Part 7 (1/1)

The aspect of the earth as a separate ma.s.s in s.p.a.ce, and its energy relations.h.i.+p to its primary the sun and to the a.s.sociated planetary ma.s.ses of the solar system have been broadly presented in the General Statement (---- 1-12). In that statement, based entirely on the universally accepted properties of matter and energy, an order of phenomena is described which is in strict accordance with observed natural conditions, and which portrays the earth and the other planetary bodies, so far as their material or energy properties are concerned, as absolutely isolated ma.s.ses in s.p.a.ce. The scientific verification of this position must of necessity be founded on the terrestrial observation of phenomena. So far as the orbital movements of the planet are concerned these are admittedly orderly; each planetary ma.s.s wheels its flight through s.p.a.ce with unvarying regularity; the energy processes, also, a.s.sociated with the variations of planetary orbital path, and which attain limiting conditions at perihelion and aphelion, are readily acknowledged to be reversible and cyclical in nature. In fact, even a slight observation of the movements of celestial ma.s.ses inevitably leads to the conviction that the great energy processes of the solar system are inherently cyclical in nature, that every movement of its material and every manifestation of its energy is part of some complete operation. The whole appears to be but the natural or material embodiment of the great principle of energy conservation. It has been one of the objects of this work to show that the cyclical nature of the energy operations of the solar system is not confined only to the more prominent energy phenomena, but that it penetrates and is exhibited in the working of even the most insignificant planetary processes. Each one of the latter in reality forms part of an unbroken series or chain of energy phenomena. Each planet forms in itself a complete, perfect, and self-contained energy system. Every manifestation of planetary energy, great or small, whether a.s.sociated with animate or inanimate matter, is but one phase or aspect of that energy as it pursues its cyclical path.

It is a somewhat remarkable fact that in this age of scientific reason the observation of the strictly orderly arrangement of phenomena in the solar system as a whole should not have led to some idea in the minds of philosophical workers of a similar order of phenomena in its separate parts, but the explanation lies generally in the continual attempts to bring natural phenomena into line with certain preconceived hypotheses, and more particularly to the almost universal acceptance of the doctrine of the direct transmission of energy from the sun to the earth and the final rejection or radiation of this energy into s.p.a.ce. There is no denying the eminent plausibility of this doctrine. The evidence of Nature _prima facie_ may even appear to completely substantiate it. But we would submit that the general circ.u.mstances in which this doctrine is now so readily accepted are very similar to those which prevailed in more ancient times, when the revolution of the sun and stars round the earth was the universal tenet of natural philosophy. This conception, allied to the belief that the sole function of the celestial bodies was to provide light and heat to the terrestrial ma.s.s, appeared to be in strict accordance with observed phenomena, and held undisturbed possession of the minds of men for centuries, until it was finally demolished by Copernicus as the result of simple and accurate observation of and deduction from natural phenomena. At the present time, the somewhat venerable belief in the transmission of energy in various forms from the sun to the earth appears at first sight to be supported by actual facts. But a more rigid scrutiny of the evidence and of the mental processes must inevitably lead the unbia.s.sed mind to the conclusion that this belief has no real foundation on truly scientific observation, but is entirely unsupported by natural phenomena. Every operation of Nature, in fact, when considered in its true relations.h.i.+ps is an absolute denial of the whole conception. Like its predecessor relating to the motion of the sun and stars round the earth, the doctrine of energy transmission between separate ma.s.ses in s.p.a.ce such as the sun and the earth cannot be sustained in the face of scientific observation. This doctrine is found on investigation to be supported not by phenomena but by the conception of an elastic ethereal medium, of whose existence there is absolutely no evidential proof, and the necessity for which disappears along with the hypothesis it supports. It is, however, not proposed to discuss in any detail either the supposed transmission of energy from the sun to the planets or the arbitrary properties of the transmitting medium, but rather to adopt a more positive method of criticism by summarising briefly the evidential phenomena which show the cyclical nature of the whole terrestrial energy process, and which remove the basis of belief in such a transmission.

