Slike strani

of metallic glasses and films is determined, not only by the absolute size of the metal particles, but also by the proportion of the total volume they occupy in the medium in which they are diffused. The results of Mr. Garnett's calculations are in close agreement with a number of the observations on the colour and microstructure of thin metal films which I had already recorded, and they appear to me to supply the explanation of much that had appeared puzzling before. My own observations lead me to think that the actual microscopic particles which are to be seen, and the larger of which can also be measured, in films and solutions or suspensions, do not in any way represent the ultimate units of structure which are required by Mr. Garnett's theory, but that these particles are aggregates of smaller units built up in more or less open formation.

That a relatively opaque substance like gold may be so attenuated that when disseminated in open formation it becomes transparent is contrary to all our associations with the same operation when performed on transparent substances like glass or crystalline salts. The familiar experiment of crushing a transparent crystal into a perfectly opaque powder would not prepare us for the effect of minute subdivision on the transparence of metals. At first it might be supposed that this difference is due to the very rough and incomplete subdivision of the crystal by crushing; but this is not the case, for the perfectly transparent oxide of magnesium may be obtained in a state of attenuation comparable with that of the gold, by allowing the smoke from burning magnesium to deposit on a glass plate. The film of oxide obtained in this way is found to be built up of particles quite as minute as those of which the gold films are composed, yet the opacity of the oxide film is relatively much greater. The minute particles of the dielectric, magnesium oxide, scatter and dissipate the light waves by repeated reflection and refraction, while the similar particles of the metallic conductor, gold, act as electrical resonators which pass on some of the light waves while reflecting others. Specimens of films of gold and silver and of magnesium oxide are exhibited on the table and on the lantern screen. When the metallic particles are in this state of open formation and relative transparence, it was found that the electrical conductivity of the films had completely disappeared. Films of this description were found to have a resistance of more than 1,000,000 megohms as compared with only six ohms in the metallic reflecting condition.

Molecules in the Solid State.

My examination of gold films and surfaces has revealed the fact that during polishing the disturbed surface film behaves exactly like a liquid under the influence of surface tension. At temperatures far below the melting point molecular movement takes place under mechanical disturbance, and the molecules tend to heap up in minute mounds or flattened droplets. These minute mounds are often so shallow that they can only be detected when the surface is illuminated by an intense, obliquely incident beam of light. I have estimated that these minute mounds or spicules can be seen in this way in films which are not more than five to ten micro-millimetres in thickness. A film of this attenuation may contain so few as ten to twenty molecules in its thickness.

When moderately thin films of gold are supported on glass and heated at a temperature of 400°-500°, they become translucent, and the forms assumed under the influence of surface tension can be readily seen by transmitted light. It was in this way that the beautiful but puzzling spicular appearance by obliquely reflected light was first explained as due to the granulation of the surface under the influence of surface tension. Photomicrographs of these films are exhibited.

Turning now to the mechanical properties of metals, we find that gold has proved itself of great value in the investigation of some of these. It has long been recognised as the most malleable and ductile of the metals, whilst its chemical indifference tends to preserve it in a state of metallic purity throughout any prolonged series of operations.

The artificers in gold must very early have learned that its malleability and ductility are not qualities which indefinitely survive the operations of hammering and wiredrawing. A piece of soft gold beaten into a thin plate

does not remain equally soft throughout the process, but spreads with increasing difficulty under the hammer. If carelessly beaten it may even develop cracks round its edges. We may assume that the artificers in gold very soon discovered that by heating, the hardened metal might be restored to its former condition of softness.

In connection with the study of the micro-metallurgy of iron and steel during recent years it has been recognised that heat annealing is, as a rule, associated with the growth and development of crystalline grains, and Prof. Ewing and Mr. Rosenhain have shown that overstrain is often if not invariably associated with the deformation of these crystalline grains by slips occurring along one or more cleavage planes. This hypothesis, though well supported up to a point by microscopic observations on a variety of metals, offers no explanation of the natural arrest of malleability or ductility which occurs when the overstrain has reached a point at which the crystalline grains are still, to all appearance, only slightly deformed. At this stage there is no obvious reason why the slipping of the crystalline lamellæ should not continue under the stresses which have initiated it. But far from this being the case, a relatively great increase of stress produces little or no further yielding until the breaking point is reached and rupture takes place.

