Rodolfo Amedeo Lanciani.

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ing tendency of B toward A, will then be proportional to the
mass of A multiplied into the mass of B. Also, since the tend-
ency of each ethereal atom of B toward any ethereal atom of
A is inversely proportional to the square of the distance, the
same law will hola for the entire gravitating tendency of B
toward A. It is to be borne in mind that the effective force of
gravitation here considered, is the excess of the gravitating
tendency due to the partial interception of the general cosmi-
cal force by the atom A and its ethereo-electric atmosphere, over
the repulsion directly exerted by the same.

The Newtonian principle of gravitation being thus made
out for individual atoms of ordinary matter, it is also made out
for cosmical masses. The Newtonian laws of the mutual
gravitation of masses, in aU their precision, are inevitable con-
sequences of the principle of gravitation as now deduced from
the one cosmical force of repulsion ; if we admit that the portion
of every impulse of this force that is intercepted by each atom is
an excessively minute fraction of the whole intensity of the
propagated impulse.

Molecular Forces. — The Molecular Forces, so called, consist of
a force called the attraction of cohesion, and one or more forces
of mutual repulsion. The force of heat is recognized as one
force of repulsion, and has generally been regarded as the
only repulsion in operation. But this notion must certainly be
discarded by all physicists who maintain that the heat-repulsion
is due to vibrations of the atoms of bodies ; since such vibra-
tions can only be maintained by the operation of existing
antagonistic forces of attraction (or virtual attraction) and
repulsion. And even if we admit, as I cannot do, the mechani-
cal possibility of molecular motions of revolution, or rc»tation,
so constituted as to originate in some way a force of heat-repul-
sion exerted in all directions outward from each atom, ana to
be always augmented in rapidity by waves of radiant heat from
whatever direction received, it is wholly inconceivable that in
the collision of bodies such motions of revolution or rotation of



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W. A. Norton on Molecular and Oosmical Physics. 29

the impinging atoms, or molecules, should give rise to a mutual
repulsion, wnatever might be the relative direction of the
motions. In fact, in whatever mode of molecular motion heat
may be supposed to consist, if heat be the only force of repul-
sion, a certain amount of the living force of heat belonging
to each of two impinging bodies would be expended in dimin-
ishing the velocity of the one body and augmenting that of the
other, and it would be impossible that tney should become
heated by the impact It is here assumed that the impact of
two bodies must develop a force of mutual repulsion between
the impinging molecules, which determines the equality of the
action and reaction. This obvious fact seems now-a-days to be
in a good degree ignored, and the exchange of momenta to be
supposed to be brought about by some unimaginable process,
in which the idea of force is wholly lost sight of

We must then conclude that there is a primary force of
molecular repulsion, in addition to that of heat We might
perhaps ascribe this force to the repulsion of the ethereal mofec-
ular atmospheres when brought into contact ; but to what can
we ascribe the heat-repulsion ? It has come to be generally
bebeved that it must consist in some mode of motion of the
atoms, or molecules of bodies, as a whole; either of vibration,
revolution, or rotation. But it might be almost demonstrated,
did space permit, that this cannot oe the true nature or origin
of heat I will only allude here to one or two arguments in
support of this statement, which may be briefly given. It is
well known that whenever any body is by collision with another
body, or in any other way, permanently compressed, heat is given
out Now the fiict that a force of pressure, or percussion, pro-
duces a permanent compression, increasing with its intensity,
leads to the almost inevitable inference that in the act of com-
pression the atoms, or molecules, experience some change of
physical condition, by reason of which the molecular attraction
IS augmented, and the condensation maintained, and that this
change must be proportionate to the degree of condensation, and
so to the amount or heat evolved. Can such a change propor-
tionate to the heat evolved, be connected by any admissible
suppoffltion with the augmented velocities of vibration, revolu-
tion, or rotation of ordinary atoms, in which the increase of heat
is conceived to consist ? In fitct the entire phenomena of inelastic,
as well of elastic reaction, point to the conclusion that they are
attended with changes in the physical condition of the atoms,
ordinarily so called, and that the evolution or absorption of heat
that takes place is the direct result of these changes.

