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tion (or rather vortication) that Newton sought to
mathematically demonstrate, and that experiment and
observation has confirmed. To Descartes and Clerk
Maxwell must ever belong the honour of drawing
attention thereto and doing their utmost to make clear
the same.
But Vortices must be formed. How?
Matter having motion, must have direction and
eventually adjacency, and collision. The collisions
give variety to the movements, and amidst the many
clashings some portions will take the necessary spin
(travelling with others of the same speed) to give the
vortical force and produce the inevitable vortices in
the ether, as in the case of magnets. All things that
have reached the molecule stage are naturally more
or less magnetic (see Faraday), there are many angles
of spin or revolution and rates of speed, and conse-
quently many degrees of vortical power. The larger
masses such as suns, etc., rushing and whirling through
the ether (and interwhirling in themselves) produce
immense vortices in the ether. They must do so
because you cannot have two portions of matter
filling the same portion of space at the same time.
The rushing masses must displace the smaller portions
of matter that they meet, and with which they clash ;
and the ether must flow into the network of holes made
by the passing sun or planet. These vortices, or
stresses in the ether, assist to keep the suns, planets,
etc., in their orbits.

This theory regards motion as a condition of matter,
and rest as a relative effect of material motion exerted
in different ways or directions. From this material
motion all natural phenomena proceed.

32 Thoughts on Natural Philosophy,

In order to enable us to consider what follows with
greater ease, let us construct a mental spring-board in
the form of a syllogism, as follows :

1. Material combinations are the result of material
motion.

2. Material motion must have speed.

3. Therefore material combinations are the result of
speed of material portions.

THE SPEED THEORY.

aid to the solution of the Riddle of the
Universe.

One of the greatest generalisations of science
(termed the conservation of energy) teaches that
energy, however it may be changed from one form of
force into another, is never destroyed or originated.

Another great generalisation (the *persistence of
matter) teaches that no substance comes into existence
out of nothing, and no substance is ever annihilated.

Both of these great laws Radium, on its first
discovery, appeared to contradict, by, apparently,
continuously throwing off heat, or energy, without
getting colder, although the dissipated energy was not
replaced from external sources; and it appeared to
continuously emanate matter from itself without
growing less.

This extraordinary behaviour naturally excited great
interest in scientific minds, and set the experimenters
at work. Among that able and learned band of men
Professors Rutherford and Soddy devoted their
active substances. After most painstaking and in-
genious researches, they were rewarded by being able
to devise and publish an explanation showing that
Radium, like other substances, confirmed the great
theories of the conservation of energy and the
persistence of matter.

tThe explanation was that some of the atoms of
Radium were constantly disintegrating into smaller

*Read Biichner's " Force and Matter."
fDr. W. Hampson's " Radium explained."
C

34 Thoughts on Natural PlnlosopJiy.

portions of matter, and that the energy continually
developed by the Radium is due to the liberation of
the energy contained in the atom in the form of
interatomic vibration of the corpuscles of which the
atoms consist.

This explanation appeared at first to some to be
revolutionary, because it had been held and taught by
great authorities that the atom was the ultimately
minute arid inseparable portion of matter. Neverthe-
less, it has been thought that a readjustment was
necessary, which conceived the atoms to be separable
into minute, and still further separable into minuter,
parts ; and that the elements (less than one hundred
in number; resolved for us by the chemists must be
conceived as complex products derived from fewer and
simpler radicals, possibly only one. The explanation
of Professors Rutherford and Soddy, which is growing
in acceptance, confirms this idea. Sir William
Ramsay's work in connection with this subject is well
known.

Radium, then, consists of atoms of matter ; these
atoms are built up of corpuscles, and these corpuscles
possibly of minute granules of matter moving and
revolving at a tremendous speed ; and some of the
corpuscles disintegrate, and shoot forth from the atom
minute portions of matter at enormous speed.

Here we approach the discovery of what appears
i:o be a great truth of far-reaching and immense
importance.

