Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Positive Solution to Metaphysics

~~An Extract~~

One Space Exists and has the Properties of a Wave Medium

If One thing, Space, Exists, how can a second thing exist within the One thing Space that gives rise to Matter and its Motion?

As Aristotle importantly and profoundly says;

... there is some other cause of the change. And to seek for this is to seek for the second kind of principle, as we would say, that from which comes the beginning of the change. (Aristotle, Metaphysics)

Unless the further factor is active, there will still be no movement. (Aristotle, Metaphysics)

There must then be a principle of such a kind that its substance is activity. (Aristotle, Metaphysics)

I feel quite sure that if Aristotle had known of Huygens' work on Wave-Motion, along with the work of Newton and Leibniz, (who all lived 2,200 years later in human history) then Aristotle would have solved the problem of how Matter exists in this Space of our Universe. Unfortunately no formal knowledge of Wave-Motion existed then, hence there was no obvious solution (as there now is.)

Thus he was confronted, along with all Philosophers, with the Problem of the One and the Many;

Now there are several ways in which the one and the many are in opposition. One of these lies in the fact that the one and the many are opposed as indivisible and divisible. What is either divided or divisible is accounted for as a kind of plurality, whereas what is indivisible or not divided is said to be a unity. (Aristotle, Metaphysics)

Multiplicity cannot be derived from a necessarily single thing. (Aristotle, Metaphysics)

The solution is to realize that Space is Moving, that it is the Motion of Space which is the second thing that can Exist within the One thing. This Motion is a Wave Motion so we are simply saying that Space is Vibrating, Space is a Wave Medium and has Waves flowing through it. (So we see that Aristotle's required 'Activity' is in fact a Wave-Activity.)

Thus we see how the second existent, Motion, exists within the One Fundamental Existent, Space.

If we now return to Aristotle, we also see how the Wave-Motion of Space is consistent with his Metaphysical Principles, we need simply make two additions to his sentence as underlined;

And here we will have the science to study that which is just as that which is, both in its essence (Space) and in the properties (Wave Medium/Motion) which, just as a thing that is, it has. (Aristotle, Metaphysics)

Which thus explains why:

The entire preoccupation of the physicist is with things that contain within themselves a principle of movement and rest. (Aristotle, Metaphysics)

And thus we are now led to the Metaphysics of Space and Motion and the Wave Structure of Matter (WSM) in Space, and at last to a simple and elegant solution to the problem that the great Aristotle formalized so long ago. For Aristotle was largely correct, there is One Substance, Space, which Exists as a Wave-Medium (Aristotle's Prime Mover) and thus Space is Moving (Vibrating) due to this Wave-Motion.

Note: Space is exceedingly rigid and only allows a tiny displacement/motion, thus the velocity of waves is VERY fast (the velocity of light c) and the wavelength is very short (10^-12 meters) thus Space is vibrating at something like a hundred billion billion cycles/s.
As Einstein says;

The subtlety of the concept of space was enhanced by the discovery that there exist no completely rigid bodies. All bodies are elastically deformable. (Einstein)

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The Eternal Motion

THERE is a magnificent poem on Pralaya, written by a very ancient Rishi, who compares the motion of the Great Breath during Pralaya to the rhythmical motions of the Unconscious Ocean. The "Great Breath" is ceaseless, and is, so to speak, the universal and eternal perpetuum mobile. WHERE WAS SILENCE? WHERE THE EARS TO SENSE IT? NO, THERE WAS NEITHER SILENCE NOR SOUND; NAUGHT SAVE CEASELESS ETERNAL BREATH, WHICH KNOWS ITSELF NOT. Infinity cannot comprehend Finiteness. In the occult teachings, the Unknown and the Unknowable MOVER, or the Self-Existing, is the absolute divine Essence. And thus being Absolute Consciousness, and Absolute Motion -- to the limited senses of those who describe this indescribable -- it is unconsciousness and immovableness. Yet there were great seers and prophets in olden times who were enabled to perceive the mystery of Breath and Motion retrospectively, when the systems of worlds were at rest and plunged in their periodic sleep.

It is Motion which begets the Logos, the Word, in occultism. Motion, which is the ONE LIFE, or Jivatma. THE ROOT OF LIFE WAS IN EVERY DROP OF THE OCEAN OF IMMORTALITY, AND THE OCEAN WAS RADIANT LIGHT, WHICH WAS FIRE, AND HEAT, AND MOTION. "Heat caused by the descent of FLAME into primordial matter causes its particles to move, which motion becomes Whirlwind." MOTION, which, during the periods of Rest "pulsates and thrills through every slumbering atom" assumes an ever-growing tendency, from the first awakening of Kosmos to a new "Day," to circular movement. The "Deity becomes a WHIRLWIND," a change from eternal vibration in the unmanifested, to Vortical Motion in the phenomenal or manifested World. The most perfect figure of a Motion ... must be the perpetually circular, that is to say, it must proceed from the center to the periphery and from the periphery to the center. This motion is the spirit itself. The word atma (universal soul) itself carries the idea of eternal motion, coming as it does from the root, AT, or eternal motion; and it may be significantly remarked, that the root AT is simply another form of the roots AH, breath, and AS, being.

The active Power, the "Perpetual motion of the great Breath," only awakens Kosmos at the dawn of every new Period, setting it into motion by means of the two contrary Forces, and thus causing it to become objective on the plane of illusion. The centripetal and the centrifugal forces, which are male and female, positive and negative, physical and spiritual, the two being the one Primordial Force. "Father" is the term for the centrifugal and "Mother" for the centripetal force. When the breath of fire or Father, is upon it (the web of ever-existent primordial substance), it expands. When the breath of the Mother touches it, and it has to come into objectivity of form, it contracts. (Besides the force acting in matter there is also a force acting on matter). The worker within, the inherent force, ever tends to unite with its parent essence without; and thus the Mother acting within, causes the Web to contract; and the Father acting without, to expand. Their product is the "Son" which is also the Sun, which is not the cause of either light or heat, but merely the focus, or, as we might say, the lens, by which the rays of the primordial light become materialized, are concentrated upon our solar system, and produce all the correlations of forces. Fire -- motion is the eternal, dark, invisible Fire, the invisible Deity -- is the father of light, light the parent of heat and vital air. Light sets in motion and controls all in nature, from that highest primordial aether down to the tiniest molecule in Space.

MOTION is eternal per se, and in the manifested Kosmos it is the Alpha and Omega of that which is called electricity, galvanism, magnetism, sensation -- moral and physical -- thought, and even life, on this plane. Thus fire, on our plane, is simply the manifestation of motion, or life. Light and heat are the ghost or shadow of matter in motion. Force is the passage of one state of motion into another state of the same: of electricity, into heat and light, of heat into sound or some mechanical function, and so on. The pulsing of vital matter in the central Sun of our System is the source of all that life which crowds the earth and overspreads the other planets, to which the Sun is the mighty Minister. The Sun has but one distinct function; it gives the impulse of life to all that breathes and lives under its light. The sun is the throbbing heart of the system; each throb being an impulse: which is not mechanical but a purely spiritual, nervous impulse. The Pleiades are considered, even in astronomy, as the central point around which our Universe of fixed stars revolves, the focus from which, and into which the divine breath, MOTION, works incessantly during the Manvantara.

To the follower of the true Eastern archaic Wisdom, to him who worships in spirit nought outside the Absolute Unity, that ever-pulsating great Heart that beats throughout, as in every atom of nature, each such atom contains the germ from which he may raise the Tree of Knowledge, whose fruits give life eternal and not physical life alone. Atoms fill the immensity of Space, and by their continuous vibration are that MOTION which keeps the wheels of Life perpetually going. It is that inner work that produces the natural phenomena called the correlation of Forces. As described by Seers -- those who can see the motion of the interstellar shoals, and follow them in their evolution clairvoyantly -- they are dazzling, like specks of virgin snow in radiant sunlight. Their velocity is swifter than thought, quicker than any mortal physical eye could follow, and, as well as can be judged from the tremendous rapidity of their course, the motion is circular ... the intensity of their motion produces flashes like the Northern lights during the Aurora Borealis. The sight is so marvellous, that, as the Seer gazes into this inner world, and feels the scintillating points shoot past him, he is filled with awe at the thought of other, still greater mysteries, that lie beyond, and within, this radiant ocean.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:

We sometimes in sleep lose the beginning and end of a dream, and recollect the middle of it, and one dream has no connection with another, and yet we are conscious of an infinite variety of dreams, and there is a strong analogy for believing in an infinity of past existences which must have been connected. ... Human life may be regarded as a type of infinite and immortal life, and its succession of sleep and dreams as a type of the changes of death and birth to which from its nature it is liable....

The Chemistry of Imponderable Substances

~~An Extract~~

7. Theories concerning the Nature of Heat.

Two theories concerning the nature of heat have been most prevalent amongst philosophers. 1. It has been supposed to be a peculiar ethereal fluid. 2. It has been conjectured to be a property of common matter; a specific motion of the particles of bodies.

The arguments in favour of the first of these theories, have been chiefly deduced from the phænomena {391} of latent heat, of radiant heat, and of change of capacity; whilst the last of them has been supported by experiments on the excitation of heat by friction, in cases in which there existed no perceptible source, from which, considered as a substance, it could possible be derived.

The late experiments of Dr. Herschel have demonstrated, that radiant heat must be constituted by the motions of a peculiar substance. And these motions may be conceived to be either rectilinear projections, or undulations.

It has been lately supposed that they are undulations. And on this theory it has been assumed, 1. That an elastic ethereal medium exists in space. 2. That this medium is diffused through the pores of different ponderable substances, in different states of density. 3. That radiant heat is constituted by particular undulations of it, when in a free state. 4. The sensible heat is occasioned by particular undulations of it, in its states of diffusion through the pores of ponderable substances. 5. That certain peculiar vibratory motions of the particles of ponderable substances are capable of producing the undulations in the ethereal medium which constitute heat. 6. And reciprocally that those undulatory motions of the ethereal medium are capable of producing peculiar vibrations of the particles of ponderable substances.

