1908 - The Ether (Aether) of Space
and auxiliary files
by Lord Rayleigh and Sir Oliver Lodge
courtesy of Bruce L. Rosenberg
Friday, February 21, 1908
THE RIGHT HON. LORD RAYLEIGH,
O.M. P.C. M.A. D.C.L. LL.D. Sc.D. Pres.R.S., in the Chair
SIR OLIVER LODGE, LL.D. D.Sc. F.R.S. M.R.I
The Ether of Space
THIRTY years ago Clerk Maxwell gave in this place a remarkable address on "Action at a
Distance." It is reported in your Journal, Vol. VII., and to it I would direct attention. Most natural philosophers hold, and have held, that action at a distance across empty space is impossible-in other words, that matter cannot act where it is not, but only where it is.
The question "where is it?" is a further question that may demand attention and require more than a superficial answer. For it can be argued on the hydrodynamic or vortex theory of matter, as well as on the electrical theory, that every atom of matter has a universal though nearly infinitesimal prevalence, and extends everywhere; since there is no definite sharp boundary or limiting periphery to the region disturbed by its existence.
The lines of force of an isolated electric charge extend throughout illimitable space. And though a charge of opposite sign will curve and concentrate them, yet it is possible to deal with both charges, by the method of superposition, as if they each existed separately without the other. In that case, therefore, however far they reach, such nuclei clearly exert no "action at a distance" in the technical sense.
Some philosophers have reason to suppose that mind can act directly on mind without intervening mechanism, and sometimes that has been spoken of as genuine action at a distance; but, in the first place, no proper conception or physical model can be made of such a process, nor is it clear that space and distance have any particular meaning in the region of psychology. The links between mind and mind may be something quite other than physical proximity, and in denying action at a distance across empty space I am not denying telepathy or other activities of a non-physical kind-for although brain disturbance is certainly physical and is an essential concomitant of mental action, whether of the sending or receiving variety, yet we know from the case of heat that a material movement can be excited in one place at the expense of corresponding movement in another, without any similar kind of transmission or material connection between the two places: the thing that travels across vacuum is not heat.
In all cases where physical motion is involved, however, I would have a medium sought for; it
may not be matter, but it must be something; there must be a connecting link of some kind, or the transference cannot occur. There can be no attraction across really empty space. And even when a material link exists, so that the connexion is obvious, the explanation is not complete-for when the mechanism of attraction is understood, it will be found that a body really only moves because it is pushed by something from behind.
The essential force in nature is the vis a tergo. So when we have found the "traces," or discovered the connecting thread, we still run up against the word "cohesion," and ought to be exercised in our minds as to its ultimate meaning. Why the whole of a rod should follow, when one end is pulled, is a matter requiring explanation; and the only explanation that can be
given involves, in some form or other, a continuous medium connecting the discrete and separated
particles or atoms of matter.
When a steel spring is bent or distorted, what is it that is really strained? Not the atoms-the
atoms are only displaced; it is the connecting links that are strained-the connecting medium-the
ether. Distortion of a spring is really distortion of the ether. All stress exists in the ether.
Matter can only be moved. Contact does not exist between the atoms of matter as we know them; it is doubtful if a piece of matter ever touches another piece, any more than a comet touches the sun when it appears to rebound from it; but the atoms are connected, as the comet and the sun
are connected by a continuous plenum without break or discontinuity of any kind.
Matter acts on matter only through the ether. But whether matter is a thing utterly distinct and separate from the ether, or whether it is a specifically modified portion of it-modified in such a way as to be susceptible of locomotion, and yet continuous with all the rest of the ether, which can be said to extend everywhere-far beyond the bounds of the modified and tangible portion-are questions demanding, and I may say in process of receiving, answers. Every such answer involves some view of the universal and possibly infinite uniform omnipresent connecting medium, the Ether of space.
It has been said, somewhat sarcastically, that the ether was made in England. The statement is
only an exaggeration of the truth. I might even urge that it has been largely constructed in the Royal Institution; for, I will remind you now of the chief lines of evidence on which its existence is believed in, and our knowledge of it is based. First of all, Newton recognised
the need of a medium for explaining gravitation. In his "Optical Queries" he shows that if the
pressure of this medium is less in the neighbourhood of dense bodies than at great distances from them, dense bodies will be driven towards each other; and that if the diminution of pressure is inversely as the distance from the dense body, the law will be that of gravitation.
