Oliver Lodge

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Death is not a word to fear, any more than birth is. We change our state at birth, and come into the world of air and sense and myriad existence; we change our state at death and enter a region of—what?

Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge, FRS (12 June 1851 – 22 August 1940) was a British physicist and inventor, famous as a pioneer of radio transmission.

Quotes[edit]

The Ether of Space (1909)[edit]

  • The oldest and best known function for an ether is the conveyance of light, and hence the name "luminiferous" was applied to it, though at the present day many functions are known, and more will almost certainly be discovered.
  • What properties are essential to a medium capable of transmitting wave motion? Roughly, we may say two: elasticity and inertia.
  • The waves of light are not anything mechanical or material, but are something electrical and magnetic—they are, in fact, electrical disturbances periodic in space and time, and travelling with a known and tremendous speed through the ether of space. Their very existence depends upon the ether, and their speed of propagation is its best known and most certain quantitative property.
  • Motion and force are our primary objects of experience and consciousness; and in terms of them all other less familiar occurrences may conceivably be studied and grasped.
  • A body can only act immediately on what it is in contact with; it must be by the action of contiguous particles—that is, practically, through a continuous medium, that force can be transmitted across space.
  • All potential energy exists in the ether. It may vibrate, and it may rotate, but as regards locomotion it is stationary—the most stationary body we know: absolutely stationary, so to speak; our standard of rest.

Raymond, or Life and Death (1916)[edit]

Every great revelation is likely to have been foreshadowed in more or less imperfect forms, so as to prepare our minds and make ready the way for complete perception hereafter. It is probable that the human race is quite incompetent to receive a really great idea the first time it is offered.
  • I have made no secret of my conviction, not merely that personality persists, but that its continued existence is more entwined with the life of every day than has been generally imagined; that there is no real breach of continuity between the dead and the living; and that methods of intercommunion across what has been deemed a gulf can be set going in response to the urgent demand of affection,—that in fact as Diotima told Socrates (Symposium, 202 and 203), Love bridges the chasm.
  • Life must be considered sui generis; it is not a form of energy, nor can it be expressed in terms of something else.
  • It is not the germ cell itself, but the bodily accretion or appendage, which is abandoned by life, and which accordingly, dies and decays.
  • Death is not extinction. Neither the soul nor the body is extinguished or put out of existence. The body weighs just as much as before, the only properties it loses at the moment of death are potential properties. So also all we can assert concerning the vital principle is that it no longer animates that material organism: we cannot safely make further assertion regarding it, or maintain its activity or inactivity without further information.
  • Death is not a word to fear, any more than birth is. We change our state at birth, and come into the world of air and sense and myriad existence; we change our state at death and enter a region of—what?
  • Microscopic organisms may have troublesome and destructive effects, but in themselves they can be be studied with interest and avidity.
  • Our memories are thronged with the past; our anticipations range over the future; and it is in the past and the future that we really live. It is so even with the higher animals: they too order their lives by memory and anticipation.
  • It is rather remarkable that the majority of learned men have closed their minds to what seemed bare and simple facts to many people.
  • The things to be investigated are either true or false. If false, pertinacious inquiry will reveal their falsity. If true, they are profoundly important. For there are no half-truths in Nature; every smallest departure has portentous consequences; our eyes must open slowly, or we should be overwhelmed.
  • I am as convinced of continued existence, on the other side of death, as I am of existence here. It may said, you cannot be sure as you are of sensory experience. I say I can. A physicist is never limited to direct sensory impressions, he has to deal with a multitude of conceptions and things for which he has no physical organ ....
  • Every great revelation is likely to have been foreshadowed in more or less imperfect forms, so as to prepare our minds and make ready the way for complete perception hereafter. It is probable that the human race is quite incompetent to receive a really great idea the first time it is offered.

My Philosophy (1933)[edit]

  • It must be admitted that among a certain number of advanced mathematical physicists whose work has lain mainly in the twentieth century, the ether is regarded with suspicion, or even with contempt. And some of the opponents go so far as to as to say that the nineteenth century idea of the ether has failed to establish itself, and that in consequence the whole idea of the ether is under a cloud, and that it is only upheld by a few antiquated supporters, who, though are willing to admit many modifications in the original nineteenth century notions of an ether, feel the need of a medium capable of performing the functions attributed to it.
  • All we know at present of locomotion is the locomotion of one piece of matter with reference to other pieces. That can be freely granted, and the whole edifice of physics is consistent with the idea that locomotion through the ether is impossible to measure. But the impossibility has never been proved, and some day an exceptional phenomenon may be found.

Quotes about Lodge[edit]

  • The ether was very important and very real to British physicists toward the end of the nineteenth century: to few was it more so than Oliver Lodge (1851–1940).
    • Hunt, B. (1986). Experimenting on the ether: Oliver J. Lodge and the great whirling machine. Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences, 16(1), 111–134. doi:10.2307/27757559


External links[edit]

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