More on Trotsky on nukes....

David Walters dwalters at igc.org
Fri Feb 7 13:55:21 MST 2003


More background to nukes and science:

Eddington's 1926 on "Subatomic energy":

Arthur Eddington's 1926 speculations on subatomic energy was published in
his book, *The Internal Constitution of the Stars* (Cambridge, 1926), and in
a paper in the May 1 issue of *Nature*. Also his popular lectures
(presented in 1926) on the same subject was published as *Stars and Atoms*
(Yale, 1927).

>From the latter's book (pp. 99-103):

"Subatomic Energy

"This store of energy is, with insignificant exception energy of
constitution of atoms and electrons; that is to say, subatomic energy. Most
of it is inherent in the constitution of the electrons and protons--the
elementary negative and positive electric charges--out of which matter is
built; so that it cannot be set free unless these are destroyed. The main
store of energy in a star cannot be used for radiation unless the matter
composing the star is being annihilated."
...

"The phrase 'anihilation of matter' sounds like something supernatural. We
do not yet know whether it can occur naturally or not, but there is no
obvious obstacle. The ultimate constituents of matter are minute positive
charges and negative charges which we may picture as centres of opposite
kinds of strain in the ether. If these could be persuaded to run together
they would cancel out, leaving nothing except a splash in the ether which
spreads out as an electromagnetic wave carrying off the energy released by
the undoing of the strain. The amount of this energy is amazingly large; by
annihilating a single drop of water we should be supplied with 200
horsepower for a year. We turn covetous eyes on this store without,
however, entertaining much hope of ever discovering the secret of releasing
it. If it should prove that the stars have discovered the secret and are
using this store to maintain their heat, our prospect of ultimate success
would seem distinctly nearer.

"I suppose that many physicists will regard the subject of subatomic
energy as a field of airy speculation. That is not the way in which it
presents itself to an astronomer. If it is granted that the stars evolve
much more slowly than on the contraction-hypothesis, the measurement of the
output of subatomic energy is one of the commonest astronomical
measurements--the measurement of the heat or light of the stars."

In the May 1, 1926 issue of *Nature* Eddington published a famous reply to
his critics"

"It has, for example been objected that the temperature of the stars is not
great enough for the transmutation of hydrogen into helium -- so ruling out
one source of energy. But helium exists, and it is not much use for the
critic to urge that the stars are not hot enough for its formation unless he
is prepared to show us a hotter place.'

On page 102 of his 1927 book, *Stars and Atoms* he sharpens this witticism
to:

"I am aware that many critics consider the conditions in the stars not
sufficiently extreme to bring about the transmutation--the stars are not hot
enough. The critics lay themselves open to an obvious retort; we tell them
to go and find *a hotter place*."

Note that Eddington's speculations, based on E = mc^2 and stellar modeling
preceded detailed knowledge of nuclear physics.

Trotsky also does not mention by phrase "nuclear energy" which only became
attached to these ideas in the 1930s. I would speculate that Trotsky was
reading Eddington--perhaps his *Nature* paper of May 1, 1926.

As discussed here he called it "Radio-activity".(See article on Trotsky
Internet Archive).

David Walters (with help from a non-Marxist physicist friend).


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