All that is required, therefore, to explain gravity is a diminution of pressure, or increase of
tension, caused by the formation of a matter unit-that is to say of an electron or corpuscle; and although we do not yet know what an electron is-whether it be a strain centre, or what kind of singularity in the ether it may be-there is no difficulty in supposing that a slight, almost infinitesimal, strain or attempted rarefaction should be produced in the ether whenever an electron came into being-to be relaxed again only on its resolution and destruction. Strictly
speaking it is not a real strain, but only a "stress"; since there can be no actual yield, but only a pull or tension, extending in all directions towards infinity.
The tension required per unit of matter is almost ludicrously small, and yet in the aggregate,
near such a body as a planet, it becomes enormous. The force with which the moon is held in its orbit would be great enough to tear asunder a steel rod four hundred miles thick, with a tenacity of 30 tons per square inch; so that if the moon and earth were connected by steel instead of by gravity, a forest of pillars would be necessary to whirl the system once a month round their common centre of gravity.
Such a force necessarily implies enormous tension or pressure in the medium. Maxwell calculates that the gravitational stress near the earth, which we must suppose to exist in the invisible medium, is 3000 times greater than what the strongest steel could stand; and near the sun it should be 2500 times as great as that.
The question has arisen in my mind, whether, if the whole sensible universe-estimated by
Lord Kelvin as equivalent to about a thousand million suns-were all concentrated in one body of
specifiable density, the stress would not be so great as to produce a tendency towards etherial
disruption; which would result in a disintegrating explosion, and a scattering of the particles once more as an enormous nebula and other fragments into the depths of space. For the tension would be a maximum in the interior of such a mass; and, if it rose to the value 10^33 dynes per square centimetre, something would have to happen. I do not suppose that this can be the reason, but one would think there must be some reason, for the scattered condition of gravitative matter.
Too little is known, however, about the mechanism of gravitation to enable us to adduce it as
the strongest argument in support of the existence of an ether. The oldest valid and conclusive
requisition of an etherial medium depends on the wave theory of light, one of the founders of which was your Professor of Natural Philosophy at the beginning of last century, Dr. Thomas Young. No ordinary matter is capable of transmitting the undulations or tremors that we call light. The speed at which they go, the kind of undulation, and the facility with which they go through vacuum, forbid this.
So clearly and universally has it been perceived that waves must be waves of something-
something distinct from ordinary matter-that Lord Salisbury, in his presidential address to the British Association at Oxford, criticised the ether as little more than a nominative case to the verb to undulate.
It is truly that, though it is also truly more than that; but to illustrate that luminiferous aspect of it, I will quote a paragraph from that lecture of Clerk Maxwell's to which I
have already referred:
"The vast interplanetary and interstellar regions will no longer be
regarded as waste places in the universe, which the Creator has not seen fit to fill with the symbols of the manifold order of His kingdom. We shall find them to be already full of this
wonderful medium; so full, that no human power can remove it from the smallest portion of Space, or produce the slightest flaw in its infinite continuity. It extends unbroken from star to star; and when a molecule of hydrogen vibrates in the dog-star, the medium receives the impulses of these vibrations, and after carrying them in its immense bosom for several years, delivers them, in due course, regular order, and full tale, into the spectroscope of Mr. Huggins, at Tulse Hill."
(It is pleasant to remember that those veteran investigators Sir William and Lady Huggins are still at work.)
This will suffice to emphasise the fact that the eye is truly an etherial sense-organ-the only
one which we possess, the only mode by which the ether is enabled to appeal to us, and that the
detection of tremors in this medium-the perception of the direction in which they go, and some
inference as to the quality of the object which has emitted them-cover all that we mean by "sight" and "seeing."
I pass then to another function, the electric and magnetic phenomena displayed by the ether;
and on this I will only permit myself a very short quotation from the writings of Faraday, whose whole life may be said to have been directed towards a better understanding of these ethereous phenomena.
Indeed, the statue in your entrance hall may be considered as the statue of the discoverer of the electric and magnetic properties of the Ether of space. Faraday conjectured that the same medium which is concerned in the propagation of light might also be the agent in electromagnetic phenomena. He says:
"For my own part, considering the relation of a vacuum to the magnetic force, and the general character of magnetic phenomena external to the magnet, I am much more inclined to the notion that in the transmission of the force there is such an action, external to the magnet, than that the effects are merely attraction and repulsion at a distance. Such an action may be a function of the aether; for it is not unlikely that, if there be an aether, it should have other uses than simply the conveyance of radiation."
