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An easy explanation would be offered by Newton's corpuscular theory of light, according to which the sun sends out matter into space. In this dilemma Mayer takes refuge in an idea which rests on a misconception of the undulatory theory of light, and he offers an explanation which is now easily recognized as invalid.From Mayer we pass to William Thomson, the late Lord Kelvin, who, six years later, took up the very same problem and arrived independently at almost identically the same conclusions.

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Unlike Mayer and Thomson, he starts out with the nebular hypothesis of Kant and Laplace, and derives solar heat from nebular contraction.This is the first attempt, made by a physicist, to compute the age of our great luminary and to prepare a mortuary estimate of it.He goes on the supposition that the solar energy of rotation is derived from the energy of falling meteors.Helmholtz's theory was a tremendous advance on that of falling meteors, assumed by Mayer and Thomson.No doubt meteors fall into the sun, as assumed by Mayer and Thomson, but the Mayer-Thomson theory made demands upon these meteors that bordered on extravagance.

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