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Art. LVII.

A New Physical System of Astronomy;
or, an Attempt to Explain the Ope-
rations of the Powers which impel
the Planets and Comets to perform
Elliptical Revolutions round the Sun,

and revolve on their own Axis: in
which the Physical System of
Isaac Newton is examined, and
presumed to be refuted. To which
is annexed, a Physiological Trea-
, &c. By Joseph Young,
M. D. of New-York. 8vo. pp.
188. New-York. Hopkins. 1800.

WE announce, with pleasure,
an American publication
on astronomy. In proportion as
the study of this sublime science is
obstructed on this side of the At-
lantic, we ought, in justice, to set
a higher value on the labours of
those who undertake to encounter
and surmount such difficulties. Like
the fine arts, in one respect, astrono-
my generally finds the best chances
of cultivation and advancement in
populous and opulent countries,
where the objects of employment
and instruction are minutely sub-
divided; and where the munifi-
cence of public establishments sup-
plies the instruments of observation,
the commodiousness of leisure, and
the incentives of emolument. It is
well known that such advantages
are seldom possessed by the philoso-
phical inquirer in the United States.
Action here chiefly usurps the place
of speculation. Employed in the
pursuit of objects of the first neces-
sity, and in laying the foundation
rather than rearing the fabric of
national glory, our citizens can sel-
dom, at present, devote their atten-
tion to ornamental parts of learn-
ing, or such as bear only a remote
and indirect relation to the gain-
ing of practical knowledge. With
the progress of improvement in
America, it may be expected that
the literary and scientific horizon
will be gradually enlarged; and
that the light of the higher mathe-
matical and astronomical studies
will, in time, combine with that
of poetry and the other fine arts to
illuminate a hemisphere not long
since overspread with darkness.

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In the work under considera-
tion, Dr. Young does not exhibit
his opinions with much minuteness
of detail; but, so far as we can un-
derstand them, they seem to be
comprehended in the following
sketch of his system, which he de-
livers at page 26, & seq.

“As the sun is without doubt the
primum mobile, or first mover of this
stupendous system, it behoves us to in-
vestigate the means or powers by which
be is actuated, and caused to perform a
revolution on his axis once in 25 days
and six hours. I shall, in the first place,
give my opinion of this matter, and then
corroborate my conjectures, with a re-
cital of such experiments and observa-
tions as the nature of the subject will
admit of. —In the first place I shall ven-
ture to assert, that the whole universe is
full of elastic, repulsive matter, denomi-
nated electricity, which is most probably
composed of oxygen and caloric. When
cold, it is more condensed and less active,
and unites freely in the composition of
many solid bodies, and remains for some
time inactive; but when acted upon by
friction, collision, or heat, it immediately
assumes its pristine qualities, and is the
secondary cause of all the motion in the
universe. —In the next place, I suppose
the body of the sun to consist of solid in-
combustible matter, formed in such a
manner as freely to admit the more con-
densed electric matter (by which he is
surrounded, and strongly compressed), to
enter at his poles, into a large cavity in
his centre, where, being heated and ex-
panded to the greatest possible degree, it
is expelled, with amazing velocity, to the
circumference, through numberless curv-
ing pores, all uniformly bending west-
ward from the centre. And as it is
a known property of bodies in motion,
and of the rays of light in particular,
to move in straight lines, it is evident
that the power of every particle of
the igneous matter, exploded from the
centre, through these curving pores, must
be directed against, and exert their force
upon the eastern sides of the canals through
which they move; which causes the sun
to revolve on his axis eastward. That
this is an invariable law of nature, may
be demonstrated by constructing a wheel
on these principles, which may be actu-
ated either by steam, electricity, common
air, water, or fire. —It was only neces-

sary for the omniscient architect to con-
struct the sun, in some such manner, of
such materials as would withstand the ac-
tion of the fire; and first, to give the in-
ternal cavity such a degree of heat, as to
cause the explosive igneous matter to
move with great celerity, from the cen-
tre to the circumference of the globe;
which impulse being at all times equal,
as both the quantity and quality of the
combustible matter with which he is
supplied is invariably the same; the pe-
riods of his revolutions must also invari-
ably be the same. And as he is con-
tinually pouring forth oceans of fire,
from his equatorial and tropical regions,
he must receive an adequate supply at
his poles, of electric matter in a state of
extreme cold and condensation, other-
wise a perfect vacuum would succeed,
and the sun be extinguished; and, conse-
quently, light, life, heat and motion would
cease, and be no more. The cold air
flowing into an air furnace, may serve
to convey some idea of this grand ope-
ration. But the chief objection to this
hypothesis, arises from the difficulty of
conceiving how the sun can be supplied
with a sufficient pabulum to support
such an immense waste of fire for ages,
especially when this pabulum is said to
consist only of the matters contained in
the common air, while we daily experi-
ence the necessity of supplying our fires
with fresh quantities of more substantial
fuel, without which they are soon extin-
guished. But this objection will vanish,
when we consider that matter is inde-
structible, that no being, except the one
who created it, can annihilate one single
particle of it: it may be decomposed and
recompounded millions of times, but the
same quantity of matter still exists; con-
sequently there is the same quantity of
fire existing now as at the creation, and
no more. —Let those who find difficulty
in conceiving by what means the cold
condensed air, rushing impetuously into
the poles of the sun, should be instantly
converted into real active fire, and dif-
fused through the regions of space, only
consider, that the electric matter dis-
persed through the regions of our atmos-
phere, requires only rapid motion to
convert it into the most tremendously
active fire with which we are acquaint-
ed. And even the trifling quantity that
we can collect from the air, by means of
our diminutive machines, is sufficient to
teach us how this grand operation is per-
formed in the immense body of the sun,

