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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/400

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

dissociation grew out of our old conception of atoms and molecules. Sometimes we hear the objection that this idea may not be true, but only a good working hypothesis. This objection, however, is in reality no objection at all, for we can never be certain that we have found the ultimate truth. The conception of molecules and atoms is sometimes refuted on philosophical grounds, but till he has got a better and more convenient representation of chemical phenomena, the chemist will, no doubt, continue to use the atomic theory without scruple. Exactly the same is the case for the electrolytic dissociation theory.-

This theory has shown us that in the chemical world the most important role is played by atoms or complexes of atoms, that are charged with electricity. The common tendency of scientific investigation seems to give an even more preponderating position to electricity, the mightiest agent of nature. This development is now proceeding very rapidly. Already we see not only how the theory of electrons of J. J. Thomson, in which matter is reduced to a very insignificant part, is developing, but also how efforts are made with good success to explain matter as only a manifestation of electrodynamic forces (Kaufmann-Abraham).

To these modern developments the work of British men of science has contributed in the most effective manner. The bold previsions of Sir William Crookes seem to be rapidly acquiring a concrete form, to the great benefit of scientific evolution.