CAUSE OF A STORM'S VORTEX
"The mystery of the origin of these revolving storms has for years been the subject of keen investigation" said an official of the Marine
Division of the Meteorological Office in an interview. "The Arabic got right into the vortex of the revolving storm," which was described as "an
intense whirl in the atmosphere in which there is usually a calm centre." Outside this vortex and blowing towards it "there is a belt of rushing
winds," and more storms of this nature occur during the months of August and September than in any other part of the year. While these
facts may be true they do not carry us to any great distance and indeed are mere observations on the event and not on the cause. They do
not attempt to explain the reason of this sudden vacuum or vortex towards which the belt of rushing winds concentrate. They signally fail to
account for a tidal wave which is a very different thing to a stormy sea. In a word, they carry us nowhere.
We know that the air follows the same general principle as the sea, that is, it consists of waves and moves in currents. Now, when a tidal
wave is set up in the ocean or sea, it is evident that somewhere and by some means a considerable displacement of water is the immediate
cause, just as a stone thrown into a pond sets up a miniature tidal wave. A vacuum has been created in the waters, and these thrown
violently aside form a tidal wave. When we discover sometimes a tidal wave of vast magnitude, such as during the Tokio earthquake of
September, 1923, when the repercussion was felt on the shores of California, 4,750 miles distant, clearly enough a very great vacuum has
been created and consequently a colossal displacement of the waters.
The same principle must apply to the air vacuum. When, in the hurricane under discussion, we discover a very great displacement of the air
the inference is that something has created that vacuum and furthermore that what caused the tidal wave also created the air vortex. The
further logical assumption is that to create a tidal wave some solid body struck the ocean. What solid body could be hurled through space,
capable of causing an earthquake, an air vacuum, a hurricane, and a tidal wave ?
The explanation I shall propose is that the original movement was a meteor impact. Meteors may be of any size, large or small, and it will
probably be discovered in due course that all these strange phenomena, the earthquakes in Chile and Tokio and Turkestan, the volcanic
island off Saigon, the landslide of Amalfi, the Glamorgan tornado, and numerous other earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, waterspouts,
landslides, and even colliery disasters are attributable to this one source and that one of their effects is to create atmospheric disturbance
over wide areas, mainly owing to the gases which accompany them, these including hydrogen, nitrogen and hydro-carbons.
It would unnecessarily swell this work without adding anything of considerable value were a complete list to be given of all the volcanic islands
which have suddenly emerged above the sea level. It is, as the evidence proves, in the case of the island off Saigon, and the isles "thrown
up" by the Tokio earthquake, still a phenomenon associated with seismic and volcanic forces. Sometimes, as shown, there is all the evidence
of volcanic activity in the shape of a tidal wave or waterspouts, discolourment of the sea in the vicinity, but no island, in which class we may
legitimately place the Atlantic hurricane of September 1st, 1924; sometimes, as the accompaniment of an earthquake or volcanic eruption or
both, a new island is born, but quickly disintegrates, even though of biggish size like that coincident with the eruption of Skapta Jokul in
1783; sometimes the island succeeds in establishing itself and becomes a permanent feature of the landscape. It all depends upon the
physical conditions of the region in which it falls, and also, of course, upon the relative size of the meteor.
VOLCANIC ISLANDS ARE METEORIC BODIES
This last class requires a little further consideration. When we glance at the vast number of volcanic islands with cones spread about the
world, is it not a clear inference that they came there in exactly the same way as the minor examples cited? Do not Etna and Vesuvius, the
Peak of Teneriffe, the great cluster of terrible volcanoes in Iceland, Stromboli, Ischia Island, Bandaisan and Fujiyama in Japan, and literally
hundreds of other volcanic cones in the Atlantic and Pacific and Indian Oceans, owe their existence to exactly the same cause? It is true that
we know of no records of any volcanic mountains created within the historical age to equal Etna or even Stromboli in size, for though it might
be said that the creation of Jorullo was a modern example of a considerable erection, when millions of tons of liquid rock were suddenly
deposited on a plain, yet Jorullo according to Von Humboldt was only 1,700 feet in height at the time (or, perhaps, 2,200 feet including the
plateau then formed), but if all this weight of molten rock had fallen into the Pacific, which descends in parts to a depth of nearly 32,000 feet,
or the Atlantic, over 27,000 feet, what would have been the result? There would have been a hurricane, an earthquake, a tidal wave, a
roaring of the sea, a discoloration of the water, and that is all! It is possible that the Tokio earthquake of 1923 deposited a greater amount
of materia than Jorullo, which could be ascertained if the exact area and soundings were known. Assuming the height of Jorullo, to have been
what Von Humboldt allows (2,200 feet) it would have been insufficient to create an island even had it fallen on the Faraday Hills in the
Atlantic, along the Dolphin Divide, midway between Iceland and the Azores, for the Faraday Hills, far the most elevated feature of this
plateau, are yet 625 fathoms or 3,750 feet below the sea level. A consideration of these depths serves to show how unlikely it would be that
a very considerable body, plunging into the basin of the Atlantic Ocean, would give any tangible results other than the utter destruction of
any shipping at the place of impact, a tidal wave, earthquakes in any land area within its direction of flight, a hurricane and general
disturbance of the atmosphere more or less prolonged and widely spread.
