Skip to main content

Full text of "Scientific Papers - Vi"

See other formats

[Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. xxx. pp. 275290, 1919.]
BEFORE entering upon the matters that I had intended to lay before you, it is fitting that I should refer to the loss we have sustained within the last few days in the death-of Sir William Crookes, a former President of the Society during several years from 18961899, and a man of world-wide scientific reputation. During his long and active life he made many discoveries in Physics and Chemistry of the first importance. In quite early days his attention was attracted by an unknown and brilliant green line in the spectrum, which he succeeded in tracing to a new element named Thallium, after its appearance. Later he was able so to improve vacua as to open up fresh lines of inquiry with remarkable results in more than one direction. The radiometer, a little instrument in which light, even candlelight., or ordinary day-light, causes the rotation of delicately suspended vanes, presents problems even yet only partially solved. And his discoveries relating to electric discharge in high vacua lie near the foundation of the modern theories of electricity as due to minute charged particles called electrons, capable of separation from ordinary chemical atoms, and of moving with speeds of the order of the speed of light. One is sbruck not only by the technical skill displayed in experiments more difficult at the time they were made than the younger generation of workers can easily understand, but also by the extraordinary instinct which directed Crookes' choice of subjects. In several cases their importance was hardly realized at the time, and only later became apparent.
I shall have occasion presently to notice in some little detail his early "Notes on Phenomena called Spiritual." It was these that attracted my own attention to the subject. In 1889 he published further "Notes of Seances with D. D. Home " in Vol. vi. of our Proceedings. I fancy that he was disappointed with the reception that his views met with, having been sanguine enough to expect that he would obtain the same credence when he wrote on psychical matters as when he was dealing with Physics or Chemistry. to elliptic integrals, there is no encouragement to try an extension to other values of a.