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Thomas Jefferson "took pity on his poverty" and appointed Augustus Brevoort Woodward presiding judge of the first civil government of the Territory of Michigan in 1805. Arriving at Detroit, Judge Woodward found many of the inhabitants living in tents and booths on the commons surrounded by the smoking ruins of their dwellings and business houses. Immediately he advocated an elaborate plan for rebuilding the city. He named for himself one of the main avenues, so-called, he facetiously explained, because it ran woodward into the wilderness.

Judge Woodward is noted here at the University of Michigan for his Catholepistemia, or Nomenclature of Universal Science, a contemporary rival of a system of classification used by Jefferson, in connection with the founding of the University of Virginia. In Woodward's scheme under the Diorismia, Uranica, we find only one of the Epistemia, Astronomia. This adopted, however, as one of the original thirteen Didaxiim (professorships) of the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania in 1817. Although Solar Physics (a modern term) is lacking even in the learned Judge's Encatholepistemia or the Enlarged Catholepistemia, we are fully convinced that he held the subject in high esteem. What greater evidence could be adduced than the volume reproduced and presented herewith! Considerations on the Substance of the Sun

Augustus B. Woodward

Washington, 1801
Randolph G. Adams, Director of the Clements
Library, procured a copy of the original and linked its
subject with our present research program in Solar
Physics at the Lake Angelus Observatory. This inter-
esting volume by a young lawyer exhibits a pedantry
worthy of the period, and a fertile imagination rarely
surpassed in any century of the History of Science. The
hypothesis is set forth that "the substance of the sun is
electron.” Electricity seems to be a manifestation of

this elementary substance. Nature displays it in the lightning, in the Aurora Borealis, in meteors, earthquakes, even in the Torpedo, or electric eel. We must recall the analogous substances of the period—“phlogiston," the materiality of heat, various kinds of air (gas) e.g. "azate," basis of pestilential Auids, and "septon," its antithesis, proposed to insure public health.

Analogies between electron and the sun are extremely interesting, though not entirely convincing. We marvel at the brain-child invented but not materialized, an ortery animated with electron. We can visualize the central globe of electron, based upon a description given by an assistant who survived when Richman was killed by accident-a globe of blue fire as large as a fist. There was another reputed sample three-quarters of an inch in diameter seen during an experiment-never repeated. Surround this central globe by revolving planetary spheres of electron and there you have "a perfect and living orrery."

The University of Michigan takes pride in the equipment and results obtained at the McMath-Hulbert Observatory, which has become a twentieth-century center of solar research.

Director Robert R. McMath enthusiastically subscribes to the republication of this little volume, which attests the early interest of one of the "Founding Fathers” of the University of Michigan in his special field. Dr. McMath's spectroheliokinematographical discoveries have been hailed the world around as the most important contributions to solar research in recent years. Observations at Lake Angelus have disclosed new solar phenomena quite revolutionary in their effect upon current scientific theories. The mechanical ingenuity manifest in the equipment of the Solar Tower has achieved modern miracles.

May we anticipate the construction of a mechanical device by the combined genius of director and staff at Lake Angelus to demonstrate Judge Woodward's hypothesis that the substance of the sun is electron!


ANN ARBOR 1 9 4 4






A KNOWLEDGE of the true substance of the Introduc Sun would probably tend more to enlarge our acquaintance with the real Constitution of the Universe, than any other discovery, relating to matter alone, could possi

bly do.

As an hypothesis perfectly new will be advanced, and attempted to be maintained, in this work, it will be proper to collect, and to review with care, the various opinions which have heretofore, at any time, prevailed on this subject.

The innate activity of the mind of man is such, that when his curiosity is attracted to the phænomena of nature, the discovery of their causes is a concomitant desire. Hence it is that some general theory of the Universe has been coæval with the first dawnings of science.

All the learned men of antiquity erected their fyftems Opinions of on some fundamental cause of the origin and formation the Anciof the Universe; and the particular opinions which cuts. they may have entertained respecting the substance of the Sun, cannot therefore be exhibited, without in some measure considering the general theory, with which the opinion was connected.

