Valley of the Sun - Deadlands

Professor Oglethorpe's Journal
Musings on the molecular potential of ghost rock

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.

Journal entry of Prof. Oglethorpe

Prof. Mordecai Erasmus Oglethorpe, the 10th day of May in the year 1879, somewhere in Nevada territory on a Denver Pacific westbound train:

I am filled with hopeful anticipation as I travel west toward an enclave of intellectuals and visionaries, the collective known as the Collegium. A number of colleagues and acquaintances have migrated there to further our knowledge of the substance known colloquially as “ghost rock”. Following the theoretical perspectives presented by Professor James Clerk Maxwell at a lecture sponsored by the University of Glasgow, I have conducted scholarly inquiry into the nature of ghost rock. In order to pass the time as this locomotive chugs across the seemingly endless plains, I will endeavor to organize my thoughts on the theories.

It is theorized that an atom is a body which cannot be cut in two. A molecule is the smallest possible portion of a particular substance. No one has ever seen or handled a single molecule. Molecular science, therefore, is one of those branches of study which deal with things invisible and imperceptible by our senses, and which cannot be subjected to direct experiment.

For millennia, the mind of man has perplexed itself with many hard questions. Is space infinite, and if so in what sense? Is the material world infinite in extent, and are all places within that extent equally full of matter? Do atoms exist, or is matter infinitely divisible?

The discussion of questions of this kind has been going on ever since men began to reason, and to each of us, as soon as we obtain the use of our faculties, the same old questions arise as fresh as ever. They form as essential a part of the science of the nineteenth century of our era, as of that of the fifth century before it.

We do not know much about the science organisation of Thrace twenty-two centuries ago, or of the machinery then employed for diffusing an interest in physical research. There were men, however, in those days, who devoted their lives to the pursuit of knowledge with an ardour worthy of the most distinguished members of the Royal Society; and the lectures in which Democritus explained the atomic theory to his fellow-citizens of Abdera realised, not in golden opinions only, but in golden talents, a sum hardly equalled even in America with all of its bountiful resources.

To another very eminent philosopher, Anaxagoras, best known to the world as the teacher of Socrates, we are indebted for the most important service to the atomic theory, which, after its statement by Democritus, remained to be done. Anaxagoras, in fact, stated a theory which so exactly contradicts the atomic theory of Democritus that the truth or falsehood of the one theory implies the falsehood or truth of the other. The question of the existence or non-existence of atoms cannot be presented with greater clearness than in the alternative theories of these two philosophers.

I will continue these musings in the morning…

Drunken History mebbe?
TallaDodgeCity Nights?

Just wondering how my cousin wound up in the splash picture on the lower right. If you’ve seen “Talladega Nights” you’ll know who I mean. But by the weirdest coincidence, he has also played the archetypical mad scientist Nicholai Tesla in the “Drunken History” series so he COULD have been there…

We gonna need a bigger boat afore The Flood!
Deja Vu all over again...

So the player-characters are exploring by boat (!) dangerous territories years after a cataclysm that altered the very world. They fight foes both human and otherwise in their adventures. How TOTALLY UNLIKE any RPG campaign I have ever been in before! :D

The Trail begins here...
The Flood

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