The things that give its character to Radium are
the speed, weight, and movements of its atoms,
corpuscles, and granules.

This is the great truth, and appears to be the key

Thoughts on Natural Philosophy. 35

to the Riddle of the Universe viz., that the *speed
and weight of the granules, corpuscles, atoms, and
molecules, and the peculiarities of movement resulting
from that speed and weight, give to substances their
distinguishing characteristics, and account for all
natural phenomena.

[One of the most fundamental of the facts con-
cerning the tdissociation of matter is " the emission
into space, from bodies undergoing dissociation, of
^immaterial particles animated by a speed capable of
equalling and even of often exceeding a third of the
speed of light. That speed is immensely superior to
any we can produce by the aid of the known forces at
our disposal. This is a point which must be steadily
kept in mind from the first. A few figures will suffice
to make this difference evident.

A very simple calculation shows, in fact, that to
give a small bullet the speed of the particles emitted
by matter in process of dissociation would require a
firearm capable of containing one million three hundred
and forty thousand barrels of gunpowder. As soon
as the immense speed of the particles emitted was
measured by the very simple methods I describe
elsewhere, it became evident that an enormous amount
of energy is liberated during the dissociation of atoms.

The radio-activity is above all manifested under
the influence of external agents light, heat, chemical
forces, etc. it is comprehensible that we should seek
for the origin of this proved energy among these

"Speed, and movement, may take many forms; and for weight

|Dr. Gustave Le Bon's " Evolution of Matter." My thanks are
tendered to Dr. Le Bon for his assistance; and to others from whom
I quote.

X Material, please. See Dr. Le Bon on the Ether, page 50 of
this book.

36 Thoughts on Natural Philosophy.

external causes, though there is no comparison
between the magnitude of the effects produced and
their supposed causes. As to spontaneously radio-
active bodies, no explanation of the same order was
possible, and this is why the question set forth above
remained unanswered and seemed to constitute an
inexplicable mystery. Yet, in reality, the solution to
the problem is very simple. Let us first of all remark
that it is proved by experiments that the particles
emitted during dissociation possess identical char-
acteristics, whatever the substance in question and
the means used to dissociate it. Whether we take
the spontaneous emission from radium or from a metal
under the action of light, or again from a Crookes'
tube, the particles emitted are similar. The origin of
the energy which produces the observed effects seems
therefore to be always the same. Not being external
to matter, it can only exist within this last.

It is this energy which I have designated by the
term intra-atomic energy. What are its fundamental
characteristics? It differs from all forces known to
us by its very great concentration, by its prodigious
power, and by the stability of the equilibria it can
form. W r e shall see that, if instead of succeeding in
dissociating thousandths of a milligramme of matter,
as at present, we could dissociate a few kilogrammes,
we should possess a source of energy compared with
which the whole provision of coal contained in our
mines would represent an insignificant total. It is by
reason of the magnitude of intra-atomic energy that
radio-active phenomena manifest themselves with the
intensity we observe. This it is which produces the
emission of particles having an immense speed, the
penetration of material bodies, the apparition of X
rays, etc.

Thoughts on Natural Philosophy. 37

The following figures will show that, whatever be
the method adopted, we arrive, by measuring the
energy liberated by a given weight of dissociated
matter, at totals immensely superior to all those
obtained by hitherto known chemical reactions the
combustion of coal, for example. It is for this reason
that substances, in spite of the slightness of their
dissociation, are able to produce during this pheno-
menon the intense effects which I have to enumerate.

The different methods in use for measuring the
speed of the particles of dissociated matter, whether
radium or any metal whatever, have always given
nearly the same figures. This speed is almost that of
light for certain radio-active emissions. For others
we get a third of that speed. Let us take the lesser
of these figures, that of 100,000 kilometres per second,
and endeavour on that basis, to calculate the energy
that would result from the complete dissociation of
one gramme of any matter we please.

Let us take, for instance, a copper one-centime
piece, weighing, as is well known, one gramme, and let
us suppose that by accelerating the rapidity of its
dissociation we could succeed in totally dissociating it.