Jorullo also serves to demonstrate how meteoric islands may survive permanently in suitable sites, i.e., where the sea is comparatively
shallow, and also if the sea bed is already solid enough to provide a foundation. Jorullo, as mentioned, was deposited upon a basis of black
clay, augite crystals, and concentric balls of basalt, and as the clay gradually was dispersed by the various currents, the new island, on such a
basis, would have necessarily sunk until its foundation became the rocks. In this connection we should also take into account the solid sheets
of basalt assumed to be lava ejections from a volcanic cone, such as the Etna examples of fourteen miles long and six wide, and Skapta
Jokul, ninety-four miles by fifty miles, or the vast deposits Geikie mentions in the British Isles. What limits can we set to such a possibility,
and is it not a likely hypothesis that on such a foundation the residue of a meteor could be firmly established?
SOME FAMOUS COMETS
I HAVE produced evidence to show that comets are transitory bodies, erstwhile planets, destined to be drawn inevitably into the centre of
the solar system into which they are projected, and as such cannot possess any orbit other than a purely temporary revolution. That these
bodies, once drawn in, can perform two or three elliptic revolutions to a distance far beyond that of the earth and even of Jupiter may seem
surprising in view of their comparative smallness and lack of solidity. The reason for it is that they approach the sun at a momentum of
tremendous speed and this same momentum carries them on, like a shell from a gun, until gravity at length supervenes.
Records exist of certain comets and their vagaries which should be mentioned to avoid any possible misunderstanding. They confirm in every
particular the importance in the solar system of these bodies and their rôle as planet makers and breakers.
What are known as twin or tandem comets are of considerable interest in celestial phenomena, like the famous 1880 twin comet. This comet
was of remarkable size and brightness, passed very near to the solar envelope at perihelion and became correspondingly exhausted and faint
afterwards. Like the 1882 (September) comet, it divided or broke into two and became a twin comet, and it may be here that two heavenly
bodies which had collided in some other system were linked together until the sun's magnetic rays separated them. Other twin comets were
those of 1668, 1843, and 1887, which, like those of 1880 and 1882, all came from the direction of the pink star Sirius.
In classic mythology this strange system is preserved in the story of Phaeton, when he drove the two steeds of his father Helios, the Sun,
too close to earth with dire results. Large areas were blackened with fire, and the world was in imminent danger of utter destruction until
Zeus, the All-Father, slew Phaeton with a thunderbolt and he was hurled into the river Eridanus, which was thereby set ablaze. Plato, we
remember, alludes to this myth in connection with the submersion of the island of Atlantis, terming it the "declination of heavenly bodies," as
the cause of the vast earthquakes, floods, and conflagration on earth, a catastrophe, said he, recurring at vast intervals of time, when
almost all that had gone before was destroyed.
The story of Phaeton's "escapade" certainly immortalises the memory of a remarkable celestial event at a distant day in the history of
mankind. It appears to be synonymous with the Flood of the Bible and the Greek traditions of the same, also with the epoch of the War of
the Gods with the Giants, who were flung into Tartarus, rocks and stones being piled upon them. Legends also link the fate of Phaeton with
the destruction of the giant island volcano Atlas and his daughters, other smaller islands, the Pleiades or Atlantides—all this be it noted cast
in the Atlantic zone—and whose sisters the Heliades, dwelling by the river Eridanus, wept tears for Phaeton which turned into amber. The
subject is one of extraordinary fascination, and I have devoted many years of study to attempt to elucidate the mystery. The river Eridanus
was mythologically a son of Oceanus, and there was but one ocean known to the ancients, that being the Atlantic. The Eridanus was also
supposed to flow through the country of the Cimmerians, the original name of the Gaels or Galatai, described by Homer as situate beyond
ocean stream (the Gulf Stream) and unblest by the sun, a region of mist and fog. The Cimmerians, living in a region of amber and tin, are
treated by Herodotus as an extinct people, who classified them nevertheless as dwelling in the ends of the earth.