The study of the surface effects of polishing, already referred to, had shown that the thin surface film retained no trace of crystalline structure; while it also gave the clearest indications that the metal had passed through a liquid condition before settling into the forms prescribed by surface tension. From this it was argued that the conditions which prevail at the outer surface might equally prevail at all inner surfaces where movement had occurred, so that every slip of one crystalline lamella over another would cause a thin film of the metal to pass through the liquid phase to a new and non-crystalline condition. By observations on the effects of beating pure gold foil, it was found that the metal reached its hardest and least plastic condition only when all outward traces of crystalline structure had disappeared. It was also ascertained that this complete destruction of the crystalline lamellæ and units could only be accomplished in the layers near the surface, for the hardened substance produced by the flowing under the hammer appears to encase and protect the crystalline units after they become broken down to a certain size. By carefully etching the surface in stages by means of chlorine water or cold aqua regia, the successive layers below the surface were disclosed. The surface itself was vitreous; beneath this was a layer of minute granules, and lower still the distorted and brokenup remains of crystalline lamellæ and grains were embedded in a vitreous and granular matrix. The vitreouslooking surface layer represents the final stage in the passage from soft to hard, from crystalline to amorphous. By heating the beaten foil, its softness was restored; and on etching the annealed metal it was found that the crystalline structure also was fully restored. Photomicrographs showing these appearances are exhibited. These microscopic observations were fully confirmed by finding well-marked thermo-electrical and electro-chemical distinctions between the two forms of metal, the hard and soft or the amorphous and the crystalline. The determination of a definite transition temperature at which the amorphous metal passes into the crystalline metal further confirms the phase view of hardening by overstrain and softening by annealing.

It was subsequently proved that the property of passing from crystalline to amorphous by mechanical flow, and from amorphous to crystalline by heat at a definite transition temperature, is a general one which is possessed by all crystalline solids which do not decompose at or below their transition temperature. The significance of this fact I venture to think entitles it to more than a passing reference. It appears to me to mean that the transition from amorphous to crystalline is entitled to take its place with the other great changes of state, solid to liquid, liquid to gas, for like these it marks a change in the molecular activity which occurs when a certain temperature is reached. It is entitled to take this place because there is every indication that the change is as general in its nature as the other changes of state. Compare it, for instance, with the allotropic changes with which chemists have been

familiar. These are for the most part changes which are special to particular elements or compounds, and are usually classed with the chemical properties by which the substances may be distinguished from each other. Very different is the amorphous crystalline change, for although in particular cases it may have been observed and associated with allotropic changes, yet the causes of its occurrence are more deeply founded in the relations between the molecules and the heat energy by which their manifold properties are successively unfolded as temperature is raised from the absolute zero. At this transition point we find ourselves face to face with the first stirrings of a specific directive force by which the blind cohesion of the molecules is ordered and directed to the building up of the most perfect geometric forms. It is hardly possible any longer to regard the stability of a crystal as static and inert, and independent of temperature; rather must its structure and symmetry be taken as the outward manifestation of a dynamic equilibrium between the primitive cohesion and the kinetic energy imparted by heat. Even before the discovery of a definite temperature of transition from the amorphous to the crystalline phase we had in our hands the proofs that in certain cases the crystalline state can be a state of dynamic, rather than of static equilibrium. The transition of sulphur from the rhombic to the prismatic form supplies an example of crystalline stability which persists only between certain narrow limits of temperature. Within these limits the crystal is a "living crystal" if one may borrow an analogy from the organic world. It can still grow, and it will under proper conditions repair any damage it may receive.