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which is a mass of solid matter of eight
hundred and ninety thousand miles in
diameter, heated throughout to the most
intense degree, surrounded and strongly
compressed, especially at his poles, with
igneous matter in a condensed, latent
state, that only requires to be excited
into rapid motion, to exhibit every ap-
pearance, and assume every quality of
fire. This operation may be termed the
respiration of the sun; and, if he should
ever cease to respire, he will also cease
to revolve, and be extinct: but when this
matter is decomposed, by the violent
heat and agitation in the body of the
sun, and expelled with extreme velocity
from his equatorial and tropical regions,
the caloric forms rays, which afford light
as long as they continue to move with
great velocity in straight lines, but can-
not exhibit all the phenomena essential
to fire, until it is again united to the
oxygen, or some other acid gas. Among
the many reasons which induce me to
believe that the body of the sun is com-
posed of solid, incombustible matter, are,
first, that no permanent collection of
atmospheric matter can subsist without
some solid body to attach itself to, be-
cause active repulsive matter, without
such nucleus, would expand and diffuse
itself abroad until it was equally distri-
buted; and our system would be reduced
to a condition similar to that of an ani-
mal deprived of both heart and lungs.
Secondly, all pneumatic, aquatic, and
pyrotechnic machines, are composed of
solid matter, which is, in all cases, pas-
sive, and are so constructed as to be ac-
tuated by fluids, which are, in all cases,
the instruments in producing motion, as
there is no case in which solids generate
or continue motion independent of the
impulse or energy of fluids. And were
it not for this admirable mode of collect-
ing such immense quantities of condensed
latent igneous matter, rendered almost in-
finitely subtile, active, and penetrating
by heat, and diffusing it through space
to be recompounded, condensed, and re-
turned to the sun, in constant succession,
all motion would soon be lost, and the
planetary orbs would cease to revolve.

“I have then supposed the earth laying
entirely at rest, at the tropic of Capri-
corn, on the 21st day of June, with its at-
mosphere perfectly still and inactive, un-
til the rays of the sun, by their energy
and influence, began to heat, rarify, agi-
tate, and render it actively repulsive,
when, by a law already mentioned, to

wit, that the strongest atmosphere will
always repel the weakest to the opposite
side of the body to which it belongs,
where that of the earth would form a
long dark cone or tail, which would re-
act with a force proportioned to its
quantity of matter, and degree of its
excitement; and, when a sufficient quan-
tity of the earth's atmosphere had been
excited and propelled to the opposite side,
to overcome its vis inertia [inertiæ], the
earth would begin to move on slowly to the
eastward, in the line of the ecliptic, most
probably in a direct course to the centre
of the sun; but, as it gradually approach-
ed the solar equator, it became more ex-
posed to the action of his direct rays, sent
off in great abundance, and with more
velocity from his equatorial than his tro-
pical regions, where the earth was sup-
posed to begin its first revolution: in
consequence of this increasing degree of
heat, a greater quantity of the earth's
atmosphere would be excited and ren-
dered more repulsively active, to re-act
and antagonize the vertical rays of the
sun, which prevents it from proceeding
to the sun, and gradually propels it to a
greater distance, accelerating its motion
at the same time, until it arrives at that
limit where repulsion and appulsion are
exactly equal; and where, by the op-
posite actions of these two powers, the
earth is not only impelled in its annual
circuit, but also assisted in its diurnal re-
volution; for, as it must now move in a
curve line, the resistance of the medium
through which it passes will bend its at-
mospheric cone back westward, con-
densing its eastern side to the greatest
degree, which will cause it to act with
most power on that side of the earth,
which is successively presenting a cold,
dense atmosphere to the sun, to be heat-
ed, rarified, and rendered actively re-
pulsive; which becomes a powerful agent
in promoting the earth's diurnal rota-
tion. As these impulsive powers, which
were capable to begin these revolutions,
are constantly acting with undiminished
influence, they will be continued, not-
withstanding the opposition the moving
bodies may be supposed to meet with, in
passing through a resisting medium;
which it is impossible that any projectile
should do, let its original force be sup-
posed to be the greatest possible.”

