Popular Scientific Lectures: A Science Classic By Ernst Mach! AAA+++by BDP
The particles of a liquid are displaced on the application of the slightest pressure; a liquid conforms exactly to the shapes of the vessels in which it is contained; it possesses no form of its own, as you have all learned in the schools. Accommodating itself in the most trifling respects to the conditions of the vessel in which it is placed, and
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The particles of a liquid are displaced on the application of the slightest pressure; a liquid conforms exactly to the shapes of the vessels in which it is contained; it possesses no form of its own, as you have all learned in the schools. Accommodating itself in the most trifling respects to the conditions of the vessel in which it is placed, and showing, even on its surface, where one would suppose it had the freest play, nothing but a polished, smiling, expressionless countenance, it is the courtier par excellence of the natural bodies.
Liquids have no form of their own! No, not for the superficial observer. But persons who have observed that a raindrop is round and never angular, will not be disposed to accept this dogma so unconditionally.
It is fair to suppose that every man, even the weakest, would possess a character, if it were not too difficult in this world to keep it. So, too, we must suppose that liquids would possess forms of their own, if the pressure of the circumstances permitted it,--if they were not crushed by their own weights.
An astronomer once calculated that human beings could not exist on the sun, apart from its great heat, because they would be crushed to pieces there by their own weight. The greater mass of this body would also make the weight of the human body there much greater. But on the moon, because here we should be much lighter, we could jump as high as the church-steeples without any difficulty, with the same muscular power which we now possess. Statues and "plaster" casts of syrup are undoubtedly things of fancy, even on the moon, but maple-syrup would flow so slowly there that we could easily build a maple-syrup man on the moon, for the fun of the thing, just as our children here build snow-men.
Accordingly, if liquids have no form of their own with us on earth, they have, perhaps, a form of their own on the moon, or on some smaller and lighter heavenly body. The problem, then, simply is to get rid of the effects of gravity; and, this done, we shall be able to find out what the peculiar forms of liquids are.
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