Keely and His Discoveries, Chapter XVIII
A PIONEER IN AN UNKNOWN REALM.
"Thus either present elements are the true elements, or there is a probability obtaining some more high and general power of Nature, even than electricity; and which, at the same time, might reveal to us an entirely new grade of the elements of matter, now hidden from our view and almost from our suspicion." - The Nature of the Chemical Elements. Faraday, 1836.
"A mysterious force exists in the vibrations of the ether, called sound, which science and invention have so far failed to utilize; but which, no doubt in the near future, will come under man's control, for driving the wheels of industry." - Thought as Force. E. S. Huntington.
"Force and forces - No end of forces! Have they mind like men?" - Browning.
The Spectator; commenting on the jubilee of the Chemical Society, last year, said it was notable for two remarkable speeches; one by Lord Salisbury, and the other by Sir Lyon Playfair. Lord Salisbury reminded his hearers that about one hundred years ago, a very celebrated tribunal had informed Lavoisier that the French Republic had no need of chemists; "but," said his Lordship, "Lavoisier, though a man of very advanced opinions, was behind this age." Lord Salisbury proceeded to exalt chemistry as an instrument of the higher educational discipline. Astronomy, he said, was hardly more than a science of things that probably are; for, at such distance in space, it was impossible to verify your inferences. Geology he regarded as a science of things as they probably were; verification being impossible after such a lapse of time. But chemistry he treated as a science of things as they actually are at the present time. The Spectator remarks:-
Surely that is questionable. All hypothesis is more or less a matter of probability. No one has ever verified the existence of atoms.
Sir Lyon Playfair, following Lord Salisbury, said, Boyle has been called the father of chemistry and the brother of the Earl of Cork; ironically hinting, perhaps, that Lord Salisbury was reflecting as much immediate glory on chemistry, by his interest in it, as did the relationship of the first considerable chemist to the Irish earl. Sir Lyon, acknowledging the revolutionizing progress of chemistry, remarked that within the last fifty years it had seen great changes; then, oxygen was regarded as the universal lover of other elements; and nitrogen was looked upon as a quiet, confirmed bachelor; but oxygen had turned out to be a comparatively respectable bigamist, that only marries two wives at a time; and nitrogen had turned out to be a polygamist; generally requiring three conjugates, and sometimes five, at a time. The false teachings of physicists in the past were admitted, including Sir Lyon's own errors; his old conceptions concerning carbonic acid and carbonic oxide all having broken down, under the crushing feet of progress. After all, says the Spectator, it seems that the French revolutionists should have welcomed chemistry, instead of snubbing it, for it has been the most revolutionary of science.
At the present time, notwithstanding the experiences of the past, Science stands as calmly on the pedestal, to which she has exalted herself, as if not even an earthquake could rock its foundations. In her own opinion, she holds the key to nature's domains. Some few there are who are ready to admit that it is possible Nature still holds the key herself; and who are not unwilling to encounter another revolution, if they can extend their knowledge of Nature's laws; even though it may leave only ruins, where now all is supposed to be so solid as to defy earthquakes and other revolutionizing forces.
In reviewing the history of the onward march of chemistry in the past, we find that Robert Boyle, who lived from 1627 to 1691, was the first chemist who grasped the idea of the distinctions between an elementary and a compound body. He has been called the first scientific chemist, and he certainly did much to advance chemical science, particularly in the borderland of chemistry and physics, but he did this more by his overthrow of false theories, than in any other way. It was left for Scheele (born 1742), an obscure Swedish chemist whose discoveries extended over the whole range of chemical science, and his French contemporary, Lavoisier (born 1743), to bring about a complete revolution in chemistry. Thus, step by step, and period by period, experimental science has prepared the way to reach that elevation which humanity is destined eventually to attain, when all errors have been discarded and truth reigns triumphant. The question has been asked in view of the past history of discovery, what may not the science of the future accomplish in the unseen pathways of the air? That still unconquered field lies before us, and we know that it is only a question of time when man will hold dominion there with as firm sway as he now holds it on land and sea.