The passage of the same substance through several crystalline phases, each only stable over a limited range of temperature, strongly supports the general conclusion drawn from the existence of a stability temperature between the amorphous and crystalline phases, namely, that the crystalline arrangement of the molecules requires for its active existence the particular kind or rate of vibration corresponding with a certain range of temperature. Below this point the crystal may become to all appearance a mere pseudomorph with no powers of active growth or repair. But these powers are not extinct-they are only in abeyance ready to be called forth under the energising influence of heat. This temporary abeyance of the more active properties of matter is strikingly illustrated by the early observations of Sir James Dewar at the boiling point of liquid air, and more recently at that of liquid hydrogen. At the latter temperature even chemical affinity becomes latent. In metals it was found that the changes in their physical properties brought about by these low temperatures are not permanent, but only persist so long as the low temperature is maintained. During the past year Mr. R. A. Hadfield has supplemented these earlier results by making a very complete series of observations on the effect of cooling on the mechanical properties of iron and its alloys. The tenacity and hardness of the pure metal and its alloys at the ordinary temperature and at -182° have been compared, and it has been found that these qualities are invariably enhanced at the lower temperature, but that they return exactly to their former value at the ordinary temperature. By the mere abstraction of heat between the temperatures of 18° and 182° the tensile strength of pure metals is raised 50 to 100 per cent. In pure iron the increase is from 23 tons per square inch at 18° C. to 52 tons at 182°; in gold from 15.1 tons to 22-4 tons; and in copper from 19.5 tons to 26.4. This increase is not, I think, due to the closer approximation of the molecules, for the coefficient of expansion of most metals below o° is extremely small. Neither is it due to permanent changes of molecular arrangement or aggregation, for Mr. Hadfield has obtained a perfectly smooth and regular cooling curve for iron between 18° and 182°, and there appears to be no indication of the existence of any critical point between these temperatures. Further, the complete restoration of the original tenacity on the return to the higher temperature shows that no permanent or irreversible change has occurred during cooling. Everything therefore indicates that the increase of tenacity which occurs degree by degree as beat is removed is due to the reduction of the repulsive force of molecular vibration, so that the primary cohesive force

can assert itself more and more completely as the absolute zero is approached.

The metals experimented with by Mr. Hadfield were all in the annealed or crystalline condition, so that the molecules must have exerted their mutual attractions along the directed axes proper to this state. It is to be expected that similar experiments with the metals in the amorphous state may throw light on the question whether and to what extent the crystalline state depends on a dynamic equilibrium between the forces of cohesion and repulsion, or whether a directed cohesion exists fully developed in the molecules at the absolute zero.'

The phenomena of the solid state throw an interesting light on the interplay of the two great forces, the primative or blind cohesion which holds undisputed sway at the absolute zero, and the repulsion due to the molecular vibrations which is developed by heat. This interplay we know continues through the states which succeed each other as the temperature is raised, until a point is reached at which the molecular repulsions so far outweigh the cohesive force that the substance behaves like a perfect gas. The problems of molecular constitution are more likely to be elucidated by a study of the successive states between the absolute zero and the vaporising temperature than at the upper ranges where the gaseous state alone prevails. The simplicity of the laws which govern the physical behaviour of a perfect gas is very attractive, but we must not forget that this simplicity is only possible because repulsion has so nearly overcome cohesion that the latter may be practically ignored. The attractiveness of this simplicity should not blind us to the fact that it is in the middle region, where the opposing forces are more nearly equal, that the most interesting and illuminating phenomena are likely to abound. The application of the gas laws to the phenomena of solution and osmosis appears to be one of those cases in which an attractive appearance of simplicity in the apparent relations may prove very misleading. Before passing from the specially metallic qualities of gold I will only remind you of the important part it has played in the researches on the diffusion of metals by the late Sir William Roberts-Austen, and in those of Mr. Haycock and Mr. Neville on the freezing points of solutions of gold in tin, which led to the recognition of the monatomic nature of the molecules of metals.

Molecules in Solution.