The kinetic energy possessed by a body in motion
being equal to half the product of its mass by the
square of its speed, an easy calculation gives the power
which the particles of this gramme of matter, animated
by the speed we have supposed, would represent. We
have, in fact,

o'ooi k i 2 510 thousand millions of

I vv y *./

9'8i 2 100,000,000 ~ kilogrammetres,
figures which correspond to about six thousand eight
hundred million horse-power if this gramme of matter
were stopped in a second. This amount of energy,

38 Thoughts on Natural Philosophy,

suitably disposed, would be sufficient to work a goods
train on a horizontal line equal in length to a little
over four times and a quarter the circumference of the
earth.

To send this same train over this distance by means
of coal would take 2,830,000 kilogrammes, which at
24 francs a ton, would necessitate an expenditure of
about 68,000 francs. This amount of 68,000 francs
represents therefore, the commercial value of the intra-
atomic energy contained in a one-centime coin.

What determines the greatness of the above figures
and makes them at first sight improbable is the
enormous speed of the masses in play, a speed which
we cannot approach by any known mechanical means.
In the factor m V 2 , the mass of one gramme is certainly
very small, but the speed being immense the effects
produced become equally immense. A rifle-ball falling
on the skin from the height of a few centimetres
produces no appreciable effect in consequence of its
slight speed. As soon as speed is increased, the effects
become more and more deadly, and, with the speed of
l,ooo metres per second given by the powder now
employed, the bullet will pass through very resistant
obstacles. To reduce the mass of a projectile matters
nothing if one arrives at a sufficient increase in speed.
This is exactly the tendency of modern musketry,
which constantly reduces the calibre of the bullet but
endeavours to increase its speed.

Now the speeds which we can produce are absolutely
nothing compared with those of ihe particles of dis-
sociated matter. We can barely exceed a kilometre a
second by the means at our disposal, while the speed
of radio-active particles is 100,000 times greater.
Thence the magnitude of the effects produced. These

Thoughts on Natural Philosophy. 39

differences become plain when one knows that a body
having a velocity of 100,000 kilometres per second
would go from the earth to the moon in less than four
seconds, while a cannon ball would take about five
days. Taking into account a part only of the energy
liberated in radio-activity, and by a different method,
figures inferior to those given abov r e, but still colossal,
have been arrived at. The measurements of Curie
prove that one gramme of radium emits 100 calorie-
grammes an hour, which would give 876,000 calories
per annum. If the life of a gramme of radium is 1,000
years, as is supposed, by transforming these calories
into kilogrammetres at the rate of 1,125 kilogrammetres
per great calorie, the immensity of the figures obtained
will readily appear. Necessarily, these calories, high
as is their number, only represent an insignificant part
of the intra-atomic energy, since the latter is expended

The fact of the existence of a considerable con-
densation of energy within the atoms only seems to jar
on us because it is outside the range of things formerly
taught us by experience ; it should, however, be
remarked that, even leaving on one side the facts
are daily observable. Is it not strikingly evident,
in fact, that electricity must exist at an enormous
degree of accumulation in chemical compounds, since
it is found by the electrolysis or water that one gramme
of hydrogen possesses an electric charge of 96,000
coulombs? One gets an idea of the degree of
condensation at which the electricity existed before its
liberation, from the fact that the quantity above
mentioned is immensely superior to what we are able
to maintain on the largest surfaces at our disposal.

4o TJioitgJits on Natural Philosophy.

Elementary treatises have long since pointed out that
barely a twentieth part of the above quantity would
suffice to charge a globe the size of the earth to a
potential of 6,000 volts. The best static machines in
our laboratories hardly give forth TTRTOO of a coulomb
per second. They would have, consequently, to work
unceasingly for a little over thirty years to give the
quantity of electricity contained within the atoms of
one gramme of hydrogen.