These propositions are evidently countenanced by the experiments of Count Rumford and Professor Pictet, on the heat produced by friction. They are rendered more conclusive by the analogy between the laws of the motions of radiant heat, and those of sound. And they, in some measure, reconcile the two different theories.

~~Extracts from A Syllabus of a Course of Lectures on Chemistry, delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain

The Collected Works of Sir Humphry Davy, ed. John Davy (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1839), II, 386-409.

Monday, 14 June 2010

'Transported Shiver of Bodies': Weighing the Victorian Ether

~~An Extract~~

Most histories of the concept of the ether have been conducted in terms of the physics which first deemed it necessary, and then dispensed with it. But we have begun to see that there are other contexts and usages which could not help but drift into thinking about the ether, considered as a broader cultural practice of thought. William Thomson is reported as having said in 1896 to George Fitzgerald: 'I have not had a moment's peace in respect to electromagnetic theory since November 28, 1846. All this time I have been liable to fits of ether dipsomania, kept away at intervals only by rigorous abstention from thought on the subject' (quoted Barrow 2001, 130). Thomson's little joke is made possible by the practice of what was called 'ether-drinking', which was still prevalent among 1890s decadents and bohemians such as Jean Lorrain, whose Sensations et Souvenirs of 1895 has recently been translated as Nightmares of an Ether Drinker (2002). It suggests a connection between the inebriation of the ether idea and the more literal kinds of intoxication by the substance that, not entirely by coincidence, shares its name.

Benjamin Ward Richardson is at pains to point out that, in referring to his mooted medium of nervous action and response as an 'ether', he means no reference to the chemical substance of that name, but uses the term rather 'as the astronomer uses it when he speaks of the ether of space, by which he means a subtle but material medium, the chemical composition of which he has not yet discovered' (Richardson 1874, 364). But in fact, Richardson would go on shortly afterwards to take a close interest in the effects of ether-intoxication, conducting an investigation at first hand of the epidemic of ether-drinking around Draperstown in Northern Ireland and subjecting himself experimentally to its effects. That there is a more than verbal coincidence between the ether of space and chemical ether is suggested by his view that, since the nervous ether is best considered as a kind of gas or vapour, it might be subject to contamination:

Through the nervous ether, itself a gas or vapor, other gases or vapors may readily and quickly diffuse…Thus those vapors which, being diffused into the body, produce benumbing influence - as the vapors of alcohol, chloroform, bichloride of methylene, ethyllic ether, and the like - produce their benumbing effects because they are not capable of taking the place of the natural ether into which they diffuse; they interfere, that is to say, with the physical conduction of impressions through what should be the pure atmosphere between the outer and the inner world. A dense cloud in the outer atmosphere shall shut out any view of the sun; a cloud in the inner atmosphere of my optic tract shall produce precisely the same obscurity. (Richardson 1874, 372)

The substance known as ether, more precisely diethyl ether, which is produced from a combination of distilled alcohol and sulphuric acid, was first distilled and described by the German scientist Valerius Cordus in 1540, while Paracelsus described its hypnotic effects at around the same time. It was known as 'sweet vitriol' until 1730, when W. G. Frobenius gave it the name 'spiritus aetherius', which yielded in turn to its more common name (Priesner 1986). But the difficulty of producing it reliably meant that it did not come into common use until the mid-eighteenth century. Its most obvious property was its extreme volatility. A quack pamphlet of 1761 extols it as

the most light, most volatile, and most inflammable, of all known Liquids: It swims upon the highest rectified Spirit of Wine as Oil does upon Water, and flies away so quickly as hardly to wet a Hand it is dropped upon; from which Properties it probably obtained it's Name. It is so readily inflammable, as to take Fire at the approach of a Candle, before the Flame reaches it. Any Electrified Body will also produce the same Effect. (Turner 1761, 4)

Turner also claimed it as a powerful solvent, with particular uses in dissolving gold, which was frequently drunk for medicinal purposes.

It has a greater Affinity with Gold than Aqua Regia has … thus a true and safe Aurum potabile is readily prepared for those who want such a medicine. The Union of these two Substances is very remarkable, one being the heaviest solid Body we know, and the other the lightest Liquid. (Turner 1761, 4-5)

Recreational ether-drinking (so called, though in fact ether-sniffing or inhalation was an equally popular form of intake) began on a serious scale only after its anaesthetic properties were discovered in 1846 by Thomas Morton, who marketed it as 'letheon'. Germany was swept by 'etheromania', and there were other epidemics in Michigan and Lithuania. When Benjamin Ward Richardson tried it on himself in the 1870s, he experienced sensations of attenuation and lightening, as though the substance were capable of imparting its own diffusive qualities to those who took it in: 'periods of time were extended immeasurably … the small room in which I sat was extended into a space which could not be measured … the ticking of the clock was like a musical clang from a cymbal with an echo' (quoted Jay, 2000, 142)). He also recorded an odd sensation that suggests an involuntary invocation of his own theory of the mediating nervous ether: 'all things touched felt as if some interposing, gentle current moved between them and the fingers' (Jay 2000, 142). The ether displays the same ambivalence as the astronomical ether, for it both enlarges sensibility, and yet acts as a mediator or cushion for it. Awareness is both 'spaced out', and brought into intimate contact with everything.

The mid-century indulgence in ether recapitulated the craze for the inhalation of nitrous oxide that was a feature of the turn of the nineteenth century. Nitrous oxide was first seriously investigated by the young Humphry Davy in collaboration with Thomas Beddoes, who in 1798 had established in Bristol the Pneumatic Institution. Beddoes, who had also experimented with the medical uses of ether in 1794, began by concentrating his attention on oxygen, which had been identified in 1772 and described in detail by Joseph Priestley (1774-7). Then, in 1799, Beddoes and Davy turned their attention to nitrous oxide, which had a grim reputation, probably because of the explosive associations of the word 'nitre' (saltpetre). As well as subjecting the gas to detailed chemical investigation. Davy also inhaled it regularly and in large quantities to see its effects on himself. Beddoes and Davy had made the acquaintance of Coleridge and Southey, who were among their experimental subjects.

The gas caused what Beddoes called 'high orgasm' of the muscles (Beddoes 1799, 15), in the form of quivering and tingling - 'I felt a thrill in my teeth', recorded Southey (Davy 1800, 508). (One might speculate enjoyably about the continuity between the vibratory modes signalled in the poetic word 'thrill' and the word 'buzz', which became common usage to signify the excitement, specifically of intoxication, during the later twentieth century.) This was often expressed in an irresistible desire to giggle (hence its later name, 'laughing gas'). It intensified sight and hearing and gave a sense of delicious spaciousness and sublime exhilaration: a Mr Wedgwood said that 'I felt as if I were lighter than the atmosphere, and as if I was going to mount to the top of the room.' (Davy 1800, 519). There seemed to be few deleterious effects, except on ladies with a history of hysteria, itself, of course, conceived as a highly vaporous condition of the body (Connor 2003), whom it sometimes sent off into fits (Beddoes 1799, 16-18). Its only effect on Coleridge, who was more accustomed perhaps to the hard stuff, was to cause him to stamp his feet on the floor uncontrollably.

From the beginning, the gas was interpreted in poetic or metaphysical terms. Southey was guarded in the account of his experiences he wrote to Beddoes and Davy, but was much less so in a letter he wrote to his brother: 'Oh, excellent air-bag! Tom, I am sure the air in heaven must be this wonder-working air of delight!' (quoted, Kendall 1954,. 46). Davy, who, after his first experiments in April 1799, quickly developed a taste for the gas, and could not see the silken air-bag in use without the craving for a whiff coming on, had himself enclosed in an air-tight inhalation-box (appropriately enough on December 26th), to inhale 20 quarts of nitrous oxide. The effects were spectacular:

A thrilling extending from my chest to the extremities was almost immediately produced. I felt a sense of tangible extension highly pleasurable in every limb; my visible impressions were dazzling and apparently magnified, I heard distinctly every sound in the room and was perfectly aware of my situation. By degrees as the pleasurable sensations increased, I lost all connection with external things; trains of vivid visible images rapidly passed through my mind and were connected with words in such a manner, as to produce perceptions perfectly novel. I existed in a world of newly connected and newly modified ideas. I theorised; I imagined that I made discoveries… My emotions were enthusiastic and sublime; and for a minute I walked around the room perfectly regardless of what was said to me. As I recovered my former state of mind, I felt an inclination to communicate the discoveries I had made during the experiment. I endeavoured to recall the ideas, they were feeble and indistinct; one collection of terms, however, presented itself: and with the most intense belief and prophetic manner, I exclaimed to Dr. Kingslake, "Nothing exists but thoughts! - the universe is composed of impressions, ideas, pleasures and pains!" (Davy 1800, 487-9)

In 1801, Davy moved to London's Royal Institution, where he conducted public demonstrations of the gas, one of which is represented in a Gillray caricature. Nitrous oxide would be closely linked with ether during the 1840s, when their anaesthetic properties came to prominence.

Though the nineteenth century experienced many new forms of gas and vapour (of which steam power and gas lighting were the most important and pervasive) as well as important new ideas about gases, most notably, James Clerk Maxwell's statistical explanations of their behaviour, it also inherited a complex and widely-diffused idea of what might be called a 'pneumatic sublime' from Romanticism. The great scientists of the Romantic period were Joseph Priestley and Humphry Davy, both of whom made their reputations in the study of gases. This sense of the authority and fascination with the vaporous in this period would lead T. E. Hulme to characterise Romanticism as 'always flying, flying up into the eternal gases' (Hulme 1994, 62-3). Nitrous oxide was the somewhat grotesque literalisation of the principle of airiness that is to be found throughout Romanticism - the inspiration of wind, the power of soaring ascent, the force of diffusion and the diffusion of force. Not that this is the first time that gas has been linked to prophecy - after all, the pythian priestess at Delphi had been reputed since the second century to derive her powers of prophecy from a vapour ascending from a crack in the earth.

