By H. A. Lorentz (auth.)
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Extra resources for Collected Papers: Volume IX
In this sense one can appeal too much to the imagination, when the comparison of the electric current to some running liquid is stretched too far, or when one tries to elucidate the formation of crystals by the regular arrangement shown by iron filings under the influence of a magnet. Now one must be especially on one's guard against this kind of exaggerated visualization when one has to deal with the notion of forces in physics. We have been taught, that a force is the cause, by which a body I} See the notes at the end, p.
This conviction is already so deeply rooted that only with some difficulty can we realize the toil and the exertion, which it must have cost the physicists to consolidate its existence and what important services they have rendered to present day culture. If, however, we bear in mind the far-reaching influence in our own days of the fact that more order and regularity have been brought to light in the domain of living nature, we can form a faint idea of the extent, to which our modern outlook is indebted to the discovery of the laws of nature.
Allow me to explain this to you in further detail and, therefore, to speak to you about the molecular theories in physics. There will be hardly anybody nowadays, who does not know, that in the mind of physicists a material body is a system of very ~mall particles, so called molecules, each of which may be composed of a number of still smaller particles, atoms, as chemistry more in particular teaches us. I shall not give you here all the arguments, that plead in favour of this way of visualizing a material body.