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Nowhere in the realm of infinite s.p.a.ce is there such a phenomenon as rest or absolute death. The ideal that seems to be the key of the Universe, is that continuity of motion which science teaches us is so inseparably connected with all matter. Grouped, however, here and there throughout the Universe are modifications of this aetherial matter, termed molecules, satellites, planets, suns, or stars, which modifications are, however, not so real and abiding as the electro-magnetic Aether from which they receive their physical origin.
The physical character of the universe is progressive. Even in its ultimate unity there is no such thing as stagnation or standing still; for, while in some parts of the Universe new stars and suns and planets, yea, even new systems are being evolved out of the primordial Aether, in other parts of the Universe old stars and suns, with all their attendant planets and satellites, are pa.s.sing on towards that final end, when they themselves will be again resolved into the original form of matter from which they were first made. This a.s.sertion is in perfect harmony not only with science, but also with revelation. For even revelation teaches us that all the stars shall grow old as doth a garment, and as a vesture shall they be folded up (Heb. i. 11), and that (out of their ruins) a new heaven and a new earth shall be created and the former shall not be remembered (Isaiah lxv. 17).
Thus amid all the modifications of that which is the real physical basis of all matter, we find indissolubly a.s.sociated with each and all of the varied forms and modifications certain motions which are a.n.a.logous to each other. In the aetherial atom itself, so infinitesimal in its proportions that even our imagination is almost strained in our attempt to conceive it, yet even here we have rotation and translation in an orbit, such rotation and translation being due to the motions of the electro-magnetic Aether. Then in the gaseous forms of matter into which these atoms may be condensed, we find the same two essentials, of matter and motion, of rotation and translation in an orbit, always working harmoniously together, through the motions of the selfsame Aether, which gives rise to the attraction and repulsions of the atoms.
Then following the principle into the planetary world, and taking the planet Saturn with its ring of satellites as an example, we find again the same two factors ever working in unison and in harmony, with their incessant rotation and translation in an orbit, forming a complete and perfect unity in themselves, such unity being due to the pressures and tensions of the Aether combined with its rotatory character. Then going a step further, we find a number of planets, with or without satellites, all rotating around one central body, that rotation and translation again being due to the motions of the rotating electro-magnetic Aether, combined with its pressures and tensions.
For millions of years, so far as we can tell, this solar system of ours has been moving through s.p.a.ce as one complete unit.
Then out in stellar s.p.a.ce there are millions of such systems, each distinct and perfect in themselves, each of which is made up of exactly similar parts to our solar system, these innumerable systems being doubtless joined together by the same electro-magnetic Aether, forming one larger and grander unity, known as a constellation. Then these constellations, increasing in their number, are again joined together, and form a still larger unity called a Galaxy; and galaxy being joined to galaxy, constellations to constellations, we get such an ocean of suns and stars like that known as the Milky Way, the ultimate whole revealing in all its beauty and harmony the unison of the two essentials of matter and motion. It may even be that all the oceans of suns and stars, that exist in far-off s.p.a.ce, are joined together by one common bond, the universal electro-magnetic Aether by its two complementary motions, the centripetal and the centrifugal, the whole forming one ultimate unity which we call the Universe, having for its centre one common point or central orb, which indeed forms the centre of gravity of the entire Universe.
Thus the key to the physical conception of the Universe is to be found, and alone found, in that beauty of order, and harmony of motion, which are so inseparably a.s.sociated with the varied forms of matter, graduating through a series of units or atoms, each with its dual nature complete in itself, through a series of minor ent.i.ties termed elements, which in their aggregations form meteorites, satellites, planets, suns and stars, and systems of stars and oceans of suns and stars, until all are united into one ultimate unity where all are blended into one complete and perfect whole; the whole of the universal fabric being held together in its mechanical order and beauty by the electro-magnetic Aether. Then in the very centre of the Universe there dwells that Supreme Being whom we call G.o.d, who is at once the one real fountain and source of all the light and life of the Universe itself. For it is His universal Spirit that moulds and fashions the plastic matter into the many forms which it a.s.sumes, and uses the various modes of motion, as heat, light, electricity and magnetism, as instruments to build up and erect in all their beauty and harmony the innumerable systems that flood immensity and s.p.a.ce.