Physics and chemistry walk hand in hand. Scientists cannot cut the tie that joins them together in experimental science. Physics treats of the changes of matter without regard to its internal constitution. The laws of gravitation and cohesion belong to physical science. They concern matter without reference to its composition. Chemistry makes us acquainted with the constituents of the different forms of matter, their proportions and the changes which they are capable of bringing about in each other. But notwithstanding the lessons of the past, both chemistry and physics are blind to what the future has in store for them. Scientists have erected barriers to progress, building them so as to appear of solid masonry on the ground of false hypotheses; but, when the hour is ripe, these will be swept away as if by a cyclone leaving not one stone on another. It was Boyle who overthrew the so-called Aristotelian doctrine, and Paracelsus's teachings of the three constituents of matter, disputed first by Van Helmont. Boyle taught that chemical combination consists of an approximation of the smallest particles of matter, and that a decomposition takes place when a third body is present, capable of exerting on the particles of the one element a greater attraction than is exercised by the particles of the element with which it is combined. In this conjecture there is a just hint of the grand potentialities in the unknown realm which is now being explored by Keely, the discoverer of the order of vibration that releases the latent force held in the interstitial spaces of the constituents of water; one order of vibration, being more in sympathy with one of the elements of water than with the other, possesses a greater attraction for that element and thereby ruptures its atoms, showing up new elements. Not all men of science are willing to admit the atomic theory; although it explains satisfactorily all the known laws of chemical combination. Dalton, accepting the teachings of the ancients as to the atomic constitution of matter, was the first to propound a truly chemical atomic theory; a quantitative theory, declaring that the atoms of the different elements are not of the same weight, and that the relative atomic weights of the elements are the proportions, by weight, in which the elements combine. All previous theories, or suggestions, had been simply qualitative. Berzelius, the renowned Swedish chemist, advancing Dalton's atomic theory, laid the foundation stones of chemical science, as it now exists. Since his day, by the new methods of spectrum analysis, elements unknown before have been discovered; and researchers in this field are now boldly questioning whether all the supposed elements are really undecomposable substances, and are conjecturing that they are not. On this subject Sir Henry Roscoe says:-
"So far as our chemical knowledge enables us to judge, we may assume, with a considerable degree of probability, that by the application of more powerful means than are known at present, chemists will succeed in obtaining still more simple bodies from the so-called elements. Indeed, if we examine the history of our science, we find frequent examples occurring of bodies that only a short time ago were considered to be elementary, which have been shown to be compound, upon more careful examination."
What the chemist's retort has failed to accomplish has been effected by the discoverer of latent force existing in all forms of matter, where it is held locked in the interstitial spaces, until released by a certain order of vibration. As yet, the order of vibration which releases this force, has not been discovered in any forms of matter, excepting in the constituents of gunpowder, dynamite, and water. The Chinese are supposed to have invented, centuries before the birth of Christ, the explosive compound gunpowder, which requires that order of vibration known as heat to bring about a rupture of the molecules of the nitre, sulphur, and charcoal, of which it is composed. Dynamite requires another order of vibration - concussion to release the latent force held in the molecular embrace of its constituents. Theorder of vibration discovered by Keely, which causes the rupture of the molecular and atomic capsules of the constituents of water, must remain - though in one point only - a secret with the discoverer, until he has completed his system for science, and some one patentable invention. Let physicists be incredulous or cautious, it matters not to him. He has proved to his own satisfaction the actual existence of atoms and their divisibility - and, to the satisfaction of thousands capable of forming an opinion, the existence of an unknown force. Men of science have not been in any haste to aid him, either with money or with sympathy, in his researches; and he will take his own time to bestow upon them the fruit of those researches.
Those who have not clear ideas as to the nature of elementary bodies-molecules and atoms - may like to know that elements are defined as simple substances, out of which no other two or more essentially differing substances have been obtained. Compounds are bodies out of which two or more essentially differing substances have been obtained. A molecule is the smallest part of a compound or element that is capable of existence in a free state. Atoms are set down, by those who believe in the atomic theory, as the indivisible constituents of molecules. Thus, as element is a substance made up of atoms of the same kind; a compound is a substance made up of atoms of unlike kind.
Over seventy elements are now known, out of which, or compounds of these with each other, our globe is composed, and also the meteoric stones which have fallen on our earth. The science of chemistry aims at the experimental examination of the elements and their compounds, and the investigation of the laws which regulate their combination one with another. For example, in the year 1805, Gay-Lussac and Von Humboldt found that one volume of oxygen combines with exactly two volumes of hydrogen to form water, and that these exact proportions hold good at whatever temperature the gases are brought into contact. Oxygen and hydrogen are now classified as elementary bodies.