It has occurred to me that the practice of the cyanide process of gold extraction presents us with several new and interesting aspects of the problems of solution. As you are aware, the gold is first obtained from the ore in the form of a very dilute solution of cyanide of gold and potassium from which the metal has to be separated, either by passing it through boxes filled with zinc shavings, or by electrolysis in large cells.


The solution as it leaves the cyanide-vats may contain gold equal to 100 grains or more per ton, and as it leaves the precipitating-boxes it may contain as little as I or 2 grains and as much as 20 grains. In the treatment of slimes much larger volumes of solution have to be dealt with, and in this case solutions containing 18 grains per ton have been regularly passed through the precipitatingboxes, their gold content being reduced to 1 grains per In round numbers we may say that I gram of gold is recovered from 1 cubic metre of solution, while o.1 gram is left in the solution. Even from the point of view of the physical chemist we are here in presence of solutions of a very remarkable order of dilution. A solution containing 1 gram per cubic metre is in round numbers N/200,000, and the weaker solution containing O. I gram is N/2,000,000. It is convenient to remember that the latter contains a little more than 1 grains per ton. In experiments on the properties of dilute solutions the extreme

point of dilution was reached by Kohlrausch, who employed solutions containing 1/100,000 of a gram-molecule of solute per litre for his conductivity experiments. These solutions were therefore twice as strong as the gold solution with 1 gram per cubic metre, and twenty times as strong as the 1 Since the above was written a series of observations has been made on the influence of low temperature on the tenacity of pure metals in the amorphous condition. These observations will form the subject of a separat communication to the Section.

more dilute solution. This fact must be my excuse for placing before you the results of a few simple calculations as to the molecular distribution in these solutions, which have certainly given me an entirely new view of what constitutes a really dilute solution from the molecular point of view.

In estimating the number of molecules in a given volume of solution the method adopted is to divide the space into minute cubical cells, each of which can exactly contain a sphere of the diameter of the molecule. In this way a form of piling for the molecules is assumed which, though not the closest possible, may quite probably represent the piling of water molecules. Taking the molecular diameter as 0-2 X 10 millimetres-a figure which is possibly too small for the water molecules and too large for the gold -it is found that a cubic millimetre of solution contains 125 X 10 molecules, or 125 quadrillions. The head of an ordinary pin, if it were spherical, would have a volume of about 1 cubic millimetre.

If these water molecules could be arranged in a single row, each molecule just touching its two nearest neighbours, the length of the row would be 25,000,000 kilometres. A thread of these fairy beads, which contained the molecules of one very small drop of a volume of 6 cubic millimetres, would reach from the earth to the sun, a distance of about 150,000,000 kilometres.

In a solution containing 1 grains of gold per ton, or 1 decigram per cubic metre, the ratio of gold molecules to water molecules is as 1: 193,000,000. Each cubic millimetre of the solution, therefore, contains 6,500,000,000 gold molecules. If these are uniformly distributed throughout the solution each will be about 400 micro-millimetres, or 1/60,000 of an inch, from its nearest neighbours. This is not really very wide spacing, for the point of the finest sewing-needle would cover about 1,500 gold molecules.

If a cubic metre of solution could be spread out in a sheet one molecule in thickness it would cover an area of 1,680 square miles, and nowhere in this area would it be possible to put down the point of the needle without touching some hundreds of gold molecules simultaneously.

According to Prof. Liversidge, sea-water contains on the average about 1 grain of gold per ton. If this is the case, then the above figures for the dilute cyanide solution apply with only a slight modification to sea-water. No drop, however small it may be, can be removed from the ocean which will not contain many millions of gold molecules, and no point of its surface can be touched which is not thickly strewn with these. From this molecular point of view we must realise that our ships literally float on a gilded ocean!