As electricity exists in a state of considerable
concentration in chemical compounds, it is evident
that the atom might have been regarded long since as
a veritable condenser of energy. To grasp thereafter
the notion that the quantity of this energy must be
enormous, it was only necessary to appreciate the
magnitude of the attractions and repulsions which are
produced by the electric charges before us. It is
curious to note that several physicists have touched
the fringe of this question without perceiving its con-
sequences. For example, Cornu pointed out that if it
were possible to concentrate a charge of one coulomb
on a very small sphere, and to bring it within one
centimetre of another sphere likewise having a charge
of one coulomb, the force created by this repulsion
would equal g ls dynes, or about 9 billions of kilo-
grammes.

Now, we have seen above that by the dissociation of
water we can obtain from one gramme of hydrogen an
electric charge of 96,000 coulombs. It would be
enough and this is exactly the hypothesis lately
enunciated by J. J. Thomson to dispose the electric
particles at suitable distances within the atom, to
obtain, through their attractions, repulsions, and
rotations, extremely powerful energies in an extremely

Thoughts on Natural Philosophy. 41

small space. The difficulty was not, therefore, in
conceiving that a great deal of energy could remain
within an atom. It is even surprising that a notion
so evident was not formulated long since.

Our calculation of radio-active energy has been
made within those limits of speed at which experi-
ments show that the inertia of these particles does not
sensibly vary, but it is possible that one cannot
assimilate their inertia though this is generally done
to that of material particles, and then the figures
given might be different. But they would none the
less be extremely high. Whatever the methods
adopted and the elements of calculation employed
velocity of the particles, calories emitted, electric
attractions, etc.- one arrives at figures differing from
each other indeed, but all extraordinarily high. Thus,
for example, Rutherford fixes the energy of the A
particles of thorium at six hundred million times that
of a rifle-ball. Other physicists who, since the publica-
tion of one of my papers have gone into the subject,
have reached figures sometimes very much higher.
Assimilating the mass of electrons to that of the
material particles, Max Abraham arrives at this con-
clusion : " That the number of electrons sufficient to
weigh one gramme carry with them an energy of
6 x io 13 joules." Reducing this figure to our ordinary
unit, it will be seen to represent about 80,000,000,000
horse-power per second, about twelve times greater
than the figures I found for the energy emitted by one
gramme of particles with a speed of 100,000 kilometres
per second.

J. J. Thomson also has gone into estimates of the
magnitude of the energy contained in the atom, starting
with the hypothesis that the material atom is solely

42 Thoughts on Natural Philosophy.

composed of electric particles. His figures, though
also very high, are lower than those just given. He
finds that the energy accumulated in one gramme of
matter represents 1.02 x io 10 ergs, which would be
only represent, according to him, " an exceedingly
small fraction " of that possessed by the atoms at the

Under what forms can intra-atomic energy exist,
and how can such colossal forces have been concen-
trated in very small particles? The idea of such a
concentration seems at first sight inexplicable, because
our ordinary experience tells us that the extent of
mechanical power is always associated with the
dimensions of the apparatus concerned in its produc-
tion. A 1,000 h.p. engine is of considerable volume.
By association of ideas we are therefore led to believe
that the extent of mechanical energy implies the extent
of the apparatus which produces it. But this is a pure
illusion consequent on the weakness of our mechanical
systems, and easy to dispel by very simple calculations.
One of the most elementary formulas of dynamics
teaches us that the energy of a body of constant size
can be increased at will by simply increasing its speed.
It is therefore possible to imagine a theoretical machine
composed of the head of a pin turning round in the
bezel of a ring, which, notwithstanding its smallness,
should possess, thanks to its rotative force, a
mechanical power equal to that of several thousands
of locomotives.

