This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
By DR. W. F. GINTL, abstracted by DR. VON GERICHTEN.
The author discusses the question whether, according to the experiments of Crookes, the assumption of an especial fourth state of aggregation is necessary, or whether the facts may be satisfactorily explained without such hypothesis? He shows that the latter alternative is possible with the aid of a mechanical theory of electricity. If the radiant matter produced in the vacuum is a phenomenon sui generis, produced by the action of electricity and heat upon the molecules of gas remaining in the receiver, it is, in the first place, doubtful to apply to it the conception of an aggregate condition. The author considers it impossible to form a clear understanding of the phenomena in accordance with the theory of Crookes, or to find in the facts any evidence of the existence of radiant matter. An explanation of the latter phenomenon is thus given: Particles become separated from the surface of the substance of the negative pole, they are repelled, and they move away from the pole with a speed resulting from the antagonistic forces in a parallel and rectilinear direction, preserving their speed and their initial path so long as they do not meet with obstacles which influence their movement. At a certain density of the gases present in the exhausted space, these particles, in consequence of the impact of gaseous molecules more or less opposed to their direction of movement, lose their velocity after traveling a short distance and soon come to rest. The more dilute the gas the smaller is the number of the impacts of the gaseous molecules encountering the molecules of the poles, and at a certain degree of dilution the repelled polar particles will be able to traverse the space open to them without any essential alteration in their speed, the small number of the existing gaseous molecules being no longer able to retard the molecules of the polar no their journey through the apparatus. The luminous phenomena of the Geissler tubes the author supposes to be produced by the intense blows which the gaseous molecules receive from the polar molecules flying rapidly through the apparatus. The intensity of the luminous phenomena will naturally decrease with the number of the photophorous particles occupying the space. Accordingly in the experiments of Crookes, on continued rarefaction of the gas, a condition was reached where a display of light is no longer perceptible, or can be made visible merely by the aid of fluorescent bodies. A condition may also appear, as is shown by Crookes' experiment, with the metallic plate intercalated as negative pole in the middle of. a Geissler tube, with the positive poles at the ends. In this case the gaseous molecules are, so to speak, driven away by the polar particles endowed with an equal initial velocity, till at a certain distance from the pole the mass of the gaseous molecules and their speed become so great that a luminous display begins. In an analogous manner the author explains the phenomena of phosphorescence which Crookes' elicits by the action of his radiant matter. In like manner the thermic and the mechanical effects are most simply explained, according to the expression selected by Crookes himself, as the results of a "continued molecular bombardment." The attraction of the so called radiant matter, regarded as a stream of metallic particles by the magnet, will not appear surprising.