Again it is not conceivable that the phenomena of electricity
can be ascribed to any imagined motion of ordinary atoms, or
molecules, whether these are surrounded with ethereal atmos-



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80 W. A. Norton on Molecular Ofnd Obsmieal Physics.

pheres or not We are accordingly constrained to look in some
other direction for the origin of the molecular forces and agencies ;
and it appears to me that it is to be found in the general concep-
tion of an electric ether less subtile than the luminiferous, and
gravitating like this toward the atoms of ordinary matter,
so as to form envelopes to these atoms, permeated and under-
laid by the condensed luminiferous ether. Each atom
would thus be surrounded by an ethereo-electric atmosphere.
The atoms of electric ether may be conceived to be masses of
condensed luminiferous ether, but far more minute than those of
ordinary matter. Adopting this conception of the existence of
an electric ether, we are led, by legitimate inferences fix>m the
fundamental principles I have laid down in this paper, not only
to the physical constitution of a primitive molecule, but also to
the theory of molecular forces set forth in my memoir on Mole-
cular Physica The force of molecular attraction was conceived
to consist in a contractile action exertied by the central atom upon
its electric envelope, and originating waves propagated outward
through the electric ether to contiguous atom& This contractile
action is now seen to consist in the gravitating tendency of the
electric envelope toward the central atom ; resulting from the
partial interception of the cosmical force by this atom. This
action also originates waves in the luminifereous ether posited
between the central atom and its electric envelope, that are propa-
gated outward by this ether, and constitute the primary force
of heat-repulsion. All the diverse methods of developing heat
are but different methods of compressing or forcing inward the
atomic or molecular envelopes, and so originating ethereal heat-
waves. These waves at the outset pulsate in the line of
propagation; but, by passing around the ethereal atmos-
pheres of molecules, become converted into waves at-
tended with transverse vibrationa The other force of molec-
ular repulsion originates in the direct repulsion subsisting
between the diverse atoms of the electric envelope. This force
originates waves that proceed outward through the electric ether
from different depths in the envelope. These waves must increase
in their intensity at the outset from the lowest depth upward,
to a certain height in the envelope, by reason of the increase in
the quantity of ether that is effective^ repellant On the other
hand the attractive waves, that issue m>m various points of the
envelope, must decrease outward in their intensity at their
origin. It thus happens that the resultant waves, which may be
taken to represent the entire actions of these two systems of
waves, must be conceived to proceed from different depths;
which depths may therefore be taken as the upper and lower
limits of the effective envelope. This is ecjidvalent to one of
the principles adopted in the mathematical theory of the



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W. A. Norton on Molecuiar cmd Oosmicai Physics. 81

molecular forces developed in my former memoir; viz. that
the attractive waves proceed from the lower limit of the
electric atmosphere, or envelopje, and the waves of electric
repulsion from the upper limit In the memoir referred
to it was shown that the entire action of one atom, or
rather primitive molecule, on another, amounts to a repulsion
at the more minute distances, and an attraction at greater
distances up to a certain limit, beyond which it becomes a
repulsion to an indefinitely great distance. The first men-
tioned, or inner repulsion, and the attraction, are the forces
which determine and maintain the solid and liquid condition
of matter, and the outer repulsion constitutes the expansive
force of vapors and gases. The extraneous heat that a body *
may receive is a distinct force of repulsion, modifying the
natural curve of molecular action.

Origin of Chemical AUractiony and of Electric and Magnetic
Forces. — ^The electric envelopes of atoms, besides being the source
of the molecular forces, including the primary heat-repulsion,
invests the molecules of each substance with the property of
chemical attraction for the molecules of other su ostances to
which they bear a certain physical relation. This consists in
the disturbance of the equal distribution of the ether in the
envelopes of two contiguous heterogeneous molecules; imder
their natural molectdar action, by reason of which the molecules
become oppositely polarized on their adjacent surfaces — the one
having an excess oi the electric fliiid and the other a deficiency.
The attraction thus originating may prevail over the natum
molecular repulsion that comes into play when the two liquids
come into contact, and bring the molecules within the range of
their natural attraction.

