One of the most characteristic attributes of radiant matter - whence its name - is that it moves in approximately straight lines and in a direction almost normal to the surface of the electrode. If we keep the induction current passing continuously through a vacuum tube in the same direction, we can imagine two ways in which the action proceeds: either the supply of gaseous molecules at the surface of the negative pole must run short and the phenomena come to an end, or the molecules must find some means of getting back. I will show you an experiment which reveals the molecules in the very act of returning. Here is a tube (Fig. 14) exhausted to a pressure of 0.001 millimeter or 1.3 M. In the middle of the tube is a thin glass diaphragm, C, pierced with two holes, D and E. At one part of the tube a concave pole, A', is focused on the upper hole, D, in the diaphragm. Behind the upper hole and in front of the lower one are movable vanes, F and G, capable of rotation by the slightest current of gas through the holes.

FIG. 14   PRESSURE = 0.001 MM. = 1.3 M.
FIG. 14 - PRESSURE = 0.001 MM. = 1.3 M.

On passing the current with the concave pole negative, the small veins rotate in such a manner as to prove that at this high exhaustion a stream of molecules issues from the lower hole in the diaphragm, while at the same time a stream of freshly charged molecules is forced by the negative pole through the upper hole. The experiment speaks for itself, showing as forcibly as an experiment can show that so far the theory is right.

This view of the ultra-gaseous state of matter is advanced merely as a working hypothesis, which, in the present state of our knowledge, may be regarded as a necessary help to be retained only so long as it proves useful. In experimental research early hypotheses have necessarily to be modified, or adjusted, or perhaps entirely abandoned, in deference to more accurate observations. Dumas said, truly, that hypotheses were like crutches, which we throw away when we are able to walk without them.

Radiant Matter And "Radiant Electrode Matter."

In recording my investigations on the subject of radiant matter and the state of gaseous residues in high vacua under electrical strain, I must refer to certain attacks on the views I have propounded. The most important of these questionings are contained in a volume of "Physical Memoirs," selected and translated from foreign sources under the direction of the Physical Society (vol. i., part 2). This volume contains two memoirs, one by Hittorff on the "Conduction of Electricity in Gases," and the other by Puluj on "Radiant Electrode Matter and the So-called Fourth State." Dr. Puluj's paper concerns me most, as the author has set himself vigorously to the task of opposing my conclusions. Apart from my desire to keep controversial matter out of an address of this sort, time would not permit me to discuss the points raised by my critic; I will, therefore, only observe in passing that Dr. Puluj has no authority for linking my theory of a fourth state of matter with the highly transcendental doctrine of four dimensional space.

Reference has already been made to the mistaken supposition that I have pronounced the thickness of the dark space in a highly exhausted tube through which an induction spark is passed to be identical with the natural mean free path of the molecules of gas at that exhaustion. I could quote numerous passages from my writings to show that what I meant and said was the mean free path as amplified and modified by the electrification.2 In this view I am supported by Prof. Schuster,3 who, in a passage quoted below, distinctly admits that the mean free path of an electrified molecule may differ from that of one in its ordinary state.

The great difference between Puluj and me lies in his statement that4 "the matter which fills the dark space consists of mechanical detached particles of the electrodes which are charged with statically negative electricity, and move progressively in a straight direction."

To these mechanically detached particles of the electrodes, "of different sizes, often large lumps,"5 Puluj attributes all the phenomena of heat, force and phosphorescence that I from time to time have described in my several papers.

Puluj objects energetically to my definition "Radiant Matter," and then proposes in its stead the misleading term "Radiant Electrode Matter." I say "misleading," for while both his and my definitions equally admit the existence of "Radiant Matter," he drags in the hypothesis that the radiant matter is actually the disintegrated material of the poles.

Puluj declares that the phenomena I have described in high vacua are produced by his irregularly shaped lumps of radiant electrode matter. My contention is that they are produced by radiant matter of the residual molecules of gas.

Were it not that in this case we can turn to experimental evidence, I would not mention the subject to you. On such an occasion as this controversial matter must have no place; therefore I content myself at present by showing a few novel experiments which demonstratively prove my case.

Let me first deal with the radiant electrode hypothesis. Some metals, it is well known, such as silver, gold or platinum, when used for the negative electrode in a vacuum tube, volatilize more or less rapidly, coating any object in their neighborhood with a very even film. On this depends the well known method of electrically preparing small mirrors, etc. Aluminum, however, seems exempt from this volatility. Hence, and for other reasons, it is generally used for electrodes.

If, then, the phenomena in a high vacuum are due to the "electrode matter," the more volatile the metal used, the greater should be the effect.6

FIG. 15.   PRESSURE = 0.00068 MM. = 0.9 M. Here is a tube (Fig. 15, P=0.00068 millimeter, or 0.9 M), with two negative electrodes, AA', so placed as to protect two luminous spots on the phosphorescent glass of the tube. One electrode, A', is of pure silver, a volatile metal; the other, A, is of aluminum, practically non-volatile. A quantity of "electrode matter" will be shot off from the silver pole, and practically none from the aluminum pole; but you see that in each case the phosphorescence, CC', is identical. Had the radiant electrode matter been the active agent, the more intense phosphorescence would proceed from the more volatile pole.