The most obvious remark on
this hypothesis, and which cannot
fail to occur to every reader, is the

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number of fundamental principles
gratuitously assumed. Among these
may be reckoned, the extent as-
signed to the electric fluid, which
he supposes to pervade the universe;
the effects of the changes which it
undergoes from variations of tem-
perature, friction, collision, &c. and
the operations which it performs, as
the secondary cause of all motion.
The constitution and structure of
the sun, affording entrance, at his
poles, to the condensed electric
matter, and afterwards emitting
it with great force through curving
pores, must likewise be considered
merely as matter of conjecture. In
short, the whole scheme of the re-
pulsive action of the sun's igneous
or electrical atmosphere exerted
outwardly upon the planetary bo-
dies, and of the appulsive force of
their atmospheres, exerted in the
opposite direction, so as to produce
their annual and diurnal revolu-
tions, appears to be altogether a pe-
titio principii.

In comparison with this system,
let us survey the outline of the
Newtonian theory, which our au-
thor rejects as untenable and ab-
surd. By reasoning from certain
general phenomena which come
within the notice of every observer,
Sir Isaac Newton discovered a co-
incidence of motion in the heavenly
bodies, extending to all known
matter in the universe. This law
may be variously denominated—
When referred to the earth, it is
called gravitation; when exerted in
the planets, centripetal force; and,
when in the sun, the centre of our
system, it is named attraction. We
may, therefore, understand and in-
terpret this law in various ways—
either as an attractive power, ex-
erted by the sun—as an appetence
or tendency existing in each planet
—or as a force external, both to the
sun and planets, impelling them to
the sun. The impulse of a stream
of fluid, and even of the electric

fluid, if preferred to any other,
moving continually towards the
sun, may be assigned for this pur-
pose. It is not, indeed, necessary
to the truth of the Newtonian theo-
ry, that the material or efficient
cause of gravitation should be made
known. It is sufficient to prove
the existence of such a force direct-
ed towards the sun. Gravitation
has been censured as an occult qua-
lity, and as merely contrived to
hide our ignorance. But no re-
proach can be more unfounded.
Gravitation is far from expressing
any quality whatever; it only ex-
presses a matter of fact, the result
of the observation and comparison
of numberless phenomena, a law
of motion imposed by the Supreme
Architect upon the material world.
Examples of this simple and uni-
form law are constantly before our
eyes; the terrestrial gravity, by
which a stone falls to the earth, is
only a particular instance of that
all-pervading force by which the
remotest planet is confined to its

If it were possible to recon-
cile Dr. Young's theory to the mo-
tions of the primary planets, we
should still be utterly at a loss thereby
to explain the motions of the secon-
daries. The profound, combining
mind of Newton drew his univer-
sal principle from a contemplation
of the whole visible creation. His
theory explains, with equal clear-
ness, the revolutions of the secon-
dary and primary planets. All mat-
ter gravitates to all matter, wher-
ever it may be found, with a force
in the inverse duplicate ratio of the
distance. Even the deviations and
irregularities, which were observed
in the planetary system, were found
to be necessary consequences of the
very universality of this physical
law. It is known also, that New-
ton pointed out some other mi-
nute deviations, as necessary re-
sults of the law discovered by him,

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but which the art of observation
was not then sufficiently advanced
to disclose. All these have been
verified by modern observation;
and still further deviations have
been since observed, all which have
been shown to be consequences of
the agency of the same universal
law. And it may be safely affirm-
ed, at the present day, that there is
not a single anomaly in the planet-
ary system, which has not been
proved to be a modification of this
universal law of gravitation.

The permanency of a system,
which can endure this kind of scru-
tiny, may be safely asserted. It
seems destined to prove, that, at
least, one effort of human intellect
may lay claim to immortality, and
to exhibit to an admiring world, a
structure, “which will not moul-
der, like such as are ordinarily
erected, into the sand of which they
were composed, but which will
stand unimpaired, a rock, amid the
waste of ages!”

The remainder of this work,
which forms much the larger part,
is devoted to physiological inqui-
ries, and to observations and pre-
cepts in medicine and surgery.

In the physiological treatise the
author considers the constitution,
nature and qualities of the animal
spirits, or the principle of life; the
first stage of animation, and the
means whereby the circulation is
performed in the first rudiments of
the incipient animal, and before
the vessels are completely organiz-
ed. He adds, likewise, an expla-
nation of the general laws, by which
the animal economy is governed,
and he particularly treats of the
mode in which the operations of
the vis medicatrix naturæ, or the
unassisted powers of nature, are ex-
erted to obviate and cure diseases.

The author also delivers the re-
sult of his long experience in the
treatment of cancerous ulcers, the
quartan ague, putrid fevers, mad-

ness, frozen limbs, and many other
diseases. The observations of an
aged physician, on subjects belong-
ing to his profession, after devot-
ing the best of his life to an atten-
tive and laborious prosecution of
its duties, must always be valuable;
and this value is heightened in the
present instance, by the warm spi-
rit of philanthropy which pervades
the publication.

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