For if there be a centre of gravity to an atomic system, and a centre of gravity to a planetary system, and a centre of gravity to a solar system, then there is also a centre of gravity to a group of systems, even to a constellation, or a galaxy; otherwise our philosophy relative to the centres of gravity of ma.s.ses fails in its application to wider phenomena of an exactly similar kind.
Thus, if there is a centre of gravity to a galaxy, even to the Milky Way itself, then, going one step further, with a faith that laughs at scientific data and leaps beyond the narrow bounds of pure reasoning, we affirm that there must even be a centre of gravity to the entire Universe. Now let me ask the reader, What can be more fitting, more appropriate, more reasonable than to infer that the centre of gravity of the Universe is to be found in that celestial orb or orbs where the throne of G.o.d exists and endures, and where ultimately there will be congregated together in perfect felicity the spirits of just men made perfect, not only from our insignificant planet, but all the spirits of all beings from all the planets which in their almost infinite number are circled round their central suns by the electro-magnetic Aether? It is there, in these bright orbs, with their vision and powers spiritualized, quickened and intensified, that all perfected spirits shall look out into s.p.a.ce, with increasing wonder, upon the birth and decay of worlds, the evolution and devolution of planets and systems and constellations, and shall watch the continuation and working out of that grand and glorious plan, which alone finds its perfection and its ultimate fulfilment in the wisdom, and power, and glory of the Eternal Spirit of the Living G.o.d.
To see if this conception of the Universe is borne out by scientific data, we will now address ourselves more particularly to those fundamental truths which underlie the unity of the Universe.
ART. 124. _The Unity of the Universe._--The Unity of the Universe is a dream which has pa.s.sed before the imagination of many philosophers in by-gone times, and has been a fruitful source of speculation to old-world, as well as more modern philosophers. The researches of such living scientists as Sir William Crookes, Professor J. J. Thomson and others, have, however, made this dream come within the range of practical research and direct experiment. Professor J. J. Thomson believes that it is possible to break off from an atom, a part which is only 1/1000 part of the whole, and these infinitesimal parts he has called corpuscles, which he considers are the carriers of the electric current.
If, therefore, it can be philosophically proved that the hypothesis of an atomic, gravitating, and condensing Aether can satisfactorily account for the physical existence of all atoms, and therefore of all matter, the dream of old-world philosophers will be helped on its way to a successful realization.
We have already suggested, that nebulae are formed out of the condensation of the electro-magnetic Aether that fills the Universe; and as that nebula, according to the Nebular Hypothesis, ultimately resolves itself into a sun, or planet, or satellite, as the case may be, it follows that the condensation of this electro-magnetic Aether forms the basis of all the various elements, as Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen and the other seventy elements of which those bodies are composed. Thus the conclusion that we are compelled to come to in regard to the ultimate nature of matter, in its primordial condition, is, that all matter which exists in its varied forms throughout the entire Universe finds its physical origin and source in the universal electro-magnetic Aether, which is itself atomic, and possesses all the essential properties of matter.
With the conception of the Aether as advanced in this work, this hypothesis is perfectly philosophical and logical. For the conception is simple, in that it supposes one form of matter to spring out of another form, that is, from an aetherial form to gaseous, in a similar manner to that in which a gaseous form changes into a liquid form, that is, by condensation, or a closer drawing together of the aetherial elastic envelopes that surround each atom; each particular gas, as Hydrogen, Nitrogen, or Oxygen, representing different quant.i.ties of aetherial condensations, as will be seen in the next article.
