A History of the Theories of Aether and Electricity: From the Age of Descartes to the Close of the Nineteenth Century (Classic Reprint)by E. T. Whittaker
Th observation of the heavens, which has been pursued continually from the earliest ages, revealed to the ancients the regularity of the planetary motions, and gave rise to the conception of the universal order. Modern research,
Excerpt from A History of the Theories of Aether and Electricity: From the Age of Descartes to the Close of the Nineteenth Century
Th observation of the heavens, which has been pursued continually from the earliest ages, revealed to the ancients the regularity of the planetary motions, and gave rise to the conception of the universal order. Modern research, building on this foundation, has shown how intimate is the connexion between the different celestial bodies. They are formed of the same kind of matter; they are similar in origin and history; and across the vast spaces which divide them they hold perpetual intercourse.
Until the seventeenth century the only influence which was known to be capable of passing from star to star was that of light. Newton added to this the force of gravity; and it is now recognized that the power of communicating across vacuous regions is possessed also by the electric and magnetic attractions.
It is thus erroneous to regard the heavenly bodies as isolated in vacant space; around and between them is an incessant conveyance and transformation of energy. To the vehicle of this activity the name aether has been given.
The aether is the solitary tenant of the universe, save for that infinitesimal fraction of space which is occupied by ordinary matter. Hence arises a problem which has long engaged attention, and is not yet completely solved: What relation subsist between the medium which fills the interstellar void and the condensations of matter that are scattered throughout it?
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