From time to time adventurers arise who attempt to launch upon this gilded ocean unseaworthy ships freighted with the savings of the trusting investor. In order that nothing which has been said here may tempt anyone to contribute to the freighting of these ships, let me hasten to point out that the weakest of the cyanide solutions here referred to is richer in gold than sea-water is reported to be. The practical conclusion from this comparison is sufficiently obvious. If the cyaniding expert, whose business it is to extract gold from dilute solutions, finds that it does not pay to carry this extraction beyond a concentration of 2 or 3 grains per ton, even when the solution is already in his hand, and when, therefore, the costs of treatment are at their minimum, how can it possibly pay to begin the work of extraction on sea-water, a solution of one-half the richness, which would have to be impounded and treated by methods which could not fail to be more costly in labour and materials than the simple process of zinc-box precipitation? It is generally unsafe to prophesy, but in this case I am rash enough to risk the prediction that if ever the gold mines of the Transvaal are shut up it will not be owing to the competition of the gold resources of the ocean.

In these calculations with reference to the dilute cyanide solutions it is assumed that the gold molecules are uniformly distributed, that they are practically equidistant from each other. There appears to me to be considerable doubt whether we have any right to make this assumption. Leaving out of account for the moment the action of the water molecules, it would appear that as long as the gold molecules are so numerous that a uniform distribution

would bring them within the range of each other's attraction, we can imagine that all submerged molecules would be in equilibrium so far as the attractions of their own kind are concerned, being subjected to a uniform pull in all directions. This condition would certainly make for uniform distribution. But when the distance between them exceeds the range of the molecular forces, it is evident that an entirely new condition is introduced, and it seems not improbable that the widely distributed molecules would tend to drift into clouds in which they are brought back within the range of these forces. The range of the cohesive forces in water and aqueous liquids is usually taken from 50 to 100 micro-millimetres, and I am disposed to think that ten times this amount would not be an excessive estimate of the range in the case of gold. If the range for gold be taken as 500 micro-millimetres, then the gold molecules of the dilute gold solution, which are spaced at 400 micro-millimetres apart, are just within the range of each other's attraction, and their distribution is, therefore, likely to be uniform. But by a further dilution to half concentration, the equilibrium would be liable to be disturbed, and denser clouds of gold molecules would be formed, with less dense intervals between them.

In preparing the zinc boxes through which the gold solution is passed, very great care has to be exercised to ensure that the contact surface of the zinc is used to the best advantage. With this object the packing of the zinc shavings is so managed that the solution is spread over the zinc surface in as thin sheets as possible. The object, of course, is to bring as many of the gold molecules as possible into actual contact with the zinc. The gold molecules found in the solution leaving the boxes are those which have not been in contact with the zinc. Yet we have seen that these molecules are still so numerous that they are within 1/60,000 of an inch of each other. If these molecules are in a state analogous to the gaseous state, with diffusive energy of the same order as that of the gas molecule, it is difficult to imagine how they can escape without coming in contact with the zinc surface during their tortuous passage through the boxes and being deposited there. Yet they do escape, even when the velocity of the solution in passing over the zinc surfaces is so slow as 10 cm. per minute or 1.6 mm. per second.

We may regard the condition of these isolated gold molecules, or the more complex auricyanide of potassium molecules, as typical of that of the solute molecules in a dilute solution of any non-volatile solid. They are solid molecules sparsely distributed among a multitude of intensely active solvent molecules, the temperature of the solution being many hundred degrees below that at which they could of themselves assume the greater freedom of the liquid or gaseous state. These solute molecules have to a great extent been set free from the constraining effect of their cohesive forces, but it is important to remember that this freedom has not been attained by the increase of their own kinetic energy as in liquefaction by heat. Their freedom and the extra kinetic energy they have acquired have in some way been imparted to them by the more active solvent molecules; for, if the solvent could be suddenly removed, leaving the solute molecules still similarly distributed in a vacuous space, they would eventually condense into a solid aggregate. This must be the case, for the non-volatile solute has no measurable vapour pressure at the temperature of the solution. The kinetic energy of the solute molecules is of itself quite insufficient to endow them with the properties of the gaseous or even of the liquid molecule, even when their cohesive forces have been weakened or overcome by separation.

