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Meteorology   


Since we recognize two kinds of evaporation, one moist, the other

dry, it is clear that the latter must be recognized as the source of

phenomena like those we are concerned with.

But there is a question which we must discuss first. Does the sea

always remain numerically one and consisting of the same parts, or

is it, too, one in form and volume while its parts are in continual

change, like air and sweet water and fire? All of these are in a

constant state of change, but the form and the quantity of each of

them are fixed, just as they are in the case of a flowing river or a

burning flame. The answer is clear, and there is no doubt that the

same account holds good of all these things alike. They differ in that

some of them change more rapidly or more slowly than others; and

they all are involved in a process of perishing and becoming which yet

affects them all in a regular course.

This being so we must go on to try to explain why the sea is salt.

There are many facts which make it clear that this taste is due to the

admixture of something. First, in animal bodies what is least

digested, the residue of liquid food, is salt and bitter, as we said

before. All animal excreta are undigested, but especially that which

gathers in the bladder (its extreme lightness proves this; for

everything that is digested is condensed), and also sweat; in these

then is excreted (along with other matter) an identical substance to

which this flavour is due. The case of things burnt is analogous. What

heat fails to assimilate becomes the excrementary residue in animal

bodies, and, in things burnt, ashes. That is why some people say

that it was burnt earth that made the sea salt. To say that it was

burnt earth is absurd; but to say that it was something like burnt

earth is true. We must suppose that just as in the cases we have

described, so in the world as a whole, everything that grows and is

naturally generated always leaves an undigested residue, like that

of things burnt, consisting of this sort of earth. All the earthy

stuff in the dry exhalation is of this nature, and it is the dry

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