The aetherial const.i.tution of matter has received recognition from the hands of such scientists as Lord Kelvin and Dr. Larmor. The latter, in his _Aether and Matter_, writes on the subject as follows (page 7): "Matter must be const.i.tuted of isolated portions, each of which is of necessity a permanent nucleus or singularity in and belonging to the Aether, of some such type as is represented for example by a minute vortex ring in a perfect fluid, or a centre of permanent strain in a rotational elastic medium." And again on the same page he adds: "It is inc.u.mbent on us to recognize an aetherial substratum of matter, in so far as this proves conducive to simplicity and logical consistency in our scheme of physical relations, and helpful towards the discovery of hitherto unnoticed ones."
Dr. Larmor, as has already been pointed out in Art. 44, speaks of his aetherial atoms as electrons, which are of two kinds, negative and positive, and of these he states (page 97): "Each electron has an effective ma.s.s of aetherial origin, which forms part, and may be the whole of the ma.s.s of the matter to which it is attached."
Here, then, we have definite statements as to the hypothesis of all matter having a definite aetherial origin. If, therefore, it can be proved experimentally that matter does possess this aetherial basis, then the hypothesis will pa.s.s out of the region of speculation into the region of fact and science.
The question, therefore, suggests itself to our mind, as to whether among all the experiments that have ever been performed by any scientist, there are any which will conclusively confirm and establish the hypothesis as to the aetherial origin of all matter. In my opinion there are such experiments, which have been given to the world by such eminent scientists as Faraday and Sir Humphry Davy. Before, however, the value of their experiments can be rightly understood and valued, we shall have to ask ourselves another question, and that is, "What is the relation of Aether to electricity?" Upon the correct answer to this question depends the application of Faraday's experiments to the hypothesis of the aetherial const.i.tution of all matter, and therefore of the great underlying principle of the unity of the Universe.
Is there any relation therefore between Aether and electricity? If so, what is that relation, and to what extent does it hold good? Professor Lodge, in his preface to _Modern Views of Electricity_, asks a similar question. "Electricity," he states, "has been thought to be a form of energy, it has been shown to be a form of Aether. There remains the question, What is Aether?"
While again he writes: "A rough and crude statement adopted for popular use is that electricity and Aether are identical. But that is not all that has to be said, for there are two opposite kinds of electricities, and there are not two Aethers. But there may be two aspects of one Aether, just as there are two sides to a sheet of paper."
That there is a definite relation between Aether and electricity is as certain as there is a definite relation between electricity and light.
In order to find out how far the relationship and ident.i.ty between Aether and electricity extend we will review our conception of the Aether as given in Chapter IV. According to the conception advanced in that chapter, on the hypothesis that Aether was matter, we philosophically came to the conclusion that Aether was atomic, and therefore gravitative. Because it was gravitative, it possessed density, and varying degrees of density; and having ma.s.s, it possesses the property of inertia the same as any other matter; and was also elastic.
We have now to add to these properties that of compressibility, which property we have ascribed to it from philosophical considerations when dealing with comets, and nebulae, and the origin of planets and satellites. Now, if there is any ident.i.ty between Aether and electricity, then it follows that that ident.i.ty will be more or less manifested, as we find electricity possessing more or less of the properties which have been ascribed to the electro-magnetic Aether. For, if we find two apparently different substances, or ent.i.ties, possessing exactly the same properties, and occupying the same s.p.a.ce at one and the same time, then the only logical conclusion that we can come to is, that these two apparently different substances are not two substances, but one.
We have already proved that they both occupy exactly the same s.p.a.ce, that is, they occupy the planetary and interstellar regions of s.p.a.ce, and fill indeed the entire Universe. The electro-magnetic theory of Light (Art. 78) indisputably proves this. We will therefore find out if electricity possesses the properties which have already been ascribed to the Aether. The first property, and indeed the fundamental property, of Aether is that it is atomic, and upon the atomicity of the medium depends the whole of the theory as worked out in relation to heat, light, electricity and so-called gravitational phenomena. Is there anything about electricity that can suggest the hypothesis that electricity is atomic? The answer is unquestionably in the affirmative.
Many of the greatest scientists of the past and present century have believed and worked at the hypothesis of the atomic character of electricity, and none more so than Dr. Larmor in his _Aether and Matter_ and Professor J. J. Thomson.