If the energy employed in this separation is not intrinsic to the solute molecule then it must in some way have been imparted by the solvent molecules. It therefore becomes important to compare the energy endowment of one set of molecules with that of the other.

Compared with other solids, ice at its freezing point has very little hardness or tenacity: the cohesion of its molecules has been much relaxed by the great absorption of heat energy between the absolute zero and the freezing point. If an average specific heat of 0.5 over the whol range be assumed, the heat absorption of one gram amounts to 136.5 calories. In the transition to the liquid state at 0° a further absorption of 79 calories takes place, so that

a gram of liquid water at the freezing point contains the heat energy of 215.5 calories. The fact that water has the high vapour pressure of 4.6 mm. of mercury at the freezing point is probably a result of this enormous store of energy. As a liquid, therefore, it is natural to expect that its molecules will exhibit effects proportionate to this great store of energy. This expectation appears to be realised when we consider not only its properties as the universal solvent, but its osmotic and diffusive energy in solutions in which it is the solvent.

To complete the comparison it is only necessary to calculate the heat energy of gold at o°. Taking its specific heat as 0-032, a gram of gold at o° contains 8.7 calories. A gram-molecule, therefore, contains in round numbers 1700 calories as compared with 3880 calories in a grammolecule of water.

Taking into consideration not only this greater store of energy, but also the much smaller cohesive force of water as compared with the majority of solid solutes, there can be no doubt that the active rôle in aqueous solutions of this type must be assigned to the solvent, not to the solute molecules.

This leads to the important conclusion that the energy of solution, of diffusion, and of osmosis is due, not to the imaginary gaseous energy of the solute, but to the actual liquid energy of the solvent molecules. When this conclusion is reached a new physical explanation of these phenomena is in our hands, and we are relieved from the strain to the imagination involved in the application of the gas theory to solutions of non-volatile solids.

This transference of the active rôle to the solvent molecules does not in any way affect the well-established conclusions based on the laws of thermodynamics as to the energy relations in these phenomena, for it has always been recognised that these conclusions have reference to the average conditions prevailing in large collections of relatively minute units. Wherever the gas analogy has appeared to hold it has not necessarily involved more than this, that the observed effects are in proportion to the number of these minute units in a given volume.

In applying the gas theory to the physical explanation of osmotic pressure it has been the custom to regard this pressure as directly due to the bombardment of the semipermeable membrance by the solute molecules. But this conception completely ignores the fact that the pressure developed is a hydrostatic, not a gaseous pressure, and that the hydrostatic pressure results directly from the penetration of the solvent molecules from the other side of the partition.

It appears to me more natural to abandon the gas analogy altogether, to regard the molecules as in the solid and liquid condition proper to their temperature, and to apportion to them their respective parts in the active changes according to their obvious endowment of energy. Applying this view to the case of a solution and a solvent separated by a semi-permeable membrane, it is seen that the pressure rises on the solution side, because the pure solvent molecules on the other side have some advantage for the display of their energy over the similar molecules in the solution. This effect in its most general form may be attributed to the dilution of the solvent by the solute molecules. In cases where the osmotic pressure appears to obey Boyle's law the effect is exactly measured by the number of solute molecules per unit volume. But the facts of this position are in no way changed if the effect is taken to be due to the activity of an equal number of solvent molecules, for we then see that each solute molecule by cancelling the activity of one solvent molecule on the solution side permits a solvent molecule from the other side to enter the solution.

What the exact mechanism of this cancellation is there is at present no evidence to show, and the caution originally given by Lord Kelvin with reference to the undue forcing of the gas analogy must also be applied to the suggestion now put forward. But as a means of making the suggestion a little more clear I give here a simple diagram on which A represents a single perforation in a semi-permeable membrane, P, on both sides of which there is only pure solvent. For the sake of clearness the molerules are shown only as a single row. Normally there will be no passage of solvent molecules from side to side, for

the average kinetic energy of the molecules on both sides is equal. This state of equilibrium is indicated on the diagram by marking with a cross the molecule which is exactly halfway through the partition.