Late nineteenth century supernaturalism, with its apports and levitations, usually of conspicuously heavier-than-air subjects, such as the extensive Mrs Grundy or the spacious Madame Blavatsky, solidified and domesicated this fantasy of the pneumatic sublime, and popular entertainment was quick to tune in as well. Robert Houdin, the performer from whom the antispiritualist Houdini would take his name, explained the Indian Conjuror's illusion, in which his son, Auguste Adolphe appeared to sit on air, as an effect of the imbibing of ether 'When this liquid is at its highest degree of concentration', he solemnly mock-explained, 'if a living being breathes it, the body of the patient becomes in a few moments as light as a balloon' (Milbourne 1975, 145).

Intoxicants are part of the history of the material imagination, or ongoing cultural invention of matter, and invention of itself through it. The idea of the ether cannot be thought of without including the dream of the etherial that is focussed on intoxicating gases, even though this has been assumed to be a distraction or irrelevance to most historians of ideas. The thought of the paradoxical substance called ether is also a materialisation of thought itself, which, insofar as it is necessary to render matter truly intelligible, is never merely 'cultural'. Davy's discovery of the capacity of an aeriform substance to transform the texture of thought itself, along with his resulting intuition that the universe may be composed of ideas and impressions, is perhaps something more than a delusion, given that it anticipates the imbrication of matter and thought that has become a theme of quantum physics.

~~Steven Connor

This paper was given as a lecture at the conference of the British Association of Victorian Studies, University of Keele, 3 September 2004.

What Is Matter What Is Force?

[The Theosophist, Vol. III, No. 12, September, 1882, pp. 319-324]

“As a question of science,”—which, as such, has to be strictly kept within the boundaries of modern materialistic science—all “discussion on this subject,” however “desirable,” would prove, on the whole, unprofitable. Firstly, because science confines herself only to the physical aspects of the conservation of energy or correlation of forces; and, secondly, because, notwithstanding her own frank admissions of helpless ignorance of the ultimate causes of things, judging by the tone of our critic’s article, I doubt whether he would be willing to admit the utter unaptness of some of the scientific terms as approved by the Dvija, the “twice-born” of the Royal Society, and obediently accepted by their easily persuaded admirers. In our age of freedom of thought and cheap paradox, party spirit reigns supreme, and science has become more intolerant, if possible, than even theology. The only position, therefore, that could be safely assumed by a student of esoteric philosophy against (evidently) a champion of the exact science, in a discussion upon the appropriateness of certain modern scientific terms, would be to fight the latter with his own weapons, yet without stirring an inch from one’s own ground. And this is just what I now propose to do.

* [ In Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, p. 8, H.P.B. states that this answer is from the pen of Master K.H. It is not known whether it was dictated to H.P.B., or received in some other manner.— Compiler.]

At the first glance, there does not seem much to answer in the article—“Is Electricity Matter or Force?” A modest point of interrogation, parenthetically placed after the word “hydrogen,” in an enumeration of the equivalents of “the air we breathe”; and, the question, as shown in the heading, and already seemingly settled by a series of quotations taken from scientific authorities who have been pleased to regard electricity as “a force,”—is all we find in it. But it is so only at the “first glance.” One need not study our querist’s article very profoundly, to perceive that it involves a question of a far more serious moment to the Theosophists, than there appears to be in it at first. It is neither more nor less than the following: “Is the President of a Society, which numbers among its adherents some of the most scientific minds and intellects of Europe and America, any better than an ignoramus who has not even studied, or, has forgotten, his school primers—or is he not?” The implication is a very grave one, and demands as serious a consideration.

Now, it could hardly be expected that any reasonable man personally acquainted with the President would lose his time over proving that Colonel Olcott cannot be ignorant of that which every schoolboy is taught and knows; to wit, that air, the gaseous fluid, in which we live and breathe, consists essentially of two gases: oxygen and nitrogen, in a state of mechanical mixture. Nor does anyone need a Professor Tyndall to assure him of the fact. Hence, while the sneer implied in the interrogation mark would seem quite natural if the paper emanated from an enemy, it naturally shocks a Theosophist to find it proceeding from a Brother member. No Fellow can be ignorant of the fact, that “the President-Founder of the Theosophical Society” has never pretended to lecture upon any specific subject pertaining to physical sciences—which is the province of physicists and chemists; nor has “the learned President” pledged himself never to depart from the orthodox terminology of the Fellows of the Royal Society. An expounder and advocate of occult sciences, he may be permitted to use the peculiar phraseology of the ancient philosophers. It is simply absurd to have to point out that which is self-evident; namely, that the equivalents “of the air we breathe,” enumerated by the lecturer, did not relate to the atmospheric air pure and simple—for he would have probably said in such a case “chemical constituents,” or its “compound elements”—but to the whole atmosphere, one of the five primitive elements of occult philosophy composed of various and many gases.
To show the better the right we have to assume an attitude of opposition against certain arbitrary assumptions of modern science, and to hold to our own views, I must be permitted to make a short digression and to remind our critic of a few unanswerable points. The bare fact that modern science has been pleased to divide and subdivide the atmosphere into a whole host of elements, and to call them so for her own convenience, is no authoritative reason why the Occultists should accept that terminology. Science has never yet succeeded in decomposing a single one of the many simple bodies, miscalled “elementary substances,” for which failure, probably, the latter have been named by her “elementary.” And whether she may yet, or never may, succeed in that direction in time, and thus recognize her error, in the meanwhile we, Occultists, permit ourselves to maintain that the alleged “primordial” atoms would be better specified under any other name but that one. With all the respect due to the men of science, the terms “element” and “elementary” applied to the ultimate atoms and molecules of matter of which they know nothing, do not seem in the least justifiable. It is as though the Royal Society agreed to call every star a “Kosmos,” because each star is supposed to be a world like our own planet, and then would begin taunting the ancients with ignorance since they knew but of one Kosmos—the boundless infinite universe! So far, however, science admits herself that the words “element” and “elementary,” unless applied to primordial principles, or self-existing essences out of which the universe was evoluted, are unfortunate terms; and remarks thereupon that “experimental science deals only with legitimate deductions from the facts of observation, and has nothing to do with any kind of essences except those which it can see, smell, or taste.” Professor J. P. Cooke tells us that “Science leaves all others to the metaphysicians” (New Chemistry, 1877). This stern pronunciamento, which shows the men of science refusing to take anything on faith, is immediately followed by a very curious admission made by the same author. “Our theory, I grant, may all be wrong,” he adds, “and there may be no such things as molecules(!) . . . The new chemistry assumes, as its fundamental postulate that the magnitudes we call molecules are realities; but this is the only postulate.”* We are thus made to suspect that the exact science of chemistry needs to take as well as transcendental metaphysics something on blind faith. Grant her the postulate—and her deductions make of her an exact science; deny it—and the “exact science” falls to pieces! Thus, in this respect, physical science does not stand higher than psychological science, and the Occultists need fear but very little of the thunderbolts of their most exact rivals. Both are, to say the least, on a par. The chemist, though carrying his subdivision of molecules further than the physicist, can no more than he experiment on individual molecules. One may even remind both that none of them has ever seen an individual molecule. Nevertheless, and while priding themselves upon taking nothing on faith, they admit that they cannot often follow the subdivision of molecules with the eye, but “can discern it with the intellect” [p. 89]. What more, then, do they do than the Occultists, the alchemists, the adepts? While they discern with the “intellect,” the adept, as he maintains, can as easily discern the subdivisibility ad infinitum of that, which his rival of the exact methods pleases to call an “elementary body,” and he follows it—with the spiritual in addition to his physical intellect.

* [Italics are H.P.B.’s. The quotation is on p. 75 of Cooke’s work.— Compiler.]

In view then of all that precedes, I maintain that the President of the Theosophical Society had a perfect right to use the language of the Occultists in preference to that of modern science. However, even were we to admit that the “equivalents” under review referred simply to the air we breathe, as specified by that science, I still fail to perceive why the lecturer should not have mentioned “hydrogen” along with the other gases. Though air consists properly but of two gases, yet with these are always present a certain proportion of carbonic acid gas and aqueous vapour. And with the presence of the latter, how can “hydrogen” be excluded? Is our learned Brother prepared to maintain that we never breathe anything but oxygen and nitrogen? The kind assurance we have from science that the presence of any gas in the atmosphere, besides oxygen and nitrogen, ought to be regarded simply as accidental impurities; and that the proportions of the two elements of the air hardly vary, whether taken from thickly populated cities or overcrowded hospitals, is one of those scientific fictions which is hardly borne out by facts. In every closely confined place, in every locality exposed to putrescent exhalations, in crowded suburbs and hospitals—as our critic ought to know—the proportion of oxygen diminishes to make room for mephitic gases.*

* In Paris—the centre of civilization—the air collected in one of its suburbs, was found, when analysed, a few years ago, to contain only 13.79 per cent [of oxygen] instead of 23, its usual proportion; nitrogen was present to the amount of 81.24 per cent, carbonic acid 2.01, and sulphuretted hydrogen 2.99 per cent.

