Science: Philosophers in Philadelphia

The world may come to an end next year, next month or next fortnight. This possibility arises from a plain fact of astronomy. Last December an almost unknown star on the fringe of the constellation Hercules, far below the range of naked-eye visibility, was observed in the midst of a flaring explosion which in nine days increased the intensity of its radiation 200,000 times and placed it among the twelve brightest stars in the sky (TIME Dec 31). Only last fortnight did Nova Herculis 1934, on the downgrade to its onetime obscurity, become...

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