At B a single solute molecule, s, has been introduced at the right side. If this molecule exactly cancels the energy of one solute molecule at its own end of the row, the equilibrium point will move one molecule to the right, the solvent molecules will move in the same direction, and one of their number will enter on the solution side. So long as the row includes one, and only one, solute molecule, the equilibrium will remain unchanged and no more solute molecules will pass in. If another solute molecule arrives

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

on the scene, the equilibrium will again be disturbed in the same way as before, and another solvent molecule will pass into the solution.

This mechanism accomplishes to some extent the work of a "Maxwell Demon," in so far at least as it takes advantage of the movement of individual molecules to raise one part of a system at a uniform temperature to a higher level of energy.

A Mechanical View of Dissociation in Dilute Solutions.

The view that the phenomena of solution depend on the relative kinetic energy of the solvent and solute molecules appears to apply with special force to the phenomena of dissociation in dilute solutions. Under the gas theory there does not appear to be any reason why the solute molecules should dissociate into their ions. So obvious is this absence of any physical motive that Prof. Armstrong has happily referred to the dissociation as "the suicide of the molecules." Others have proposed to ascribe the phenomenon to what might be called "the fickleness of the ions," thus supposing that the ions have an inherent love of changing partners. These may be picturesque ways of labelling certain views of the situation, but the views themselves do not appear to supply any clue to the physical nature of the phenomena. With the acceptance of the view that the phenomena of solution are largely due to the kinetic energy of the solvent molecules, the phenomena of dissociation also appear to take their place as a natural result of this activity. For consider the situation of an isolated molecule of cyanide of gold and potassium closely surrounded by and at the mercy of some millions of water molecules all in a state of intense activity. The rude mechanical jostling to which the complex molecule is subjected will naturally tend to break it up into simpler portions which are mechanically more stable. The mechanical analogy of a ball mill in which the balls are selfdriven at an enormous velocity is probably rather crude, but it may at least help us to picture what, on the view now advanced, must be essentially a mechanical operation.

In importing this mechanical view of the breaking down of complex into simpler molecules we are not without some solid basis of facts to go upon. My own observations have shown that even in the solid state the crystalline molecule can be broken down by purely mechanical means

It is

into the simpler units of the amorphous state; and, further, that the water molecules of a crystal may by the same agency be broken away from their combination with the salt molecules. Since the publication of the earlier of these observations Prof. Spring has shown that the acid sulphates of the alkali metals may be mechanically decomposed into two portions, one of which contains more acid, and the other more base than the original salt. important to recognise that in these three apparently short steps the transition has been made from the overcoming of the simple cohesion of similar molecules in contact with each other to the breaking asunder of the chemical union of dissimilar molecules. At each step the solid molecules appear, not as mere ethereal abstractions, but as substantial portions of matter which can be touched handled mechanically.


The physical properties of a gas are primarily due to its being an assemblage of rapidly moving molecules. These simpler and more general properties can coexist with, and may be modified by, the more complex relations introduced by chemical affinity as it occurs in compound gases and mixtures.

It appears to me quite legitimate similarly to regard the physical properties of a liquid as due to its being an assemblage of rapidly moving molecules. The liquid system is highly condensed, and the motions of its molecules are controlled by the cohesive as well as by the repulsive forces. The closer approximation of the molecules may reduce their mean free path to an extremely small amount, or it may even cause their translatory motion to disappear, so that the whole kinetic energy of the liquid molecules may be in the form of rotation or vibration.

As we can imagine a perfect gas, so also may we imagine a perfect liquid, the physical properties of which are as simply related to the laws of dynamics as are those of the gas. But the conditions of the liquid state being also those most favourable to the play of chemical affinity, the internal equilibrium of solutions or of mixed liquids must be a resultant of this affinity together with the primary forces of the ideal liquid state.