But we must pass to the more important question, now, and see, how far science is justified in regarding electricity as a force, and Colonel Olcott—with all the other Eastern Occultists—in maintaining that it is “still matter.” Before we open the discussion, I must be allowed to remark, that since “a Theosophist” wants to be scientifically accurate, he ought to remember that science does not call electricity a force, but only one of the many manifestations of the same; a mode of action or motion. Her list of the various kinds of energy which occur in nature is long, and many are the names she uses to distinguish them. With all that, one of her most eminent adepts, Professor Balfour Stewart—one of the authorities he quotes against our President—warns his readers (see “The Forces and Energies of Nature”)* that their enumeration has nothing absolute, or complete about it, “representing, as it does, not so much the present state of our knowledge as of our want of knowledge, or rather profound ignorance of the ultimate constitution of matter.” So great is that ignorance, indeed, that treating upon heat, ; mode of motion far less mysterious and better understood than electricity, that scientist confesses that “if heat be not a species of motion, it must necessarily be a species of matter,” and adds that the men of science “have preferred to consider heat as a species of motion to the alternative of supposing the creation of a peculiar kind of matter.”

And if so, what is there to warrant us that science will not yet find out her mistake some day, and recognize and call electricity in agreement with the Occultists “a species of a peculiar kind of matter”?

Thus, before the too dogmatic admirers of modern science take the Occultists to task for viewing electricity under one of its aspects—and for maintaining that its basic principle—MATTER, they ought at first to demonstrate that science errs when she herself, through the mouthpiece of her recognized high priests, confesses her ignorance as to what is properly Force and what is Matter. For instance, the same Professor of Natural Philosophy, Mr. Balfour Stewart, LL.D., F.R.S., in his lectures on The Conservation of Energy, tells us as follows:

. . . we know nothing, or next to nothing, of the ultimate structure and properties of matter, whether organic or inorganic, [and] . . . it is in truth, only a convenient classification, and nothing more. [pp. 2, 78.]
* [3rd chapter of The Conservation of Energy, 1874.—Compiler.]

Furthermore, one and all, the men of science admit that, though they possess a definite knowledge of the general laws, yet they “have no knowledge of individuals in the domains of physical science.” For example, they suspect “a large number of our diseases to be caused by organic germs,” but they have to avow that their “ignorance about these germs is most complete.” And in the chapter “What is Energy?” the same great naturalist staggers the too confiding profane by the following admission:

. . . if our knowledge of the nature and habits of organized molecules be so small, our knowledge of the ultimate molecules of inorganic matter is, if possible, still smaller. . . . It thus appears, that we know little or nothing about the shape or size of molecules, or about the forces which actuate them . . . the very largest masses of the universe share with the very smallest this property of being beyond the scrutiny of the human senses. . . . [pp. 5-6.]

Of physical “human senses” he must mean, since he knows little, if anything, of any other senses. But let us take note of some further admissions; this time by Professor Le Conte in his lecture on the Correlation of Vital with Chemical and Physical Forces:

. . . Since the distinction between force and energy is imperfectly or not at all defined in the higher forms of force, and especially in the domain of life . . . our language cannot be more precise until our ideas in this department are far clearer than now.*

* Vide Balfour Stewart, The Conservation of Energy, N.Y., 1874, Appendix, pp. 172-73.

Even as regards the familiar liquid—water—science is at a loss to decide whether the oxygen and hydrogen exist, as such, in water, or whether they are produced by some unknown and unconceived transformation of its substances. “It is a question,” says Mr. J. P. Cooke, Professor of Chemistry, “about which we may speculate, but in regard to which we have no knowledge. Between the qualities of water and the qualities of these gases there is not the most distant resemblance.” All they know is that water can be decomposed by an electrical current; but why it is so decomposed, and then again recombined, or what is the nature of that they call electricity, etc., they do not know. Hydrogen, more over, was till very lately one of the very few substances, which was known only in its aeriform condition. It is the lightest form of matter known.* For nearly sixty years, ever since the days when Davy liquefied chlorine, and Thilorier carbonic acid under a pressure of fifty atmospheres—five gases had always resisted manipulation—hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbonic oxide, and finally bioxide of nitrogen. Theoretically they might be reduced, but no means could be found by which they could be dealt with practically, although Berthelot had subjected them to a pressure of 800 atmospheres. There, however, where Faraday and Dumas, Regnault and Berthelot had failed, Mr. Cailletet, a comparatively unknown student of science, but a few years ago achieved a complete success. On December 16th, 1878, he liquefied oxygen in the laboratory of the École Normale, and on the 30th of the same month he succeeded in reducing even the refractory hydrogen. Mr. Raoul Pictet, of Geneva, went still further. Oxygen and hydrogen were not only liquefied, but solidified, as the experiment—by illuminating with electric light the jet as it passed from the tubes containing the two gases, and finding therein incontestable signs of polarization which implies the suspension of solid particles in the gas proved.†

* A cubic yard of air at the temperature of 77 deg. Fahr. weighs about two pounds, while a cubic yard of hydrogen weighs only 21/2 ounces.
† Article of Henry de Parville, one of the best of the French popularizers of science.— Journal des Débats.

There is not an atom in nature, but contains latent or potential electricity which manifests under known conditions. Science knows that matter generates what it calls force, the latter manifesting itself under various forms of energy—such as heat, light, electricity, magnetism, gravitation, etc.—yet that same science has hitherto been unable, as we find from her own admissions as given above, to determine with any certainty where matter ends and force (or spirit, as some call it) begins. Science, while rejecting metaphysics and relegating it through her mouthpiece, Professor Tyndall, to the domain of poetry and fiction, unbridles as often as any metaphysician her wild fancy, and allows mere hypotheses to run races on the field of unproved speculation. All this she does, as in the case of the molecular theory, with no better authority for it, than the paradoxical necessity for the philosophy of every science to arbitrarily select and assume imaginary fundamental principles; the only proof offered in the way of demonstrating the actual existence of the latter being a certain harmony of these principles with observed facts. Thus, when men of science imagine themselves subdividing a grain of sand to the ultimate molecule they call oxide of silicon, they have no real, but only an imaginary and purely hypothetical right to suppose that, if they went on dividing it further (which, of course, they cannot) the molecule, separating itself into its chemical constituents of silicon and oxygen, would finally yield that which has to be regarded as two elementary bodies—since the authorities, so regard them! Neither an atom of silicon, nor an atom of oxygen, is capable of any further subdivision into something else—they say. But the only good reason we can find for such a strange belief is, because they have tried the experiment and—failed. But how can they tell that a new discovery, some new invention of still finer and more perfect apparatuses and instruments may not show their error some day? How do they know that those very bodies now called “elementary atoms” are not in their turn compound bodies or molecules, which, when analysed with still greater minuteness, may show containing in themselves the real, primordial, elementary globules, the gross encasement of the still finer atom-spark—the spark of LIFE, the source of Electricity—MATTER still! Truly has Henry Khunrath, the greatest of the alchemists and Rosicrucians of the middle ages, shown spirit in man—as in every atom—as a bright flame enclosed within a more or less transparent globule, which he calls soul. And since the men of science confessedly know nothing of (a) the origin of either matter or force; (b) nor of electricity or life; and (c) their knowledge of the ultimate molecules of inorganic matter amounts to a cipher; why, I ask, should any student of Occultism, whose great masters may know, perchance, of essences which the professors of modern materialistic school can neither “see, smell, nor taste,” why should he be expected to take their definitions as to what is MATTER and what FORCE as the last word of unerring, infallible science?

“Men of science,” our critic tells us, “employ in turn as agents of exploration, light, heat, magnetism, electricity and sound”; and at the same time he enunciates the now heretical proposition, “that these several manifestations of force are imponderable.” I respectfully suggest that when he speaks of imponderable agents he sins against the decrees of his great masters. Let him study the books published upon the newly reorganized chemistry based upon what is known as “Avogadro’s Law”; and then he will learn that the term imponderable agents is now regarded as a scientific absurdity. The latest conclusions at which modern chemistry has arrived, it seems, have brought it to reject the word imponderable, and to make away with those textbooks of pre-modern science, which refer the phenomena of heat and electricity to attenuated forms of matter. Nothing, they hold, can be added to, or subtracted from bodies without altering their weight. This was said and written in 1876, by one of the greatest chemists in America. With all that, have they become any the wiser for it? Have they been able to replace by a more scientific theory the old and tabooed “phlogiston theory” of the science of Stahl, Priestley, Scheele, and others?—or, because they have proved, to their own satisfaction, that it is highly unscientific to refer the phenomena of heat and electricity to attenuated forms of matter have they succeeded at the same time in proving what are really, Force, Matter, Energy, Fire, Electricity—LIFE? The Phlogiston of Stahl—a theory of combustion taught by Aristotle and the Greek philosophers—as elaborated by Scheele, the poor Swedish apothecary, a secret student of Occultism, who, as Professor Cooke says of him, “added more knowledge to the stock of chemical science in a single year than did Lavoisier in his lifetime,” was not a mere fanciful speculation, though Lavoisier was permitted to taboo and upset it.* But, indeed, were the high priests of modern science to attach more weight to the essence of things than to mere generalizations, then, perhaps, would they be in a better position to tell the world more of the “ultimate structure of matter” than they now are. Lavoisier, as it is well known, did not add any new fact of prime importance by upsetting the phlogiston theory, but only added “a grand generalization.” But the Occultists prefer to hold to the fundamental theories of ancient sciences. No more than the authors of the old theory, do they attach to phlogiston—which has its specific name as one of the attributes of Akaśa—the idea of weight which the uninitiated generally associate with all matter. And though to us it is a principle, a well-defined essence, whereas to Stahl and others it was an undefined essence—yet, no more than we, did they view it as matter in the sense it has for the present men of science. As one of their modern professors puts it: “Translate the phlogiston by energy, and in Stahl’s work on Chemistry and Physics, of 1731, put energy where he wrote phlogiston, and you have . . . our great modern doctrine of conservation of energy.” Verily so; it is the “great modern doctrine,” only—plus something else, let me add. Hardly a year after these words had been pronounced, the discovery by Professor Crookes of radiant matter—of which, further on—has nigh upset again all their previous theories.

