National Geographic : 1939 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph courtesy Field Museum of Natural History LUCKILY, NO ONE WAS IN THE CAR WHEN THIS METEORITE STRUCK The girl is holding a four-pound stone-from-the-sky which fell in Benld. Illinois, September 29, 1938, and now is on exhibition at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago. It smashed through the garage roof, shown above, penetrated the top of an automobile, and made a hole in the front seat cushion, to which Geology Curator Henry W. Nichols is pointing. The stone fell with a roar resembling that of a diving airplane. there's a fourth dimension-time. We're not only somewhere, but some-when! And now Dr. Albert Einstein and some of his colleagues report they are investigating a fifth dimension. How large is the Universe? Some astron omers think it may be infinite in size, with all the galaxies we see just tiny parts of a far larger supergalaxy, and so on forever. If the Universe is expanding, however, it must have definite boundaries, astrono mers say. Then what lies beyond? Noth ing, not even space! But can space have boundaries? Yes, if space is curved, as Dr. Einstein says. In curved space, you could look straight forward and see the back of your own head, if your eyes had sufficient power. This is because a ray of light, in curved space, would follow a curved path back to its starting point. So light reflected from the back of your head would travel on around curved space to your eyes, and you would see the back of your own head! What of the future of the Universe? Since all the stars are radiating themselves away into space, some astronomers predict that eventually there will be no material substance left. It all will be turned into energy, they say, scattered afar. The Uni verse will have run down like an unwound clock. So far, we know of no way in which energy can be turned back into matter again; no way in which the Universe can be kept "wound up," though there may be such a process at work. But of one thing we are sure. Through all the great Universe order prevails. The same natural laws that man has discovered in his laboratories govern every atom in the farthest, faintest galaxies. "Man may be," says Dr. Harlow Shap ley, of Harvard, "only the latest develop ment of the whirling star mist, but the fact that he has intelligence enough to trace his own evolution stands unexplained, except by the presence in Nature of an intelligence far superior to his own."