The principle of the conservation of energy has quite withstood all attacks. To be sure, Le Bon claims to have overthrown it, too, but the validity of his argument is questionable. Even scientists sometimes play with logic. You have heard the story of the Assyriologist who argued: "The Assyrians understood electric telegraphy, because we have found wire in Assyria." "Oh," replied the Egyptologist, "we have not found a scrap of wire in Egypt, so we know the Egyptians understood wireless telegraphy."
In the presidential address before the British Association in 1907, Professor E. B. Lankester uttered the following weighty words: "The kind of conceptions to which these and like discoveries have led the modern physicist in regard to the character of that supposed unbreakable body—the chemical atom—the simple and unaffected friend of our youth—are truly astounding. But I would have you notice that they are not destructive of our previous conceptions, but rather elaborations and developments of the simpler views, introducing the notion of structure and mechanism, agitated and whirling with tremendous force, into what we formerly conceived of as homogeneous or simply built-up particles, the earlier conception being not so much a positive assertion of simplicity as a non-committal expectant formula awaiting the progress of knowledge and the revelations which are now in our hands."
This same address touches questions of cosmical physics. It says:
He continues to say:
Some of the views relating to radium, expressed in the summer of 1906 at the York meeting of the British Association, appeared to Lord Kelvin open to objection. It seemed to him that some of the younger
- Le Bon, op. cit., pp. 17, 18, 53, 54.
- E. Ray Lankester, inaugural address before British Association, Nature, Vol. 74, 1906, p. 325.