The Transformation Of Matter

Date: 
Friday, July 14, 1905
Volume: 
17
Pages: 
515-516
Archived Page: 
Author: 
Subject: 

J'm.v 14, 1905. ENGLISH O AND WORLD OF SCIENCE:No. 2103. _ SI5 TESLA‘S REPLY T0 EDISON. Says “We shall soon be Talking Round the World." AS we said last week, Mr. Edison -was reported to have snid to an interviewer of the .Vaw HM N71/'lzl that he did not believe with Tesla in being nblu to talk round the world, but tllut ho thoglght Marconi would, sooner or later, perfect his sys ein. Nikola Tesla has replied. He says :- In the course of certain investigations which I wrried on for the purpose of studying the eiects of lightning discharges upon the oIcct|'in:u.l condition ot' the cnrth I observed that sensitive 1'clx:ivin|,; instru- ments arranged so ns to he mpnhlc of responding to electrical omervst:ion ot energy- iind themselve exposed to a huntnl attack w 'ch it seems impouible that they um long resist | Now it is plain that these disccverim, while overthrowing our best-settled conceptions of matter eud energy, et mise a great many more puzzles ;han they mae. dW'hile atoms :ire Zlggwn to he 30 onger atoms, an ener is p u ap y from nowhere without 5% previous expgxgture of work, electricity, at one time thought to merely n. form of energy, new appears as acomponent, and perhaps the sole component, of matter. Yet till now no one eonld say what electricity was, and every new discovery seemed to make its behaviour more and more mysterious. It seemed to have mass, and one of the most-popular theories _ot English electricians was that l mam was eleot~ro~ magnetic in its origin. It behaved in most cases like n liquid, yet n. liquid some of whose particles attracted, while others repelled, each other seemed inconceivable; and it was proved to be entirely exempt from the laws of gr-avitzition which gurern the behaviour of all other liquids. Nor did any of the new discoveries quite sqnaro with the hitherto observed lows ot electricnl phenomena. It has always been said that u gas cannot uct ns a cou- ductor ot electricity, yct the fact that th atmo- s here becomes a conductor under the intluence of tile electrons emitted by nidium proves the best test of in presence. again, sir wmnm nrmrsy'. emanntion, which eventually becomes positive and negative electricity, will remain for years _on the surface of metnls such as bismuth, and will then resist the efforts of liquids like concentrated sulphuric :wid to remove it. Moreover, many of these effects can he. imitated hy reactions in which the so-called radio-active metals have nothing to do. Au electric dischar e of high tension und frequency, such as M. Teslla, showed us how to pro- duce, will discharge an electrosonge as readily as radium. So will the rays emitte by s sheet of clenn metal on which the ultra-violet raysof the sun or of nn electric light fall. So will the gases emitted by the dame of a burning candle or a piece of red~hot metal; and so will the formation ot met lens h the decom ition of carbide of mlcinm or tile dissolution of sodiiism amalgam in water. And above all is the crowning mystery of the evolution of helium from the radiuin emnnaticn and its thins- formnticn into electricity. How uni a gas cons\st~ ing, like other gnses, oi atoms of known weight come into existence from a metallic mlt into whose composition this as does not enter ? And how can a gns disap r leaving nothing behind it but n substance wliliihsresents hardly any ot the proper- ties oi matter? l.n.inl is synthesis which can afford s reasonable explnnngon ot these incoherent and apparently contradictory facts is required xi physical science is to be saved from chaos. _ Such n synthesis has now been furnished hy M Gustave Ie Bon, whose justipuhhshed on “ L'Evolution do ln.Mntiére_" ( _ansz Flammarion) is a republication and smtphtlmtion et the separate studies and articles whic have appeared _over his signature during the last eight years, His theory is that matter, instead of bang, as it appears tp US' the most stable and reposeful ot all natural things, is, in fact, never at rest, but is always changing from one form to another. Once, he says. the worl was a nebula, consisting apparently entirely at ether, From causes which we cannot even guess nt, this ether became condensed into the atoms as known to modem chemistry, the energy thus stcredup that which is liberated when the atom is drssocint or split up as in the now familiar case oi radnim. But this process of dissociation, instead o!_beiuF rare and occasional, is alwsyls going on wrth_s l substances, and nlways with e mme rmulfv which is the production of an emanation like thntelroady made evident hy Sir- _ William Rnmrg, Prnt. Rulcheriord, and others in the case of_ mn and thorium. This emanation, though net itself electri- fied, transforms itself into what he ea.lls_t.l1e ionic Huid, which in tum gives rise first gmpositivo and negative ions, or almost infinitely l rlumcs of matter combined with cluuge ofmgositive and negative elcetncity, and their to de ed electrons or oorpnscles of negative eleetncity only, hnvuig no mamnal support, Those negative electrons, Ain which slone, according to hirn, the inertia varies with the speed at which they travel, are the cause ot ° Fmm the .4rh~mm»i.

5 ENGLISH MECHANIC AND WORLD or SCIENCE No mos -W" 1% 1905 those llertxinn wares which ure emtted whenever n dbhnrge tzkes place from an electzided int, und ....1,~~1m<-f from Mies of light in their if: gmier wm»e-lengtii. ram.1\,<,\\.¢ =-mm .\¢~,;nean» neun,-.un give rise vrhen stopped to the lhintgcn mye, which ure one ol the Inst stages nntter sinks hgh mhpehg edge hun wr ang' `n|ll mme: For this is the enil towards which ull ihnterinl things are tending. \\'hether they are reborn we cannot tell, until we know something of the muse which ttrst gum them birth; but mt matter is eve day taking one step the more on the mod to death li . Le Bon _has no doubt whatever. From matter to erunnntion, from emunntiou to electzieity, from electricity ta ether, are the stages of tmus~ formation wluch he has as yet -succeeded, in his opinion, in identifying. Yet he wams us that these are probably only n few ol those throuih which matter tlunl has to Already he thin s he um detect s di efrence tween the rays emitted by metals when exposed to di§erent putso! thesolar spectmm. Nor ure ull the nesntive electrons exactly alike. Their unequal aviation in a powerful magnetic field shows, aceoniing to hum that they are composed of divers elements, which, he suggests, muy he arranged on the suu-und- plmet system which other observers have na~ in-ibed to t.he utom. And st the other end of the scale then ure pmhahly many intermediate stages, of which we us yet heve no knowledge. All the ehenxical element: nre probably fanned, ns Prnut thought, (mm one element, and crystals muly he the intermediary form between "brute" sn living matter. The theory that electrons ure, in fact, centres of vortiml sh-sin in the ether he looks on with favour; but ns we do not know how these vortices mme first tu be formed, it does not ndvuico us murh. Further discussion of BI. Le Bon‘s theory the Athrmemn leaves for unother urticln; but it may he said that full details of t.he experiments by whic \ he seeks to prove it are given in his hook, while the care which he hn-s bestowed upon his ro- eesrches urinimsny yenrs mnke it impomihle that it should be tl regarded. And if the views now put forward ty emerqe triumphant from the controversies st they wi I doubt m arouse, we fancy that his reseumhcs will be considelod as im- ponnnt for the twentieth century as those o1Dru-win were lar the nineteenth.

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