The state of molecular electric polarization, superinduced
under certain varied circumstances, originates the galvanic cur-
rent, and determines the phenomena of electro-static, electro-
dynamic, and magneto-electric induction. The attraction and
repulsion of electric, and of magnetic currents, may be ascribed
to the origination and maintenance of currents in the adjacent
body of luminiferous ether, running in the same direction as
the electric or magnetic currents. These currents determine
inequalities of elastic force in this moving mass of ether, from
which result transverse currents. These transverse currents take
effect upon the line of the electric or magnetic current because
they are partially intercepted by it The induction of one elec-
tric or magnetic current by another, is effected by the interven-
tion of currents directly induced in the adjacent body of
luminiferous ether.

The key to the explanation of the excitation of electricity
by friction lies in the fact made out in my former paper, tiiat



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32 W, A. Norton on Molecular and Cosmical Physics,

the electric ether is condensed between the component molecules
of each compound molecule of a substance; and that every
expansion of the compound molecule sets free a certain portion
of this condensed ether, and every condensation withdraws a
certain portion from adjacent molecules that are undisturbed.
If two dissimilar surfaces are rubbed, the one over the other,
the consequent disturbance of the compound molecules of the
two surfeces, will be either unlike or unequal in amount ; and
a certain quantity of electricity will in consequence pass from
the one surface to the other. As soon as the jfriction ceases the
disturbed molecules will recover their original form and size,
and the positive state of the one surface and the negative state
of the other will manifest themselves. For example, if the
molecules of the one surface are compressed by the rubbing,
and those of the other expanded, electricity will flow from the
latter to the former while the condensation and expansion are
going on, but as soon as two rubbing molecules are freed from
each other's influence they recover their former dimensions, and
the excess of the electric fluid in one of the molecules and
deficiency in the other become positive and negative electric
states. Non-conduction consists in a comparative deficiency of
electric ether in the interval between contiguous compound
molecules, by reason of which a transmission of electric move-
ment does not readily occur from one to the other. I have shown
in my paper on Molecular Physics that in such cases an electric
polarization of the molecules is induced, which develops a resist-
ance to the electro-motive force.

The excitation of electricity by heat is conceived to be prin-
cipally due to the expansive action of heat on the electric
envelopes of primitive molecules, and on the compound molecules,
which either sets free a certain portion of electric ether, or
establishes a chain of electro-polanzed molecules.*

General Considerations. — The Theory of Cosmical and Mole-
cular Physics, of which I have now given a brief outline, rests
essentially upon the following principles.

(1.) The doctrine of inertia applicable to all matter.

(2.) The existence of a single prirnary force of repulsion exerted
by every atom upon every other atom. This force is universally
admitted to be in operation between the atoms of the luminife-
rous ether, and between the atoms of ordinary matter and this
ether at the most minute distancea

(3.) The existence of hut one primary form of elementary matter^
viz : the universal or luminiferous ether ; — ^the atoms, so called,
of ordinary matter and of the electric ether being but different
masses of condensed luminiferous ether. The theory of the

^ For the more complete expositioii of my theoretical views I must refer the
reader to tbe memoir on Molecular Physica



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W. A. Norton on Molecular and Oosmical Physics. 88

origin of universal gravitation that has been propounded might
be reconciled with the ordinary notion of matter, viz : that its
atoms are essentially different from those of the ether, if we
could admit that the resistance of an ordinary atom to a force
giving it motion was proportional to its surfoce instead of its
mass.

(4). The doctrine of the interception offorce^ as already set forth/

(5). The primary force of repulsion is made up of impulses
recurring with an immeasurable rapidity. This is no new hy-
pothesis. In all treatises on Mechanics, gravity, and all incessant
forces, are conceived to consist of an indefinitely great number
of impulses taking effect in a finite interval of time.

