from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. An atom supposed to be formed by the rotational or vortex motion of a portion of an incompressible fluid free from viscosity. A vortex-atom may be regarded as a vortex-ring in the ether, a body which, as was shown by Helmholtz and by Kelvin, possesses many of the properties which it is necessary to assign to an atom. See vortex.
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The vortex-atom, produced by infinitesimal friction operating through wellnigh infinite time, is to be ultimately abolished by the agency which produced it.
Somewhat in the same way that a loosely suspended chain becomes rigid with rapid rotation, the hardness and elasticity of the vortex-atom are explained as due to the swift rotary motion of a soft and yielding fluid.
So that the vortex-atom is really indivisible, not by reason of its hardness or solidity, but by reason of the indestructibleness of its motion.
Such is by no means the case with Sir William Thomson's vortex-atom theory, which to-day is in somewhat the same condition as the undulatory theory of Huyghens two centuries ago.
We are now brought to one of the profoundest speculations of modern times, the vortex-atom theory of Helmholtz and Thomson, in which the evolution of ordinary matter from ether is plainly indicated.