Part 5

# Mossotti's Theory of Gravity

by Lorentz

The following are insufficient to account for universal attraction:

• the states of the aether
• electromagnetic laws

Yet we can try to establish a theory of gravity similar to electricity with some features in common with it.

I use Mossotti’s idea which has been accepted by Wilhelm Weber and Zöllner.

They say every particle of ponderable matter consists of 2 oppositely electrified particles. Between 2 particles of matter, there will be:

• 4 electric forces
• 2 attractions between the charges of different
• 2 repulsions between those of equal signs

Mossotti supposes the attractions to be somewhat greater than the repulsions. Gravity is the difference between the two. Such a difference might exist when an action of a specific electric nature is not exerted.

To harmonize this with electrical science, we must regard the 4 forces of Mossotti as the effect of states in the aether which are called forth by the positive and negative ions.

A positive ion, as well as a negative one, is the centre of a dielectric displacement.

These two displacements have the same nature, so that, if in opposite directions and of equal magnitude, they wholly destroy each other.

If gravitation is to be included in the theory, this view must be modified.

If the actions exerted by positive and negative ions depended on vector-quantities of the same kind, in such a way that all phenomena in the neighbourhood of a pair of ions with opposite charges were determined by the resulting vector, then electric actions could only be absent, if this resulting vector were 0, but, if such were the case, no other actions could exist; a gravitation, i.e. a force in the absence of an electric field, would be impossible.

The two disturbances in the aether, produced by positive and negative ions, are of a somewhat different nature. So that, even if they are represented by equal and opposite vectors, the state of the aether is not the natural one.

This corresponds in a sense to Mossotti’s idea that positive and negative charges differ from each other to a larger extent, than may be expressed by the signs `+` and `–`.

After having attributed to each of the two states an independent and separate existence, we may assume that, though both able to act on positive and negative ions, the one has more power over the positive particles and the other over the negative ones.

This difference will lead us to the same result that Mossotti attained by means of the supposed inequality of the attractive and the repulsive forces.

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