Quantity of Matter in the Universe

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    IN the discussions taking place at the present time on the structure of the universe, the amount of matter distributed throughout the whole of space is determined by calculating the total mass of existing protons and electrons. In all the celestial bodies revealed by the means of observation yet available, the whole number of these corpuscles is found to be 1079. All other hypotheses must, therefore, be based on this figure and on the dimensions of the radius of the universe. In a note by Prof. Gianfranceschi, broadcast from the Vatican on Nov. 26, it was pointed out that limitation of the consideration of this question to that of the matter constituting the corpuscles is scarcely justifiable. Protons and electrons represent a special, but not the original, form of matter. They exert forces of attraction and repulsion originating in their character as electrified corpuscles and in their masses, that is, in measurable magnitudes. The possibility of the transformation and formation of the corpuscles must, however, be assumed. In considering such changes, not merely the energy variations but also the inertia must be taken into account, and any theory of the universe which may be formulated, whether static or dynamic, should be based on these active and passive principles jointly. The curvature of space is not produced solely either by the visible masses, which must be regarded as singular points of space, or by the energy transported in the form of photons, which in their turn can constitute only lines of singularity, but it must exist in a kind of background or support, filling the universe and composing real physical space. Thus it becomes necessary to be able to express the contribution of this real space, with its twofold element of energy and primordial inertia, to the geometrical scheme of the universe.

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    Quantity of Matter in the Universe. Nature 129, 19–20 (1932) doi:10.1038/129019d0

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