Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/585

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THE UNDERLYING FACTS OF SCIENCE

ally obtained warrants us in suspecting that molecular aggregates can not exist at zero absolute; thus we may well believe that chemical affinity, while influenced by temperature, is in no way dependent on it, but is an intrinsic property of the atoms themselves. Gaseous matter in space is not necessarily "frozen to death."

It has just been stated that there was no indication that a fall in temperature hastened atomic disintegration; the reverse may be true. Jean Becquerel has recently shown that at the temperature of liquid air the transparency of matter increases and the spectral absorption bands become finer. It is well known that the very opposite is the case with a rise in temperature above normal. In this we may see a vindication of the theory that heat is due to molecular agitation, or, to speak more correctly, is manifested as molecular agitation, which interferes with translucent properties.

Phenomena of Inteestellar Space

If the ether is a mass of elementary gas or gases, in what relation will it stand to the energies which it transmits? If the ether is gaseous, i. e., material, all our accumulated knowledge of matter is at variance with the accepted facts of astrophysics. If this gaseous ether is the ultimate condition of matter, the luminiferous medium, all our accumulated knowledge of the ether is opposed to many accepted facts of science. The acceptance of a material ether necessitates too much work of reconciliation and the distortion of established facts to suit its requirements. We turn, therefore, to sub-material theories.

The ether transmits but does not manifest heat, light and other forms of energy. Light is not manifested in space—at least not to any appreciable extent; the variations in our distance from the sun do not produce color phenomena of the order of those which a variation in the depth of atmosphere through which we view the sun produces. Heat stands in the same relation to the ether as sound does to gases of suitable density; it is not manifested in a non-material ether; it is transmitted, and that part of space through which it passes is unaffected. If a molecular mass, our globe and its atmosphere, for instance, be interposed, the light and heat will be manifested, dissipated and finally absorbed by atoms or atomic aggregates, the periods of whose vibrations coincide with theirs. If not manifested they can not be dissipated, but will travel forever in a right line.

But if this is correct, how is it that interstellar space possesses any temperature at all? Why is it not at zero absolute? Heat, as already stated, is known to us by its manifestation; it is manifested in matter and ultimate corpuscles can only transmit it without retaining it. Heat and light may be identical in nature, but they are distinct in their action; it has recently been shown that the change of period in the