To fix our ideas, let us suppose a small bronze sphere
(densiLy 8.842), with a radius of three millimetres and
consequently of one gramme in weight. Let us
suppose that it rotates in space round one of its

Thoughts on Nattiral Philosophy. 43

diameters with an equatorial speed equal to that of
the particles of dissociated matter (100,000 kilometres
per second), and that, by some process or other, the
rigidity of the metal has been made sufficient to resist
this rotation. Calculating the vis viva of this sphere
it will be seen to correspond to 203,873,000,000 kilo-
grammetres. This is nearly the work that 1,510
locomotives averaging 500 h.p. apiece would supply
in an hour. Such is the amount of energy that could
be contained in a very small sphere animated by a
rotatory movement of which the speed should be equal
to that of the particles of dissociated matter. If the
same little ball turned on its own centre with the
velocity of light (300,000 kilometres per second)
which represents about the speed of the -B particles of
radium, its vis viva would be nine times greater. It
would exceed 1,800,000,000,000 kilogrammetres and
represent the work of one hour by 13,590 locomotives,
a number exceeding all the locomotives on all the
French lines.

It is precisely these excessively rapid movements of
rotation on their axis and round a centre that the
elements which constitute the atoms seem to possess,
and it is their speed which is the origin of the energy
they contain. We have been led to suppose the
existence of these movements of rotation by various
mechanical considerations much anterior to the dis-
coveries of the present day. These last have simply
confirmed former ideas and have re-transferred to the
elements of the atom the motion which was attributed
to the atom itself at a time when it was considered
indivisible. It is only, no doubt, because they possess
such velocities of rotation that the elements which
constitute the atoms can, when leaving their orbits

44 Thoughts on Natural Philosophy.

under the influence of various causes, be launched at
a tangent through space with the velocities observed
in the emissions of particles of matter in course of
dissociation.

The rotation of the elements of the atom is moreover
the very condition of their stability, as it is for a top
or for a gyroscope. When under the influence of any
cause the speed of rotation falls below a certain
critical point, the equilibrium of the particles becomes
unstable, their kinetic energy increases and they may
be expelled from the system, a phenomenon which is
the commencement of the dissociation of the atom.]

The motions of the surrounding ether under a rise
of temperature, or increased force of movement, may
cause or assist dissociation.

Illustrations are dangerous things in an argument ;
but, if apposite and not unduly pressed, they may be

Start one hundred men on a foot race of a mile.
Soon they will fall into groups, as a result of the
different rates of speed at which they travel ; and tnese
groups will possess mobility and stability dependent
on the speed and movement of the individuals forming
the groups.

Imagine an immense billiard table and a vast
number of billiard balls rolling about the table ; the
balls will fall into groups according to the speed and
movement of the individual balls, and those groups will
have a sort of mobility and stability until interfered
with by other groups or balls crashing against them
with sufficient force and weight to break up the
group, with the result that new groups are formed.
What is true in this respect of masses of matter, the
size of men or billiard balls, is true of smaller and
larger portions of matter.

Thoughts on Xatural Philosophy. 45

A long strip of wood usually burns slowly. The
reason for this is that only the particles of those parts
of the wood nearest the burning part become energised
to move with sufficient speed to combine with the
oxygen. The particles of the unburning portion of
wood are moving too slowly to unite with the oxygen ;
if they were moving at sufficient speed to combine with
the oxygen, the wood would be burnt up in a flash.

Every combustible substance has its *kindling
temperature, at which its particles move at sufficient
speed to combine with the oxygen.

One of the most difficult problems in connection
with this subject is the following : Why is it that in
combustion, although the particles must move at
varying rates of speed, only the products (and the same
products each time) with which we are acquainted
are produced? The explanation appears to be as
follows: Imagine a box of billiard balls revolving
rapidly, and the balls suddenly thrown therefrom at
high rates of speed on to a very large billiard table ;
some of their movements would eventuate into groups.
Repeat this as often as you like, and if the forces are
exactly alike in all particulars, on each occasion you
will get like results. You must have definite tempera-
tures to produce definite chemical results, and with
like forces you of course get like results. It is possible
that in some cases other substances are in the act of
formation, in a fraction of time, amidst the war of the
atoms ; but the battling of the atoms breaks up those
nascent combinations before they can escape, and only
those combinations remain stable and escape to which
it is possible so to do under the given circumstances.

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