* [This term is derived from the Greek phlogistos, burnt, inflammable, and phlogizein, to set on fire, to burn. It is a term used for the hypothetical principle of fire, or inflammability, regarded as a material substance. The term was proposed by Stahl, who, with J. J. Becher, advanced the phlogiston theory. According to them, every combustible substance is a compound of phlogiston, and the phenomena of combustion are due to the phlogiston leaving the other constituent behind. Similarly, metals are produced from their calces by the union of the latter with phlogiston. While abandoned now, the theory is not altogether without worth, and has occult implications.—Compiler.]

“Force, energy, physical agent, are simply different words to express the same idea,” observes our critic. I believe he errs. To this day the men of science are unable to agree in giving to electricity a name, which would convey a clear and comprehensive definition of this “very mysterious agent,” as Professor Balfour Stewart calls it. While the latter states that electricity or “electrical attraction may PROBABLY be regarded as peculiarly allied to that force which we call chemical affinity”; and Professor Tyndall calls it “a mode of motion,” Professor A. Bain regards electricity as one of the five chief powers or forces in nature: “One mechanical or molar, the momentum of moving matter,” the others “molecular, or embodied in the molecules, also SUPPOSED(?) in motion—these are, heat, light, chemical force, electricity” (The Correlations of Nervous and Mental Forces). Now these three definitions would not gain, I am afraid, by being strictly analyzed.

No less extraordinary appears a certain conclusion “A Theosophist” arrives at. Having reminded us that by no “scientific apparatus yet known, is it practicable to weigh a ray of light”; he yet assures us, that . . . “the universal ether of science, which exists in extreme tenuity, can be proved to possess some weight.” This assertion made in the face of those who regard ether as a reality, and who know that since it pervades the densest solids as readily as water does a sponge, it cannot, therefore, be confined—sounds strange indeed; nor can the assumption be supported by modern Science. When she succeeds to weigh her purely hypothetical medium, the existence of which is so far only a convenient hypothesis to serve the ends of her undulatory theory, we will have, indeed, to bow before her magic wand. Since our Brother is so fond of quoting from authorities, let him quote next time the following:

Whether there are such things as waves of ether or not, we represent these dimensions to our imagination as wave lengths . . . and every student of physics will bear me out . . . that though our theory may only be a phantom of our scientific dreaming, these magnitudes must be the dimensions of something. (Magnitudes of Ether Waves, p. 25.)

It becomes rather difficult, after such a public confession, to believe that science can prove the universal ether “to possess some weight.” On the other hand, our critic very correctly doubts whether there ever was any instrument devised “to weigh a ray of light”; though he as incorrectly persists in calling light “a force, or energy.” Now I beg to maintain that, even in strict accordance with modern science, which can be shown to misname her subjects nine times out of ten, and then to keep on naively confessing it, without making the slightest attempt to correct her misleading terms—light was never regarded as “a force.” It is, says science, a “manifestation of energy,” a “mode of motion” produced by a rapid vibration of the molecules of any light-giving body and transmitted by the undulations of ether. The same for heat and sound, the transmission of the latter depending, in addition to the vibrations of ether, on the undulations of an intervening atmosphere. Professor Crookes thought at one time that he had discovered light to be a force, but found out his mistake very soon. The explanation of Thomas Young of the undulatory theory of light holds now as good as ever, and shows that what we call light is simply an impression produced upon the retina of the eye by the wave-like motion of the particles of matter. Light, then, like heat—of which it is the crown—is simply the ghost, the shadow of matter in motion, the boundless, eternal, infinite SPACE, MOTION and DURATION, the trinitarian essence of that which the Deists call God, and we—the One Element; Spirit-matter, or Matter-spirit, whose septenary properties we circumscribe under its triple abstract form in the equilateral triangle. If the mediaeval Theosophists and the modern Occultists, call the Spiritual Soul—the vahan [vehicle] of the seventh, the pure, immaterial spark—“a fire taken from the eternal ocean of light,” they also call it in the esoteric language “a pulsation of the Eternal Motion”; and the latter cannot certainly exist outside of matter. The men of science have just found out “a fourth state of matter,” whereas the Occultists have penetrated ages ago beyond the sixth, and, therefore, do not infer but KNOW of the existence of the seventh—the last. Professor Balfour Stewart, in seeking to show light an energy or force, quotes Aristotle, and remarks that the Greek philosopher seems to have entertained the idea that, “light is not a body, or the emanation of any body (for that, Aristotle says, would be a kind of body) and that, therefore, light is an energy or act.” To this I respectfully demur and answer, that if we cannot conceive of movement or motion without force, we can conceive still less of an “energy or act” existing in boundless space from the eternity, or even manifesting, without some kind of body. Moreover, the conceptions about “body” and “matter” of Aristotle and Plato, the founders of the two great rival schools of antiquity, opposed as they were in many things to each other, are nevertheless still more at variance with the conceptions about “body” and “matter” of our modern men of science. The Theosophists, old and modern, the Alchemists and Rosicrucians have ever maintained that there were no such things per se as “light,” “heat,” “sound,” “electricity”; least of all—could there be a vacuum in nature. And now the results of old and modern investigation fully corroborate what they had always affirmed, namely, that in reality there is no such thing as a “chemical ray,” a “light ray,” or a “heat ray.” There is nothing but radiant energy; or, as a man of science expresses it in the Scientific American,* radiant energy—“motion of some kind, causing vibrations across space of something between us and the sun—something which, without understanding fully [verily so!], we call ‘ether,’ and which exists everywhere, even in the ‘vacuum’ of a radiometer.” The sentence [though] confused, is none the less, the last word of science. Again: “We have always one and the same cause, radiant energy, and we give this one thing different names, ‘actinism,’ ‘light,’ or ‘heat.’” And we are also told that the miscalled chemical or actinic rays, as well as those which the eye sees as blue or green, or red, and those which the thermometer feels—“are all due to one thing—motion of the ether.”

Now the sun and ether being beyond dispute material bodies, necessarily every one of their effects—light, heat, sound, electricity, etc.—must be, agreeably to the definition of Aristotle (as accepted, though slightly misconceived, by Professor Balfour Stewart) also “a kind of body,” ergo—MATTER.
* “The Sun’s Radiant Energy,” by Prof. S. P. Langley, Scientific American, Vol. 41, July 26, 1879, p. 53.

But what is in reality Matter? We have seen that it is hardly possible to call electricity a force, and yet we are forbidden to call it matter under the penalty of being called unscientific! Electricity has no weight—“a Theosophist” teaches us—ergo it cannot be matter. Well, there is much to be said on both sides. Mallet’s experiment, which corroborated that of Pirani (1878), showed that electricity is under the influence of gravitation, and must have, therefore, some weight. A straight copper wire—with its ends bent downward—is suspended at the middle to one of the arms of a delicate balance, while the bent ends dip in mercury. When the current of a strong battery is passed through the wire by the intervention of the mercury, the arm to which the wire is attached, although accurately balanced by a counterpoise, sensibly tends downward, notwithstanding the resistance produced by the buoyancy of the mercury. Mallet’s opponents who tried at the time to show that gravitation had nothing to do with the fact of the arm of the balance tending downward, but that it was due to the law of attraction of electric currents; and who brought forward to that effect Barlow’s theory of electric currents and Ampère’s discovery that electric currents, running in opposite directions, repel one another and are sometimes driven upward against gravitation—only proved that men of science will rarely agree, and that the question is so far an open one. This, however, raises a side issue as to what is “the law of gravitation.” The scientists of the present day assume that “gravitation” and “attraction” are quite distinct from one another. But the day may not be far distant when the theory of the Occultists that the “law of gravitation” is nothing more or less than the “law of attraction and repulsion,” will be proved scientifically correct.

Science may, of course, if it so pleases her, call electricity a force. Only by grouping it together with light and heat, to which the name of force is decidedly refused, she has either to plead guilty of inconsistency, or to tacitly admit that it is a “species of matter.” But whether electricity has weight or not, no true scientist is prepared to show that there is no matter so light as to be beyond weighing with our present instruments. And this brings us directly to the latest discovery, one of the grandest in science, I mean Mr. Crookes’ “radiant matter” or—as it is now called THE FOURTH STATE OF MATTER.
That the three states of matter—the solid, the liquid and the gaseous—are but so many stages in an unbroken chain of physical continuity, and that the three correlate, or are transformed one into the other by insensible gradations, needs no further demonstration, we believe. But what is of a far greater importance for us, Occultists, is the admission made by several great men of science in various articles upon the discovery of that fourth state of matter. Says one of them in the Scientific American:

There is nothing any more improbable in the supposition that these three states of matter do not exhaust the possibilities of material condition, than in supposing the possibilities of sound to extend to aerial undulations to which our organs of hearing are insensible, or the possibilities of vision to ethereal undulations too rapid or too slow to affect our eyes as light.

And, as Professor Crookes has now succeeded in refining gases to a condition so ethereal as to reach a state of matter “fairly describable as ultra-gaseous, and exhibiting an entirely novel set of properties,” why should the Occultists be taken to task for affirming that there are beyond that “ultra gaseous” state still other states of matter; states, so ultra refined, even in their grosser manifestations—such as electricity under all its known forms—as to have fairly deluded the scientific senses, and let the happy possessors thereof call electricity—a Force! They tell us that it is obvious that if the tenuity of some gas is very greatly increased, as in the most perfect vacua attainable, the number of molecules may be so diminished, that their collisions under favourable conditions may become so few, in comparison with the number of masses, that they will cease to have a determining effect upon the physical character of the matter under observation. In other words, they say, “the

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free flying molecules, if left to obey the laws of kinetic force without mutual interference, will cease to exhibit the properties characteristic of the gaseous state, and take on an entirely new set of properties.” This is RADIANT MATTER. And still beyond, lies the source of electricity—still MATTER.