Now what is Dr. Larmor's opinion as to the atomicity of electricity?
These are some of his statements quoted in the work. In the very first words of his preface he writes: "The following essay was originally undertaken mainly as a contribution towards the development of the standpoint which considers electricity, as well as the matter, to be const.i.tuted on an atomic basis." He continues: "Since Faraday's work on Electrolysis, the notion of the atomic const.i.tution of electrification in its electro-chemical aspect has never been entirely absent." While later on he adds: "Thus, for example, the present view of the atomic character of electricity, which is at length coming within the scope of direct experiment, has been in evidence with gradually increasing precision ever since theoretical formulations were attempted on the subject."
We are, however, possibly indebted to Professor J. J. Thomson for the most direct experimental evidence as to the atomic nature of electricity, for, as is well known to scientists, he has discovered what he termed corpuscles, in a.s.sociation with electricity, which he makes the carriers of the charges involved in electrical phenomena.
Here, then, we have one proof of the ident.i.ty that exists between Aether and electricity, in that while they both fill the same s.p.a.ce, they are both equally atomic; Dr. Larmor's ultimate atom, as we have already seen, being known as positive and negative electrons. Aether, we also learned, was gravitative (Art. 45), but we have since learned that gravitation is itself an electrical phenomenon, in that both the centripetal and centrifugal forces are due to the repulsions and attractions or pressure and tension of this electro-magnetic Aether.
So that when we affirm that Aether is gravitative, we do but affirm it is subject to the laws of electricity, which govern all electrical phenomena, and therefore we might just as truly affirm that electricity is gravitative, because such an affirmation is simply another way of saying that electricity gives rise to the attractions and repulsions incidental to, and a.s.sociated with, all electrical phenomena. Here, again, we have further evidence of the ident.i.ty that exists between Aether and electricity.
Then we learned that Aether possessed density, and also different degrees of density, and the question arises as to whether there is anything corresponding to this property in electricity. As a matter of fact, this very property of density is itself recognized and known to all scientists by the term Electric Density, the electric density being always proportionate to the charge of electricity on a given area.
We learned also in Art. 79 that aetherial density and electrical density were identical in relation to solar and planetary s.p.a.ce; so that, wherever there was the denser Aether, there was also the denser electricity, the density of the one increasing or decreasing exactly in the same ratio as the other increased or decreased. From aetherial and electrical density, therefore, we have another proof of the close ident.i.ty that exists between Aether and electricity.
Again, we learned (Art. 48) that Aether possessed inertia. Here at least, it may be thought, we shall find the first point of difference between the two ent.i.ties. Surely such an intangible, aetherial manifestation as electricity cannot possess inertia. Let us see what Professor Lodge has to say on the subject. In the chapter on electrical inertia he writes (p. 89, par. 365 of _Modern Views of Electricity_): "A current does not start instantaneously: it takes a certain time, often very short, to rise to its full strength; and when started it tends to persist, so that if its circuit be suddenly broken, it refuses to stop quite suddenly, and bursts through the introduced insulating part.i.tion with violence and heat. It is this ram or impetus of the electric current which causes the spark seen on breaking a circuit; and the more sudden the breakage, the more violent is the spark apt to be. We shall understand them better directly; meanwhile they appear to be direct consequences of the inertia of electricity; and certainly if electricity were a fluid possessing inertia it would behave to a superficial observer just in this way."
From these statements we learn then that electricity does possess inertia, although there are other phenomena of electricity that would destroy the hypothesis. But undoubtedly an electric current possesses momentum, and it is philosophically impossible to a.s.sociate momentum with any body that does not possess inertia, as one of the factors of momentum implies ma.s.s, even though it be a ma.s.s of an infinitesimal form, and ma.s.s is the very essence of the property of inertia (Art. 40).
Dr. Larmor, in the work already referred to, dealing with the subject of electric inertia, explains that it is concentrated at the nucleus of the electron (p. 230), while on p. 202 he states: "Each electron as it is moved by the aetherial displacement belonging to the radiation, resists with its own definite inertia."
