Lectures on Physics has been derived from Benjamin Crowell's Light and Matter series of free introductory textbooks on physics. See the editorial for more information....


"Okay. Your duties are as follows: Get Breen. I don't care how you get him, but get him soon. That faker! He posed for twenty years as a scientist without ever being apprehended. Well, I'm going to do some apprehending that'll make all previous apprehending look like no apprehension at all. You with me?" "Yes," said Battle, very much confused. "What's that thing you have?" "Piggy-back heat-ray. You transpose the air in its path into an unstable isotope which tends to carry all energy as heat. Then you shoot your juice light, or whatever along the isotopic path and you burn whatever's on the receiving end. You want a few?" "No," said Battle. "I have my gats. What else have you got for offense and defense?" Underbottam opened a cabinet and proudly waved an arm. "Everything," he said. "Disintegraters, heat-rays, bombs of every type. And impenetrable shields of energy, massive and portable. What more do I need?"
From THE REVERSIBLE REVOLUTIONS by Cecil Corwin, Cosmic Stories, March 1941. Art by Morey, Bok, Kyle, Hunt, Forte. Copyright expired.

Cutting-edge science readily infiltrates popular culture, though some times in garbled form. The Newtonian imagination populated the universe mostly with that nice solid stuff called matter, which was made of little hard balls called atoms. In the early twentieth century, consumers of pulp fiction and popularized science began to hear of a new image of the universe, full of x-rays, N-rays, and Hertzian waves. What they were beginning to soak up through their skins was a drastic revision of Newton's concept of a universe made of chunks of matter which happened to interact via forces. In the newly emerging picture, the universe was made of force, or, to be more technically accurate, of ripples in universal fields of force. Unlike the average reader of Cosmic Stories in 1941, you now possess enough technical background to understand what a "force field" really is.

Last Update: 2009-06-21