Talk on Gravitation, Part 3
Attraction is a Myth
The attraction of gravitation a myth ? Yes! a fabulous story, with no foundation in fact, though having an APPARENT support in some terrestrial phenomena. Many people imagine that gravitation is a word representing some discovered fact or force in Nature; but let them proceed to show us what fact or force, and they will discover their mistake. Gravitation was an invention, not a discovery; and a supposition necessitated by another hypothesis, viz; the globular theory. One was invented to support the other. Without gravitation the globular theory falls; and without the globular theory what would become of gravitation? I t would become less and lighter than our little molecule of hydrogen, and fly away into unknown and uncivilized regions.
“Parallax” proved the globular theory false, by the FACT that the surface of water is horizontal; and the investigator after truth, practically proves, that the theory of gravitation is utterly false, by a little molecule of hydrogen gas! No one can even tell us what gravitation is, or how it acts. Now, although we may not know what electricity is, or magnetism; we do know how they act.
As I showed in No. 2 Earth Review, Newton did not know how gravitation acts, or whether it really be attraction, or repulsion; that is, he did not know whether there is such a thing as attraction or not.
Where Newton failed to guess, what other mathematician dare try? If the inventor did not know, who amongst his pupils can tell? But they should first prove that gravitation does act before they attempt to explain how it acts.
The magnet is no proof of gravitation. Its power is selective and limited. It seems to attract steel and soft iron, but it will not draw stones and wood ! Gravitation is supposed to attract all bodies, even the stars. They are all supposed to be pulling hard at one another, yet they never get any nearer together. It is strange! But does the magnet really attract steel? The iron or steel goes towards the magnet, but is its motion caused by the attraction or the repulsion of some force? It may be carried by a magnetic current, not drawn by the magnet itself.
Newton confessed that the idea of bodies acting “ upon one another at a distance,” and “ without the mediation of anything else by and through which their action and force may be conveyed from one to the other,” is “so great an absurdity, that,” says he, “I believe no man, who has in philosophical matters a competent faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it.” Yet many do fall into this error. They are not flat earth believers. I stand on a bridge and I watch a log of wood coming down the stream towards the bridge. Is the bridge attracting the log from a distance? Yes, as much as ever the magnet attracts the soft iron! If there were a log by the bridge, the log would remain by it, as the iron remains attached to the magnet. If not, and if the arch under the bridge be sufficiently wide, the log would pass under and follow the stream. Then the bridge would seem to be repelling the log, like one “pole” of the magnet will repel the magnetic needle. Yet by such flimsy arguments and pretexts is the theory of attraction supported. No man in the world can define gravitation, nor tell how it acts; it is a tissue of philosophical speculations and falsehoods, unworthy of honest men and thinker’s, perhaps the most ingenious theory of gravitation ever proposed is that of Le Sage. He “imagines,” says Mr, J. E. Gore, “An infinite number of ultra mundane corpuscles of excessive minuteness, speeding through space in all directions, and with enormous velocities. Two bodies in this ocean of flying corpuscles screen each other from the molecular bombardment, and would consequently move together with a force varying inversely as the square of the distance.”
Upon which Professor Tait remarks:
“ It is necessary also to suppose that the particles and masses of matter have a cage like
form, so that enormously more corpuscles pass through them than impinge upon them; else the gravitation action between two bodies would not be as the product of their masses.”
Well might Sir John Herschel say:
“The hypothesis of Le Sage, which assumes that every point of space is penetrated at every instant of time by material particles sui generis, moving in right lines in every possible direction, and impinging upon the material atoms of bodies, as a mode of accounting for gravitation, is too grotesque to need serious consideration!”
What then must the poorer theories be? Readers, take your choice between common sense and reason, and theories “too grotesque to need serious consideration.”
A Professor’s View of His Own Teaching
“The student of science will do well to bear in mind the words of a very eminent lecturer of physiology. The statements I have made to you gentlemen I have every reason to believe to be wholly untrue, but you must learn them, because if you do not, you will not be able to pass your examinations.” The Engineer, October 12, 1894.
Query: Is the father of lies, the father of the so-called sciences?
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