Le Bon Gustave - The evolution of forces


Author : Le Bon Gustave
Title : The evolution of forces
Year : 1908

Link download : Le_Bon_Gustave_-_The_evolution_of_forces.zip

In the following pages, Dr. Gustave Le Bon develops further the strikingly novel and original theories put forward by him in L'Involution de la Matiirc} As in the last-named work, he enunciated the doctrine, which he was the first to deduce, that all matter is continually in a state of dissociation and decay, so in this he goes in detail into the corollary, there only briefly stated, that the atom is a great reservoir of energy, and itself the source of most of the forces of the universe. In support of this position, he calls in the aid of his earlier researches into the nature of invisible radiations, phosphorescence, and the Hertzian waves, all which, with several related phenomena, he declares to be explicable by the hypothesis that the atom, on dissociating, sets free, either wholly or in part, the energy stored up within it on its formation. Yet he is careful to declare that this is rather suggested than demonstrated by his researches, and that the conclusive proof of the vahdity of his assertion must be delayed for the result of further experiments by himself or others. In the meantime, it is :well to notice that both Dr. Le Bon's original thesis and its corollary have received approval from an unexpected quarter. Every new scientific theory, if sufiBciently farreaching, is received with disapproval by those brought up on the ideas it would supplant, and Dr. Le Bon's assertion of the universal dissociation" of matter formed no exception to this rule. In France, as he reminds us in L'involution cle la Matidre, his first discovery of the phenomena which he classed together under the odd name of " Black Light," aroused a perfect storm of obloquy which has long since died away. In England, whither his theories penetrated only after they had been in great part accepted by the scientific world, this was not the case ; but two members of the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge took upon themselves, upon the appearance of L'J^volution cle la Matiere, to assail its teaching as well as its novelty with more virulence than force.^ It is therefore pleasing to find Mr. P. D. Innes, himself a member of the Cavendish Laboratory, writing, with the apparent approval of its Director, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, with regard to radio-active phenomena, that " the only theory which can satisfactorily account for the phenomena observed is that of atomic disintegration, a process that is apparently going on in several, if not in all, of the elements " ; and further (p. 443), " that there is a great store of energy in the atom seems now beyond question, and if this reservoir could only become available, all our present conditions might be completely revolutionised." This is exactly—as any one can see for himself —the position taken up by Dr. Le Bon in L'Evolution de la Mature, and further defined and emphasized by him in the present work. There seems therefore good reason to suppose that Dr. Le Bon's later theories, as well as his earlier ones, are now widely accepted by men of science, and that before long this acceptance will be extended to all points of his doctrine. It should be added that the present work was written expressly for the International Scientific Series, and was intended to appear simultaneously in England and France. Difficulties connected witli the reproduction of the illustrations have caused the appearance of this version to lag some months behind the French, of which eight editions of 1000 copies apiece have been rapidly exhausted. The delay has not been useless, as it has enabled me to add a few corrections and notes, together with indexes, which are wanting in the French editions. F. LEGGE. Royal Institution of Gekat Bbitain, February, 1908. ...

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