The Theory of Heat
9 March 1920, Stuttgart
My dear friends,
The fact that we have spoken of the transformation of energy and force assumed by modern physics makes it necessary for us to turn our attention to the problem of indicating what really lies behind these transformations. To aid in this, I wish to perform another experiment to be ranged alongside of yesterday's. In this experiment we will perform work through the use of another type of energy than the one that is immediately evident in the work performed. We will, as it were, bring about in another sphere the same sort of thing that we did yesterday when we turned a wheel, put it in motion and thus performed work. For the turning of the wheel can be applied in any machine, and the motion utilized. We will bring about the turning of a wheel simply by pouring water on these paddle, and this water by virtue of its weight will bring the paddle wheel into motion. The force that somehow or other exists in the running water is transformed into the rotational energy of the wheel. We will let the water flow into this trough in order to permit it to form a liquid surface as it did in previous experiments. What we show is really this, that by forming a liquid surface below we make the motion of the wheel slower than it was before. Now, it will slow down in proportion to the degree to which the lower level approaches the upper level. Thus we can say: if we indicate the total height of the water from the point a here where it flows onto the wheel by h, and the perpendicular distance to the liquid surface by h1 then we can state the difference as h - h1. We can further state that the work available for the wheel is connected in some way with the difference between the two levels. (The sense in which this is so we will seek in our further considerations.) Yesterday in our experiment we also had a kind of difference in levels, t - t1. For you will recollect we denoted the heat of the surroundings at the beginning of our experiments by t1 and the heat we produced in order to do work to raise and lower a bell, this we denoted by t. Therefore you can say: the energy available for work depends on the difference between t and t1. Here too, we have something that can be denoted as a difference in level.
I must ask you to note especially how both these experiments show that wherever we deal with what is called energy transformation, we have to take account of difference in level. The part played by this, what is really behind the phenomenon of energy transformation, this we will find only where we pursue further the train of thought of yesterday. As we do this we will illuminate so to speak, the phenomena of heat and take into account that which Eduard von Hartmann set aside before he attempted a definition of physical phenomena. In this connection we must emphasize again and again a beautiful utterance of Goethe's regarding physical phenomena. He gave utterance to this in various ways, somewhat as follows: what is all that goes on in outer physical apparatus as compared to the ear of the musician, as compared to the revelation of nature that is given us in the musician's ear itself. What Goethe wishes to emphasize by this is that we will never understand physical things if we observe them separately from man himself. According to his view, the only way to attain the goal is to consider physical phenomena in connection with the human being, the phenomena of sound in connection with the sense of hearing. But we have seen that great difficulties arise when we try in this way to bring the phenomena of heat in connection with the human being really seek to connect heat with the being of man. Even the facts that have led to the discover of the so-called modern mechanical theory of heat support this view. Indeed, that which appears in this modern mechanical theory of heat took its origin from an observation made on the human organism by Julius Robert Mayer. Julius Robert Mayer, who was a physician, had noticed from blood-letting he was obliged to do in the tropical country of Java, that the venous blood of tropical people was redder than that of people in northern climes. He concluded correctly from this that the process involved in the coloration of blood varies, depending on whether man lives in a warmer or cooler climate, and is thus under the necessity of giving off less or more heat to his surroundings. This in turn involves a smaller or greater oxidation. Essentially he discovered that this process is less intense when the human being is not obliged to work so intensely on his environment. Thus, the human being of the tropics, since he loses less heat to his environment, is not obliged to set up so active a relation with the outer oxygen as when he gives off more heat. Consequently man, in order to maintain his life processes and exist at all on the earth in the cooler regions, is obliged to tie himself in more closely with his environment. He must take in more oxygen from the air in the colder regions where he works more intensely in connection with his environment than in the warmer zones where he labors more intensely in his inner nature.
Right here you get an insight into the inner workings of the whole human organization. You see that it has only to become warmer and the human being then works more in his inner individuality than he does when his environment is colder and he is thereby obliged to link his activities more intimately with his outer environment.
