Soc., 1890, 47, p. 364), who found that a film of olive oil spread over the surface of water produced a perceptible effect on small floating pieces of camphor, at places at which the thickness of the film was io 6 X10 -8 cms., but produced no perceptible effect at all at places where the thickness of the film was 8.1 X10 -8 cms. Thus a certain phenomenon, of the nature of capillary action, is seen to depend for its existence on the linear dimensions of the film of oil; the physical properties of a film of thickness Io 6Xio 8 cms. are found to be in some way qualitatively different from those of a film of thickness 8.1 X io 8 cms. Here is proof that the film of oil is not a continuous homogeneous structure, and we are led to suspect that the scale on which the structure is formed has a unit of length comparable with 8 X10 -8 cms. The probability of this conjecture is strengthened when it is discovered that in all phenomena of this type the critical length connected with the stage at which the phenomenon changes its nature is of the order of magnitude of 10 -8 cms.
Other convenient practical units of the same kind would be the watt-hour, 3600 joules, which is of the same order of magnitude as the kilocalorie, and the kilowatt-hour, which is the ordinary commercial unit of electrical energy.
This kind of irregularity may clearly be present in a ' It must not be supposed that errors of this order of magnitude are unobjectionable in all cases.
We see, then, that the removal of a stratum from between neighbours where it is out of order and its introduction between neighbours where it will be in order is doubly favourable to the reduction of the sum of tensions; and since by a succession of such steps we may arrive at the order of magnitude throughout, we conclude that this is the disposition of minimum tensions and energy.
Jeans has even estimated theoretically the average distances apart of these nuclei, and has shown that it agrees in order of magnitude with the observed distances of the stars from one another (Astrophysical Journal, vol.