Apart from this evidence, the philosophical evidence already adduced in Chapter X. is altogether in favour of the fact that electricity possesses inertia. So that we may say that, though the evidence as to the ident.i.ty of electrical and aetherial inertia is not fully complete, the balance of opinion lies in favour of the ident.i.ty rather than otherwise. See _Appendix A_.
It can further be demonstrated that electricity possesses elasticity the same as the Aether does. The charge and discharge of a Leyden jar are conclusive evidence of the elasticity a.s.sociated with electrical phenomena, while further proof is to be found in the fact that Dr.
Larmor attributes elasticity to his electrons, such elasticity being of a rotational type.
The ident.i.ty, therefore, that exists between Aether is now almost complete. We have now only to prove that both are compressible, and the ident.i.ty is fully established. This will be done by reference to certain of Faraday's experiments before the conclusion of this article. As we have established, logically, the ident.i.ty that exists between Aether and electricity, the question arises now as to whether they are not one and the same medium. If they are not one and the same medium, then we are in the distinctly unphilosophical position of having to admit that all interplanetary and interstellar s.p.a.ce are filled at one and the same time by two different media, and such an a.s.sumption is directly opposed to all observation and experience.
Therefore, to be strictly philosophical, one of these media must be done away with, and we may either a.s.sert that interplanetary and interstellar s.p.a.ce is filled with electricity, or else it is filled with Aether, as it is much simpler to conceive of s.p.a.ce being filled with one medium, than it is to suppose it to be filled with two media, which are absolutely identical in all their characteristic properties and functions. Both can give rise to exactly the same kind of phenomena, whether they are the phenomena of heat, light, electricity, or magnetism, and even gravitation itself. So that, if Science wishes to be distinctly philosophical in her statements in future, it will be necessary, it seems to me, to do away either with the Aether, or with the electricity, and as the latter is the better known ent.i.ty, I am of the opinion that Science will retain the electric conception of s.p.a.ce and matter, and do away with the aetherial, as being altogether unnecessary. See _Appendix B_.
Thus are we led to the conclusion that electricity is itself a form of matter, as indeed it must be if it is atomic, as suggested by Dr. Larmor and Professor Thomson.
Professor Lodge, on p. 9 of the work already referred to, states: "Electricity in this respect behaves just like a substance;" and again, p. 313, he writes: "We cannot a.s.sert that it is a form of matter, neither can we deny it; on the other hand, we certainly cannot a.s.sert that it is a form of energy, and I should be disposed to deny it. It may be that electricity is an _ent.i.ty per se, just as matter is an ent.i.ty per se_."
Whether electricity be a form of matter or not, as I believe it undoubtedly is, we have arrived at the fact, in view of the ident.i.ty between Aether and electricity, that, wherever the one is present, the other is present also. So that if it can be demonstrated by direct experiment that matter can be changed into its equivalent quant.i.ties of electricities, or that equivalent quant.i.ties of electricities could produce their equivalent forms of matter, then the electrical basis of matter, and consequently the aetherial basis of matter, are proved beyond contradiction, and we are thus led one step nearer to the ultimate unity of the Universe, which unity is to be found in the universal electro-magnetic Aether, which is identical with universal electricity. For if Aether be the basis of all modes of motion, as heat, light, and gravitation, and it is identical with electricity, it follows that electricity is equally the basis of all the varied phenomena, and if to that we add the const.i.tution of matter itself, then we are within sight of the medium in which the ultimate unity of the Universe is to be found.
This view of the subject has already been dealt with by a German scientist, Professor Vogt, in his book on _The Nature of Electricity and Magnetism_, a book, however, which is not translated into English. In that work I believe he shows the possibility of all matter having its origin in electricity; and if that be so, then that theory is really identical with an aetherial basis of matter, seeing that Aether and electricity philosophically seem to be one and the same medium. Let us therefore turn to Faraday's experiments, and see what they teach us on the subject of the electrical basis of matter, and therefore the aetherial basis at the same time.