From this process in which we have represented a relation of man to his environment, there proceeded the observations that resulted in the theory of heat. These observations led Julius Robert Mayer to submit his small paper on the subject to the Poggnedorfschen Annalen. From this paper arose the entire movement in physics that we know about. This is strange enough since the paper that Mayer handed the Poggnedorfschen Annalen was returned as entirely lacking in merit. Thus we have the odd circumstance that physicists today say: we have turned physics into entirely new channels, we think entirely otherwise about physical things than they did before the year 1842. But attention has to be called to the fact that the physicists of that time, and they were the best physicists of the period, had considered Mayer's paper as entirely without merit and would not publish it in the Poggnedorfschen Annalen. Now you can see that it might be said: this paper in a certain sense brings to a conclusion the kind of view of the physical that was, as it were, incompletely expressed in Goethe's statement. After the publication of this paper, a physics arises which sees science advancing when physical facts are considered apart from man. This is indeed the principle characteristic of modern views on the subject. Many publications bring this idea forward as necessary for the advance of physics, stating that nothing must enter in which comes from man himself, which has to do with his own organic processes. But in this way we shall arrive at nothing. We will however continue our train of thought of yesterday, a train of thought drawn from the world of facts and one which will lead us to bring physical phenomena nearer to man.
I wish once more to lay before you the essential thing. We start from the realm of solids and find a common property at first manifesting as form. We then pass through the intermediate state of the fluid showing form only to the extent of making for itself a liquid surface. Then we reach the gaseous bodies, where the property corresponding to form manifests itself as condensation and rarefaction.
We then come to the region bordering on the gaseous, the heat region, which again, like the fluid, is an intermediate region, and then we come to our X. Yesterday we saw that pursuing our thought further we have in X to postulate materialization and dematerialization. It is not difficult then to see that we can go beyond X to Y and Z just as, for instance, we go in the light spectrum from green to blue, from blue to violet and to ultra violet.
And now it is a question of studying the mutual relations between these different regions. In each one we see appearing what I might call definitely characteristic phenomena. In the concrete realm we see a circumscribed for; in gas a changing form, so to speak, in condensations and rarefactions. This accompanies, and I am now speaking precisely, this accompanies the tone entity, under certain conditions. When we pass through the warmth realm into X realm, we see materialization and dematerialization. The question now arising is this: how does one realm work into another?
Now I have already called your attention to the fact that when we speak of gas, the phenomena there enacted present a kind of picture of what goes on in the realm of heat. We can say therefore, in the gas we find a picture of what goes on in the heat realm. This comes about in no other manner than that we have to consider gas and heat as mutually interpenetrating each other, as so related that gaseous phenomena are seized upon in their spatial relationship by the heat entity. What is really taking place in the realm of heat expresses itself in the gas through the interpenetration of the two realms. Furthermore we can say, fluids show us a relationship of forces similar to that obtaining between gases and heat. Solids show the same sort of relationship to fluids do to gases and as gases do to heat.
What then, comes about in the realm of solids? In this realm forms appear, definite forms. Forms circumscribed within themselves. These circumscribed forms are in a relative sense pictures of what is really active in fluids. Now we can pass here to a realm U, below the solid, whose existence we at the start will merely postulate; and let us try to create concepts in the realm of the observable. By extending our thinking which you can feel is rooted in reality, we can create concepts and these concepts springing from the real bring into us a bit of the real world.
What must take place if there is to be such a reality as the U realm? In this realm there must be pictured that which in solids is a manifested fact. In a manner corresponding to the other realms the U realm must give us a picture of the solids. In the world of solids we have bodies everywhere, everywhere forms. These forms are conditioned from within their own being, or at least conditioned according to their relation to the world. We will consider this further in the next few days. Forms come into being, mutually inter-related.
Let us go back for a moment to the fluid state. There we have, as it were, the fluid throwing out a surface and thus showing its relation to the entire earth. In gravity therefore, we have to recognize a force related to the creation of form in solids. In the U realm we must find something that happens in a similar manner to the form-building in the world of solids, if we are to pursue our thinking in accordance with reality. And this must parallel the picturing of the fluid world by solids. In other words: in the U world we must be able to see an action which foreshadows the solid world. We must in some way be able to see this activity. We must see how, under the influence of forms related to each other something else arises. There must come into existence as a reality what further manifests as varying forms in the solid world. We really have today only the beginning of such an insight. For, suppose you take a suitable substance, such as tourmaline, which carries in itself the principle of form. You then bring this tourmaline into such a relation that form can act on form. I refer to the inner formative tendency. You can do this by allowing light to shine through a pair of tourmaline crystals. At one time you can see through them and then the field of vision darkens. This you can bring about simply by turning one crystal. You have brought their form-creating force into a different relation. This phenomena, apparently related to the passage of light through systems of differing constitution, shows us the polarization figures. Polarization phenomena always appear when one form influences another. There we have the noteworthy fact before our eyes that we look through the solid realm into another realm related to the solid as the solid is to the liquid. Let us ask ourselves now, how come it is that under the influence of the form-building force there arises in the U realm that which we observe in the polarization figures as they are called, and which really lies in the realm beneath the solid realm? For we do, as a matter of fact, look into a realm here that underlies the world of the solids. But we see something else also.