The Cimmerians, despite Herodotus, were not an extinct people but they were largely an expatriated people like the Children of Israel, whose
history in fact concludes with a similar catastrophe as foreshadowed in the Greek traditions. As the Cimbri they were a power in Scandinavia
in Roman times and once captured Rome. In Britain the Cimbri were the once rulers and appear as the Gaelic peoples whose descendants still
preserve their individuality as the Cymry of Wales, and other parts of the west where they were driven by the Romans and later by the Danes
and Saxons. Tin is found in Europe only in England and was worked in Cornwall from early prehistoric times. Amber from ancient times came
mainly from the North Sea and the Baltic. With these traces I should place the destruction of Atlantis by "Phaeton" as in the British zone.
In addition to this the destruction of Atlantis or the destruction of the Cimmerians by the river Eridanus, which lay far in the north and
corresponds in many striking particulars to the Great Glen and its chains of locks cutting across Scotland from north-east to south-west,
and called by Sir Archibald Geikie "the mysterious straight line" in the heart of the ancient Gaelic lands, was I believe that period known to
geologists as the "Drift Age." I shall later deal with this period, which was not in my opinion any prolonged epoch but sudden, violent, and
sharp, and was not an ice age in the accepted sense at all. Amber, however, was one of the outcomes of the event in question, and amber is
known to be the petrified sap of late Tertiary trees, occasioned by some sudden and phenomenal occurrence in which electricity, magnetic
rays, and carbon played a part. As amber is found to contain over 3000 species of insects in it, many long since extinct, embedded,
imprisoned in the sticky sap as the trees were split by electric waves, we perceive an event which played a larger part in shaping the later
destinies of the world.
I believe also that the effects of the Drift can be traced in Britain to this day, especially in
Scotland and Scandinavia, the worst sufferers, and that it was occasioned by the residue of twin comets which struck those regions.
Furthermore, I think that some of the sculptured stones of Scotland, and in especial the Golspie Stone, near Inverness, have preserved the
memory of that period by the juxtaposition of the signs of the Zodiac, which give the approximate date, a date I estimate to have been
about 1560 B.C.,1 a date much later than Plato's Atlantis is usually accredited with. Be that as it may, we find classic writers like Tatian,
Clement, and Eusebius all agreed that the Phaeton "escapade" was identical with the Deucalion Deluge in Hellas, as that was coincident with
the Flood of Noah, and these writers linked the Deucalion Flood with the Dog-star Sirius, from whose direction the twin comets emanated.
If these facts are correct, opposed as they may be to accepted ancient history and geography as taught, we have a record of a vast
cometary appulsion on the northern European lands, mainly Scandinavia and Scotland, followed by a tremendous deluge, quite in accordance
with the evidence of meteor impacts, whose ravages and effects are visible to this day in the remains of the Drift, causing a series of
catastrophes so appalling, widespread, and gigantic in their effects as to stagger the imagination, a period when great cities and forests were
swallowed up in yawning chasms of blue-red flame, when new mountain heights were thrown down on former plains, and islands in the sea
were drowned by a fresh distribution of the waters. A double or twin comet like that of 1880 [also from the direction of Sirius], apart
from its physical effects, changed the climate of the world and by its added weight would seem to have enlarged the earth's orbit from a 360
day year to that of 365 days, marking an enormous accretion of soil and sea.
The 1880 comet might have effected similar results had it struck the earth. Its tail was enormous and drifted towards our planet. It was
when this comet was visible in September
1880, that during August and September the extraordinary plague of flies occurred off Havre, Nova Scotia, Norfolk, Hudson River, and
Guysborough. The big, black, dazed, torpid, and exhausted flies that came on this earth from outer space. It was before the comet had
reached the sun!
The 1882 Great Comet was one of the most magnificent, and in one sense, peculiar of the
last century. Its luminosity was such that it was visible in broad daylight close to the sun. Its spectrum revealed hydro-carbons, sodium, iron,
calcium, and manganese. It approached the sun along a path described as an "elongated ellipse" (Howe, Study of the Sky, P. 283), the
direction being like a hairpin with the sun at the apex of the turn. On September 17, 1882, it dashed round the sun, within 300,000 miles
(says Howe) of the photosphere, and passed through the Corona at such rapidity that within three hours it swung round 180 degrees of its
orbit, which means a speed approximating to not much less than 200,000 miles per hour. It continued on its return path with speed little
abated and according to the astronomers is expected to return in the middle of the 27th century, that is a "periodic orbit" of some 768
years. My view is that it may have returned as the twin comet of 1887.