Now it would be too presumptuous on our part to remind the reader, that if a fourth state of matter was discovered by Professor Crookes, and a fourth dimension of space by Professor Zöllner, both individuals standing at the very fountainhead of science, there is nothing impossible that in time there will be discovered a fifth, sixth, and even seventh condition of matter, as well as seven senses in man, and that all nature will finally be found septenary, for who can assign limits to the possibilities of the latter! Speaking of his discovery, Professor Crookes justly remarks, that the phenomena he has investigated in his exhausted tubes reveal to physical science a new field for exploration, a new world—

A world, wherein matter exists in a fourth state, where the corpuscular theory of light holds good, and where light does not always move in a straight line, but where we can never enter, and in which we must be content to observe and experiment from without.

To this the Occultist might answer, “if we can never enter it, with the help of our physical senses, we have long since entered and even gone beyond it, carried thither by our spiritual faculties and in our spiritual bodies.”

And now I will close the too lengthy article with the following reflection. The ancients never invented their myths. One, acquainted with the science of occult symbology, can always detect a scientific fact under the mask of grotesque fancy. Thus one, who would go to the trouble of studying the fable of Electra—one of the seven Atlantides—in the light of occult science, would soon discover the real nature of Electricity, and learn that it signifies little whether we call it Force or Matter, since it is both, and so far, in the sense given it by modern science, both terms may be regarded as misnomers. Electra, we know, is the wife and daughter of Atlas the Titan, and the son of Asia and of Pleione, the daughter of the Ocean. . . . As Professor Le

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Conte well remarks: “There are many of the best scientists who ridicule the use of the term vital force, or vitality, as a remnant of superstition; and yet the same men use the words gravity, magnetic force, chemical force, physical force, electrical force, etc.”* and are withal unable to explain what is life, or even electricity; nor are they able to assign any good reason for that well-known fact that when an animal body is killed by lightning, after death the blood does not coagulate. Chemistry, which shows to us every atom, whether organic or inorganic in nature susceptible to polarization, whether in its atomic mass or as a unit, and inert matter allied with gravity, light with heat, etc.—hence as containing latent electricity—still persists in making a difference between organic and inorganic matter, though both are due to the same mysterious energy, ever at work by her own occult processes in nature’s laboratory, in the mineral no less than in the vegetable kingdom.

Therefore do the Occultists maintain that the philosophical conception of spirit, like the conception of matter, must rest on one and the same basis of phenomena, adding that Force and Matter, Spirit and Matter, or Deity and Nature, though they may be viewed as opposite poles in their respective manifestations, yet are in essence and in truth but one, and that life is present as much in a dead as in a living body, in the organic as in the inorganic matter. This is why, while science is searching still and may go on searching forever to solve the problem “What is life?” the Occultist can afford to refuse taking the trouble, since he claims, with as much good reason as any given to the contrary, that Life, whether in its latent or dynamical form, is everywhere. That it is as infinite and as indestructible as matter itself, since neither can exist without the other, and that electricity is the very essence and origin of—Life itself. “Purush” is non-existent without “Prakriti”; nor, can Prakriti, or plastic matter have being or exist without Purush, or spirit, vital energy, LIFE.

* [Summarized from Joseph Le Conte’s Evolution and its Relation to Religious Thought (1888), Part 3, chap. iv, p. 299, footnote.—Compiler.]

Purush and Prakriti are in short the two poles of the one eternal element, and are synonymous and convertible terms. Our bodies, as organized tissues, are indeed “an unstable arrangement of chemical forces,” plus a molecular force—as Professor Bain calls electricity—raging in it dynamically during life, tearing asunder its particles, at death, to transform itself into a chemical force after the process, and thence again to resurrect as an electrical force or life in every individual atom. Therefore, whether it is called Force or Matter, it will ever remain the Omnipresent Proteus of the Universe, the one element—LIFE—Spirit or Force at its negative, Matter at its positive pole; the former the MATERIO-SPIRITUAL, the latter, the MATERIO-PHYSICAL Universe—Nature, Svabhavat or INDESTRUCTIBLE MATTER.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Guest post: Carl Brannen, “Four Magnificent Papers by Authors Who Think I’m a Complete Idiot”

Carl Brannen is an electronics engineer with a penchant for theoretical physics, and speculations on alternative theories to mainstream physics describing what our world is made of. He has a master’s degree in Math and in Physics, and is quite skilled with programming. He also owns a blog where he discusses topics of his liking, especially physics. Let us see what Carl has to tell…

It’s quite an honor to be allowed to provide a guest post for Tommaso Dorigo. My working title for this post was “Four magnificent Papers by Authors Who Think I’m a Complete Idiot”. This was in preparation for my book, “A Complete Idiot’s Guide to Elementary Particle Physics.” The first was David Hestenes, of Geometric Algebra fame. The second was Lubos Motl, and his magnificent paper is the one that contains “tripled Pauli statistics”. The third was the somewhat obscure Mark Hadley, who has published a series of papers on a GR based theory of elementary particles. The fourth, David Bohm of Bohmian Mechanics, died too early to be provide an opinion on me, but one of his students says I’ve misunderstood Bohm’s easily understood opinions on relativity. I should link in an opinion of Lubos Motl, and a somewhat erroneous comment on Koide’s coincidences from Mark Hadley.

As if I were in a liferaft adrift on the ocean, I find myself wafting in the direction of the most recent wind. Louise Riofrio has kindly assembled together a series of posts, beginning with this one, discussing the evidence for a slow cosmological change in the speed of light, and promising a post for October, that is the direction I find that this post has written itself in.

The foundations of physics aren’t taught in grad school so much as picked up along the way, as one learns the techniques of calculation. Without classes devoted to the subject, it is easy to find that one has absorbed a certainty about the foundations which those who concentrate on the subject do not possess. This is a universal sociological fact pointed out by the author of Gravity’s Shadow. In bringing light to that peculiar form of blindness which is accompanied by belief that one already knows all that one can about the subject, one finds that the recipient has very little time, and less brain power available to analyze your effort. Accordingly, subjects that require time and effort to understand are off limits. Otherwise I’d be inclined to discuss Baylis’s paper on the problems that arise when one uses geometric algebra to geometrize spinors, and why I prefer density matrices.

So instead I am going to write a polemic against what I see as tendency of modern physics to misuse symmetry. To me, symmetry is a method that one uses to solve a set of equations. Symmetry cannot be an underlying principle in itself. Nor, as we show here, does a symmetry in observations necessarily imply the complete symmetry in the underlying physics.

While physics has been quite successful in abusing symmetry by worshipping it, that in itself is not evidence that symmetry is all there is to it. Nor is self-consistency and beauty proof against disproof. One remembers the elegant theory that the world is a flat plate, and rests on the back of a turtle. “And what is undernearth the turtle?” Another turtle of course. “And underneath that?” Yet another turtle. “And underneath the third turtle?” From there it’s turtles all the way down.

The most successful symmetry theory of physics is the special theory of relativity, from which we know that there can be no preferred reference frame. Newton out, Einstein in. Accordingly, let us derive the special theory of relativity from the very pracitical Newtonian engineering theory of Wave Motion in Elastic Solids, pp 274-281, by Karl F. Graff and kindly printed by Dover at a bargain price of $21.95.

We will assume that space-time is an isotropic elastic solid in 3 classical Newtonian dimensions. Such a media has a definite preferred reference frame, the media itself, and is the last thing one might suppose might lead to Lorentz symmetry, especially given the extreme efforts used to obtain Poincare invariance in the recent literature.

Let u(x,y,z;t) be the strain, that is, the deformation of the point (x,y,z) at time t. A strain in a material sets up a stress, that is, a force that reacts to undo the strain. For an elastic isotropic infinite solid media undergoing small linear deformations, there are two degrees of freedom available to characterize the media. We will use the Lamé parameters, lambda and mu. We will also assume a constant density, rho. Practical engineers need to apply external forces to media, but for our purposes we will leave these off and look only at waves propagating in the media itself. Then, from equation (5.1.3) of the above reference, we have the elastic equations of motion:

A very useful method of simplifying equations is to rewrite them in terms of a potential. For an arbitrary vector field like u, one requires a combination of scalar and vector potentials, the Helmholtz resolution. We write:

The scalar(vector) potential function is arbitrary in that one can add a constant (constant vector) to it without changing u. Of the two, the vector potential is even more arbitrary. Speaking in the physics language, we can make various gauge assumptions about it. The text assumes that the divergence of the vector potential is zero.

Substituting our potentials into the elastic equations of motion, we find that they are satisfied if:

The above equations are massless examples of the Klein Gordon equation, the relativistic generalization of Schroedinger’s equation. In a source-free region, the components of Maxwell’s equation satisfy the Klein Gordon equation, as do the components of the Dirac equation. A slight difference is that the wave speeds depend on the Lamé parameters and the density, rather than being the speed of light. Moreover, the wave speeds for the two wave types are different.

The upper, scalar potential, wave equation corresponds to longitudinal waves and has the faster wave speed. The lower, vector potential, wave equation has the slower wave speed and corresponds to transverse waves.

Suppose elastic creatures made of such a media wish to determine the preferred reference frame. They can find it by looking at the speed difference between the two types of elastic waves; the preferred reference frame is the only one where space appears isotropic. If, however, the creatures in the media are restricted to only measure one of the two types of waves, there will be only one wave speed, and, as with the situation with Maxwell’s equations, they will be unable to distinguish a preferred reference frame. An elastic creature might notice this, and become the elastic Einstein by promoting the idea that contrary to intuition, there can be no preferred reference frame.

