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Some very unintelligent readers have accused us of putting forward a theory that is not new but merely a rehash of Symmes theory of Concentric Spheres. To show how utterly foolish and misguiding this idea is, we shall give a short account of Symmes' Theory from the one authoritative text book in which it has been recorded, and we shall then briefly recapitulate the main features of our own theory. And the reader will see that they are so far apart that there is no excuse whatever for confusing the two.
The very first article of Symmes' shows how widely different it is from ours, and shows also how it is even worked out by another method of thinking than ours. We take the facts first and ask what they teach us. Symmes deduces his theory from what he thinks is a universal principle, and then gives us a few facts to back it up. But here is the first article in the Symmes creed:
"According to Symmes' theory the earth, as well as all the celestial orbicular bodies existing in the
universe, visible and invisible, which partake in any degree of a planetary nature, from the greatest to the smallest, from the sun down to the most minute blazing meteor or falling star, are all constituted, in a greater or less degree, of a collection of spheres, more or less solid, concentric with each other, and more or less open at their poles; each sphere being separated from its adjoining compeers by space replete with aerial fluids; that every portion of infinite space, except what is occupied with spheres, is filled with an aerial elastic fluid, more subtle than common atmospheric air; and constituted of innumerable small concentric spheres, too minute to be visible to the organ of sight assisted by the most perfect microscope, and so elastic that they continually press on each other, and change their relative positions as often as the position of any piece of matter in space may change its situation: thus causing a universal pressure, which is weakened by the intervention of other bodies. . ."
Well, we need not quote any further from that because Symmes here goes off into a theory of his own regarding the law of gravity; but we should like to point out that what he says above is very different from anything we have ever said. Let the reader notice that although his concentric spheres are "more or less solid" still they have open polar orifices, which are however, only "more or less open" again. Thus
[paragraph continues] Symmes is very indefinite about the real constitution of his planets. And the reader will also notice that he includes the sun of our own solar system and all other suns as being built in the same way. But how could a sun whose structure is the same as the planets, and which must, therefore, be like the planets in age as well as in other characteristics how could such a sun have enough heat to warm all the planets? We know by actual observation of our own sun that the heat on its surface is so great as to vaporize the solid elements and even make the gaseous elements incandescent. In such a sun all concentric spheres would be melted down. Such a constitution is impossible. And yet people compare Symmes's theory to our own theory and say they are the same.
The exposition of Symmes' theory from which we are quoting goes on to describe his idea of the form of the earth:
"According to him, the planet which has been designated the Earth is composed of at least five hollow concentric spheres, with spaces between each, an atmosphere surrounding each; and habitable as well upon the concave as the convex surface. The north polar opening of the sphere we inhabit is believed to be about four thousand miles in diameter, and the southern about 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 degrees 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, on a meridian passing through Spitzbergen, in about latitude eighty-six degrees, or some-what more easterly in Lapland; and the verge would become apparent, to the navigator proceeding north, in about latitude 90 degrees."
Now see how differently Symmes goes about his task. He simply assumes this, that and the other to be the case. He assumes that the southern polar opening is two thousand miles greater in diameter than the northern one. Why? We do not know. He assumes certain inclinations of the planes of the polar openings to the plane of the ecliptic. He tells us where the highest northern point will be found--only as he is really not sure he gives two possible locations. We decline to give any data in advance of actual exploration. If we say that the openings into
the interior of the earth are at such and such a point we are simply making an approximation based upon the actual evidence of navigators. We have done much exploring since Symmes wrote, but even with the newer discoveries in mind it is not safe to indulge in a lot of very definite figures and anticipations. We prefer to stick to the actual facts as navigators have found them.
Now here is another point in which Symmes' theory differs radically from our own:
"Each of the spheres composing the earth, as well as those constituting the other planets throughout the universe, is believed to be habitable both on the inner and outer surface; and lighted and warmed according to those general laws which communicate light and heat to every part of the universe. The light may not, indeed, be so bright, nor the heat so intense, as is indicated in high northern latitudes (about where the verge is supposed to commence) by the paleness of the sun and the darkness of the sky; facts which various navigators who have visited those regions confirm; yet they are, no doubt, sufficiently lighted and warmed to promote the propagation and support of animal and vegetable life.
"The different spheres constituting our planet, and the other orbs in creation, most probably do not revolve on axes, parallel to each other, nor perform
their revolutions in the same period of time, as is indicated by the spots on the belts of Jupiter, which move faster on one belt than another."
It was because he had noticed the belts of Jupiter that Symmes was led in the first place to suppose that the planets might be composed of concentric shells, and he explains these belts or tries to--by talking of the reflection of light from the different verges of the shells which compose Jupiter. By why does he suppose that the earth should have at least five of these shells?
It will be noticed that Symmes has no coherent theory, or at least no observed facts which will clearly show how the spaces between the verges are lighted and warmed. This is perhaps the point where the theory breaks down most disastrously. We have shown that there is more heat in the interior of the earth than there is outside of that realm, not less. And we have shown it from observed facts--Symmes depends on theory, and he is wrong.
