Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/115

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103
RECENT WORK ON THE X RAYS.

I do not care now to object to the qualitative judgments here expressed; but how about the quantity of praise and blame that is bestowed? Is it probable that the writer of these words ever had much thorough training in the mathematics and physical sciences? Indeed, can he ever have studied anything quantitatively?

It is not my main purpose, however, to argue for the disciplinary value of scientific study; its more direct and substantive value for the student of literature is what I have wished especially to set forth. There seem to be two great types of collegiate education, the literary and the scientific. That natural science has an important rôle to play in the ideal literary education I firmly believe; and in support of this position I appeal to the prophecy of Wordsworth, to the poetry of Tennyson, and to the reason of the case.


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RECENT WORK ON THE X RAYS.

THE general interest which the so-called Röntgen rays have excited among the unscientific as well as among the specialists seems to justify a more extended treatment than their actual value to humanity, so far as at present known, would warrant. The following extracts are taken from the published statements of some of the more prominent physicists. They are more or less tentative, as all such work at present must necessarily be; but they are of interest, as showing the lines along which experimentation is going on, and they perhaps offer some indication of the probable future of this curious form of energy.

In a paper read before the Paris Academy of Sciences M. Jean Perrin says: "Two hypotheses have been propounded to explain the properties of the cathode rays. Some physicists think with Goldstein, Hertz, and Lenard, that this phenomenon is, like light, due to vibrations of the ether, or even that it is light of short wave length. It is easily understood that such waves may have a rectilinear path, excite phosphorescence, and affect photographic plates. Others think, with Crookes and J. J. Thompson, that these rays are formed by matter which is negatively charged and moving with great velocity, and on this hypothesis their mechanical properties, as well as the manner in which they become curved in a magnetic field, are readily explicable." A series of experiments which the author made, and which are given in Nature for January 30th, lead him to the following conclusions. "These results as a whole do not appear capable of being easily reconciled with the theory which regards the cathode rays as being ultra-violet light. On the other hand, they agree well with the theory which regards