It was a fault attached to all the science of the Ancients, that they were satisfied with mere hypothesis, without subjecting their impressions to the test of experience, and reafon. They inclined to conjecture, more than to proof; and were contented with probability, without expecting certainty.

This disposition will always render science vague, and depreciate its valuc. It tends to enervate the mind;

and gives rise to wild and inconsistent theories, which in a more enlightened and correct age are exploded without effort.

Nothing will more strongly confirm the justice of this remark than the opinions of the learned men of antiquity, respecting the Universe in general, as well as the particular nature of the Sun. We shall often find them indulging the suggestions of an unrestricted and exuberant fancy; without any subordination to reason, without any

deference to laborious and patient investigation. 3. Acrount Ancient science regards no name with greater veneraof Thalcs. tion than that of Thales of Ionia, the institutor of lite

rature among the Grecians. He fiourished at Miletus, in the seventh century preceding the Christian æra. Letters having attained, at the age in which he lived, confiderable perfection; and pofsefling himself a penetrative and fcrutinizing mind, he foon discovered that the opinions, and the knowledge of his countrymen, had derived their origin from another source. Egypt being then the general matrix of all science, his thirst of information induced him to visit the fountain-head. He traveiled into that country; and from the priests of Memphis acquired the rudiments of geometry, of astronomy, and of general

literature. His general

On his return to Greece, Thales soon acquired celebridoctrines. ty. He predicted eclipses; propounded a general theory

of the Universe; and maintained that its origin, and preservation, were owing to one Supreme Mind. The particulars of his various tenets and doctrines are enveloped in impenetrable obscurity. It is certain however that he was a Theist. He believed water to be the primitive and original principle of all matter. He is said to have com

posed a treatise on meteors, in verse, which is now lost. His opini

Thales has not left us any direct opinion respecting the on of the

nature of the Sun. He is faid however to have entertainstars.

ed the general sentiment, that the fars consisted of an earthy

fulfiance, wlich was continually red-hot.* 6, Account of Along with Thales must be named another fcientific Anaximad- character of the same country, and the fainc city; who is dur.

reputed to have been his scholar, and who is not leis diftinguished in the records of learning. Anaximander of

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Stob. Ecl. Phys. C. 25.
Plutarch de placitis philosophorum. Lib. 2. cap. 1 3.


antient Ionia is considered as the inventor of those signs of the Zodiac which are still ufed in astronomy. To him is ascribed the discovery of the obliquity of the Ecliptic; and the first invention of Maps.

Anaximander differed in many particulars from his The first great predeceffor. He is represented as the first Atheist Atheist. recorded in history; having contended for the non-existence of any other principle, in the Constitution of the Universe, than matter. History has preserved for us both his general theory of the Universe, and his particular opi. nion respecting the nature of the Sun.

8. The following may be presented as a condensed account His general of his general creed : «The infinity of things is the primitive creed. “ and universal element. This infinity always preserves “ its unity; though its parts are in a constant and incessant « Aux. All things came from it; all will again return to o it. The worlds composing the Universe are infinite. The “ stars are composed of air and fire; and the earth is “ placed in their common centre.”

Of his particular opinion respecting the nature of the His partiSun, the following is a representation : “ There is along

cular opi“ the heavens an exterior sphere of fire; and within this sion of the

, « sphere there is an interior sphere of opaque matter. In “ this interior sphere of opaque matter, there is a circular aperture. Through this aperture the light is transmitted; “ and appears to the inhabitants of the earth as a round and distinct body of fire. Eclipses are occasioned by “ the closing of this aperture.”



Anaximenes was a native of the same place; and was Opinions of the scholar, and successor of Anaximander. Like his pre

Anaxi. decessor, he was also an Atheist; but he qualified the menes. vague and indeterminate principle of Anaximander, by affirming that the original and causative principle of the Universe was the Air. This he alledged was attached to, and superincumbed all matter. He has left no particular affertion respecting the nature of the Sun; but his dictum was, that the nature of the stars was fiery, and that terrestrial bodies, invisible to us, were carried round them.*


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Diogenes of Appollonia, in the island of Crete, was Account of the scholar and successor of Anaximenes, and rectified Diogenes. the opinion of his master, that the air was the primitive

Stob. Ecl. Phys. C. 25.

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