The other day at the Crossroads Shopping Center chess club, a friend told me that he had great difficulty understanding how it could be that matter could have so much energy built into it that one could manipulate it into a nuclear explosion. I thought about it for a move or two. I told him that from the point of view of elementary particle physics it was not at all surprising. What was surprising is not that hydrogen bombs are so hot, but instead that the world as we see it, is so cold.

Our experiments in physics are restricted to particles with energies many orders of magnitude less than the Planck energy. The Planck energy is about the amount that a citizen of a developed country uses in electrical power in two weeks. In particle physics, it is difficult to explain why most particles don’t have this much energy. That’s right all that energy in just one electron. Maybe one explanation for the cold temperature of the world as we see it is that the energy per particle dropped due to inflation.

Among the particles that we CAN experiment with, it seems that Lorentz symmetry is exact. Is this because Lorentz symmetry is an exact principle of nature? Or is it because we do not have the resources to excite the higher velocity elastic deformations of space-time?

As far as a unified field theory goes, the elastic equations of motion discussed above are missing a few key details. The most obvious one is that elastic deformations are not quantized. They can come in any size and any energy. In quantizing them, it would be natural to find that the minimum excitation energy for a quanta is on the order of the Planck mass. In our very cold condition, we are interested only in excitations that have energies far far below the Planck mass. Among the elastic deformations, we can eliminate one of the two branches, say the faster one, by assuming that its quantum excitations are all of the order of the Planck energy, and hence are not observed in the cold universe that we see. The remaining excitations will all satisfy the same Klein Gordon equation, and so will satisfy Lorentz symmetry.

Of course there are several other defects in the elastic proposal. The number of deformations is far too few, so the known elementary particles would have to be composites. Accordingly, researchers pursuing these sorts of ideas work on preon theories. But that is another story. What we intend to point out by this post is that Lorentz symmetry is a very slippery rock to stand on, if one’s highest energy experimental measurements for its exactness are 10 orders of magnitude below the natural energy scale. One should not be too surprised if advances in physics are made by people who do not cripple themselves with a slavish devotion to symmetry principles “all the way down”.

Light is a vector, or transverse wave rather than a scalar, or longitudinal wave. In the Standard Model of elementary particles, only the Higgs is a scalar particle, but the Higgs has never been observed. All the observed elementary particles are, like light, vector particles. Well, technically the fermions, such as an electron or quark, are Dirac spinors. A spinor is more or less the square root of a vector. I reject Dirac spinors, preferring the density matrix form. The density matrix squares the spinors, again returning them, more or less, to vector form.

In addition to scalar particles being absent from the experimenter’s observations, research on the interaction between black holes and elementary particles suggest that scalar particles would be rather stranger than is currently expected. See the section on “tripled Pauli statistics” in the above linked paper by Lubos Motl.

The elastic equations of motion were defined under the assumption that the density of the media, rho, is constant. For the usual engineering problems, this is a good approximation for both longitudinal and transverse waves. But of the two types of waves, it is only the longitudinal (scalar) deformations that change the density of the media, the transverse waves preserve density to first order.

Let’s get back to the subject of the constancy of the speed of light. Since the big bang, the universe has considerably thinned out. If we were to naively model space-time as a classical isotropic media, this will result in a decrease in the density. But the spreading of an elastic media is also accompanied by changes to its elastic parameters. The speeds of the longitudinal and transverse (scalar and vector) wave speeds depend on these parameters as follows:

As the universe expands, presumably its lambda, mu, and rho change. And this returns us to Louise Riofrio’s equations for the changing speed of light.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Experiments on the So-Called Negative Leak Caused by Light in Electrified Bodies

Since Hertz’ experiments, it has been shown that a conducting body electrified negatively loses its charge if it be subjected to the action of the ultraviolet rays obtained from electric sparks, and it is recognized in more recent works:

(1) That this leak can only take place under the influence of the ultraviolet;
(2) That it is the same for all metals;
(3) That the discharge only takes pace when the charge of the metal is negative and not positive.

Elster, Geitel, and Branly, it is true, mentioned some time ago two or three metals which discharged in ordinary sunlight, and the last-named cited several bodies which show the positive leak; but these phenomena were considered as exceptional and as in no wise possessing a general character.

As the subject did not appear to me exhausted, I deemed it well to take it up anew. Although there is a certain difference between the phenomena of the discharge of a body already electrified and that of the production of effluves emanating from an unelectrified body and capable of acting on an electrified one as shown in the previous chapter, yet the two phenomena have the same cause --- namely, the dissociation of matter by light. No experimenter had suspected this cause before my researches.

The experiments I am going to set forth prove --- (1) that the so-called negative leak is also, though generally in a lesser degree, positive; (2) that the discharge takes place under the influence of the various regions of the spectrum, although the maximum occurs in the ultraviolet; (3) that the discharge is extremely different in the various bodies, the metals especially. These are, as will be seen, three propositions exactly contrary to those generally received and recapitulated above.

...How can the electric atoms proceeding from the dematerialization of matter preserve their individuality and transform themselves in vibrations of the ether?

All modern research leads is to consider these particles as constituted by whirls, analogous to gyroscopes, formed in the bosom of ether and connected with it by their lines of force. The question, therefore, reduces itself to this: how can a vortex formed in a fluid disappear into this fluid by causing vibrations in it?

Stated in this form, the solution of the problem presents no serious difficulties. It can be easily seen, in fact, how a vortex generated at the expense of a liquid can, when its equilibrium is disturbed, vanish by radiating away the energy it contains under the forms of vibration of the medium in which it is plunged. In this way, for example, a waterspout formed by a whirl of liquid loses its individuality and disappears in the ocean.

It is, no doubt, the same with the vibrations of the ether. They represent the last stage of the dematerialization of matter, the one preceding its final disappearance. After these ephemeral vibrations the ether returns to its repose, and matter has definitely disappeared. It has returned to the primitive ether from which hundreds of millions of ages and forces unknown to us can alone cause it to emerge, as it has emerged in the far-off ages when the first traces of our universe were outlined on the chaos. The beginning of things was, doubtless, nothing else than a re-beginning. Nothing leads to the belief that they had a real beginning, or that they can have an end.
We have just seen that all bodies, simple or compound, conductors or insulators, subjected to the action of light undergo dissociation. But among none of the bodies examined up to now do gases appear. Are we to suppose that they escape the common law?

This exception seemed improbable. Yet up to Lenard’s last researches the dissociation of gases by the action of light had not been observed. No doubt it was supposed that the discharge of electrified bodies, when struck by light, might be due to the action of the luminous rays in the air, but this hypothesis fell to the ground in face of these two facts --- first, that the discharge varies according to the metals, which would not be the fact if it were the air and not the metal which was acting; and second, that the discharge takes place still more rapidly in a vacuum than in the air.

The reason of this apparent indifference of gases, air especially, to the light which strikes them is very simple. Some metals are dissociable only in a very advanced region of the ultraviolet. If gases should happen to be dissociable only in still more advanced regions, the observation of their dissociation must be difficult, seeing that the air with slight density is as opaque as lead for the radiations of the extreme ultraviolet.

Now, as Lenard has shown (Annalen der Physik, Bd. 1, 1900), it is solely inthis extreme region of the ultraviolet that what was then called the ionization of gases, which is no other than their dissociation, is possible. He saw that it sufficed to bring the bodies under experiment to within a dew centimeters from the source of light --- from the electric spark --- for the discharge to be the same for all bodies, which shows that it is then the air which becomes the conductor and acts. It is light, and no other cause, which intervenes, for the interposition of thin glass stops all effect.

By a special arrangement, which there would be no advantage in describing here, Lenard has measured the wavelength of the radiations which produce the ionization of the air. They begin towards 0.180 microns, just at the limits of the electric spectrum as formerly known (0.185 microns), and extend as far as 0.140 microns. The discovery of these short radiations is, as is known, due to Schuman. By creating a vacuum in a spectrograph, he proved that the ultraviolet spectrum, which, from the incorrect measurements of Cornu and Mascart, were believed to be limited to 0.185 microns, in reality extended much farther. He ahs succeeded in photographing rays reaching as far as 0.100microns. It is probably the absorption exercised by the gelatin of the sensitive plates, and no doubt also by the material of the prism, which prevents further progress.

As we advance into the ultraviolet spectrum, all bodies, the air especially, become more and more opaque to the radiations. It would therefore be very surprising if the x-rays, which pass through all bodies, were constituted by the extreme ultraviolet, as some physicists have maintained.

Most bodies, including air of a thickness of 2 cm, and water 1 mm thick, are, in fact, absolutely opaque for these radiations of very short wavelength. There are hardly any transparent to them except quartz, fluorspar, gypsum, and rock salt, and even these only on condition of their surface not being roughened. Pure hydrogen is equally transparent.

The extremely refrangible radiations of light therefore dissociate, not only all solid bodies, but also the particles of the air they pass through, while radiations less refrangible possess no action on gases, and only dissociate the surface of the solid bodies they strike. These are two very different effects which may be superposed on each other, but which will not be confused if it be borne in mind that when it is the air that is decomposed, the nature of the metal struck and the state of its surface are points of no importance; while the leak varies considerably with the metal when it is the latter that becomes dissociated. Besides, the influence of the extreme ultraviolet can be almost entirely avoided by removing the source of light to a little distance, since a layer of air of 2 cm suffices to stop this region of the spectrum. If, therefore, the sparks from the electrodes are at several centimeters from the quartz window of the spark-box, no effect due to the decomposition of the air can be produced.

