280. ATOMS THE ULTIMATE ELEMENTS OF CHEMISTRY: Atomic Evolution.
If the union of atoms is attended with an ever-increasing evolution of heat as they press together into closer and closer associations, we should naturally expect that the effect of increasing temperature would be to part the atoms; and as we study the phenomena of disassociation we are led to the latest conception of chemical philosophy, that of a condition of disassociated atoms out of which the material universe has been developed. Such isolated atoms are for the present at least the ultimate elements of chemistry, and before reaching this condition all qualities which distinguish substances disappear except only a definite mass whose rhythmic pulsations the spectroscope may reveal. As out of such a primal chaotic condition molecular structures were evolved, the qualities of substances appeared, and the energy of nature was awakened. To discover the laws of this evolution so as to follow its various steps, and be able to predict the results under given conditions, is the future work of chemistry.
— COOKE The New Chemistry, int., p. 17. (A., 1899.)