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The Internal Constitution of the Stars


LAST year at Bournemouth we listened to a proposal from the President of the Association to bore a hole in the crust of the earth and discover the conditions deep down below the surface. This proposal may remind us that the most secret places of Nature are, perhaps, not 10 to the nth miles above our heads, but 10 miles below our feet. In the last five years the outward march of astronomical discovery has been rapid, and the most remote worlds are now scarcely safe from its inquisition. By the work of H. Shapley the globular clusters, which are found to be at distances scarcely dreamt of hitherto, have been explored, and our knowledge of them is in some respects more complete than that of the local aggregation of stars which includes the sun. Distance lends not enchantment, but precision, to the view. Moreover, theoretical researches of Einstein and Weyl make it probable that the space which remains beyond is not illimitable; not merely the material universe, but also space itself, is perhaps finite; and the explorer must one day stay his conquering march for lack of fresh realms to invade. But to-day let us turn our thoughts inwards to that other region of mystery—a region cut off by more substantial barriers, for, contrary to many anticipations, even the discovery of the fourth dimension has not enabled us to get at the inside of a body. Science has material and non-material appliances to bore into the interior, and I have chosen to devote this address to what may be described as analytical boring devices —absit omen!


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EDDINGTON, A. The Internal Constitution of the Stars. Nature 106, 14–20 (1920).

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