Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/589

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579
THE UNDERLYING FACTS OF SCIENCE

may be pressure in space brings one back to the consideration of a gaseous ether, but can not pressure exist in a corpuscular medium, and may not the pressure be a manifestation of the innumerable energies which continually pulsate through space? If all forces—including chemical forces—were suddenly removed from a certain point in space, there could be no activity and therefore no pressure. Pressure is the result of activity, of bombardment, and space is truly "alive" with activity, for, as Clerk Maxwell said, energy transmitted must exist for a time in the medium. No wonder, therefore, that it is under pressure, which Sir Oliver Lodge estimates as equivalent to 1037 ergs per cubic centimeter.

Before leaving the subject of pressure in space, it may be well to look further into the matter of ethereal activity. The activity of the ether might very well be of a higher order than that of the energies or forces known to us. When we consider that as far as we can discover the hottest stars have the simplest spectra, it may well be suggested that gravitation, electricity and light may represent falls of potential and not rises from the inherent activity of the ether, which, calculated to secure the necessary rigidity in the theory of vortical motion, is of stupendous magnitude. This degradation of the energy of the universe of ether into the energies known to us is in the same line of development as the degradation of matter, and the laws regulating the conceivable may logically govern the inconceivable.

No material conception of the ether is therefore to be considered excepting one which, at first sight, appears perfectly paradoxical, of an elastic solid of a density of 1012 (Lodge), as rigid perhaps as steel, and, in that case, fifty thousand times less dense than hydrogen (Michelson).

The Creation of Atoms

If, as already stated, energy, as we know it, is originated in matter—though not by it—and transmitted through a medium the ultimate particles of which are very much smaller than and different in nature from the atoms of matter, the disturbance at the source of origin must be transmitted by a number of corpuscles of that medium and propagated as a bundle of vibrations several corpuscles in diameter. This bundle of lines of force may be called a tube of force; this tube of force may be of any shape whatsoever, depending on the shape of the source of origin and the nature of its disturbance.

Plateau has shown that a liquid cylinder of excessive length and with a free surface first assumes an undulating contour, and then breaks up into separate vibrating drops. The resistance of the medium apparently puts the stream into vibration which causes a separation into equal drops by periodic strains which finally overcome the surface tension. The researches of Bjerknes confirmed Plateau's experiment