But it is in what we do not know that our hope and our
religion lies. Thrice blessed are we in the certainty that
here our range is infinite. This infinite that makes our
brains reel, that begets the feeling that makes us 'shrink,'
is perhaps the most portentous argument in the logic of the
sceptic. Since the days of Laplace, we have been haunted in
some form or other with the ghost of the MECANIQUE CELESTE.
Take one or two commonplaces from the text-books of
Every half-hour we are about ten thousand miles nearer to the
constellation of Lyra. 'The sun and his system must travel
at his present rate for far more than a million years (divide
this into half-hours) before we have crossed the abyss
between our present position and the frontiers of Lyra'
(Ball's 'Story of the Heavens').
'Sirius is about one million times as far from us as the sun.
If we take the distance of Sirius from the earth and
subdivide it into one million equal parts, each of these
parts would be long enough to span the great distance of
92,700,000 miles from the earth to the sun,' yet Sirius is
one of the NEAREST of the stars to us.
The velocity with which light traverses space is 186,300
miles a second, at which rate it has taken the rays from
Sirius which we may see to-night, nine years to reach us.