Symmes also claims that:
"The atmosphere surrounding the sphere is probably more dense on the interior surface than on the exterior, the increased pressure of which must increase the force of gravity; as the power of gravity must increase in proportion as we approach nearer the pole. Clouds formed in the atmosphere of the convexity of the sphere, probably float in through
the polar openings, and visit the interior in the form of rain and snow. . ."
This, it will be seen, is the very opposite of our theory. There is no snow in the interior of the earth, except near the polar openings.
Symmes' theory differs from ours too, in that Symmes thinks there are in each sphere cavities in the center of the matter composing it, and that these cavities are filled with a very rarefied gas or elastic substance, something, he says, like hydrogen. These mid-plane spaces, as he calls them, tends, he claims, to give the sphere "a degree of lightness and buoyancy." He also thinks that other interstices exist nearer the surface of each sphere and of quite limited extent. The gas, his chronicler states, "escaping from these spaces is, no doubt, the cause of earthquakes; and supplies the numerous volcanoes. This gas, be-coming rarefied and escaping, must occasion most of these great revolutions and phenomena in nature, which we know to have occurred in the geology of the earth. This ærial fluid with which the mid-plane spaces or cavities are filled, may possibly be adapted to the support of animal life; and the interior surfaces of the spheres formed by them may abound with animals, with organs only adapted to the medium in which they are destined to inhabit."
Now it is obvious that this is not to be taken seriously. To compare such thought as that to our theory is patently absurd. Instead of studying the
A sectional view of the earth's shell, showing that volcanoes originate in small lakes of molten material located near the surface.
A sectional view of the earth's interior, showing a volcano being fed from the great internal ocean of liquid lava according to the old but very illogical theory.
This view shows the earth's interior as an ocean of molten lava approximately 7,800 miles in diameter, enclosed within a rigid crust 100 miles thick and surrounded by an atmosphere 200 miles in depth, according to the hitherto generally accepted but very illogical theory.
facts as we have done, Symmes simply makes up a new idea to explain away each fact as it hit him in the face. He had to account in some way for volcanoes, so he made each of his spheres not only a hollow ball with another sphere inside it, but he gave it a double shell with mid-plane spaces or cavity between the two shells and other interstices in which there was a gaseous and elastic fluid. Why that fluid should sometimes burst forth as volcanoes or earthquakes he does not say. There does not seem any reason why, once imprisoned, it should not stay there forever. If it were going to burst forth at all it ought to have done so while the spheres were relatively hot, before they had cooled down to the rigidity which as a matter of fact overtakes all planets when they solidify. And then why does he go ahead and postulate the existence of animals in his mid-plane spaces? As these are not, like the spheres themselves, open at any place, there would have to be a separate creation of the animals in each one. How uncalled for is any such fantastic notion as that!
Symmes also argues for the hollowness of his concentric spheres by asserting that hollowness is a principle of nature that the stalk of wheat is hollow, that the bones of animals and birds are hollow and the hairs of our head are hollow.
But in each of those cases the hollowness is there for a purpose. In the case of the bones it is there as
a chamber to hold the marrow. The birds have very light bones, with large hollows, because the species with the lightest bones have been able to fly better and so have survived in the struggle for existence. If we were to assert that the earth must be solid because all pebbles on the beach are solid, because the trunks of trees are solid and the tusks of elephants solid we would be using the same sort of argument that Symmes is using--arguing from apparent analogies--and we would be quite wrong, because, as a matter of fact, and as we have shown in this book the earth is not solid.
But we prove that it is not solid by facts. Symmes tries to prove his assertions by remarks such as the above.
Of course it is true that everything in the universe tends to assume the cellular form. That we admit and have commented on. But there is always a reason for the particular kind of shape and composition of the cell, whether it be a vegetable cell in a leaf, a cell of the protoplasm of an animal, or the huge cell, open at both ends, with a nucleus or a central sun, which forms the earth. And in every case the reasons for those formations must be found in the study of the body itself, and not in making far fetched comparisons between that and other bodies far removed from it in character and purpose and composition.
Symmes also tries to explain the appearance of the other planets besides Jupiter as being due to refractions of light as the different verges of the spheres were turned toward us, but he does not by this method succeed in clearly stating just how such appearances could account for what we observe. He says, for instance, that the belts of Jupiter: "would be produced by the shadow cast on the space between the polar opening of one sphere and the adjoining one; that is, a portion of the sunshine would be reflected from the verges of the spheres on which it fell; and another portion would appear to be swallowed by the intervening space. And if refraction bends the rays of vision between and under his spheres as it bends a portion of the rays of the sun, so as to produce the apparent belts of comparative shade, then a very complete solution of those appearances, heretofore considered wonderful, would be afforded. The variation which has been observed in their number, shape, and dimensions, can in no better way be accounted for, than by concluding the planet is constituted of a number of concentric spheres, of different breadths, revolving on different axes and with different velocities, so as sometimes to present to our view the verge of one sphere, and sometimes that of another; and the rays of the sun falling on the parts of the verges
present to us, would occasion the diversified appearances which we discover."
