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Jeans, Sir James - The Mysterious Universe - Atoms and Bells



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A description of the experience

Sir James Jeans – The Mysterious Universe

So long as atoms were regarded as permanent and indestructible – the imperishable foundation stones of the universe’ to use Maxwell’s phrase – it was natural to treat them as the fundamental constituents of the universe. 

The universe was, in brief, a universe of atoms, radiation being of quite secondary importance. 

Every now and then an atom was supposed to be set in vibration, as a bell is struck, and emitted radiation for a brief time, as a bell emits sound, until it lapsed back to its normal state of quiescence. 

But radiation was no more regarded as a primary constituent of matter than sound is of a carillon of bells.  Incidentally this explains why it was found impossible to imagine how the sun could continue to radiate for thousands of millions of years or more.  Sunlight was believed to be produced by the agitation of atoms, but no one could imagine what maintained the agitation …..

The source of the experience

Jeans, Sir James

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