Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/536

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Hertz are of a much more complex nature than the experiments would leave one to infer.

When we remember the effect which electricity has upon the plane of polarized light, it would seem that Hertz's wave-lengths are of an entirely different order from what they should he. How can electrical wave-lengths of one metre be in any way associated with light-waves of less than one billionth of a millimetre? Whatever we have known of the wave lengths of the ether, in radiant heat and light, has always been of that infinitesimal order. Still, should the velocity of propagation of electrical waves be much greater than has been supposed, then with these large wave-lengths the times of oscillation could be of the same order as those of light.

Hertz, however, has a system of stationary waves, and it would seem that no direct calculations could give a correct value for the time of oscillation. This can be shown by moving a long trough of water. By holding one end in the hand, suitable impulses can be given so as to produce any desired wave-lengths. Should Hertz be wrong in his conclusions, still the impulse which he has given in this direction is sure to fructify. It is possible that induction may be found to be a phenomenon of pure wave-motion, and that it can be likened directly to radiation. Could we then carry the comparison still further, and say that a conductor is an opaque medium; that a dielectric is transparent—then we would likely soon be constructing electrical lenses, would be detecting electrical refraction, diffraction, and possibly be constructing an electrical spectrum. Doubtless, if not this, some similar thing will develop, and no young physicist need then say that all the things in physics have already been discovered and measured.


VARNHAGEN von ENSE, the German Macaulay, characterizes the shams of our latter-day civilization in the remark that "a constant improvement in the luster of the varnish has kept up with the progressive dry-rot of the timber."

The historian thus denounces the increasing political corruption of his age, but his aphorism admits of a much wider application. The increase of prudery masks the decadence of the virtue it tries to simulate; modern courtesies of speech too often conceal the baldest egotism; callous inhumanity is glossed over with sentimental cant.