and precision which is not surpassed in any other department of physics, even in the theory of gravitation.
Where a more speculative element enters is in the construction of a kinematic scheme of representation of the aether-strain, such as will allow of the unification of the various assumptions here enumerated. It is desirable for the sake of further insight, and even necessary for various applications, to have concrete notions of the physical nature of the vectors (f, g, h) and (a, b, c) which specify aethereal disturbances, in the form of representations such as will implicitly and intuitively involve the analytical relations between them, and will also involve the conditions and restrictions to which each is subject, including therein the permanence and characteristic properties of an electron and its free mobility through the aether.
104. But for the mere analytical development of the aether-scheme as above formulated, a concrete physical representation of the constitution of the aether is not required: the abstract relations and conditions above given form a sufficient basis. In point of fact these analytical relations are theoretically of an ideal simplicity for this purpose: for they give explicitly the time-rates of change of the vectors of the problem at each instant, so that from a knowledge of the state of the system at any time t the state at the time t + δt can be immediately expressed, and so by successive steps, or by the use of Taylor's differential expansion-theorem, its state at any further time can theoretically be derived. The point that requires careful attention is as to whether the solution of these equations in terms of a given initial state of the system determines the motions of the electrons or strain-nuclei through the medium, as well as the changes of strain in the medium itself: and it will appear on consideration that under suitable hypotheses this is so. For the given initial state will involve given motions of the electrons, that is the initial value of (a, b, c) will involve rotational singularities at the electrons around their directions of motion, just such as in the element of time δt will shift the electrons themselves into their new positions: and so on step by step continually. This however
- See Appendix E.
- Cf. footnote, p. 162.