This conjecture has been amply strengthened by subsequent investigations. One more function is now being discovered; the ether is being found to constitute matter-an immensely interesting topic, on which there are many active workers at the present time. I will make a brief quotation from your present Professor of Natural Philosophy (J. J. Thomson), where he summarises the conclusion which we all see looming before us, though it has not yet been completely attained, and would not by all be similarly expressed:
"The whole mass of any body is just the mass of ether surrounding the body which is carried along by the Faraday tubes associated with the atoms of the body. In fact, all mass is mass of the ether; all momentum, momentum of the ether; and all kinetic energy, kinetic energy of the ether. This view, it should be said, requires the density of the ether to be immensely greater than that of any known substance."
Yes, far denser-so dense that matter by comparison is like gossamer, or a filmy imperceptible
mist, or a milky way. Not unreal or unimportant-a cobweb is not unreal, nor to certain creatures is it unimportant, but it cannot be said to be massive or dense; and matter, even platinum, is not dense when compared with the ether. Not till last year, however, did I realise what the density of the ether must really be, compared with that modification of it which appeals to
our senses as matter, and which for that reason engrosses our attention. If I have time I will
return to that before I have finished. Is there any other function possessed by the ether, which, though not yet discovered, may lie within the bounds of possibility for future discovery?
I believe there is, but it is too speculative to refer to, beyond saying that it has been urged as probable by the authors of "The Unseen Universe," and has been thus tentatively referred to by Clerk Maxwell:
"Whether this vast homogeneous expanse of isotropic matter is fitted not only to be a medium of physical interaction between distant bodies, and to fulfil other physical functions of which, perhaps, we have as yet no conception, but also to constitute the material organism of beings exercising functions of life and mind as high or higher than ours are at present-is a question far transcending the limits of physical speculation."
And there for the present I leave that aspect of the subject. I shall now attempt to illustrate some relations between ether and matter. The question is often asked, is ether material? This is largely a question of words and convenience. Undoubtedly, the ether belongs to the material or physical universe, but it is not ordinary matter. I should prefer to say it is not "matter" at all. It may be the substance or substratum or material of which matter is composed, but it would be confusing and inconvenient not to be able to discriminate between matter on the one hand, and ether on the other hand, if you tie a knot on a bit of string, the knot is composed of string; but the string is not composed of knots. If you have a smoke or vortex-ring in the
air, the vortex-ring is made of air, but the atmosphere is not a vortex-ring; and it would be only confusing to say that it was.
The essential distinction between matter and ether is that matter moves, in the sense that it has the property of locomotion and can effect impact and bombardment; while ether is strained, and has the property of exerting stress and recoil. All potential energy exists in the ether. It may vibrate, and it may rotate, but as regards locomotion it is stationary-the most stationary body we know- absolutely stationary, so to speak; our standard of rest.
All that we ourselves can effect, in the material universe, is to alter the motion and
configuration of masses of matter, we can move matter, by our muscles, and that is all we can do
directly: everything else is indirect. But now comes the question, how is it possible for matter to be composed of ether? How is it possible for a solid to be made out of fluid? A solid possesses the properties of rigidity, impenetrability, elasticity, and such like; how
can these be imitated by a perfect fluid such as the ether must be? The answer is, they can be imitated by a fluid in motion; a statement which we make with confidence as the result of a great part of Lord Kelvin's work.
It may be illustrated by a few experiments.
A wheel of spokes, transparent or permeable when stationary, becomes opaque when revolving, so that a ball thrown against it does not go through, but rebounds. The motion only affects permeability to matter; transparency to light is unaffected.
A silk cord hanging from a pulley becomes rigid and viscous when put, into rapid motion; and pulses or waves which may be generated on the cord travel along it with a speed equal to its own velocity, whatever that velocity may be, so that they appear to stand still.
This is a case of kinetic rigidity; and the fact that the wave-transmission velocity is equal to the rotatory speed of the material, is typical and important, for in all cases of kinetic elasticity these two velocities are of the same order of magnitude.
A flexible chain, set spinning, can stand up on end while the motion continues.
A jet of water at sufficient speed can be struck with a hammer, and resists being cut with a sword.
A spinning disk of paper becomes elastic like flexible metal, and can act like a circular
Sir William White tells me that in naval construction steel plates are cut by a rapidly revolving disk of soft iron.