In paragraph 852 of his _Experimental Researches_ Faraday writes: "The theory of definite electro-chemical action appears to me to touch upon the absolute quant.i.ty of electricity, or electrical power, belonging to different bodies. Although we know nothing of what an atom is, yet we cannot resist forming some idea of a small particle which represents it to our mind, and though we cannot say what electricity is, so as to be able to say whether it is a particular _matter or matters_, or mere motion of ordinary matter, yet there is immensity of facts which justify us in believing that the atoms of matter are in some way endowed or a.s.sociated with electrical powers to which they owe their most striking qualities, and amongst them their chemical affinity. As soon as we perceive, through the teaching of Dalton, that chemical powers are (however varied the circ.u.mstances in which they are exerted) definite for each body, we learn to estimate the relative degree of Force which resides in such bodies; and when upon that knowledge comes the fact that electricity, which we appear to be capable of loosening from its habitation for a while, or conveying from place to place, whilst it retains its chemical Force, can be measured out, and being so measured, is found to be as definite in its action as any of those portions which, remaining a.s.sociated with the particles of matter, give them their chemical relation, we seem to have found a link which connects the proportion of that belonging to the particles in their natural state."
Then in paragraph 855 he writes as follows: "It seems a probable and almost a natural consequence, that the quant.i.ty which pa.s.ses is the equivalent of, and therefore equal to, that of the particles separated, _i. e._ that if the electrical power which holds the elements of a grain of water in combination (or which makes a grain of oxygen and hydrogen, in the right proportions, unite into water when they are made to combine) could be thrown into the condition of a current, it would exactly equal the current required for the separation of that grain of water into its elements again."
Further, in Art. 857, he states, "I can have no doubt that, a.s.suming hydrogen as 1, and dismissing small fractions for the simplicity of expression, the equivalent number or atomic weight of oxygen is 8, of chlorine 36, of bromine 78.4, of lead 103.5, of tin 59, etc., notwithstanding that a very high authority doubles several of these numbers." Then, writing upon the definite relationship of electro-chemical equivalents, he states, Art. 835: "Electro-chemical equivalents are always consistent; _i. e._ the same number which represents the equivalent of a substance _A_, when it is separating from a substance _B_, will also represent _A_ when separating from a third substance _C_. Thus 8 is the electro-chemical equivalent of oxygen, whether separating from hydrogen or tin or lead; and 103.5 is the electro-chemical equivalent of lead, whether separating from oxygen or chlorine or iodine."
So that from Faraday's experiments we learn definitely that the electro-chemical equivalents coincide with and agree with the ordinary chemical equivalents according to Dalton's theory. From these experimental results of Faraday's we therefore learn that Faraday was of the opinion that each atom had a definite and certain quant.i.ty of electricity a.s.sociated with it; and if this be true, then, in view of the ident.i.ty of Aether with electricity, it follows that each atom must have definite and certain quant.i.ties of Aether a.s.sociated with each atom. So that through Faraday's experimental researches we are again led to the hypothesis enunciated by Lord Kelvin in his paper "On the Cl.u.s.tering of Gravitational Matter in any part of the Universe," viz.
that all matter has an aetherial, that is, an electrical basis, and that it is by the condensation of this electricity, and combinations of the condensational particles, that all the various elements are formed which compose the infinite variety of forms that const.i.tute the entire Universe. Here, then, it seems to me, we have the evidence which gives to the aetherial Nebular Hypothesis (Art. 121) that experimental evidence which places that hypothesis upon a firm and philosophical foundation, and conclusively proves that it is possible for Aether out in the colder regions of interstellar s.p.a.ce to be condensed into ma.s.ses of gaseous matter, which form nebulae, and other ma.s.ses in the cold regions of interplanetary s.p.a.ce to condense and form comets and meteors.
[Footnote 45: _Aether and Matter._]
ART. 125. _Physical Const.i.tution of Matter._--In Art. 31 we learned that all matter was made up of minute parts called atoms. When these atoms enter into combination with each other, they form the smallest particles of elementary substances as well as compound bodies, these particles or bodies being termed molecules.