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10 Heat - Electricity - The World of Matter

Carl von Reichenbach's picture
Submitted by Carl von Reichenbach on Sat, 02/22/2014 - 09:39

X. Heat—Electricity—The World of Matter

No action on my part is necessary to direct your attention to the part which such mighty agencies.is heat and electricity must surely play in respect of od. But the matter grows so very complicated at this point that I see no room for it within the narrow confines of a few letters, and must restrict myself to a few short, comprehensive facts.

Present a brazier of glowing charcoal to a high-sensitive, or burn spirits of wine in his vicinity, or set him at a few paces distant from a wood fire, or throw a few granules of potassium into water in his presence, and question him as to the sensation all this causes him. You will surely expect that he will answer, “Heat.” You and your sensitive, however, will be struck at having to hear and feel respectively that it is not warmth, but coolness, that is his predominant sensation through all these fireworks.

Give him a light, wooden rod about an ell in length; let him take hold of it by one end in his left hand, and set fire to it at the other; he will find that coolness is produced in his hand as long as the rod bums. Give him an iron or glass rod instead, or a porcelain tube, and let him Heat it over the chimney of a lamp with an Argand burner; he will tell you with a shake of the head in each case that the rod is getting cold.

The explanation of this anomaly in the law of heat is that heating, just like the action of burning, develops od.

Hang a metal wire about the thickness of a straw in the dark chamber, so ’that part of it is inside and another part outside, say, let through the door. Put the outside portion on to a chafing-dish and heat it up. As soon as the calefaction begins outside, your sensitive in the dark will report the apparition of a small, luminous flame at his extremity of the wire.

I do not wish to call a halt here, but to hurry on at once to the subject of electricity, only to dispose of it, however, by sketching a few of its traits. The prevailing sensation reported by ail sensitives when taken into the neighbourhood of any object of a good size charged with positive electricity, is coolness. But an electrophore yields lukewarmness, while the fur used with it emits coolness.1

When with your sensitive in the dark, strike a cake of resin very smartly with a fox’s brush, and let him look at it sideways. You will hear him say that he sees a flame-like, lambent body of light rise up from the cake, something like a foot and a half in height. The brush will look like a roller of white light. After a few minutes the flame from the cake will die out; but, while blazing, it will emit a luminous smoke rising as far as the ceiling, where it traces a great area of illumination, such as you already know of in the case of crystals and the poles of the magnet.

I have a good-sized electrical machine planted with its pedestal on the floor of my room, and its conductor in the same way, the whole making up an apparatus of considerable size. When the machine is at rest, medium-sensitives see practically nothing of it in the dark. If the glass disk is set in motion, so slowly that no electrical light is visible anywhere, the whole apparatus nevertheless becomes luminous with a white light. Some sensitives drew a peculiar comparison between it and a cart laden with lime, which they described as presenting the same sort of whiteness to the look.

A Leyden jar, when charged with electricity, became luminous through and through. A long iron wire which I ran through the dark chamber, with both ends outside, by means of which I kept discharging the jar from without, glowed white throughout its length at every discharge, for a period of from four to five minutes. At the moment of each discharge, the sensitives saw an unusually bright spark flash along the wire with the speed of lightning, from which they were able to give me the exact direction taken by the discharges, that is to say, from the inner lining to the outer.

As to the voltaic column, I will only mention the fact that the enclosed polar wire becomes not only self-luminous, but that it is surrounded in addition with a corkscrew formation of light, spinning around it in an impetuous current. One would think that this fact alone would arouse the most sympathetic interest on the part of the physicists. What they have discovered with an endless expenditure of acumen, every child, so to speak, if it is but a sensitive, can hold within its grasp and describe to them with all accompanying circumstances as something perceived by the senses—the Ampere spiral of the voltaic current. After all, there must be some physicists who are themselves sensitives: so, at least, we should expect; and personally I have come across at least a dozen medical practitioners who are such. But as to how long it will take to awaken the interest of physicists in general, I must confess that I ’do not know.

Heat and electricity, consequently, are powerful sources of od, but I must refrain for the present from setting forth the abundance of the phenomena which they give rise to.2 I wish instead to introduce you to the last and most important of these sources of od.

Captain Anschütz, now on service in the Austrian army, who is a good medium-sensitive, once lay ill in Baden, and during this illness his sensitivity to excitation was enormously increased. As he lay sleepless on his bed, it became apparent to him that, when the nights were very dark, he could see the finger-plates, the hinges, and the lock of the door opposite, though he was unable to make out any other object in the room. He recognized the fact that the objects mentioned were apparently self-luminants. Other persons, none, however, who were not high-sensitives, observed all the metal plates on the furniture, all the locks, all the gilt objects in their room, and every nail on the wall, to be luminous and emitting tiny names or luminous smoke.

I drew up a small specimen-sheet of a number of metals; these were found by all high-sensitives to he slightly luminous, some more, others less clearly so; but to all the sensitives all of them were at least visible. A glazed cabinet filled with an assortment of silver-plate appeared in the darkness to be replete with a fine fire.