A vortex-ring, ejected from an elliptical orifice, oscillates about the stable circular form, as an India rubber ring would do; thus furnishing a beautiful example of kinetic elasticity, and showing us clearly a fluid displaying some of the properties of a solid.
A still further example is Lord Kelvin's model of a spring balance, made of nothing but rigid bodies in spinning motion.
If the ether can be set spinning, therefore, we may have some hope of making it imitate the properties of matter, or even of constructing matter by its aid. But how are we to spin the ether?
Matter alone seems to have no grip of it. I have spun steel disks, a yard in diameter, 4000 times a minute, have sent light round and round between them, and tested carefully for the slightest effect on the ether. Not the slightest effect was perceptible. We cannot spin ether mechanically.
But we can vibrate it electrically; and every source of radiation does that. An electrified body, in sufficiently rapid vibration, is the only source of ether-waves that we know; and if an electric charge is suddenly stopped, it generates the pulses known as X-rays, as the result of the collision. Not speed, but sudden change of speed, is the necessary condition for generating
waves in the ether by electricity.
We can also infer some kind of rotary motion in the ether; though we have no such obvious
means of detecting the spin as is furnished by vision for detecting some kinds of vibration. It is supposed to exist whenever we put a charge into the neighbourhood of a magnetic pole. Round the line joining the two, the ether is spinning like a top. I do not say it is spinning fast: that is a question of its density; it is in fact spinning with excessive slowness, but it is
spinning with a definite moment of momentum. J. J. Thomson's theory makes its moment of momentum exactly equal to e*m, the product of charge and pole; the charge being measured electrostatically and the pole magnetically.
How can this be shown experimentally? Suppose we had a spinning top enclosed in a case, so
that the spin was unrecognisable by ordinary means-it could he detected by its gyrostatic behaviour to force. If allowed to "precess" it will respond by moving perpendicularly to a deflecting force. So it is with the charge and the magnetic pole. Try to move the charge suddenly, and it immediately sets off at right angles.
A moving charge is a current, and the pole and the current try to revolve round one another-a true gyrostatic action due to the otherwise unrecognizable etherial spin. The fact of such magnetic rotation was discovered by Faraday. I know that it is usually worked out in another way, in terms of lines of force and the rest of the circuit; but I am thinking of a current as a stream of projected charges; and no one way of regarding such a matter is likely to exhaust the truth, or to exclude other modes which are equally valid. Anyhow, in whatever way it is regarded, it is an example of the three rectangular vectors.
The three vectors at right angles to each other, which may be labelled Current, Magnetism,
and Motion respectively, or more generally E, H, and V, represent the quite fundamental relation
between ether and matter, and constitute the link between Electricity, Magnetism, and Mechanics.
Where any two of these are present, the third is a necessary consequence. This principle is the basis of all dynamos, of electric motors, of light, of telegraphy, and of most other things.
Indeed, it is a question whether it does not underlie everything that we know in the whole of the physical sciences; and whether it is not the basis of our conception of the three
dimensions of space.
Lastly, we have the fundamental property of matter called inertia, which, if I had time, I would
show could be explained electromagnetically provided the etherial density is granted as of the order 10^12 grammes per cubic centimetre. The elasticity of the ether would then have to be of the order 10^33 c.g.s.; and if this is due to intrinsic turbulence, the speed of the whirling or rotational elasticity must be of the same order as the velocity of light. This follows hydrodynamically; in the same sort of way as the speed at which a pulse travels on a flexible running endless cord, whose tension is entirely due to the centrifugal force of the motion, is precisely equal to the velocity of the cord itself.
And so, on our present view, the intrinsic energy of constitution of the ether is incredibly and portentously great, every cubic millimetre of space possessing what, if it were matter, would be a mass of a thousand tons, and an energy equivalent to the output of a million-horse-power-station for 40 million years.
The universe we are living in is an extraordinary one; and our investigation of it has only just
begun. We know that matter has a psychical significance, since it can constitute brain, which links together the physical and the psychical worlds. If anyone thinks that the ether, with all its massiveness and energy, has probably no psychical significance, I find myself unable to agree with him.
APPENDIX I. On Gravity and Etherial Tension.
Stating the law of gravitation as F = gamma(m*m'*/r^2), the meaning here adopted for etherial tension at the surface of the Earth is T = integral, R to infinity, of (g*E/r^2)*dr = gamma*E/R;
so that the ordinary intensity of gravity is g = -dT/dR = gamma*E/R^2 = (4/3)*pi*rho*gamma*R.
