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Equilibria

"It is this energy which I have designated by the term intra-atomic energy. What are its fundamental characteristics? It differs from all forces known to us by its very great concentration, by its prodigious power, and by the stability of the equilibria it can form. We shall see that, if instead of succeeding in dissociating thousandths of a milli-gramme of matter, as at present, we could dissociate a few kilogrammes, we should possess a source of energy compared with which the whole provision of coal contained in our mines would represent an insignificant total. It is by reason of the magnitude of intra-atomic energy that radio-active phenomena manifest themselves with the intensity we observe. This it is which produces the emission of particles having an immense speed, the penetration of material bodies, the apparition of X rays, etc., phenomena which we will examine in detail in other chapters. Let us confine ourselves, for the moment, to remarking that effects such as these can be caused by none of the forces previously known. The universality in nature of intra-atomic energy is one of its characteristics most easy to define. We can recognize its existence everywhere, since we now discover radio-activity everywhere. The equilibria it forms are very stable, since matter dissociates so feebly that for a long time one could believe it to be indestructible. It is, besides, the effect produced on our senses by those equilibria that we call matter. Other forms of energy - light, electricity, etc., are characterized by very unstable equilibria." [The Evolution of Matter, page 38]

See Also

Balance
Equilibrium
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