Prof. Mordecai Erasmus Oglethorpe, the 16th day of May in the year 1879, continuing my travels on the Denver Pacific rails:
I have recently received correspondence from a brilliant medical researcher I met at the Glasgow conference. The intriguing theories he outlined in our discussions provided ample inspiration for me to take my work on ghost rock applications in exciting new directions. The subject of Maxwell’s lecture on the nature of molecules provided a key for my epiphany.
Take any portion of matter, say a drop of water, and observe its properties. Like every other portion of matter we have ever seen, it is divisible. Divide it in two, each portion appears to retain all the properties of the original drop, and among others that of being divisible. The parts are similar to the whole in every respect except in absolute size.
Now go on repeating the process of division till the separate portions of water are so small that we can no longer perceive or handle them. Still we have no doubt that the sub-division might be carried further, if our senses were more acute and our instruments more delicate. Thus far all are agreed, but now the question arises, Can this sub-division be repeated forever?
According to Democritus and the atomic school, we must answer in the negative. After a certain number of sub-divisions, the drop would be divided into a number of parts each of which is incapable of further sub-division. We should thus, in imagination, arrive at the atom, which, as its name literally signifies, cannot be cut in two. This is the atomic doctrine of Democritus, Epicurus, and Lucretius, and, I may add, of this author.
According to Anaxagoras, on the other hand, the parts into which the drop is divided, are in all respects similar to the whole drop, the mere size of a body counting for nothing as regards the nature of its substance. Hence if the whole drop is divisible, so are its parts down to the minutest sub-divisions, and that without end.
The essence of the doctrine of Anaxagoras is that the parts of a body are in all respects similar to the whole. It was therefore called the doctrine of Homoiomereia. Anaxagoras did not of course assert this of the parts of organised bodies such as men and animals, but he maintained that those inorganic substances which appear to us homogeneous are really so, and that the universal experience of mankind testifies that every material body, without exception, is divisible.
The doctrine of atoms and that of homogeneity are thus in direct contradiction.
But we must now go on to molecules. Molecule is a modern word. It does not occur in Johnson’s Dictionary. The ideas it embodies are those belonging to modern chemistry.
A drop of water, to return to our former example, may be divided into a certain number, and no more, of portions similar to each other. Each of these the modern chemist calls a molecule of water. But it is by no means an atom, for it contains two different substances, oxygen and hydrogen, and by a certain process the molecule may be actually divided into two parts, one consisting of oxygen and the other of hydrogen. According to the received doctrine, in each molecule of water there are two molecules of hydrogen and one of oxygen. Whether these are or are not ultimate atoms I shall not attempt to decide.
We now see what a molecule is, as distinguished from an atom. The results of some recent work conducted by Victor and another brilliant young scientist suggest the properties of ghost rock transcend such distinctions. The macro-level, measureable, and generally visible applications are already well known and recognizable characteristics such as vastly increased fuel efficiency or augmentation of detonation force. The truly revolutionary properties of ghost rock lies in what appears to be a sort of fusion with whatever material-organic or inorganic-to which it is applied or combined. This fusion is posited to occur not only at the macro level, but at the molecular and possibly even the atomic level, suggesting ghost rock has the potential to fundamentally change an object (perhaps even organic cells).
If such postulations hold true, the potential applications are truly staggering…and would bode well for my young colleague’s endeavors.