An ideally perfect solution-that is, a solution the physical properties of which are determined solely by the number of molecules it contains in a given volume-must consist of a solvent and a solute which have no chemical affinity for each other, so that their molecules will neither associate nor dissociate in solution. Probably only comparatively few solutions will be found which even approximate to this ideal perfection. But it appears to me that the study of the problems of the liquid and the dissolved states may be much simplified by the recognition (1) that the primary physical properties of liquids and solutions are due to the fact that they are assemblages of molecules endowed with the amount and the kind of kinetic energy which is proper to their temperature; and (2) that as these primary physical properties of the liquid and dissolved states may be masked and interfered with by chemical affinity, they should be studied as far as possible in examples where the influence of this force is either absent or at a minimum.


WE regret to learn of the death, at the age of seventyeight, of Dr. T. R. Thalén, professor of physics at the University of Upsala, and one of the most eminent Swedish men of science. The Rumford medal was awarded to him by the Royal Society for his researches on spectrum analysis, and a gold medal was awarded to him by the Swedish Association of Ironmasters in 1874 for his investigations of magnetic iron ore deposits.

A REUTER telegram from Berlin states that the International Conference for the Investigation of Earthquakes met on Tuesday at the Ministry of the Interior, under the presidency of Privy Councillor Dr. Lewald. All the States which possess organised staffs for the investigation of earthquakes were invited by the German Government

to take part in the conference. The conference is expected to last two days.

THE Government Eclipse Expedition in charge of Sir Norman Lockyer, K.C.B., has arrived at Palma, Balearic Islands, where the instruments will be erected for observations of the total solar eclipse on August 30. A Reuter telegram from Madrid reports that the telegraph authorities have decided to frank all telegrams dispatched by members of the various astronomical expeditions regarding observations of the eclipse.

THE London County Council has erected a memorial tablet on No. 14 Hertford Street, Park Lane, where Edward Jenner, the originator of vaccination, resided in 1803; and also on No. 34 Gloucester Square, Hyde Park, where Robert Stephenson, the engineer, resided at time.


THE death is announced of the Rev. Dr. J. Keith. He was one of the leading educationists of the north of Scotland, and took an active interest in scientific pursuits, especially botany.

THE Times correspondent at Wellington, N.Z., states that the Postmaster-General hopes, with the cooperation of Australia, to have wireless telegraphy established across the Tasman Sea within twelve months. The cost will be 28,000l.

THE meeting of the tenth International Navigation Congress will be held at Milan from September 24-30. Particulars can be obtained from the secretary, Dufourny, 38 Rue de Louvain, Brussels, Saujast Di Teulada, Villa Real, Milan.

M. or from M.

MR. W. E. LANGDON, formerly telegraph superintendent and chief of the electrical department of the Midland Railway, died on Saturday last, August 12. He was for many years a member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, and was president for the session of 1901-2.

PROFS. RUBERT BOYCE AND RONALD Ross, of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, left Liverpool on Saturday by the Campania for New York. They are proceeding to New Orleans, their services having been offered to the authorities in connection with the outbreak of yellow fever at that port.

A REUTER message from Hong Kong, dated August 12, reports that for nine hours a continuous series of earthquake shocks, two of them prolonged, have been felt at Macao. Slight shocks have been experienced in Hong Kong. An earthquake shock was felt at Chamonix on August 13, at 10.30 a.m. The usual subterranean rumbling

noise was heard.

MR. GERALD DUDGEON has been appointed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to examine and report upon questions relating to the development of the agricultural resources (including cotton) of British West Africa. His title is Superintendent of Agriculture for the British West African Colonies and Protectorates.

THE weather report issued by the Meteorological Office for the week ending August 12 shows that in all the eleven districts into which the British Islands are divided the rainfall since the beginning of the year is below the average, except in the north of Scotland, where the excess is 5.2 inches. The deficiency amounts to 4-6 inches in the north-east of England, and to 30 inches in the Midland counties. While at the end of the week in question nearly the whole of England and Ireland were under the influence

« PrejšnjaNaprej »