Page:Philosophical Transactions - Volume 096.djvu/26

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Dr. Wollaston's Lecture

My object in the present Lecture is to consider which of these opinions respecting the force exerted by moving bodies is most conformable to the usual meaning of that word, and to shew that the explanation given by Newton of the third law of motion is in no respect favourable to those who in their View of this question have been called Newtonians.

If bodies were made to act upon each other under the circumstances which I am about to describe, the leading phenomena would occur, which afford the grounds of reasoning on either side.

Let a ball of clay or of any other soft and wholly inelastic substance be suspended at rest, but free to move in any direction with the slightest impulse; and let there be two pegs similar and equal in every respect inserted slightly into its opposite sides. Let there be also two other bodies, A and B, of any magnitude, which are to each other in the proportion of 2 to 1; suspended in such a position, that when perfectly at rest they shall be in contact with the extremities of the opposite pegs without pressing against them. Now if these bodies were made to swing with motions so adapted that in falling from heights in the proportion of 1 to 4 they might strike at the same instant against the pegs opposite to them, the ball of clay would not be moved from its place to either side; nevertheless the peg impelled by the smaller body B, which has the double velocity, would be found to have penetrated twice as far as the peg impelled by A.

It is unnecessary to make the experiment precisely as here stated, since the results are admitted as facts by both parties; but upon these facts they reason differently.

One side observing that the ball of clay remains unmoved,