From J. W. Strutt [after 20 May 1871?]1
Much of the Author’s theory seems to depend on the assumed transparency of flame. See p 77.2 But the theory of exchanges (supported by an immense weight of evidence) so far from proving this as the Author states, really asserts just the contrary.3 No thickness of flame at a given tempre. can radiate more than a single lamp black surface at the same tempre. wd. do. The view in the book is entirely inconsistent with the facts of spectrum analysis.4 This being so, the argument from dissociation wd. tend to shew that the Sun’s heat cannot possibly be due to burning hydrogen, for in order that the total heat radiated sd. be as great as we find it, the solar temperature must be so high that hydrogen would not burn.
Many of the minor points brought forward seem to be established. Thomson5 I believe agrees that there is no particular limit to the atmosphere, tho the idea that the interior of the Sun could be cool below the flaming atmosphere is shewn to be in the highest degree improbable.6
I am not competent to judge with decision on the astronomical parts, but the Author does not seem to be acquainted with Thomson’s papers, nor to understand the bearing on the questions he discusses of the laws of Thermodynamics wh. are almost universally admitted.7
Criticises a book [W. M. Williams, The fuel of the sun (1870)] whose author does not understand thermodynamics, spectrum analysis, and W. Thomson’s papers.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7787,” accessed on 18 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-7787