Accordingly, near the surface of a planet the tension is To = g*R, or for different planets is
proportional to rho*R^2. (Where rho is the density, gamma the universal gravitational constant, and R is the radius, B.R.)
The velocity of free fall from infinity to such a planet is sqrt (2*To); the velocity of free fall from circumference to centre, assuming uniform distribution of density, is sqrt(To); and from infinity to centre it is sqrt(3*To).
Expanding all this into words:
The etherial tension near the earth's surface, required to explain gravity by its rate of
variation, is of the order 6*10^11 c.g.s. units. The tension near the sun is 2500 times as great.
With different spheres in general, it is proportional to the density and to the superficial area. Hence, near a bullet one inch in diameter, it is of the order 10^-6; and near an atom
or electron about 10^-21.
In order to set up a tension equal to the critical, or presumably disruptive, stress in the ether [10^33 c.g.s.], a globe of the density of the earth would have to have a radius of eight light years.
In order to generate a velocity of free fall under gravity equal to the velocity of light, a globe of the earth's density would have to be equal in radius to the distance of the earth from the sun, or say 26,000 times the earth's radius. If the density were less, the superficial area
would have to be increased in proportion, so as to keep rho*R^2 constant.
The whole visible universe within a parallax of 1/1000th second of arc, estimated by Lord
Kelvin as the equivalent of 10^9 suns, would be quite incompetent to raise etherial tension to the critical point 10^33 c.g.s. unless it were concentrated to an absurd degree; but it could generate the velocity of light with a density comparable to that of water.
If the average density of the above visible universe (which may be taken as 1.6*10^-23 grammes per c.c.) continued without limit, a disruptive tension of the ether would be reached when the
radius was comparable to 10^13 light years; and the velocity of light would be generated by it when the radius was 10^7 light years. But heterogeneity would enable these values to be reached more easily.
It is noteworthy how exceedingly small is the average or aggregate density of matter in the
visible region of space; and Lord Kelvin has shown that throughout space in general it must be smaller still - in fact ultimately infinitesimal..
The estimated density of 10^-23 c.g.s. means that the visible cosmos is as much rarer than a
vacuum of a hundred millionths of an atmosphere, as that vacuum is itself rarer than lead.
It is, of course, because ordinary masses of matter likewise consist of separated particles, with great intervening distances in proportion to their size, that we are able to assert the minute aggregate density of ordinary stuff, such as water or lead, as compared with the continuous medium of which all particles are supposed to be really composed. The fundamental medium itself must be of uniform density everywhere, whether materialized or free.
APPENDIX II. Explanatory Remarks Concerning The Density of Ether.
I observe that it is surmised by at least one thoughtful and friendly critic-C.W.S. in the
Westminster Gazette-that in speaking of the immense density or massiveness of ether, and the
absurdly small density or specific gravity of gross matter by comparison, I intended to signify that matter is a rarefaction of the ether. That, however, was not my intention.
The view I advocate is that the ether is a perfect continuum, an absolute plenum and that therefore no rarefaction is possible. The ether inside matter is just as dense as the ether outside, and no denser. A material unit-say an electron-is only a peculiarity or singularity of some kind in the ether itself, which is of perfectly uniform density everywhere. What we sense as matter is an aggregate or grouping of an enormous number of such units.
How then can we say that matter is millions of times rarer or less substantial than the ether of
which it is essentially composed? Those who feel any difficulty here, should bethink themselves of what they mean by the average or aggregate density of any discontinuous system, such as a powder, or a gas, or a precipitate, or a snowstorm, or a cloud, or a milky way.
If it be urged that it is unfair to compare an obviously discrete assemblage like the stars, with an apparently continuous substance like air or lead, the answer is that it is entirely and accurately fair; since air, and every other known form of matter, is essentially an aggregate of particles, and since it is always their average density that we mean. We do not even know for
certain their individual atomic density.
The phrase "specific gravity or density of a powder" is ambiguous. It may mean the specific gravity of the dry powder as it lies, like snow; or it may mean the specific gravity of the particles of which it is composed, like ice.
So also with regard to the density of matter, we might mean the density of the fundamental
material of which its units are made- which would be ether; or we might, and in practice do, mean the density of the aggregate lump which we can see and handle; that is to say, of water or iron or lead, as the case may be.
