By H. A. Lorentz (auth.)
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Additional info for Collected Papers: Volume IX
De wijze echter waarop zij met de richting verandert, moet in nauw verband staan met de wet, volgens welke de onderlinge werking van twee moleeulen van den afstand afhangt. MOLECULAR THEORIES IN PHYSICS 1) Anyone, who has not studied seriously any branch of physics, glancing occasionally in our physical periodicals and noticing the subjects experimental research is concerned with, will very likely feel inclined to the opinion, that a great part of these investigations is perfectly useless. It may be that he will not object to determinations of the elasticity of metals, the tension of watervapour, the electromotive force of galvanic cells and the like, but then he will have in mind the important applications of physics.
In this sense one can appeal too much to the imagination, when the comparison of the electric current to some running liquid is stretched too far, or when one tries to elucidate the formation of crystals by the regular arrangement shown by iron filings under the influence of a magnet. Now one must be especially on one's guard against this kind of exaggerated visualization when one has to deal with the notion of forces in physics. We have been taught, that a force is the cause, by which a body I} See the notes at the end, p.
This way of representation appealed more to the imagination of many people than the supposition that the celestial bodies attract each other from a distance. The consequence was, that several physicists admitted, it is true, the law found by NEWTON for the attraction of the planets by the sun, but were of opinion, that this attraction must be explained by the motions of a liquid, filling the heavens. If this were true, however, it would naturally be impossible to consider the attraction as the resultant force of the actions exerted by the various material particles of the sun.