To recapitulate the more general conditions, we find the earth, alike with other planetary ma.s.ses, pursuing a defined orbital path, and rotating with uniform angular velocity in the lines or under the influence of the gravitation, thermal, luminous, and other incepting fields (---- 17, 18, 19) which originate in the sun. Its axial rotation, in these circ.u.mstances, gives rise to all the secondary transformations (-- 9) of terrestrial axial energy, which in their operation provide the varied panorama of terrestrial phenomena. Terrestrial axial energy is thus diverted into terrestrial secondary processes. Each of these processes is found to be united to or embodied in a definite material machine (---- 27-30), and is, accordingly, limited in nature and extent by the physical properties and incepting factors a.s.sociated with the materials of which the machine is composed. By ordinary methods of transmission, energy may pa.s.s from one material to another, that is to say from one machine to another, and by this means definite chains of energy processes are const.i.tuted, through which, therefore, pa.s.ses the axial energy originally transformed by the action of the sun. These series or chains of energy processes are also found to be one and all linked at some stage of their progress to the general atmospheric machine (-- 29). The energy operating in them is, in every case, after many or few vicissitudes according to the nature of the intermediate operations, communicated to the gaseous atmospheric material. By the movement of this material in the working of the atmospheric machine (-- 38) the energy is finally returned in its original form of axial energy of rotation. The sun's action is thus in a manner to force the inherent rotatory energy of the planet into the cyclical secondary operations, all of which converge alike towards the general atmospheric mechanism of return. The pa.s.sage of the energy through the complete secondary operations, and its re-conversion into its original axial form, may be rapid or slow according to circ.u.mstances. In equatorial regions, where the influence of the sun's incepting fields is most intense, we find that the inherent planetary axial energy is communicated with great rapidity through the medium of the aqueous vapour to the air ma.s.ses. By the movement of the latter it may be just as rapidly returned, and the whole operation completed in a comparatively short interval of time. In the same equatorial regions, the transformations of axial energy which are manifested in plant life attain their greatest perfection and vigour. But in this case the complete return of the operating energy may be very slow. The stored energy of tropical vegetation may still in great part remain in the bosom of the earth, awaiting an appropriate stimulus to be communicated to more active material for the concluding stages of that cyclical process which had its commencement in the absorption of axial energy into plant tissue. The duration of the complete secondary operation has, however, absolutely no bearing on the conservative energy properties of the planet. In this respect, the system is perfectly balanced. Every transformation or absorption of rotatory energy, great or small, for long or short periods of time, is counteracted by a corresponding return. Absolute uniformity of planetary axial rotation is thus steadily maintained.

It is scarcely necessary at this stage to point out that the verification of this description of natural operations lies simply and entirely in the observation of Nature's working at first hand. The description is based on no theory and obscured by no preconceived ideas, it is founded entirely on direct experimental evidence. The field of study and of verification is not restricted, but comprises the whole realm of natural phenomena. In a lifetime of observation the author has failed to discern a single contradictory phenomenon; every natural operation is in reality a direct confirmation.

The conception of energy, working only through the medium of definite material machines with their incepting and limiting agencies, is one which is of great value not only in natural philosophy but also in practical life. By its means it is possible in many cases to co-ordinate phenomena, apparently antagonistic, but in reality only different phases of energy machines. It aids materially also in the obtaining of a true grasp of the inexorable principle of energy conservation and its application to natural conditions, and it emphasises the indefensible nature of such ideas as the radiation of energy into _s.p.a.ce_.

It will be evident that in a planetary system such as described above there is no room for any transmission of energy to the system from an external source. The nature of the system is, in fact, such that a transmission of this kind is entirely unnecessary. As already demonstrated, every phenomenon and every energy operation can be carried out independently of any such transmission. For the purpose of ill.u.s.tration, however, it may be a.s.sumed that such a communication of energy does take place; that according to the accepted doctrines of modern science the sun pours energy in a continuous stream into the terrestrial system. Now, no matter in what form this energy is communicated, it is clear that once it is a.s.sociated with or attached to the various planetary materials it is, as it were, incorporated or embodied in the planetary energy machines, and must of necessity work through the secondary energy operations. But these operations have been shown to be naturally and irresistibly connected to the general atmospheric machine. Into this machine, then, the incremental energy must be carried, and it will be there directly converted into the form of axial energy of rotation. Once the incremental energy is actually in the planet, once it is actually communicated to planetary material, the nature of the system absolutely forbids its escape. The effect of a direct and continuous influx such as we have a.s.sumed would inevitably be an increase in the angular velocity of the system. This effect has already been verified from an experimental point of view by consideration of the phenomena of a rotating pendulum system (---- 42, 43). Whilst the influx of energy proceeds, then in virtue of the increasing velocity of the planetary material in the lines of the various incepting fields of the sun, all terrestrial phenomena involving the transformation of rotary or axial energy would be increased in magnitude and intensified in degree. The planet would thus rapidly attain an unstable condition; its material would soon become energised beyond its normal capacity, and the natural stability (-- 25) of its const.i.tuent energy machines would be destroyed; the system as a whole would steadily proceed towards disruption.

But, happily, Nature presents no evidence of such a course of events.

The earth spins on its axis with quiet and persistent regularity; the unvarying uniformity of its motion of axial rotation has been verified by the observations of generations of philosophers. Its temperature gradations show no evidence of change or decay in its essential heat qualities, and the recurrence of natural phenomena is maintained without visible sign of increase either in their intensity or multiplicity. The finger of Nature ever points to closed energy circuits, to the earth as a complete and conservative system in which energy, mutable to the highest degree with respect to its plurality of form, attains to the perfection of permanence in its essential character and amount.