Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 66.djvu/49

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45
PROBLEMS OF INORGANIC CHEMISTRY.

bodies. Needless to say, neither of the samples of glass contained lead.

I have mentioned these experiments in detail, because I think they suggest wholly new lines of investigation. It would appear that if energy can be poured into a definite chemical matter, such as glass, it undergoes some change, and gives rise to bodies capable of being tested for; I imagine that radio-active forms of matter are produced, either identical with or allied to, those at present known. And just as radium and other radio-active elements suffer degradation spontaneously, evolving energy, so I venture to think that if energy be concentrated in the molecules of ordinary forms of matter, a sort of polymerization is the result, and radio-active elements, probably elements with high atomic weight, and themselves unstable, are formed. Of course further research may greatly modify these views; but some guide is necessary, and Mr. Ternent Cook, who has helped me in these experiments, and I suggest this hypothesis (in the words of Dr. Johnstone Stoney, a hypothesis is 'a supposition which we hope ma} r be useful') to serve as a guide for future endeavor.

In the light of such facts, speculation on the periodic arrangement of the elements is surely premature. It is open to any one to make suggestions; they are self-evident. Most of you will agree with the saying 'it is easy to prophesy after the event.' I prefer to wait until prophecy becomes easy.

I must ask your indulgence for having merely selected a few out of the many possible views as regards the Problems of Inorganic Chemistry. I can only plead in excuse that my task is not an easy one; and I venture to express the hope that some light has been thrown on the shady paths which penetrate that dark region which we term the future.