The New Physics and Its Evolution eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 267 pages of information about The New Physics and Its Evolution.

[Footnote 26:  By this M. Poincare appears to mean a radiometer in which the vanes are not entirely free to move as in the radiometer of Crookes but are suspended by one or two threads as in the instrument devised by Professor Poynting.—­ED.]

More recently, MM.  Nichols and Hull have undertaken experiments on this point.  They have measured not only the pressure, but also the energy of the radiation by means of a special bolometer.  They have thus arrived at numerical verifications which are entirely in conformity with the calculations of Maxwell.

The existence of these pressures may be otherwise foreseen even apart from the electromagnetic theory, by adding to the theory of undulations the principles of thermodynamics.  Bartoli, and more recently Dr Larmor, have shown, in fact, that if these pressures did not exist, it would be possible, without any other phenomenon, to pass heat from a cold into a warm body, and thus transgress the principle of Carnot.

Sec. 5.  THE X RAYS

It appears to-day quite probable that the X rays should be classed among the phenomena which have their seat in the luminous ether.  Doubtless it is not necessary to recall here how, in December 1895, Roentgen, having wrapped in black paper a Crookes tube in action, observed that a fluorescent platinocyanide of barium screen placed in the neighbourhood, had become visible in the dark, and that a photographic plate had received an impress.  The rays which come from the tube, in conditions now well known, are not deviated by a magnet, and, as M. Curie and M. Sagnac have conclusively shown, they carry no electric charge.  They are subject to neither reflection nor refraction, and very precise and very ingenious measurements by M. Gouy have shown that, in their case, the refraction index of the various bodies cannot be more than a millionth removed from unity.

We knew from the outset that there existed various X rays differing from each other as, for instance, the colours of the spectrum, and these are distinguished from each other by their unequal power of passing through substances.  M. Sagnac, particularly, has shown that there can be obtained a gradually decreasing scale of more or less absorbable rays, so that the greater part of their photographic action is stopped by a simple sheet of black paper.  These rays figure among the secondary rays discovered, as is known, by this ingenious physicist.  The X rays falling on matter are thus subjected to transformations which may be compared to those which the phenomena of luminescence produce on the ultra-violet rays.

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