We might look long into such a solid system, and the most varied forces might be acting there upon each other, but we would see nothing. It is necessary to have something playing through these systems, just as the U realm plays through the world of solids in order to bring out the phenomenon. And the light does this and makes the mutual inter-working of the form-building forces visible for us.
What I have here expressed, my friends, is treated by the physics of the 19th century in such a way that the light itself is supposed to give rise to the phenomenon while in reality the light only makes the phenomenon visible. Looking on these polarization figures, one must seek for their origin in an entirely different source from the light itself. What is taking place has nothing whatever to do with the light as such. The light simply penetrates the U realm and makes visible what is going on there, what is taking place there as a foreshadowing of the solid form. Thus we can say we have to do with an interpenetration of different realms which we have simply unfolded before our eyes. In reality we are dealing with an interpenetration of different realms.
And now the facts lead us to the same point which we reached, for instance, in the realm of the gaseous by means of the forces of form. Our concepts of what has been said will be better if we consider condensation and rarefaction in connection with the relation of tone to the organ of hearing. We must not feel it necessary to identify these condensations and rarefactions in a gaseous body entirely with what we are conscious of as tone. We must seek for something in the gas that uses the condensations and rarefactions as an agency when these are present in a suitable fashion. What really happens we must express as follows: that which we call tone exists in a non-manifested condition. But when we bring about in a gas certain orderly condensations and rarefactions, then there occurs what we perceive consciously as tone. Is not this way of stating the matter entirely as though I should say the following: we can imagine in the cosmos heat conditions where the temperature is very high about 100°C. We can also imagine heat conditions where very low temperatures prevail. Between the two is a range in which human beings can maintain themselves. It is possible to say that wherever in the cosmos there is a passage from the condition of high temperature to a condition of low temperature, there obtains at some intermediate point a heat condition in which human beings may exist. The opportunity for the existence of man is there, if other necessary factors for human existence are present. But we would on no account say: man is the temperature
Variation from high to low and the reverse variation. (For here the conditions would be right again for his existence.) We would certainly not say that. In physics, however, we are always saying, tone is nothing but the condensation and rarefaction of the air; tone is a wave-motion that expresses itself as condensation and rarefaction in the air. Thus we accustom ourselves to a way of thinking that prevents us from seeing the condensations and rarefactions simply as bearers of the tone, and not constituting the tone itself. And we should conceive for the gaseous something that simply penetrates it, but belongs to another realm, finding in the realm of the gaseous the opportunity so to manifest as to form a connection between itself and our higher organs. Concepts formed in this way about physical phenomena are really valid. If however, one forms a concept in which tone is merely identified with the air vibrations, then one is naturally led to consider light merely as ether vibrations. A person thus passes from what is not accurately conceived to the creation of a world of thought-out fantasies resulting simply from loose thinking. Following the usual ideas of physics, we bury ourselves in physical concepts that are nothing more than the creation of inaccurate thinking.
But now we have to consider the fact that when we pass through the heat realm to the X, Y and Z realms, we have to pass out into infinity and here from the U region we have also to step into the infinite.
Recollect now what I told you yesterday. In the case of the spectrum also, when we try to get an idea of it as it exists ordinarily, we have to go from the green through the blue to the violet and then of to the infinite, or at least to the undetermined. So likewise at the red end of the spectrum. But we can imagine the spectrum in its completeness as a series of 12 independent colors in a circle, with green below and peach-blossom above, and ranged between these the other colors. When we can imagine the circle to become larger and larger, the peach blossom disappears above and the spectrum extends on the one hand beyond the red and on the other beyond the violet. In the ordinary spectrum therefore, we really have only a part of what would be there if the entire color series could appear. Only a portion is present.
