diameter of the white dwarf. Its
density, 30,000 times that of water compared with the earth's 5.58 times that of water,
is such that a cubic foot of its material weighs 935 tons.
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Multiple Stars: Not all the stars are single as is our sun. In many instances two stars
form a system and revolve in elliptical orbits around their own common center of
gravity. Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, is such a binary, its companion being the
white dwarf just mentioned. Then there are triple stars, in which three stars form a
system; and Theta Orionis, the star in the nebula in the sword of Orion, is composed
of six stars. One multiple, as they are called, has been discovered that is really
composed of a closely related system of 16 different stars. Such systems of more than
one star often have one or more members of the family that are dark stars whose
presence may be known only by their passing between us and some of the others.
Variable Stars: Any star whose light is known to fluctuate is called a variable star. At
the present time 10,000 such variables are known, and it is estimated that not less
than 5% of all stars are at least somewhat variable. One type, known as the Algol type
because the star Algol behaves in this manner, shows a rapid diminution of its light at
regular intervals. It is believed such stars have a dark companion, or one of less
luminosity-and this has been definitely proved in the case of Algol-and as the two
revolve the darker of the two periodically eclipses the brighter.
But there is another type of variable star whose irregular fluctuations cannot be
explained in this manner. Some think they are dying suns, and that as a crust of thick
vapor forms on the surface their light is shut off. Then, at irregular intervals, the
molten interior bursts through and they again appear very brilliant. Others believe
that they are suns traveling in a region rich in dark nebulae, and that when they enter
successive clouds of dust or strike swarms of meteors the friction of the impact is the
source of the added illumination.
Novae: Not only are there supposed to be many more dead and dark suns-suns that
have cooled below the light-emitting stage-wandering about the heavens than there
are luminous ones, but many new suns apparently are observed to be born. These are
called novae. Many are detected each year, and it is estimated that ten or more reach a
brightness of the ninth stellar magnitude or more annually. Photographic records
indicate, however, that novae are not actually new stars, but are faint stars which for
some reason suddenly increase in intensity. It is not uncommon for them to gain an
increase of ten magnitudes, which means an increase of light intensity of 10,000
times.
At present no complete explanation is available, but with further advances in nuclear
physics such an explanation may be forthcoming. The most commonly accepted
present theory is that some faint star explodes and blows off its outer shell of gaseous
material. This may be due to the release of atomic energy. As the shell would rapidly
expand after leaving the star the displacement of spectral lines would be toward the
violet, which is observed. Nor are these novae, whose brightness lasts only a short
time and then rapidly fades confined to our sidereal universe, for they have also been
observed in some of the extra-galactic systems such as the great spiral of
Andromeda.
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Star Clusters: Stars which move through space together in parallel paths are known
as moving clusters. Many such moving clusters are known. The sun apparently is not
a member of such a moving cluster, but at present is within the Ursa Major cluster,
which has a diameter of 500 light-years, with its members moving past us on both
sides.
Out on the far fringe of our galaxy are the globular star clusters. Sixty-nine of these
are known, each consisting of an immense number of suns closely grouped,
comparatively speaking, in a globular system of stars. Shapley, of Harvard
Observatory, finds that these clusters themselves, taken as a whole, form a huge
flattened cluster, probably 250,000 light-years in diameter, with its center about
75,000 light-years from the sun in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.
Sagittarius seems to be the bull's-eye center of both the globular clusters and of our
sidereal universe.
Magellanic Clouds: Also on the fringe of our galactic system toward the south pole
of the celestial sphere appear two luminous roughly circular objects. They are called
Magellanic Clouds. Occupying areas singularly devoid of bright stars, the larger
covers a space of 42 square degrees and the smaller covers 10 square degrees. They
appear as a promiscuous intermingling of star-clouds, star-clusters, and gaseous
nebulae. Little is known at present concerning them.
Galactic Nebulae: The nebulae within our sidereal universe, or Milky Way, are of
three different types: dark nebulae, diffuse nebulae, and planetary nebulae. Several
hundred dark nebulae composed of immense dust clouds and possibly other dark
material have been photographed. They range in size from small spots up to the great
black rift which can be seen with the naked eye that extends almost a third of the way
around the Milky Way from Cygnus to Centaurus.
The diffuse nebulae have no more specific shape than the dark nebulae and appear
much like clouds of vapor. Their density is very low, and apparently they differ from
the dark nebulae only in being luminous through usually being associated with a star
which illuminates them.
Planetary nebulae are so called because they have much the same appearance in a
telescope as a planet. In most instances they have a star of the hot blue spectral class
at their center which is associated with their radiation. These nebulae are rotating and
are probably composed of ellipsoidal masses of gas.
Asteroids: According to Bode's Law there should be a planet between Mars and
Jupiter in our solar system. But instead, in this orbit travel swarms of smaller bodies,
perhaps 150 having a diameter greater than 50 miles and the majority having a
diameter between 50 and 20 miles or less. The most widely accepted theory is that
there was once a planet there, but that it broke up due to atomic explosion or to
collision with another heavenly body.
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Comets: Comets are the largest members of our solar system, but their mass is very
small. A definite connection has been established between comets and meteors. A
comet was observed to disintegrate and a meteor shower took its place. Often as a
comet approaches the sun the pressure of the light from the sun causes fine vapor-like
material to stream out in a direction away from the sun. The earth passed through the
tail of a comet twice during the last century and nothing was felt. The head of a comet,
however, consisting of a swarm of iron meteors is more formidable. Not long ago
such a meteor flattened a big forest in northern Siberia, and Meteor Crater, near
Canyon Diablo, in northern Arizona is supposed to have been formed by a monster
siderite meteor of some 500 feet in diameter, that was one of a flock that formed the
nucleus of a large comet that struck the earth not more than 5,000 years ago.
Meteors: In addition to the wholly metallic siderites, there are sideriolites composed
of both metallic and silicate materials, and aerolites composed almost entirely of
silicates. Recent calculations and observations indicate that about half the meteors
are visitors from interstellar space, having their origin outside our solar system.
Zodiacal Light: This light is seen in the west after evening twilight in the spring and
in the east before morning twilight in the autumn. It is a pearly radiance that, cone
shaped, slants up from the sunset glory, or from before sunrise, sometimes almost to
the meridian, but always following the zodiac, or path of the sun. In the northern
hemisphere, therefore, it leans to the south. It is due to sunlight reflected from cosmic
dust.
Aurora Borealis: This phenomena commonly seen in high latitudes is an electrical
discharge in the ionized air exhibiting the characteristic spectrum lines of the rarer
atmospheric gases. Sunspot maxima, with their eleven-year cycle, are always
accompanied by maxima brightness and frequency of these Northern Lights which
are always coincident with disturbances of terrestrial magnetism. At other times they
are most commonly seen in March and October.
The Moon: Some scientists believe the Moon was formed at the same time and in the
same manner as the earth. Others hold that after its formation tidal strain caused the
earth to bulge until the Moon broke off, and the back-reaction of the lunar tides
caused the Moon gradually to recede, and the solar and lunar tides, acting like a
brake-shoe against the earth's rotation, caused the earth to slow down. The rate of
slowing down, according to the records of eclipses preserved by the ancients,
indicates that at present the day is lengthening about 1/1000 second per century, or a
minute in 6 million years. This might mean the Moon broke off 10 billion years ago,
or if all possible allowances be made for greater tidal retardation when the Moon was
closer, the date cannot be less than one billion years ago.