If we conceive the propagation of the primary force of repul-
sion to be by the intervention of a medium, this medium must
be an ether more subtile, and endued with a more intense elastic
force than the luminiferous. This elastic force must consist in
a mutual repulsion between the atoms. Thus, upon the idea of
a material j)ropagation of force, we must ultimately rest upon
the conception of a force exerted between two atoms separated
by a finite though excessively minute interval of space. There
is no tenable position between this and that of a plenum.

Let us here devoutly acknowledge that in tnus following
the chain of cause and eflfect into the precincts of that most
deepljj^ hidden of all mysteries, the ongin of force, we have
come into the presence of the Infinite Spirit who puts forth
unceasingly, from every point in the realms of space. His crea-
tive and sustaining power upon the subtile matter that fills all
space, and is the essential substance of all worlds.

In addition to the principles just stated, we recognize the
existence of matter in the three states of the luminiferous ether,
the electric ether, and ordinary matter.

It hardly need be stated that among the consequences of these
fundamental principles is included the doctrine of the Oonserva-
turn of Energy, actual and potential It is obvious that at any
point in the boimdless sea of ether the same amount of cosmical
force would be received from every direction, but for the exist-
ence of the innumerable worlds dispersed through it It is
also true that in the mutual gravitation of each pair of cosmical
bodies, resulting from the interception of the cosmical force, the
amount of this force expended in giving motion to the one body
will be expended in precisely opposite directions in giving
motion to the other body ; so that on the whole the cosmic«3
force in operation in any one direction is equal in amount to
that ia operation in the opposite direction. Also the amount
of energy taken up in the naif revolution during which the one
revolving body is approaching the other, is given out during

Am. Jour. Sci.— Sbcokd Sbbiiss, Vol. XLIX, No. 146.— Jan., 1870.
3



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34 W. A. Norton on Mohcular and Oosmical Physics,

the remaining half revolution in which it is receding and
returning to me original position.*

The kindred principle of the mutual convertibility, or " Cor-
relation of Physical Forces," including among these the living
force of moving bodies and of the atoms of all bodies, is obvi-
ously an essential feature of our general theory. For heat is
regarded as being in its origin a wave of translation in the
luminiferous ether, and an electric current is a similar wave in
the electric ether, and the conversion of one of these into the
other, or into the motions of ordinary matter, is merely the
transfer of the living force of moving matter from one of the
states or forms of matter to another. The heat developed in
chemical attraction, is the amount of living force in the waves
of luminiferous ether originated by the compression of the elec-
tric envelopes of the uniting molecules ; and the force of attrac-
tion is expended in the act of originating these waves, and must
be equal to the living force propagated m them. In the chem-
ical union of two atoms, or primitive molecules, the " clash of
atoms " that takes olace cannot be succeeded by a perfectly
elastic mutual repulsion, since such a repulsion would com-
pletely separate them, and restore them to tneir condition before
the attraction came into operation. Now the loss of elasticity,
which renders the union possible, consists in the outward move-
ments imparted to a certain portion of the luminiferous ether
Iving between the uniting atoms and their electric envelopes, by
tne forcible compression of the envdopes, resulting from the
clash of the atoms ; and these movements constitute also the
living force of heat developed.

The heat produced by extraneous pressure, or by impact, is
the work done by the force of pressure in compressmff the
molecular envelopes, in opposition to the resistance erf the