Now there is a very remarkable thing. I think, my friends, if you take as a basis the ordinary presentation of optics in the physic books and read what is there given as explanation of a special spectral phenomenon, namely the rainbow, you will be rather uneasy if you are a person who likes clear concepts. For the explanation of the rainbow is really given in such a manner that one has no foundation on which to stand. One is obliged to follow all sorts of things going on in the raindrop from the running together of extremely small reflections that are dependent on where one stands in relation to the rainbow. These reflections are said really to come from the raindrops. In brief you have in this explanation an atomistic view of something that occurs in our environment as unity. But even more perplexing is the fact that his rainbow or spectrum conjured up before us by nature herself, never occurs singly. A second rainbow is always present, although sometimes very completely hidden. Things that belong together cannot be separated. The two rainbows, of which one is clearer than the other, belong of necessity together, and if one is to explain this phenomenon, it is not possible to do so simply by explaining one strip of color. If we are to comprehend the total phenomenon we must make it clear to ourselves that something of a unique nature is in the center and that it shows two bands of color. The one band is the clearer rainbow, and the other band is the more obscure bow. We are dealing with a representation in the greatness of nature herself, which is an integral portion of the All and must be comprehended as a unity. Now, when we observe carefully we will see that the second rainbow, the accessory bow, shows colors in the reverse order from the first. It reflects, so to speak, the first and clearer rainbow. As soon as we go from the partial phenomenon as it appears in our environment, to a relatively more complete one, when we conceive of the whole earth in its relation to the cosmic system, we see in the rainbows a different aspect. I wish only to mention this here we will go into it more completely in the course of our lecture. But I wish to say here that the appearance of the second bow converts the phenomenon into a closed system, so to speak. The system is only an open one so long as I limit my consideration to the special spectrum arising in the U portion of my environment. The phenomenon of the rainbow really leads me to think of the matter thus, that when I produce a spectrum experimentally, I grasp nature only at one pole, the opposite pole escapes me. Something has slipped into the unknown, and I really have to add to the seven-colored spectrum the accessory spectrum.
Now hold in mind this phenomenon and the ideas that arise from it and recollect the previous ideas that we have brought out here. We are trying to close up the band of color that stretches out indefinitely on both sides, and bring the two together. If now, we do a similar things in this other realm, what happens? (See sketch at end of Chapter) Then we will pass from solids to the U region and beyond, but as we do this we also come back from the other end of the series and the system becomes a closed one. But now, when the downward path and the upward one come together to make a closed system, what does that form for us? What happens then?
I will try as follows to lead you to an understanding of this: suppose you really go in one direction in the sense indicated in our diagrams. Let us say we go out from the sphere where, as we have explained in these lectures, gravity becomes negative. We have, let us say, arrived in one of the realms. From this realm, suppose we go downward, and imagine that we pass through first the fluid and then the solid realms. Now when we go further, we must really come back from the other side it is difficult to show this diagrammatically. Since we come back from the other side, that which belongs to this other side has to insert itself into the realm from which we have just passed. That is to say, while I pass from the solid to the U region, if I want to represent the whole cycle I must bend what is at the other end of the series around and thrust it in here. I can picture it in this way. From the null sphere I go through the fluid into the solid and then into the U region. Returning then, I come to the same point from the other side. Or, I might say: I observe the gas, it extends to here where I have colored with blue (referring to the drawing at end of Chapter). But from the other side comes that which inserts itself, interpenetrates it from the cosmic cycle, but appearing there only as a picture. It impregnates the gas, so to speak, and manifests as a picture. The fluid in its essence interpenetrates the sphere of the solid, and attains a form. Similarly, form appears in the gas as tone and this we have indicated in our diagram. Turn over in your minds this returning and interpenetration in these world-processes. You will of necessity have to think not of a world-cycle only, but of a certain sort of world-cycle. You will have to think of a world cycle that moves from one realm to another, but in which any realm shows reflection of other realms. In this way we get a basis for thinking about these things that has a root in reality. This way of thinking will help you, for instance, to see how light arises in matter, light which belongs to an entirely different realm; but you will see that the matter is simply overrun by the light, as it were. And you will then, if you treat these things mathematically, have to extend your formulae somewhat.
You may, if you will, consider these things under the symbol of ancient wisdom, the snake that swallows its own tail. The ancient wisdom represented these things symbolically and we have to draw nearer to the reality. This drawing nearer is the problem we must solve.