The Theosophical Forum – June 1937

ULTRA-MODERN SCIENCE SIXTY YEARS AGO — Edwin D. Babbitt

"Comparing the infinitely small with the infinitely great, it is held that a body, of what kind soever, represents in miniature and very exactly, an astronomical system like those which we behold every night in the firmament. If we could construct a microscope of sufficient power, we should be able, by the help of such an instrument, to resolve the molecular constellations of every little terrestrial milky way, exactly as our first rate telescopes resolve the celestial nebulae and separate double and triple stars. Were our sight sufficiently penetrating we should behold what now appear mere confused heaps of matter, arranged in groups of admirable symmetry. Bodies would appear honeycombed in all directions, daylight would stream through vast interstices as it does through the columns of a temple or the tree trunks of a forest. Nay we should see immense empty spaces, like those which intervene between the planets. From distance to distance too, we should perceive clusters of stars, in harmonious order each surrounded by its own proper atmosphere, and still more astounding spectacle! — every one of those little molecular stars would be found revolving with giddy rapidity, in more or less elongated ovals exactly like the great stars of heaven, while by increasing the power of our instrument, we should discover around each principal star minor stars — satellites resembling our moon — accomplishing their revolutions swiftly and regularly. This view of the constitution of matter is aptly described by M de Parville as molecular astronomy, maintaining that even astronomy without our suspecting it, is dependent on mineralogy, and that whenever we shall have discovered the laws which govern the grouping and the movements of the infinitely small, astronomers will have only to follow in our track. But who a hundred years ago could dare to imagine that the infinitely small was so infinitely great? What is now believed to be the nearest guess at the truth appears, at first sight to be the dream of a madman." — Quoted from All the Year Round by Edwin D Babbitt in his book, The Principles of Light and Color, pp 159-60 published in 1878.


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