Atoms

Abstract

ALTHOUGH lam not an “eminent” authority, perhaps you will excuse my troubling you with the following extract from a paper read by me before the Philosophical Society of Glasgow in November, 1875, a copy of which paper I posted to the Editor of NATURE:—“I have long been of opinion that the most probable hypothesis of the origin of atoms is that there is only one kind of matter—ether or its constituents—and that atoms are merely congeries of units of ether circling at enormous speeds round each other, differently grouped, in different numbers, at different velocities, and at different distances, even as the different members of our sun systems. … The numbers of units in each similar atom need not be always the same; a few dozens more or less will not be appreciable by us. On the other hand, if a so-called element show a plurality of spectroscopic lines or hues, I do not think it at all doubtful that there is a plurality of units moving to produce these, since they thus show effects of different modes of moving of bodies; all our different states of sensual consciousness of colours are necessarily dependent on differences in the modes of moving of the agents that excite in us such plurality of lines and hues. As the motions of atoms, or rather of groups of atoms, excite in us sensations of sound, so the motions of units, or rather of groups of units, excite in us sensations of colour, and of course the lower-pitched movements of dark heat. Then again, we may hold that the more lines that persist in a spark or a sun, the less easily reducible are the portions of the elements showing them, as far as these lines' constituents are concerned—the lines being still undissociated material.” (Proc. Phil. Soc. of Glas., vol. x. p. 61.)

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MUIRHEAD, H. Atoms. Nature 24, 459 (1881). https://doi.org/10.1038/024459d0

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