In comparing some of the experiments set forth so far, it will be noticed that those bodies which absorb most light are precisely those which are the most dissociable. For example, air, which absorbs the radiations below 0.185 microns, is decomposed by these radiations. Lamp-black, which completely absorbs light, is energetically dissociated by it, and disengages effluves in abundance. This explanation does not appear at first sight at all to tally with the fact that metals which have recently received a mirror polish are likewise the seat of an extremely abundant disengagement of effluves. The objection vanishes, however, when it is considered that polished metals which reflect visible light very well reflect very badly the invisible light of the ultraviolet extremity of the spectrum, and absorb the greater part of it. Now, it is precisely these absorbable and invisible radiations which produce most effect.

To give a clear idea of the properties of the various pars of the ultraviolet spectrum, I will put them in tabular form. It shows that the aptness of light to dissociate bodies increases with every step into the ultraviolet.

To sum up, the more we advance into the ultraviolet, the shorter the wavelength of the radiations become, the less penetration these radiations have; but their dissociating action on matter shows itself more and more energetically. At the extremity of the spectrum all bodies are dissociated, including gases, on which the other parts of the spectrum have no action. The dissociating action of the various luminous radiation is therefore in inverse ratio to their penetration (1).

[(1) See Wm Ramsay and Dr Spencer, Philosophical Magazine, October 1906.]

The law thus formulated was quite unforeseen previous to my researches. All earlier observations seemed to show that the rays at the ultraviolet end of the spectrum possessed so slight an energy as to be almost inappreciable by the most delicate thermometers. It is, however, these radiations which most quickly dissociate the most rigid bodies, such as steel, for example.

~~Gustave Le Bon

Comparison of the Properties of the Electric and the Material Fluids

I have shown that the electric particles and the fluid they form by their conjunction possess an inertia of a special nature differing from that of matter, which, joined to other properties, allows us to consider electricity in all its forms as composing an intermediate world between matter and the ether.

We shall again meet with the properties of this intermediate when we compare the laws of the flow of material fluids with those which regulate the distribution of the electric fluid. The differences between these different fluids are too visible for it to be necessary to indicate them at length. The electric fluid possesses a mobility which allows it to circulate in a metallic wire with the speed of light, which would be impossible for any material substance. It escapes the laws of gravitation while the equilibria of material fluids are governed by these laws alone, etc.

The differences are therefore very great, but the analogies are so likewise. The most remarkable of them is formed by the identity of the laws governing the flow of the material fluids and of the electric fluid. When one knows the former one knows the latter. This identity, which has taken some long time to establish, has now become classic. The most elementary treatises lay stress at every page on the assimilation which can be established between the distribution of electricity and that of liquids. They are careful, nevertheless, to point out that this assimilation is symbolical, and does not apply in every case. On looking a little closer into the matter, it has to be acknowledged, however, that it is in no wise a question of a simple assimilation. In a recent work the learned mathematician Bjerkness has shown that we have only to employ a certain system of electrical units for “the electric and magnetic formulas to become identical with the hydrodynamic formulas” (Les Actions Hydrodynamiques a Distance).

A few examples will at once make evident the resemblance of these laws. To give them more authority , I borrow them from a work of Cornu, published a few years ago (Correlation des Phenomenes d’Electricite Statique et Dynamiique).

It must first be remarked that the fundamental law of electricity, that of Ohm ( i = e/r ) might have been deduced from that movement of liquids in conduit pipes the properties of which have long been known to engineers.

~~Gustave Le Bon

How, Notwithstanding Its Stability, Matter Can Dissociate

Causes Capable of Modifying Molecular and Atomic Structures ~

The first objection which occurs to the mind of the chemist to whom one sets forth the theory of the dissociation of matter, is the following: How can bodies so stable as atoms --- which appear to withstand the most violent reactions, since their weight is always recognized as invariable --- dissociate either spontaneously or under such slight causes as rays of light hardly capable of influencing a thermometer?

To say, as I maintain, that matter is a large reservoir of forces, simply means that there is no need to look outside it for the origin of the energy expended during dissociation, but this in no way explains how intra-atomic energy condensed under an evidently very stable form can free itself from the bonds which hold it. The doctrine of intra-atomic energy therefore supplies no solution to the question just put. It is unable to say why the atom, which is to all appearance the most stable of all things in the universe, can, under certain conditions, lose its stability to the extent of easily disaggregating

If we wish to discover the solution of this problem, it will first be necessary to show, by various examples, that in order to produce in matter very great changes of equilibrium, it is not always the magnitude of the effort which counts, but rather the quality of that effort. Every equilibrium in Nature is only sensitive to the appropriate excitant, and it is this excitant which must be discovered in order to obtain the effect sought. Once discovered, it can be seen that very slight causes can easily modify the equilibrium of atoms and bring about, like a spark in a mass of gunpowder, effects whose intensity greatly exceeds that of the exciting cause.

A well-known acoustic analogy allows this difference between the intensity and the quality of the effort to be clearly shown from the point of view of the effects produced. The most violent thunderclap or the most deafening explosion may be powerless to cause the vibration of a tuning fork, while a sound, very slight but of suitable period, will suffice to set it in motion. When a tuning fork starts vibrating by reason of the production near it of a sound identical with its own, it is said to vibrate by resonance. The part played by resonance in acoustics as well as in optics is now well known; it gives the best explanation of the phenomena of opacity and transparency. It can help to explain, with all sthe facts I am about to state, that insignificant causes can cause great transformations in matter.

Causes Capable of Producing the Dissociation of Very Radioactive Substances ~

...Though the amount of energy radiated by atoms during their disaggregation is very large, the loss of material substance which occurs is extremely slight, by reason of the enormous condensation of energy contained in the atom. M. Becquerel estimates the duration of one gram of radium at a billion years. M. Curie contents himself with a million years. More modest still, Mr. Rutherford speaks only of a thousand years, and Sir William Crookes of a hundred years, for the dissociation of a gram of radium.

...But even if we accepted the figures of a thousand years given by Mr Rutherford for the duration of the existence of one gram of radium, it would be sufficient to prove that if spontaneously radioactive bodies, such as radium, existed in the geological epochs, they would have vanished long since, and would consequently no longer exist. And this again goes to support my theory, according to which rapid and spontaneous radioactivity only made its appearance since the bodies in question have been engaged in certain peculiar chemical combinations capable of affecting the stability of their atoms, which combinations we may perhaps some day succeed in reproducing.

Can the Existence of Radium be Affirmed With Certainty?

If radioactivity be the consequence of certain chemical reactions, it would appear that an absolutely pure body cannot be radioactive. It was on this reasoning, supported by various experiments, that I based by assertion a few years ago that the existence of the metal radium was very problematic. In fact, although the operation of separating a metal from its combinations is very easy, it has never been possible to separate radium.

...Without being able to pronounce positively, I repeat that I believe the existence of radium to be very disputable. It is, at any rate, certain that it has not been possible to isolate it. I should much more willingly admit the existence of an unknown compound of barium capable of giving this metal radioactive properties.

~~Gustave Le Bon

The Part Taken by the Dissociation of Matter in Natural Phenomena

We have just seen that very different causes acting in a continuous manner, such as light, can dissociate matter and finally transform it into elements which no longer possess any material properties, and cannot again become matter.

This dissociation, which has gone on since the beginning of the ages, must have played a great part in natural phenomena. It is probably the origin of atmospheric electricity, and no doubt that of the clouds, and consequently of the rainfall which exercises so great an influence on climate. One of the characteristic properties of radioactive emissions is that of condensing the vapor of water, a property which also belongs to all kinds of dust, and is demonstrated by an experiment of long standing (1). A globe full of water in ebullition is placed in communication with two other globes, one filled with ordinary air from a room, the other filled with the same air cleared of dust by simple filtration through cotton wool. It can then be seen that the stream coming into the globe containing the unfiltered air immediately condenses into a thick fog, while that in the globe containing pure air does not condense.

[(1) See Mr John Aitken: Trans. Roy. Soc. Edinburgh, vol. xxx (1883), p. 337; cf. C. Wilson, Philos. Trans. cxii, p. 403]

We see how the importance of the phenomenon of the dissociation of matter increases with the study of it. Its universality spreads daily, and the hour is not far distant, I believe, when it will be considered as the source of a great number of phenomena observed on the surface of our planet.

But these are not the most important of the phenomena due to the dissociation of matter. We have already shown it to be the source of solar heat, and we shall see presently that it is the origin of electricity.

~~Gustave Le Bon

Dissociation of Matter by Chemical Reactions

We now arrive at one of the most curious and unexpected parts of my researches. Convinced of the general character of the phenomena I had noted, I asked myself whether chemical reactions might not generate effluves similar to those produced from substances by light, and which would still possess the common characteristic of dissipating electric charges. Experiment has fully confirmed this hypothesis.

Here was a fact hitherto absolutely unsuspected. It had long been known, since the observation goes back as far as Laplace and Lavoisier, that hydrogen prepared by the action of iron on sulfuric acid was electrified. This fact ought to have impressed physicists the more that the direct electrification of a gas is impossible. A gas left for an indefinite period in contact with a metallic plate charged with electricity never becomes electrified. If the air could be electrified it would no longer be an insulator, an electroscope could no longer keep its charge, and the majority of electrical phenomena would still be unknown to us. But this fact, so important, since it contained the proof, then concealed, that matter is not indestructible, remained totally unnoticed.

The most striking phenomena hardly attract our attention except when light is thrown upon them by other phenomena, or when some great generalization capable of explaining them forces us to examine them more closely. If, in Lavoisier’s experiments just alluded to, hydrogen was found to be electrified, it was only because the atoms of this substance had undergone the commencement of dissociation. It is curious to note that the first experiment from which it could be deduced that matter is perishable had for its author the illustrious savant whose greatest claim to glory is that of endeavoring to prove that matter is indestructible.

The experiments collected at the end of this work prove that a large number of chemical reactions, whether accompanied or unaccompanied by the disengagement of gas, produce effluves similar to the cathode rays, and therefore reveal a destruction of matter without return during the reactions.

~~Gustave Le Bon