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Early Items From H. Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio Art. By a Citizen of the United States. The earth is nearly eight thousand miles in diameter, and the deepest excavations that have been made in it by human art, do not extend to half a mile below its surface.
We are, therefore, utterly ignorant of the nature and composition of the interior of this immense mass, and must, perhaps, for ever remain so. The subject is of too much interest, however, not to have excited the particular attention of philosophers, and, in the absence of facts, many of them have not hesitated to resort to speculation and conjecture.
Burnet, the earliest cosmogonist whose system is worthy of norice, supposed that the earth was originally a fluid, chaotic mass, composed of various substances differing in form and density.
In the course of time, the heaviest portions subsided, and formed about the centre a dense and solid nucleus. The waters took their station around this body; on their surface floated an ocean of oil and unctuous matters; and the whole was surrounded by the air and other ethereal fluids.
This atmosphere was at first full of impurities, being charged with particles of the earth with which it had been previously blended. By degrees, however, it purified itself, by depositing these particles upon the stratum of oil; and there was formed a thick and solid crust of mould, which was the firts habitable part of the globe.
After many centuries, this crust, having been gradually dried by the heat of the sun, cracked and split asunder, so as to fall into the abyss of waters beneath it; and this great event was the universal deluge.
Our present earth is composed of the remains of the first; our continents and islands being portions of the primordial crust, from which the waters have retired.
Woodward, who immediately followed Burnet in this career of speculation, supposed that the bodies which compose the earth, were all dissolved or suspended in teh waters of the general deluge; and that on the gradual retiring of the waters, these substances subsided, successively, in the order of their specific gravities; so that the earth is now formed of distinct strata, arranged in concentric layers, "like the coats of an onion.
At the period of the creation described by Moses, the earth was placed in its present orbit, which is nearly circular, and was in consequence subjected to a great variety of important changes.
The heavier parts of the chaotic atmosphere, by which the comet was surrounded, fell gradually upon the nucleus, and formed a great liquid abyss, on which the crust of the earth was finally deposited, and now floats.
This crust, and the subterraneous fluid, are each fifty or one hundred miles in thickness; and within them lies the solid nucleus or original comet, which contains another rarer fluid, and a central loadstone. Thus, says this philospher: It will be observed, that all these theories agree in supposing the earth to be composed of successive shells, placed one within the other.
The great astronomer, Hally, also adopted the hypothesis of a sphere revolving within the earth, in order to account for the variation of the magnetic needle, and in this opinion he was followed by Euler; so that the theory of "concentric spheres," has been one of the oldest and most prevalent in geology.
The theory of the celebrated Buffon is very generally known. He supposed that the earth was struck off from the sun by a comet, and was, therefore, at first, no more than an irregular mass of melted and inflamed matter.
This mass, by the mutual attraction of its parts, assumed a globular figure, which its rotary motion, caused by the obliquity of the first impulse, changed into a spheroid. The interior of the globe is, according to this theory, a vitrified mass, which the author maintains to be homogeneous, and not, as is generally thought, dispoded in layers following the order of density.
These are the most remarkable theories that have been presented, on the subject of the structure of the earth.
It is proper to remark, that they were the productions of men of genius and learning; that they were maintained by arguments full of plausibility, and, even now, difficult of refutation; and that they attracted great attention, and made many proselytes.
Yet, such is the just destiny reserved fore all extravagent and romantic speculations, that, at the present day, they have not a single advocate or believer, and are mentioned only to be condemned.
But these philosophic fancies have all been far outdone by the theory of our countryman captain Symmes, who, for the last nine or ten years, has been using every exertion to convince the world of its past errors, and to inculcate his own new and true theory. The newspapers have teemed with essays; circulars have been addressed to all the learned societies of Europe and America; addresses and petitions have been presented to our national and state legislatures; certificates of conviction and "ashesion" have been procured from men in high literary and political stations; the master and his disciples have traversed the whole country, from south to north, and from west to east, so that all men, in all places, might be enlightened in the truth; and, finally, the whole subject has been reduced to a regular body of doctrine, in the work now under review, written by "one of the believers in the theory.
It is presented as follows, in his second chapter: The author here indulges himself in a dream respecting these infintesimal spherules, but after some time, returns to the more substantial part of the theory.
Each of these spheres are widely open at their poles. The north polar opening of the sphere we inhabit, is believed to be about four thousand miles in diameter, and the southern above six thousand.
The planes of these polar openings are inclined to the plane of the ecliptic at an angle of about twenty degrees; so that the real axis of the earth, being perpendicular to the plane of the equator, will form an angle of twelve degrees with a line passing through the sphere at right angles with the plane of the polar openings; consequently the verge of the polar openings must approach several nearer to the equator on one side than on the other.
The highest north point, or where the distance is greatest from the equator to the verge of the opening in the northern hemisphere, will be found either in the northern sea, near the coast of Lapland, or on a meridian passing through Spitzbergen, in about latitude sixty-eight degrees, or somewhat more eastwardly in Lapland; and the verge would become apparent, to the navigator proceeding north, in about latitude ninety degrees.
The lowermost point, or the place where the distance is least from the equator to the verge of the polar opening, will be found in the Pacific ocean, about latitude fifty degrees, near the north-west coast of America, on or near a meridian running through the mouth of Cook's river, being in about one hundred and sixty degrees west longitude, the real verge being in about latitude fifty degrees and becoming apparent to a person traveling northward at right angles with the magnetic equator, at the distance of about twelve hundred miles further.
The verge varies progressively from the lowest to the highest point, crossing the north-west coast of America between latitude fifty-two and fifty-four, thence across the continent of North America, passing through Hudson's Bay and Greenland, near Cape Farewell; thence by mount Hecla to the highest point; thence tending gradually more to the south, across the northern parts of Asia, at or near the volcanoes of Kamtschatka, along the extinguished volcanoes of the Fox Islands, to the lowermost point again, near the north-west coast.
Consequently, according to this formation of the sphere, the degrees of latitude, on different meridians, will varry according to their distance from the polar openings; and the magnetic equator; which encircles the sphere, parallel to the plane of the polar openings, would cut the real equator at an angle of twelve degrees.
A person standing on the highest part of the apparent verge would appear under the pole star, or nearly so, and at the nintieth degree of latitude.
The meridians all converge to the highest point of the verge, or the ninetieth degree; consequently in tracing a meridian of longitude, you would pursue a direction at right angles to the equator, until you arrived in the neighbourhood of the real verge if the polar opening, when the meridians would change their direction and turn along between the real and apparent verges towards the highest point, until they all terminated at the ninetieth degree of latitude; this being the direction a person would have to travel in order to have his back to the sun always at twelve o'clock, the time of his greatest altitude.
Although the particular location of the places where the verges of the polar openings are believed to exist, may not have been ascertained with absolute certainty, yet they are believed to be nearly correct; their localities having been ascertained from appearances that exist in those regions; such as a belt or zone surrounding the globe where trees and otehr vegetation except moss do not grow; the tides of the ocean flowing in different directions, and appearing to meet; the existence of volcanoes; the "ground swells" in the sea being more frequent; the Aurora Borealis appearing to the southward; and various other phenomena existing in and about the same regions, mark the relative position of the real verges.Dear Twitpic Community - thank you for all the wonderful photos you have taken over the years.
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