The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 59

the accumulation of electricity in the polar regions will be
prevented?

27. The _atmosphere of the polar regions_ being made more dense by
the extreme cold, and all the moisture in that air being frozen; may
not any great light arising therein, and passing, through it, render
its density in some degree visible, during the night time, to those
who live in the rarer air of more southern latitudes; and would it
not in that case, although in itself a complete and full circle,
extending perhaps ten degrees from the pole, appear to spectators so
placed (who could see only a part of it) _in the form of a segment_;
its chord resting on the horizon, and its arch elevated more or less
above it as seen from latitudes more or less distant; _darkish in
colour_, but yet _sufficiently transparent_ to permit some stars to
be seen through it.

28. The _rays_ of electric matter issuing out of a body, diverge by
mutually repelling each other, unless there be some conducting body
near, to receive them: and if that conducting body be at a greater
distance, they will _first diverge_, and then _converge_ in order
to enter it. May not this account for some of the varieties of
figure seen at times in the _motions_ of the luminous matter of the
auroras: since it is possible, that in passing over the atmosphere,
from the north in all directions or meridians, towards the equator,
the rays of that matter may find, in many places, portions of cloudy
region, or moist atmosphere under them, which (being in the natural
or negative state) may be fit to receive them, and towards which
they may therefore converge: and when one of those receiving bodies
is more than saturated, they may _again_ diverge from it, towards
other surrounding masses of such humid atmosphere, and thus form the
_crowns_, as they are called, and other figures mentioned in the
histories of this meteor?

29. If it be true that the clouds which go to the polar regions, and
carry thither the vapours of the equatorial and temperate regions,
[have their] vapours condensed by the extreme cold of the polar
regions, and fall in snow or hail; the winds which come from those
regions ought to be generally dry, unless they gain some humidity
by sweeping the ocean in their way. And if I mistake not, the winds
between the north east and the north west, are for the most part dry,
when they have continued for some time.


[In the Philosophical Transactions for 1774, p. 122, is a letter from
Mr. I. S. Winn to

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Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 1 [of 3]

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386.