♦ The ever-recurring pulaes of the primary oosmical force, emanating from all
the atoms of the one, primary matter, are directly consumed in communicating op-
poBite movements, or virtual movements, to every atom in the universe. It is, as I
conceive, because in the existing condition of things the distribution of matter is
unequal in different directions around a point, and therefore the partial interception of
the impulses of the oosmical force along the different lines of db-ection unequal, that
an effective gravitating force exists. ^Oie entire amount of the oosmical force oon-
sumed in any interval of time is the amount intercepted by all the atoms of matter,
and is independent of the motions that result frcnn the inequalities just noticed.
Ghravitation, and molecular and diemical attractions which originate in the gravita-
tion of electric ether toward atoms of ordinary matter, are then derivative foroes,
incidental to the direct actions exerted by the oosmical force upon the atoms. The
heat which escapes from the sun, or any oosmical body, into space, represents only
a certain amount of the general gravitating foroe previously expended in imparting
movements, in waves of translation, to the luminiferous ether. The electric oar-
rent, wherever it exists, represents a certain amount of the same force, expended
in imparting similar movements to a certain quantity of electric ether at Hie
source of the current In other words, the escaping heat and the electric current
each represents a certain amount of work done, eitiber by the gravitating tenden-
cy of electric ether toward ordinary atoms, or by that of ordinary atoms toward
each other.



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W. A. Norton on Molecular and Gosmical Physics. 86

luminifeiDus ether posited below them, transfonned into the
accumulated work of the ethereal wftves set in motion by this
compression. The deficiency of elasticity, essential to the
development of the heat, consists in this escape of the ether in
waves of translation, and the attendant loss of living force ;
and the permanent compression of the impinging bodies results
firom the change in the molecular forces, consequent upon the
permanent compression, or forcing inward of the molecular
envelopes.

The principle of the "Correlation of Physical Forces,*-
involves (as above implied) with it that of the "Conserva-
tion of Force," maintained by modem physicists, viz : that all
transformations of one physical force mto another take place
without any loss, and therefore the store of living force
in existence in nature is invariable.

The idea seems now to be commonly entertained that the
entire force in operation in the universe is the result of certain
motions imparted to all matter at the creation, and so being
ever equivalent to the living force embodied in these primordim
motions, must be invariabla But a gravitating force is always
operating to deflect each revolving body from the tangent to
its orbit, and a certain amount is continually being expended
in this act, so that if the force of gravitation were due to
preestablished motions, it would be continually wasting away,
and the entire amount of force in the universe would be per-
petually diminishing. The sum total of the individual forces
taking effect throughout all nature may indeed be constant, but
if so it is because me flux of the primary force of repulsion is
uniform, and is consumed primarily by interception from all .
atoms, incidentally in maintaining the motions of revolution
of all the cosmical bodies (in the universe), and all the molecu-
lar forces perpetually neutralizing each other within these
bodiea

From our present point of view we may also discern that the
physical forces, ordinarily so called, have an entirely different
origin from that above mentioned. We may perceive that they
are all either the direct or indirect result of the operation of the
general force of gravitation, which is itself a consequence of the
operation of the cosmical force of repulsion. Gravitation is the
direct agent in two general classes of phenomena, viz: the
revolution of one cosmical body around another, and the act
of condensation of every such body upon its center of gravity.
In the former the motion is curvilinear, and all the living force
imparted by gravity to either body, while the two are approach-
ing each other, is taken out, by the operation of tne same
force in opposite directions, while they are receding from each
other; and this alternation has continued from the first without
loss of living force, from one revolution to another. But, in the



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86 W. A. Norton on MolecuUir and Chsmical Physics.

act of fonnation of the existing cosmical masses by condensation,
the motions of their elementary parts have been directed toward
the center of gravity of the mass, and the mutual destruction
of such opposing motions has developed an equivalent amount
of living force in the form of heat, that is in the form origin-
ally of waves of translation proceeding from the ethereal
atmospheres of the condensed molecules. By the continued
operation of the gravitating force, in the sun and earth, and
probablv in innumerable other worlds, the transformation of
the work of condensation effected bv this force into an equiva-
lent store of heat-work is constantly going on. The heat of
chemical combination, as well as that of liquefaction and
solidification, are attributable to the gravitation of the electric
ether toward the atoms of ordinary matter. All the heat and
attendant light evolved since the creation form a store of accu-
mulated work equivalent to the work done by the force of gravi-
tation in effecting all the condensations that have hitherto taken



Online LibraryRodolfo Amedeo LancianiThe American journal of science and arts → online text (page 5 of 109)