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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 38

No. 13. — The Stability of the Cosmos

page 14

No. 13.

The Stability of the Cosmos.

In the last letter I sent you I stated that I should attempt to show that the cosmos was probably stable. What I mean by this expression is that, although our earth may doubtless fall into the sun, and the sun and most of the visible stars may aggregate together; and may, as an extreme possibility, become cold, yet other systems and galaxies will be born in other regions of space. In other words, were a being to travel through infinite space for an eternity, he would practically find all space alike. He would find some parts bare, others plentifully filled. He would occasionally see galaxies born, and others at all ages; but the whole cosmos would be immortal.

Hitherto I have not interfered with any well received theories, but in this I am at issue with the theory of dissipation of energy and all the recent speculations of mathematical physicists on cosmogony, in whose eyes the final state of the cosmos is that of uniform heat and one great body. As the conclusion of physicists is clearly the conclusion which ordinary reasoning leads to, in order to prove the stability of the cosmos, one has to shew that these theories are not absolutely necessary consequences, and to do this it appears necessary to show that the following five possibilities exist:—1st. That none of the radiation into space is necessarily lost. 2nd. That cold bodies may be produced at lower temperature than any other existing body, or that the bodies of the lowest temperature may be able to convert some of their heat into other form of energy. 3rd. That a process may exist for the sub-division of bodies to compensate for aggregations by gravity. 4th. That some process may be at work to fill again those parts of space which have been drained by gravitation. 5th. That it is possible to convert heat, the lowest forms of energy, completely into potential energy the highest form, or generally that the whole scheme may be like a steam-engine regulated by a differential governor, in which all irregularities of any kind whatever tend to equilibrium. My letters on partial impact really contains the solution of all these problems; but as they are not very obvious, and as a number of speculations on molecular physics (such as possible fourth state of matter), which may interest your readers, should these letters escape the waste paper basket, spring directly from these solutions, I propose, in other letters, to discuss them more fully. I must state, however, that the entire reasoning is extremely lengthy, it will be necessary therefore to assume the easier points, and in these letters the whole must be a mere sketch,—one, however, which I think will contain all the essentials of the demonstrations.