The tremendous strain of this solar contact, however, soon took its toll of the 1882 comet,
for within a month after attaining perihelion it broke up into two centres of condensation, with a long tail estimated as extending over 100
million miles. (Howe.) A little while later along its track six or more filmy bodies were observed, thus suggesting that the comet was
undergoing rapid disintegration, which is not surprising, for in view of the severity of the contact any other idea than a greatly restricted
career is unthinkable.
In 1887, from the same direction of Sirius, whence the 1882 comet had come and gone in
tandem form with six or more filmy bodies, there appeared afresh a tandem comet with four attendant sprites, two of which soon became
invisible and two remained. The two drifted apart, one faded out, and the other continued in a swelled condition with an enlarged nucleus and
no tail. The appearance of the 1887 comet in a tattered state before perihelion apparently, in a twin form, with attendants, in view also of its
direction, leads to a reasonable inference that it was no other than the 1882 comet drawn again to the sun, unless it were the residue of the
splendour of the 1880 comet. A couple of years later, in 1889, a fourth comet came from the same direction as those of 1880, 1882, and
1887, and it had four attendants. If the period of a comet's first ellipse after perihelion is about 7 years, then we must class together 1880,
and 1887, 1882, and 1889, as two separate comets only.
Those particular years stand out not only in astronomy but in meteorism for some peculiar
happenings. In 1883 was the Krakatoa "Eruption," accompanied by amazing "after-glow" or magnetic lights seen over half the world. On
August 6, 1885, a "new star" was discovered in the direction of the Nebula in Andromeda, and on August 31 reached its maximum of
brilliance, to peter out. But this event coincided with a cold blast which smote Northern Europe and especially Sweden. Wild fowl began to
migrate at the earliest date ever recorded in that country. (Nature, 32-427.) A remarkable after-glow was seen in Sweden and in England in
the first days of September. Several observers thought that the newly illuminated nebula of Andromeda was a comet (Observatory, 83-30),
and they were probably not far wrong. A year later, on the same day, August 31, there occurred the Charleston Earthquake with its
remarkable electrical discharges, as well as others in five other parts of the world. On December 3, 1887, was the serious earthquake at
Roggiano, Italy, when the skies were seen to be aflame. In 1889 in May and June there was another series of meteoric phenomena, of
deluges, and floods accompanied by an after-glow.
The Charleston Earthquake was so striking that I will refer to it in more detail:
CHARLESTON EARTHQUAKE, AUGUST 31, 1886
(a) August 27. A violent earthquake in Greece, also a deluge in Turkey causing great
destruction and carrying away bridges and houses. (Levant Herald, September 8, 1886.) Earthquake in Srinagar, Kashmir, also shocks in
Italy and Malta, and Vesuvius showed increased activity. In Greece a glare was seen in the sky before the earthquake and the captain of the S.
S. La Valette saw an "inky cloud" in the Eastern Mediterranean, like a "mass of thick black smoke changing into a reddish colour." (Malta
Standard, September 2.) On the same day a slight shock felt at Charleston, Carolina.
(b) August 31. At sundown a massive black cloud came up, apparently luminous on borders.
Lightning or meteors seen flashing. Shortly after severe shocks destroyed Charleston and caused large loss of life.
(c) Lake of petroleum formed as a consequence near the city. Geyzers spouted with boiling
water. Sulphurous emissions. Ground highly magnetic.
(d) September 4. Shocks continued. At 2.30 a.m. warm flints fell near or on the News and
Courier building and another fall was recorded later. (Charles Fort, Lo!, p. 33.) Volcanic dust fell at Wilmington, North Carolina.
(e) September 5. Severe fresh shock at Charleston, followed by a brilliant meteor which left a
long trail of light. Two meteors seen at Columbia, S.C. (Times, September 7.)
(f) September 8. A "strange cloud" appeared off the coast of South Carolina. The cloud hung
heavy but was not caused by any burning trees or grass.
(g) October 22. Another series of shocks at Charleston. Several meteors appeared and some
accounts say fifty. On October 23-24, about midnight a meteor passed over Atlanta, Georgia, and caused a light so intense that small
objects on the ground were visible. (New York Herald, October 25.)
