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[Footnote 1: A paper read before
the Engineers’ Society of
Western Pennsylvania, Nov. 15, 1881.]
By Jacob Reese
In the consideration of this subject it is not my purpose to review the steps of discovery and development of electrical phenomena, but the object of this paper is an effort to explain what electricity is; and having done this, to deduce some reasonable conclusions as to what may be expected of it. And while I am profoundly sensible of the importance of the subject, and the difficulties attending its consideration, still with humble boldness I present this paper and ask for it a serious and careful consideration, hoping that the discussion and investigation resulting therefrom may add to our knowledge of physical science.
It is now a well established fact that matter, per se, is inert, and that its energy is derived from the physical forces; therefore all chemical and physical phenomena observed in the universe are caused by and due to the operations of the physical forces, and matter, of whatever state or condition it may be in, is but the vehicle through or by which the physical forces operate to produce the phenomena.
There are but two physical forces, i.e., the force of attraction and the force of caloric. The force of attraction is inherent in the matter, and tends to draw the particles together and hold them in a state of rest. The force of caloric accompanies the matter and tends to push the particles outward into a state of activity.
The force of attraction being inherent, it abides in the matter continuously and can neither be increased nor diminished; it, however, is present in different elementary bodies in different degrees, and in compound bodies relative to the elements of which they are composed.