Electric Theory of Matter
BY SIR OLIVER LODGE, F.R.S.
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of as now only recognizing the transmutation of some
pre-existing complex atoms into simpler atoms. The
evolution of matter was glimpsed as a brilliant dream by
Sir W. Crookes, when he presided over the Chemical
Section of the British Association in Birmingham in
1886: he may Yet live to see his dream come true.
The family relationship between the atomic weights of
the elements, described by Mendelejeff and others, paved
the way for and suggested the vision: scientific.
progress ever Since has brought it nearly to
realization; and the splendid mathematical theories of
J. J. Thomson and Larmor, concerning the properties and
powers of electric charges, have now rendered possible a
far greater precision of imagination than was then
possible, and have engendered the conception of an atom
of matter composed wholly of electricity:---which thus
steps on to the stage as the fundamental and really
The Physical basis of life still eludes us; and until we
are willing to look outside our material environment
into another order of things, the full truth concerning
life and mind will I believe continue to be
unrecognizable. But let us always remember that both
life and mind have a physical basis, a complete material
aspect: it may be possible for the mechanism of this
aspect to be dragged to the light of day and displayed,
perhaps as clearly and definitely as we hope before long
to be able to display the constitution of matter itself.
Let not the reader of this article assume that it
represents more than the gropings of a searcher after
knowledge, illuminated by the light of his brethren,
trained quickly to seize and understand, and trying to
act as an instructed guide or interpreter amid the haze;
though he recognizes, and would have others recognize,
that the haze has not yet lifted, and that accordingly
his statements must be understood as nothing more than
an approximation to the truth.
A FEW SALIENT DATES
- Crookes, Cathode Rays 1879
- Roentgen, X-rays 1895
- Becquerel, Radioactivity 1896
- Madame Curie, Radium 1898
- Curie, Heat-production 1903
- Larmor, Electrons 1895
- JT. J. Thomson, Electrons 1899
- Rutherford, Disintegration 1903