(h) October 24. A large meteor seen at Charleston, also on 28th, described as "a strange
celestial visitor." (News Courier, Charleston, October 29.)
It seems here as though Charleston, having attracted attention to one celestial body, was
unable to escape the undesirable attentions of the remainder, which appear to have been attracted even when not drawn in. Mr. Fort, who
has collected the data for this earthquake, appears to think that somehow or other the earth is stationary and can thus be pelted from a star
or comet. The true explanation is the attraction of magnetic waves set up by an earthquake, or, as will be seen, a volcanic eruption, which
draws to itself everything not too big to pass on.
In 1889, the year of the terrible volcanic eruption at Bandaisan, Japan, in May, there had
been a grave drought for months in China, Japan, Australia, Tasmania, Russia, Turkey, Greece, India, especially in Kashmir and the Punjab,
Germany—in fact nearly everywhere—Cuba, Mexico, British Honduras. . . .
On May 24, tremendous floods and storms and typhoons burst in Greece, Malay States, and
the West Indies. On May 25, a fine dust like a snowstorm fell in Dakota, Ohio. On 26th, red rain fell at Cardiff, Wales, and red dust at Hyéres,
Cote d'Azur. May 29, apparently at St. Louis, crystal particles, some pink and some white, fell. Within the next day or few days tremendous
deluges smote the world, in China, Japan, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Honduras, India, Ceylon, Russia, the Levant, everywhere. In England not only
floods of rain but lumps of ice fell in June. Waterspouts at Lausanne, Switzerland, Coburg, Ontario, Sargans, Switzerland, Reichenbach,
Saxony, and similar visitations throughout South America. At Chetnole, Dorset, the people saw a hill with billows of water, 8 to 10 feet high,
which tossed the village as in a surf. It was afterwards asserted that a waterspout burst near by on Batcombe Hill. These waterspouts
actually gouged holes some of them 8 to 9 feet deep.
There was something peculiar about this world deluge.
This vast accumulation of water, billions and billions of tons, could not have been caused by
the automatic methods of solar radiation and molecules of dust, if such cause moisture and rain, which needs to be proved. All this vast
volume of water, almost an ocean of water, could not have been suspended in the air all over the world awaiting a sudden release. Is it not
feasible to propose that the tail or some of the tail of probably the comet of 1889 drifted across the earth's path and was drawn in?
The exhaustion of the 1882 and 1887 comets reveals the enormous strain imposed by the sun
in perihelion contact with a cometary body. Yet long before this process is reached the sun's attraction operates in ways that fascinates and
awes the observer. The nebula becomes more agitated daily, great nebulous clouds are thrown off from the nucleus which also exhibits the
extremity of perturbation. Isaac Newton estimated the heat of the comet of 1680 to be nearly 2000 times that of red-hot iron, and that is if
anything rather conservative. Every soluble is reduced to its primary and constituent parts. The various rocks forming the nucleus in a highly
incandescent condition incessantly collide and scrape against one another, grinding or flaking according to the genus of materia. Yet amidst
this awful chaos law reigns, the law of gravity, for all this materia reduced to the lightest level, governed by the weight of its units to the least
atoms, falls into line, the heaviest solids followed by lesser such as flint chips—flint chips are not always a proof of prehistoric human
habitation—gravel, boulders or composites merging into boulder clay or chalk, lime and sand, extending over a great area and then followed
by the tail according to the specific gravity of its gases. When geologists readjust their estimates to the level of modern meteorism they will
realise that the vast deposits of chalk or sandstone hills in various areas are accountable to another origin than ocean beds formed on the
face of our earth. Chalk may be the disintegrated particles of mollusca but it has been subjected to the ordeal of fire as well as sorted out in
transit from another world until in a vast mass or masses it piles up when a cometary body helps to build up another earth. The same applies
One of the most interesting of cometary studies is Biela's Comet, discovered in the
eighteenth century by an Austrian after whom it was named. Its period was calculated at 6.75 years but it was not always observed, which of
itself is not without significance, because had it been following a regular path it should have been seen by the telescope. In 1832, it was
identified, and its track was calculated by astronomers to traverse the earth's orbit. In spite of the calm unconcern of the authorities in such
matters great fear was felt in France and the United States lest an appulsion should eventuate, with the result that the churches were
crowded. No Biela was seen the next periodic visit but 13 years later, in 1845, another comet was identified as such.