In saying that the density of matter is small, I mean, of course, in the last, the usual, sense.
In saying that the density of ether is great, I mean that the actual stuff of which these highly porous aggregates are composed is of immense, of well-nigh incredible, density. It is only another way of saying that the ultimate units of matter are few and far between-i.e. that they are excessively small as compared with the distances between them; just as the planets of the
solar system, or worlds in the sky, are few and far between-the intervening distances being enormous as compared with the portions of space actually occupied by lumps of matter.
Here it may be noted that it is possible to argue that the density of a continuum is necessarily
greater than the density of any disconnected aggregate: certainly of any assemblage whose particles are actually composed of the material of the continuum. Because the former is "all there," everywhere, without break or intermittence of any kind; while the latter has gaps
in it-it is here, and there, but not everywhere.
Indeed, this very argument was used long ago by that notable genius Robert Cooke, and I
quote a passage which Professor Poynting has discovered in his collected posthumous works, and
kindly copied out for me:
"As for matter, that I conceive in its essence to be immutable, and its essence being expatiation determinate, it cannot be altered in its quantity, either by condensation or
rarefaction; that is, there cannot be more or less of that power or reality, whatever it be,
within the same expatiation or content; but every equal expatiation contains, is filled, or is
an equal quantity of materia; and the densest or heaviest, or most powerful body in the
world contains no more materia than that which we conceive to be the rarest, thinnest,
lightest, or least powerful body of all; as gold for instance, and aether, or the substance
that fills the cavity of an exhausted vessel, or cavity of the glass of a barometer above the
Nay, as I shall afterwards prove, this cavity is more full, or a more dense body of aether, in the common sense or acceptation of the word, than gold is of gold, bulk for bulk; and that because the one, viz., the mass of aether, is all aether: but the mass of gold, which we conceive, is not all gold; but there is an intermixture, and that vastly more than is commonly supposed, of aether with it; so that vacuity, as it is commonly thought, or erroneously supposed, is a more dense body than the gold as gold.
But if we consider the whole content of the one with that of the other, within the same or
equal quantity of expatiation, then are they both equally containing the materia or
[From the Posthumous Works of Robert Hooke, M.D., F.R.S., 1705 pp. 171-2 (As copied in Memoir of Dalton, by Angus Smith).
Newton's contemporaries did not excel in power of clear expression, as he himself did, but
Professor Poynting interprets this singular attempt at utterance thus:
"All space is filled with equally dense material. Gold fills only a small fraction of the space assigned to it, and yet has a big mass. How much greater must be the total mass filling that space."
The tacit assumption here made is that the particles of the aggregate are all composed of one
and the same continuous Substance, practically that matter is made of ether; and that assumption, in Hooke's day, must have been only a speculation. But it is the kind of speculation which time is justifying, it is the kind of truth which we all feel to be in process of establishment now.
We do not depend on that sort of argument however; what we depend on is experimental measure of the mass, and mathematical estimate of the volume, of the electron. For calculation shows
that however the mass be accounted for, whether electrostatically or magnetically, or
hydrodynamically, the estimate of ratio of mass to effective volume can differ only in a numerical coefficient, and cannot differ as regards order of magnitude.
The only way out of this conclusion would be the discovery that the negative electron is not the real or the main matter-unit, but is only a subsidiary ingredient, whereas the main mass is the more bulky positive charge. That last hypothesis however is at present too vague to be useful.
Moreover, the mass of such a charge would in that case be unexplained, and would need a further step, which would probably land us in much the same sort of etherial density as is involved in the estimate which I have based on the more familiar and tractable negative electron.
It may be said why assume any finite density for the ether at all? Why not assume that, as it is
infinitely continuous, so it is infinitely dense-whatever that may mean-and that all its properties are infinite? This might be possible were it not for the velocity of light.
By transmitting waves at a finite and measurable speed, the ether has given itself away, and has let in all the possibilities of calculation and numerical statement. Its properties are thereby exhibited as essentially finite-however infinite the whole extent of it may turn out to be. [O.L.]
On doing the arithmetic, however, I find the necessary concentration absurdly great, showing that such a mass is quite insufficient, See Appendix I. See Lodge, Phil. Mag., April 1A. Address to Section A of British Association at Montreal, 1884.
The Royal Institution Library of Science (Friday Evening Discourses in Physical Sciences)
The Ether of Space, presented by Oliver Lodge, Friday, February 21, 1908 at the Royal Institution
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