The existence of atoms, if proved, as claimed by the pioneer of whom we write, confirms Priestly's idea that all discoveries are made by chance; for it certainly was by a mere chance, as we view things with our limited knowledge, that Keely stumbled over the dissociation of the supposed simple elements of water by vibratory force;* thus making good Roscoe's assumption that, by the application of more powerful means than were known to him, still more simple bodies would be shown up. Had Keely subdivided these corpuscules of matter, after a method known to physicists, he would have been hailed as a discoverer, when it was announced by Arthur Goddard, in the British Mercantile Gazette, in 1887, that Keely declared electricity to be a certain form of atomic vibration of what is called the luminiferous ether.
Had Keely been better understood, science might have been marching with giant strides across this unknown realm during the many years in which men of learning have refused to witness the operation of the dissociation of water, because one of their number decided, in 1876, that Keely was using compressed air. Fixing bounds to human knowledge, she still refuse to listen to the suggestion that what she has declared as truth may be as grossly erroneous as were her teachings in the days when the rotation of the earth was denied; this denial being based upon the assertions of all the great authorities of more than one thousand years, that the earth could not move because it was flat and stationary. Herodotus ridiculed those who did not believe this. For two thousand years after the daily rotation of the earth was first suggested, the idea was disputed and derided. The history of the past, says General Drayson, who claims to have discovered a third movement of the earth, teaches us that erroneous theories were accepted as grand truths by all the scientific authorities of the whole world during more then five thousand years.* Although the daily rotation of the earth and its annual revolution around the sun had been received as facts by the few advanced minds, some five hundred years before Christ, yet the obstruction cause by ignorance and prejudice prevented these truths being generally accepted until about three hundred years ago, when Copernicus first, and afterward Galileo, revived the theory of the earth's two principal movements. Human nature is the same as in the days when Seneca said that men would rather cling to an error than admit they were in the wrong; so it is not strange that General Drayson, as the discoverer of a third movement, has not received the attention that he deserves, although his mathematical demonstrations seem to be beyond dispute.
With Keely's claim, that latent force exists in all forms of matter, it is different; for it is susceptible of proof by experiment. In the days when the sphericity of the earth was denied, for the asserted reason that the waters of the oceans and seas on its surface would be thrown off in its revolutions were it so, because "water could not stay on a round ball," the statement could not be disputed; the theory of the laws of gravitation being then unknown. Copernicus and Galileo had nothing but theories to offer; consequently it took long years to overcome the bigotry and the baneful influence of the great authorities of the time. It is otherwise with Keely, who, for fifteen years and more, has been demonstrating this discovery to thousands of men; some of whom, but not all, were competent to form an opinion as to whether he was "humbugging with compressed air," or with a concealed dynamo, or still more absurd, with tricks in suction, as asserted by a learned professor.
Now that some our men of science have consented to form their opinions from observation, without interfering with the lines of progressive experimental research which the discoverer is pursuing, there seems to be no doubt as to the result; nor of the protection of the discovery by science. Truth is mighty, and must in the end prevail over mere authority.
It has been said that we need nothing more than the history of astronomy to teach us how obstinately the strongholds of error are clung to by incompetent reasoners; but when a stronghold is demolished, there is nothing left to cling to. Sir John Lubbock says:- "The great lesson which science teaches is how little we yet know, and how much we have still to learn." To which it might be added, and how much we have to unlearn!
All mysteries are said to be either truths concealing deeper truths, or errors concealing deeper errors; and thus, as the mysteries unfold, truth or error will show itself in a gradually clearer light, enabling us to distinguish between the two. It is now left for men of science to decide as to the nature of the mysteries which Keely is slowly unfolding, and whether his demonstrations substantiate his theories. They have been invited to follow him in his experimental research, step by step; to bestow upon him sympathy and encouragement, so long withheld, until he reaches that stage where he will no longer need their protection. Then, if science is satisfied that he has gained a treasure for her, in his years of dead-work, she must step aside and wait patiently until he has fulfilled his obligations to those who organized themselves into a company to aid him, long before she came forward to interest herself in his behalf. Those men of science who have refused to countenance this great work, even by witnessing experiments made to prove the discovery of an unknown force, are men who attempt no explanation of the miracle of nature by which we are surrounded, assuming that no explanation can be given; but, as Bacon has said, he is a bad mariner, who concludes, when all is sea around him, that there is no land beyond.