It split into two parts after attaining perihelion, these two parts drifted nearly 150,000 miles
apart, tails shot out and the two nuclei burst into rival activity. It was conjectured that Biela's may have struck some solid body in space. It is
noteworthy that between the two parts of the split comet or twin comets there stretched a bar or arc of gaseous light, forming, as it were, a
pair of spectacles, like symbols on some Scottish engraved stones. In 1852, a twin comet was observed and identified as Biela's though the
distance between the two was enormously increased. Since 1852 Biela has never again been seen, but in 1866, in November, the period
when the comet should have returned, the world beheld a most brilliant meteor shower, and in 1872, 1885, and 1892, corresponding with its
former period, there were imposing displays of meteors in November. None, however, were seen in 1879, which rather destroys the sequence.
In 1892 two other comets of striking appearance were observed, Swift's and Holmes', which
latter many thought was Biela's. It was calculated to approach the earth very closely, and in America the apprehensive public crowded again in
terror to the churches. Mr. J. H. Elgie, F.R.A.S. (The Stars Night by Night), suggests that the November meteor shower, the Andromedes,
may be the remains of Biela. It is to be remarked that the months of May and November, the former associated with Halley's Comet, and the
other with Biela's, are the two months in ancient days mostly celebrated for great disasters. If it suggests anything it is that classes of
comets and not an individual comet are concerned in such results.
Pons-Winnecke Comet is another body closely resembling Biela's. It was first observed in
1858, the year when Biela did not materialise, and it was calculated to be a periodic comet of about six years. How constant this alleged
return was I cannot state, but in June and the beginning of July 1908, Pons-Winnecke was identified as a bright comet and the nights were
exceptionally light. The comet was not seen in 1914 or 1920, but was expected back in 1926 when the popular Press induced numbers of
people to sit up late for several nights watching for the luminous cloud phenomenon of 1908. Nothing happened at all.
They then discovered Pons-Winnecke to be a year late because in June 1927 a comet was
observed in the east along the direction reserved for Pons-Winnecke. It was calculated to cross the earth's orbit when its mean distance
would be 3,700,000 miles away, 14,000,000 miles nearer the earth (so said the Daily Express expert) than any comet has dared to come in
the memory of living astronomers—such is the futile nonsense with which the popular Press feed its readers. At all events the superficiality of
astronomical methods of "identification," which names any comet indiscriminately and treats any irregularity of a comet's return with such
indifference, whether it come or no, or whether it come this year or next, compels the investigator to regard astronomical research so far as
it concerns comets as pathetically primitive.
When comets are tabulated, named, their periods calculated for a long or short time, and the
public made to wonder at the marvellous knowledge of these learned astronomers, many of these comets are "lost." Biela's, as we see, was
lost. Pons-Winnecke, whether they admit it or no, is lost. Lexell's, discovered in 1770, with a nucleus said to have been five times the size of
the moon, was supposed to possess an orbit of 5.5 years, but it never appeared again. Brorsen's Comet of 1846 failed altogether to return
as calculated. Tempel's Comet of 1865- 6 was reckoned to possess an orbit equal to 33 1/3 years, and to be related to the Meteor Shower
of the Leonids, but it belongs to the category of missing since its first appearance. And what of Donati's Comet? Donati's of 1858 was
regarded as the most splendid comet of a century. It had a serpent's head, its body turned and twisted like a gigantic fiery saurian, and its
tail, flashing like golden scales, spread over forty million miles. It has never been seen again unless, of course, its later return was confused
with a Biela, Pons-Winnecke, or Encke, as seems very probable.