When I tried substances of another character— coal, selenium, iodine, sulfur—they too were found to be luminous. The appearance of these bodies resembled the glow of phosphorescence, so that they looked as if they were transparent; they could be seen right into.

Together with the glow, high-sensitives observed surrounding these substances the same flame-like emanation of light losing itself in smoke, as is already known to us from other concentrated outflowings of od. In this as in the former cases the emanation could be made to flicker and flutter by the breath, or by a draught in the room, and was in many cases capable of lighting up the fingers which held the objects undergoing observation.

In colour the emanations were found to be by no means alike, and this fact afforded a safe means for checking the exactness of the observations. Everything made of copper, for instance, was seen in a red glow, surrounded by a green flame; tin, lead, palladium and cobalt were blue; bismuth, zinc, osmium, titanium, potassium, red; silver, gold, platinum, antimony, cadmium, white; nickel and chromium, a kind of green, shading off into a greenish-yellow; iron almost polychrome, playing with all the colours of the rainbow; arsenic, coal, iodine, and selenium, red; sulfur, blue, and sulfur itself was often seen as blue by medium-sensitives.

Chemical compositions were also luminous, and some of them so to a remarkably high degree; theo-bromine, e.g., was white; parabanic acid, a remarkably fine blue; and calcined lime, red, I made a portable collection of several hundred chemical preparations rowed closely together, kept them in the dark, and only opened them again in the darkness of the camera obscura. Medium-sensitives only saw a few of them; but high-sensitives saw them all without exception, in a weaker or stronger degree of luminosity. Even the masonry of the walls of the dark chamber showed up after a fairly long period in the darkness as emitting a fine, rather white light. This went so far that my seers were finally able to see everything in the room in a kind of twilight, and even took me by the arm, as I, of course, could see nothing at all, and led me about with the greatest certainty amidst all my scientific instruments.

Everything, then, emits light; everything, everything I We live in a world full of shining matter. Just as an impetuous eruption of light takes place in the sun, so on earth an extremely feeble emission of light takes place, quite uniformly, from everything to be found there. Flimsy substances, such as cottons, woolens, wood, glue, etc., show the feeblest degree of luminosity. All kinds of stone are luminous. The most brilliantly luminous among amorphous substances are the metals, and the simple elements in general. This source of a luminosity common to everything in the universe is feebler in degree than any of the sources of light previously mentioned; but, as a set-off against that, it is unlimited in extent.

Well, is this luminosity odic? It is; because it has all the characteristics of od, including the effects produced by all od-containers on the sense of feeling. Lay any metals you like—say sulfur, iodine, coal, graphite—on any kind of board—say a plank of limewood—-and get strongly sensitive persons to pass the palm of their left hand over them; you will find that they feel themselves affected by coolness or lukewarmth, with a sense of comfort or discomfort, and that most strongly by the substances that shine the brightest, and most feebly, down to not at all, by those whose light is dullest.

Or, put substances of all sorts confusedly, solids and liquids, open or hermetically sealed in glass vessels, into the hand of strongly sensitive persons, be the hand bare or gloved; they will have a different sensation from each, of coolness or lukewarmth, of liking or of dislike, while in the case of many they will have that sensation connected with special secondary effects, e.g. in the case of sulfur, bromine, bichromate of potassium, oxygenated gas, arsenic, quicksilver, and copper. They will distinguish each by their feeling, and classify each according to its odic character.

Od, therefore, not only flows in concentrated form from special sources, but is, in addition, a general endowment of the whole of Nature, a variously shared but universally distributed natural force, such as heat, electricity, chemical affinity, gravity, etc. It interpenetrates and fills the structure of the universe, present in the smallest things as well as in the greatest.


1 The electrophorus or electrophore [Greek for “electricity-carrier”] is an instrument for obtaining statical [i.e. “standing,” “constant,” “stored up”] electricity by means of induction, and consists of a round cake of resin, which is negatively electrified by being struck or rubbed with a catskin on flannel. A polished metal disk, fitted with an insulating handle attached at right angles to its centre, may now be set flat upon the cake. “Under these circumstances the upper plate does not receive a direct charge from the lower, but is positively charged on the lower surface and negatively on the upper; if now the [metal] disk is touched by the finger, the negative electricity passes to the ground, leaving the [metal] disk charged positively. On being lifted away by its insulating handle, it [i.e. the metal disk] is found to be charged, and will give a spark, ft may then be replaced on the lower plate [i.e. the resin cake], and the process repeated an indefinite number of times, if (he weather is favourable. The electricity obtained each time is the equivalent of the mechanical work done in separating the two surfaces against the attraction of the unlike electricities.”—Century Dictinnary and Encyclopedia. We owe the electrophore to Volta.

2 Further details are to be found in the publication already quoted: Reichenbach’s Dynamidt in Their Relation to Vital Energy, etc.