If the multitude of so-called laws of nature could be resolved into one grand universal law, would it not be considered a great step in the progress of scientific knowledge? This is what our pioneer claims for his discoveries, one law working throughout nature, in all things; for, as Macvicar says, the productive and conservative agency in creation, as it exists and acts does not consist of two things, "idea" and "power"; but of a unity embracing both, for which there is no special name. The relation between the Creator and the Creation, the First Cause and what he has effected, is altogether inscrutable; but intelligence acting analytically, as it cannot be kept from doing, insists on these two elements in the problem, viz. idea and power. see Rhythmic Balanced Interchange
"The law of the universe is a distinct dualism while the creative energies are at work; and of a compound union when at rest." see Rhythmic Balanced Interchange
The hypothesis that motion can only be effected mechanically, by pressure or traction or contact of some kind, is an utterly helpless one to explain even familiar movements. Gravitation itself, the grandest and most prevailing phenomenon of the material universe, has set all genius at defiance when attempting to conceive a mechanism which might account for it. The law of sympathetic association, or sympathetic assimilation, between two or more atoms, or masses of atoms, explains this grand phenomenon; but Roscoe, in theorizing on the atomic theory, says that from purely chemical considerations it appears unlikely the existence of atoms will ever be proved. It never could have been proved by mechanical physics nor by chemistry. The law which locks the atoms together would have remained an unknown law, had not Keely opened the door leading into one of nature's domains which was never entered before, unless by the fabled Orpheus, who, mythology tells us, was killed because he revealed to man, what the gods wished to conceal. Certainly, whether Orpheus ever existed or not, the principle which Pythagoras promulgated as the teaching of Orpheus is disclosed in one of Keely's discoveries.
In the great fresco of the school of Athens, by Raphael, Pythagoras is represented as explaining to his pupils his theory that the same principle underlies the harmonies of music and the motion of heavenly bodies. One of these pupils holds in his hand a tablet, shaped like a zither, on which are inscribed the Greek words. Diapason, Diapente, Diatessaron. Of the diapason, or concord of all, Spenser writes, in The Faerie Queen:-
Nine was the circle set in heaven's place,
All which compacted made a goodly diapase.
Here we have a clue to the Thirds, Sixths and Ninths of Keely's theories, in the operations of his polar negative attractor. The conception of the Pythagoreans of music, as the principle of the creation's order, and the mainstay and supporter of the material world, is strictly in accordance with the marvelous truths which are now being unfolded to science. Rightly divined Browning when he wrote of
. . . music's mystery, which mind fails
To fathom; its solution no mere clue;
and Cardinal Newman also, when he discoursed of musical sounds, "under which great wonders unknown to us seem to have been typified," as "the living law of divine government." Since the days of Leucippus, poets and philosophers have often touched upon the mysteries hidden in sound, which are now being revealed in the experimental researches of Keely. These truths make no impression on those who are not gifted with any comprehension of nature's harmonious workings, and are regarded as flights of fancy and of rhetoric. Among the utterances of inspiration - and all truth is inspired - one of the most remarkable, when taken in connection with these discoveries, is found in these eloquent words of the Dean of Boston University in his "Review of Herbert Spencer," printed in 1876:-
"Think of the universal warring of tremendous forces which is for ever going on, and remember that out of this strife is born, not chaos void and formless, but a creation of law and harmony. Bear in mind, too, that this creation is filled with the most marvelous mechanisms, with the most exquisite contrivances, and with forms, of the rarest beauty. Remember, also, that the existence of these forms for even a minute depends upon the nicest balance of destructive forces. Abysses of chaos yawn on every side, and yet creation holds on its way. Nature's keys need but to be jarred to turn the tune into unutterable discord, and yet the harmony is preserved. Bring hither your glasses - and see that, from atomic recess to the farthest depth, there is naught but 'toil co-operant to an end.' All these atoms move to music; all march in tune. Listen until you catch the strain, and then say whether it is credible that a blind force should originate and maintain all this."