Holmes' Comet of 1892 followed a path that the astronomers calculated brought it very near
the earth, and considerable apprehension was aroused. The nucleus was round and sharply defined, but after attaining perihelion it became
exceedingly faint. It then suddenly brightened and disappeared for good and all. Brooks' Comet of 1893—which might have been the rapid
return of Holmes to a short aphelion—was striking. It had four attendants. On October 20, it possessed two tails, one symmetrical, but the
next day the tail was shattered, bent, distorted, and deflected. The nucleus broke into knots and gave the appearance of a fiery torch as it
burst into brighter light. The general opinion was that it had struck some solid obstacle in space. At all events, Brooks' Comet no longer
exists, any more than other celebrated comets in their day, such as Coggia's of 1874, Wolf's of 1875, De Vico's of 1844, Denning's of 1890,
or Moorhouse's of 1908. As Pons-Winnecke's, Brorsen's, Temple's, Swift's, and Denning's, amongst others, are regarded as periodical
comets with an elliptical orbit, it is surely time that astronomers busied themselves to inquire about their long and tardy delay in their
Encke's Comet is usually the sheet-anchor of our astronomers when cometary movements
are subject to doubt. It is the only reliable comet, or, relatively the most reliable of the comets. Its period has been estimated at
approximately 3 1/3 years and has even been calculated to a nicety at 1206 days, or 3.3 years. This comet was first of all discovered in
1818, and was "identified" with a comet observed in 1786, also with another found in 1795 by Miss Herschel in the constellation Cygnus, and
with another in 1805, which dates do not even correspond with the period so carefully calculated. The comet of Encke has the smallest
known orbit of any, but despite this, it exhibits "irregular and unexplained acceleration to which it is subject," says Sir Robert Ball (Popular
Guide to the Heavens). It falsifies calculations by generally arriving ahead of its time. To explain this, astronomers say that Encke is losing
centrifugal force, is shortening its orbit, and is consequently being pulled nearer the sun, into whose fierce embrace it must inevitably be
That reputable astronomers can be capable of such a half-cock explanation is only another
example of the strange mentality which apparently enables them to juggle glibly in estimates of vast distances, but to turn a blind eye to
realities. How could a comet which every 3 1/3 or 3.3 years completes nearly 180 degrees of its circuit with the sun at the apex of perihelion,
come through such an ordeal in anything but an emaciated condition, if, indeed, it be not wholly absorbed when it comes to the completion of
the comparatively small ellipse? How can they expect, these learned astronomers, that a small comet can go on every 3 years or so from
1818, to say nothing of 1786, and yet remain in an existent state? What do they imagine is the fate of comets other than to be absorbed
into the sun? On what scientific grounds, because a cometary body is observed with a short elliptic path, do they identify it as the same
comet? This piled-up mystery where there is none at all is evidence of extraordinary obtuseness.
The explanation is so simple. Carried round and round by centrifugal force, pulled steadily
inwards by the force of gravity, the comet gradually reduces its circuit until it is finally swallowed up in the sun, whose strength it renews.
Dozens of comets called Encke's are—dozens of cometary residue!
Halley's Comet is another of the stand-bys of the orbit theory, and more nonsense has been
written about it than almost all others combined. History has been woven round this comet and there is scarcely an event for the last 2000
years where a comet has appeared on the horizon at an inopportune moment than Halley's Comet has not been introduced as a malign
influence. Halley, in 1682, found there was a close resemblance between the earlier comets of 1456, 1531, and 1607, whose appearance had
been at very nearly regular periods, between 75 and 76 years. Their distances from the sun when at perihelion had been nearly the same, the
inclination of their orbits very similar, and their motions had all been retrograde, that is the opposite to the planets. Hence Halley, a brilliant
astronomer, assumed they were reappearances of one and the same comet.
It was calculated that this was the comet of 43 B.C., which was believed to portend the assassination of Caesar, and that of A.D. 1066, when
William the Conqueror overthrew Harold
and the Saxon Hierarchy. All I can say is that if it were the same as that which preceded Caesar's death, it came into the Conqueror's life
either 31 years too early or 45 too late, as any simple sum of long division will show. If the comet of 1910 were the same as the comet of
William I, it arrived 8 years after its date, and if the same as the Cæsarian Comet it was 53 years towards the next 76.
It is deplorable that the whole basis of cometary movements so vital to the earth should be
based on such loose calculations as those which happened to take Halley's fancy in the seventeenth century.
Halley's Comet has been included by astronomers as a member of the Solar System. To be a
consistent satellite of the sun on the basis of the planetary system it would require on such an orbit to be seventy-six times the specific
gravity of the earth, but this, as stated before, is an impossibility, because it is continuously losing its substance, and thus surrendering
centrifugal force. As Halley's approaches the sun along an extended ellipse, with the sun forming the apex, and as it reduces its specific
gravity every instant in some degree, especially at perihelion, it is an impossible proposition that it could continue for any period other than a
limited one along such a course.
In 1910, the comet identified with Halley possessed a long, streaming tail which seems to
have been detached about the time it crossed the earth's orbit about 15 million miles between the earth and sun. A long tail is clear evidence
of rapid combustion, for a heavenly body cannot burn itself up and continue to function. Some astronomers assert that the Aquarid Meteors
of the first week in May contain the remains of Halley's Comet, and that the brilliant meteors which have been seen are the residue of Halley's.
