« ZurückWeiter »
ITS DIFFERENT MODES OF ACTION.
In Chemistry we find only circles or centres of force —the ultimate atoms, which this force is supposed to surround, are an uncalled for and altogether unnecessary invention. When I speak of body therefore or substance, I mean these circles of force in a more or less intense or condensed condition. The way in which force acts depends upon its relation to these bodies, or what have been called “potential energies”; going in at one end of a row of billiard balls it comes out at the other, 'with little or no change even in quantity, but it varies according to the complexity of the substance or organization through which it passes, that is, to the relation it bears to previously arranged forces. But when we speak of either matter or force we speak only of the external cause of our sensations and ideas, and these tell us nothing of the real nature or essence of either; why not then continue to use the term matter as heretofore? We answer because the more general term force may include and does really include both what has hitherto been called Matter and Spirit also. We are told that “Force · viewed separately from matter is nothing." I think it more correct to say that matter viewed separately from force is nothing, because we know that force passes into or changes into mind, as heat into light, and we thus include both sides of creation—Matter and Spirit. Force, in its different modes of action as Light, Heat, Electricity, Galvanism, Chemical Affinity, Attraction and Repulsion, is sufficient to produce half the phenomena around us. Life and Mind, which are correlates of Force, or other modes of its action, are sufficient to produce the other half. There is but One simple, primordial, absolute Force, with varying relations and conditions. The modes of Force or Effects now in existence are neither more nor less than such as have previously existed, changed only in form. They have not merely acted upon each other,
BUT HAVE CHANGED INTO EACH OTHER.
according to the common supposition with respect to matter,
This will be found to be a very important distinction. Each change is a new creation of something which in that form or mode has never existed before a new life, and as it passes into another form or mode, a new death “ nothing repeats itself, because nothing can be placed again in the same condition: the past is irrevocable.” * And may we not add irrecoverable.
Motion or change is constantly producing new relations and conditions. We cannot speak of motion as existing by itself, as it is merely a mode of action of Force, and Force therefore cannot be separated from it, but must always attend it; the same may be said of all the Imponderables, which are mere modes of action, or Force in motion. It is in this way, probably, that Force itself escapes us, because it is only with its modes or motions that we have to do: for we know nothing of Force in itself, we know it only by its effects, and when we say therefore that something takes place by the force of attraction, repulsion, electrical or chemical affinity, &c., we only mean that a certain group of phenomena occur in a certain order, and that they occur uniformly and invariably in that order.
Cause and Effect are mere correlation of Force, produced by organization or the manner in which forces are concentrated and arranged.
Mr. Grove says, “I use the term force in reference to them (the affections of matter), as meaning the active principle inseparable from matter which is supposed to induce its various changes," + But as "the various changes” are the only things known to us, why assume that they are inseparable from matter, or that there is any matter at all ?
* Correlation of Physical Forces, p. 22, by W. R. Grove.
+ Ibid, p. 16.
Again, Professor Tyndall says,
• We know no more of the origin of force than of the origin of matter; where matter is, force is, for we only know matter through its forces.” *
Is it not better then to dispense with matter altogether? For if all action, change, or motion, is owing to force, and it is impossible to conceive of force without antecedent force, what then becomes of matter? This doctrine of the Persistence of Force seems to me, not only to make matter altogether unnecessary, but to exclude even the very idea. I shall use its nomenclature therefore only as signs indicating Force.
Professor John Tyndall says in the eloquent peroration to his work on Heat: “ The discoveries and generalizations of modern science constitute a poem more sublime than has ever yet been addressed to the imagination. The natural philosopher of to-day may dwell amid conceptions which beggar those of Milton. So great and grand are they, that in the contemplation of them a certain force of character is requisite to preserve us from bewilderment. Look at the integrated energies of our world—the stored power of our coal-fields, our winds and rivers, our fleets, armies, and guns. What are they? They are all generated by a portion of the sun's energy, which does not amount to one thousand three hundred millionth part of the whole. This is the entire fraction of the sun's force intercepted by the Earth, and we convert but a small fraction of this fraction into mechanical energy. Multiplying all our powers by millions of millions, we do not reach the sun's expenditure. And still, notwithstanding this enormous drain, in the lapse of human history we are unable to detect a diminution of his store. Measured by our largest terrestrial standards, such a reservoir of power is infinite; but it is our privilege to rise above these standards, and to regard
* The Constitution of the Universe. — Fortnightly Review.
the sun himself as a speck in infinite extension, a mere drop in the universal sea. We analyze the space in which he is immersed, and which is the vehicle of his power. to other systems and other suns, each pouring forth energy like our own, but still without infringements of the law, which reveals immutability in the midst of change, which recognizes incessant transference, conversion, but neither final gain nor loss. This law generalizes the aphorism of Solomon, that there is nothing new under the sun, by teaching us to detect everywhere, under its infinite variety of appearances, the same primeval force. To nature nothing can be added; from nature nothing can be taken away; the sum of her energies is constant, and the utmost man can do in the pursuit of physical truth, or in the application of physical knowledge, is to shift the constituents of the never-varying total. The law of conservation rigidly excludes both creation and annihilation. Waves may change to ripples, and ripples to waves
- magnitude may be substituted for number, and number for magnitude -- asteroids may aggregate to suns, suns may resolve themselves into flora, and fauna, and flora and fauna melt in air— the flux of power is eternally the same, it rolls in music through the ages, and all terrestrial energy - the manifestations of life as well as the display of pheno
-are but modulations."
FORCE; ITS MENTAL CORRELATES.
It is probable that at the origin of our globe, the concentration of force previously diffused in the form of socalled nebulous matter, produced an amount of heat which gradually took the shapes we have now around us. Certain forces were chemically united, as in our primary rocks, others were divorced, as the oxygen from the carbon in the coal. By bringing the carbon and the oxygen in our atmosphere together again we have the same amount of force, in the shape of heat, which it originally took to separate them. It takes an immense amount of force to separate magnesia into oxygen and magnesium, and their reunion is proportionately intense, as is now so beautifully and easily illustrated in the burning of magnesium wire. It is by the action of these forces that most of the changes we see around us are still produced.
The force derived from the union of oxygen with the coal annually dug from the British mines is calculated to be equal to that of the whole human race. The light and heat of the sun's rays separated the carbon and oxygen in plants and vegetables, and an immense amount of force is generated whenever the carbon and oxygen again meet, whether it be in the fire-place, or, more amicably and less energetically, in the animal body. Thus Dr. Neil Arnott says:-" James Watt, when devising his great engine, knew well that the rapid combination of the oxygen of