Well, he goes on a little further along that line but we need not follow him, for it is obvious that his explanation does not work.
Take Mars, for example. If our theory were wrong and Symmes were right, the polar caps of Mars would be made invisible every so often because some inner sphere, revolving at its own rate on its own axis, would cover up the polar opening on the outer surface. But the polar caps of Mars are always bright, with certain variations, and what is more, we see direct gleams of light from the Martian interior sun penetrate through the aperture and strike directly into our telescopes. This could not possibly happen on Symmes' theory, for there would be no interior sun from which light could come.
And yet people say that our theory is the same as Symmes' theory.
Symmes also tries to explain the spots on the sun by his theory. He thinks they are vast holes or fractures in the outer surface or crust through which the inner crust appears. But as we have already stated the sun is not made on that plan and could not be. That Symmes took no account of the great heat of the sun shows that he elaborated his theory largely out of his own mind. He did not get the facts first and trim his theory to fit the facts. He
first thought out the theory and then only took cognizance of those few facts which fitted it. Other facts he ignored. This is just the opposite of what we have done. We have taken every fact into account as the list of authorities which we have consulted abundantly shows.
Now let the reader contrast that whole theory with our array of facts. Just because matter tends to take the spherical shape, when no outside forces interfere with it, and because he has seen appearances when observing Jupiter that suggest that the rings round that planet may be optical delusions, not rings at all, but outer shells, Symmes builds up the theory that all planets and suns are composed of concentric spheres. Why these spheres revolve on different axes and at different speeds he does not tell us, and on all those points of his theory that are most doubtful and need the most cogent arguments to prove them, he is most vague.
How different is the theory outlined in this book. When we say that the earth is a hollow body with polar openings and an interior sun, we back up the statement by referring to nebulas in many stages of evolution in which the gradual forming of the outer envelope of the future planet and the interior sun, and even the beginnings of the polar openings, are all clearly visible in their different stages. Then we
point to the actual constitution of the planets, Mars, Venus, and Mercury, and we show just what the polar openings are like. We show that they are not ice caps, because direct light has been seen to come from them. We show also that the light from these openings extends in an immense dome, reflected from the Martian atmosphere, high above the surface of the planet. And then we show, in connection with the aurora of the earth, that the auroral light, so called, is precisely the same thing. Then we demonstrate conclusively that the earth, like Mars and the other planets, has its polar openings, too, because the polar regions are much warmer than the northern latitudes through which one travels to reach them. We show how warm currents come from these regions and how animal life takes refuge in them as breeding and feeding grounds. The picture of the earth that we draw is not an imaginative construction, like Symmes' with such things as "mid-plane spaces"--whose existence is not backed up by any observed fact. No, our picture of the earth is one which is all through based on observations. The light and warmth of the interior regions we claim to come from the central sun whose rays stream out and form the aurora and whose heat warms the water that comes over the lip of the orifice in the life-giving current that every Arctic explorer has observed and marveled at. From this warm interior, too, come the mammoth and other animals and birds which the
explorers have noticed with such wonderment. From there come the mysterious pollen of unknown plants and the seeds of tropical trees--for it is tropical vegetable life that we shall find in. that hot, moist interior. This picture of the earth fits in with every scientific fact which has ever been discovered, and there are no scientific facts which contradict it. Could Symmes say as much for his ideas?
After all, where Symmes made deductions about the law of gravity and the nature of things in general--things about which even now, almost a hundred years later than Symmes we know very little--all we do is ask people to use their eyes. Every point that establishes our theory rests on something that can be seen with the eye. The appearance of the nebulas can be seen, and the progress from one stage of evolution to the next can be compared. The light from the Martian interior sun has actually been seen and recorded. The animals of the north have actually been observed traveling north. The warm current from the North is tested for its temperature by the thermometer; its direction checked by the compass. The mammoth is not only seen but its freshness is tested by eating. And so it goes. Such mere arguing as Professor Dominian brought to bear against our theory will never refute it because our theory does not rest on argument; it rests on observed facts. The only way scientists can refute our theory is by answering in a way fully as conclusive as ours
and free from self-contradiction, all the questions which we ask them in our concluding chapter. As these questions never have been answered satisfactorily by scientists, as the efforts to answer one involve theories which are contradicted by the efforts to answer another, it is obvious that the scientists are baffled, and they will remain baffled as long as they ignore the guiding principle or guiding fact call it whichever you will--that binds all these appearances together and makes them agree one with the other.
And between this carefully based picture of the earth and the planets as close observation reveals them to us, between this sober and scientific theory, and the fantastic theory of Symmes there is nothing in common. Only ignorance and prejudice or sheer dishonesty could ever make out that our theory was a rehash of Symmes' theory. For in truth they are different in their inceptions, in their methods of argument, and in their final results.
Next: Chapter XX. The Moon And Our Theory