Problems of Present-day Astronomy

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    IN connexion with the recent meetings of the British Association, Sir James Jeans delivered a public lecture at Southport on Friday, September 11, on “Some Problems of Present-day Astronomy”. He confined his attention to theoretical astronomy, and dealt almost exclusively with large-scale problems concerned with the character of the universe. After a brief survey of the general structure of the stellar universe, Sir James described the various kinds of nebulse, directing attention in passing to Kuiper's recent discovery, in a planetary nebula, of “what may well prove to be the smallest of all known stars” a body with a radius about half that of the earth, a surface temperature of about 2,800° C, and an average density about 36 million times that of water. The theory that the extra-galactic nebulae were formed by condensation out of an originally unstable continuous mass of gas filling all space next claimed attention, and Sir James remarked that mathematical investigation shows that condensations in such a medium would be “on something like the scale of the observed nebulas, and would be at something like the same distance apart”.

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