Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/485

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"Low on the horizon, beyond Durdham Down, were streaks of while light, wavering spokes and flaring lines and streamers, flushing into faint rose pink. Could the buried sunlight still be felt so late into a night of May? Soon, by quiverings and motions in these signs—for the west darkened, and flames burst forth among the topmost stars, and toward the east ran swords, stealthily creeping across the heavenly spaces—I knew that this was an aurora borealis. The pageant rapidly developed, and culminated with dramatic vividness. At the very zenith, curving downward to the Great Bear, there shone a nebulous semicircle—phosphorescent, with stars tangled in it. From this crescent of light were effused to north and west and east rays, bands, foam-flakes, belts, spears, shafts of changeful hues, now rosy red, now brightening into amethyst, now green, now pale as ashes. The whole was in slow and solemn movement, like lightning congealed, which has not ceased to throb. As glaciers are to running water, so were these auroral flames to the quiverings of lightning. In the midst of all the glow and glory sparkled Ursa Major, calm and frosty. Other stars seemed to wander in the haze, as I have seen them in a comet's tail. The most wonderful point in the pageant was when the crescent flamed into intensely brilliant violet. Then it faded; the whole heaven for a few moments flushed with diffused rose; but the show was over. That supreme flash recalled the pulsing and rutilant coruscations with which Tintoretto spheres his celestial messengers. I could have fancied the crescent and its meteoric emanations to have been the shield of an archangel."—In the Key of Blue, by John Addington Symonds.

THE public was startled the other day by the announcement that Tesla had discovered a means and manner of telegraphing through space without wires, and that he had, by eight-foot flashes, so influenced the electricity of the earth that it would be felt all over the globe. This is an important discovery, if true—a revelation, now, that will be a revolution in the world of ideas. It may not be out of place to study these tremendous earth currents in their only visible form—the aurora. The subject certainly merits more than a transient treatment.

One of the latest issues of The International Scientific Series, which has now grown to seventy-five or eighty volumes, is entitled The Aurora, and is written by M. Alfred Angot, honorary meteorologist to the central meteorological office of France.

If one wishes an accurate account of the vicissitudes of starting and supporting this splendid series, and of educating the American public to receive and appreciate it, one has only to read John Fiske's admirable biography of the late E. L. Youmans, the pioneer of the movement not only in this country but abroad. To him are we thus indebted for an introduction to the works of Darwin, Huxley, Spencer, Tyndall, Bain, Balfour Stewart, Maudsley, Jevons, Lockyer, Quatrefages, Luys, Vignoli, Lubbock, Romanes, Ribot, and many others in this country; as the editor of the Popular Science Monthly