Sir John Herschel said:- "There is some principle in the science of music that has yet to be discovered."
It is this principle which has been discovered by Keely. Let his theories be disputed as they have been, and as they still may be, the time has come in which his supporters claim that he is able to demonstrate what he teaches; is able to show how superficial are the foundations of the strongholds to which physicists are clinging; and able to prove purity of conditions in physical science which not even the philosophers and poets of the past have so much as dreamed of in their hours of inspiration.
. . . . . ways are made,
Burdens are lifted, or are laid,
By some great law unseen and still,
Unfathomed purpose to fulfill.
Our materialistic physicists, our Comtist and agnostic philosophers, have done their best to destroy our faith.
Of him who will not believe in Soul because his scalpel cannot detect it, Browning wrote:
To know of, think about-
Is all man's sum of faculty effects,
When exercised on earth's least atom.
What was, what is, what may such atoms be?-
Unthinkable, unknowable to man.
Yet, since to think and know fire through and through
Exceeds man, is the warmth of fire unknown?
Its uses - are they so unthinkable?
Pass from such obvious power to powers unseen,
Undreamed of save in their sure consequence:
Take that we spoke of late, which draws to ground
The staff my hand lets fall; it draws at least -
Thus much man thinks and knows, if nothing more.
These lines were written in reference to Keely's discovery of the infinite subdivision of the atom; for not until a much later period was Browning influenced by a New York Journalist to look upon Keely as "a modern Cagliostro." Keely's discovery was the key note of "Ferishtah's Fancies," written by Browning before he met this journalist.
Professor Koening writes:- "I have long given up the idea of understanding the Universe; with a little insight into its microcosm. I would feel quite satisfied; as every day it becomes more puzzling."
But there are no boundaries set to knowledge in the life of the soul, and these discoveries reach out so far towards the Infinite, that we are led by them to realize how much there is left for science to explore in the supposed unfathomable depths of the etheric domain, whence proceeds the influence that connects us with that infinite and eternal energy from which all things proceed.
The attitude of willingness to receive truths, of whatever nature, now manifested by men of science in regard to Keely's experimental research, is shared by all who are not "wise in their own conceit." They stand ready to welcome, while waiting for proof, the discovery of Darwin's grand-niece, Mrs. F. J. Hughes, as now demonstrated by Keely, viz., that the laws which develop and control harmonies, develop and control the universe; and they will rejoice to be convinced (as Keely teaches) that all corpuscular aggregation absorbs energy, holding it latent in its embrace until liberated by a certain order of vibration; that nature does not aggregate one form of matter under one law, and another form of matter under another law. When this has been demonstrated, to their entire satisfaction, they will acknowledge that Faraday's speculations on the nature of force and matter pointed the way to Keely's discoveries. Some broad-minded men have been pursuing lines of research which give evidence of their desire to solve the problem for themselves as to the mode of rupturing the atom, which science declare to be indivisible. Before any great scientific principle receives distinct enunciation, says Tyndall, it has dwelt more or less, clearly in many minds. The intellectual plateau is already high, and our discoverers are those who, like peaks above the plateau, rise over the general level of thought at the time. If, as Browning has said,
"Tis not what man does which exalts him, but what man would do,"
surely this discoverer merits the sympathy and the admiration of all men, whether he succeeds commercially or not, for his persistent efforts to make his discoveries of use to the world. Keely has always said that scientists would never be able to understand his discoveries until he had reached some practical or commercial result. Only now he sees an interest awakened among men of science, which is as gratifying to him as it is unexpected. For the first time in his life, he is working with the appreciation of men competent to comprehend what he has done in the past, and what remains to be done in the future, without one aspiration on their part for monetary results.
Foremost among these men was the late Joseph Leidy, Professor of Biology in the University of Pennsylvania; but physicists were not satisfied to take the opinion of this great man, because he was a biologist. What better preparation than they study of the science of life could a man have to qualify him for discriminating between laws of nature as conjectured by physicists, and Nature's operations as demonstrated by Keely?
To such men, possessing entire scientific and intellectual liberty of thought, with that love of justice and truth which keeps its possessor from self-conceit, arrogance and intolerance, the world owes all that we now possess of scientific advance, since the days when men believed the thunder and lightning to be the artillery of the gods. (Lucifer magazine, September, 1892.)
Keely and His Discoveries