§ 9. Speculative Considerations.
From some results in the preceding discussion it has appeared that the transverse mass of a body is merely a manifestation of its total energy, that it is in fact a measure of that energy. It is then natural to suppose, on the other hand, that anything which possesses energy has mass; and we thus conceive of mass and energy as coextensive.
Now a beam of light possesses energy; whence we conclude naturally that it also has mass. But we have seen that no "material body" can have a velocity as great as that of light. How are these two facts to be reconciled? If we define "matter" as that which possesses mass (and this is probably the best definition) we shall perhaps best be able to represent to ourselves the nature of matter if we think of it as a strain in the ether. Then the two facts which we have to reconcile would be entirely consistent if we suppose that the beam of light sets up a strain in the ether (whence its mass) but that this strain as a whole is not propagated with the velocity of light. In fact, if it moves at all it is probably with a velocity relatively much smaller than that of light.
Again, if mass is merely a manifestation of energy in the form of a strain in the ether it would follow that gravitation is simply an interaction among these several strains. A strain principally localized in one place would have lines of strain going out from it in all directions, and the action of these lines of strain upon one another would afford the effective means by which gravitation acts.
Whether these strains should be thought of as static in the ether or as due to the relative motion of the parts of the ether would probably be determined differently by different minds. If one inclines to the latter form of representation, the necessary movement might be conceived of as vortex whorls in the ether, setting up strains and lines of strain by aid of which we are able to interpret observed phenomena.
- Indiana University,
- November, 1912.