Whether so or no we must agree that if the Aquarids are the remains of Halley's, it can no longer exist, and that the comet of 1910 cannot
be Halley's if the residue of the same body is masquerading as the Aquarids; or, if it be argued that Halley's still remains, but part of it has
dissipated into a meteor shower, it must be admitted that this remarkable comet which jumps the centuries to suit itself, has at length
broken up, must reduce its centrifugal force and be drawn into the sun.
No doubt the comet of 1910, when broken up, continued for a time upon the course in a
series of meteors which, had they struck the earth, would have occasioned disasters great or small, according to their size and place of
impact. No doubt they would have upset the weather and probably caused a peripatetic series of earthquakes or tremors when some among
them collided with our planet. No doubt "Halley's" through the centuries as a possible class of comet, has left its mark here and there upon
our planet and others, just as its residue, carried onward by centrifugal force and pull of gravity, completes the short period left to it of
individuality before being drawn into the sun. Modern investigation, blind as it seems to be to the main factors, agrees that the comet of
1862 joined the Perseids, Halley's, the Aquarids, Tempel's the Leonids, and Biela's the Andromedids.
The individual particles of a comet are finally and inexorably drawn into the sun, which
depends upon these for its sustenance. The meteor streams remain a mystery to research at present, mainly because the whole theory of
the subject is misunderstood. For instance, the interesting suggestion that Tempel's Comet has joined the Leonids and that its remains are
signalised by a particularly brilliant display of meteors every 33 1/3 years implies an enormously extended ellipse and a great period of time
for bodies of extremely limited gravity. On the other hand there seems to emerge a system whereby comets are absorbed along a more or
less defined programme in which, perhaps, Halley's represents a revolution of 76 years (I write approximately), belonging to a certain class
and others follow other rules, and are projected according to those rules.
The study of Nature's laws teaches us that nothing is really lost, nothing is actually wasted,
everything in due time helps to build something else, and a world in combustion is in truth a medium sent forth to build other worlds. The
day will come when our world, with its rocks and stones, its gold and silver, iron-ore, chalk, sand, and clay will shoot through the heavens a
glorious if transient sight, to disperse its atmosphere, its materia, and perhaps the germs of life on another planet in a far distant system of
the universe ready to receive it, and thus build up a new world as ours has been and is being built up. Leaving aside such transitory features
as civilisations and nations, the result of evolution, our world, venerable as it may seem to us, actually a young planet in a system apparently
yet of a minor order, is merely a satellite of a sun as that is of other suns, until at length there emerges the inner veiled glory of all around
whom the innumerable host of heaven eternally revolves and yet eternally changes.
In this vast and awe-inspiring system of the universe, wherein solar systems play their part and collapse, as even suns in time must do, as
perhaps Bickerton's theory explains, we may conjecture a collision or drawing in of suns like in the great nucleus of Orion. In such a system
where suns require constant fortifying, or else must lose their power and collapse, the rôle of the dead planet supplies the medium. As we
have seen, a comet brings with it all the terrestrial ingredients known to us. Some contain more gold or silver or platinum or diamonds and
emeralds than others; some bring greater oceans or sandstone or lime or chalk. We have seen the movements of these bodies towards the
sun and the later climax as they disintegrate into meteors large and small, and how these in their turn act as gigantic and constant feeders
to the sun and the planets.
The conclusions to be drawn from the foregoing are that comets possess no orbits and
cannot possess them. They are drawn into our system by the attractive power of the sun and upon them the whole solar system depends
for continuance, because were the supply to cease the sun would cool, eventually he could not hold the planets, which would not be drawn
in, but would fall away into space. The first approach of a comet may appear to come along a line termed parabola, hyperbola, or ellipse, and
it may seem to yield mathematical evidence of an enormously extended orbit. Yet it is in a comparatively short time pulled up by the sun. Its
duration of existence depends then upon the distance or closeness of its perihelion passage; but sooner or later it falls into an elliptic path,
ever shorter, joining, say, the apparent motion of a Swift of 8.534, or a Faye of 7.566, or a D'Arrest of 6.691 years, or a Tempel of 6.507,
or a Finlay of 6.627, and so on through the gamut of apparent motions from anything down to the Encke period of 3 1/3 years, and perhaps
less and less, as the comet is then usually invisible when within the photosphere of the sun.
Such is the life story as my researches go of a comet and the effects on the earth. We must now consider the relationship between comets
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COMET AND METEOR INFORMATION