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THE ROYAL SOCIETY
January 18, 1894. The LORD KELVIN, D.C.L., LL.D., President, followed by Sir
JOHN EVANS, K.C.B., D.C.L., LL.D., Vice-President and Treasurer, in the Chair.
The Right Hon. James Bryce was admitted into the Society.
A List of the Presents received was laid on the table, and thanks ordered for them.
The following Papers were read :
1. “On Homogeneous Division of Space." By LORD KELVIN,
P.R.S. Received January 17, 1894. § 1. The homogeneous division of any volume of space means the dividing of it into equal and similar parts, or cells, as I shall call them, all sameways oriented. If we take any point in the interior of one cell or on its boundary, and corresponding points of all the other cells, these points form a homogeneous assemblage of single points, according to Bravais' admirable and important definition. The general problem of the homogeneous partition of space may be stated thus :Given a homogeneous assemblage of single points, it is required to find every possible form of cell enclosing each of them subject to the condition that it is of the same shape and sameways oriented for all. An interesting application of this problem is to find for a crystal (that is to say, a homogeneous assemblage of groups of chemical atoms) a homogeneous arrangement of partitional interfaces such that each cell contains all the atoms of one molecule. Unless we
* "Journal de l'École Polytechnique, tome. 19, cahier 33, pp. 1–128 (Paris, 1850), quoted and used in my Mathematical and Physical Papers,' vol. 3, art. 97,
knew the exact geometrical configuration of the constituent parts of the group of atoms in the crystal, or crystalline molecule as we shall call it, we could not describe the partitional interfaces between one molecule and its neighbour.
Knowing as we do know for many crystals the exact geometrical character of the Bravais assemblage of corresponding points of its molecules, we could not be sure that any solution of the partitional problem we might choose to take would give a cell containing only the constituent parts of one molecule. For instance, in the case of quartz, of which the crystalline molecule is probably 3(SiO2), a form of cell chosen at random might be such that it would enclose the silicon of one molecule with only some part of the oxygen belonging to it, and some of the oxygen belonging to a neighbouring molecule, leaving out some of its own oxygen, which would be enclosed in the cell of either that neighbour or of another neighbour or other neighbours.
§ 2. This will be better understood if we consider another illustration-a homogeneous assemblage of equal and similar trees planted close together in any regular geometrical order on a plane field either inclined or horizontal, so close together that roots of different trees interpenetrate in the ground, and branches and leaves in the air. To be perfectly homogeneous, every root, every twig, and every leaf of any one tree must have equal and similar counterparts in every other tree. So far everything is natural, except, of course, the absolate homogeneousness that our problem assames; but now, to make a homogeneous assemblage of molecules in space, we must suppose plane above plane each homogeneously planted with trees at equal successive intervals of height. The interval between two planes may be so large as to allow a clear space above the highest plane of leaves of one plantation and below the lowest plane of the ends of roots in the plantation above. We shall not, however, limit ourselves to this case, and we shall suppose generally that leaves of one plantation intermingle with roots of the plantation above, always, however, subject to the condition of perfect homogeneousness. Here, then, we have a truly wonderful problem of geometry—to enclose ideally each tree within a closed surface containing every twig, leaf, and rootlet belonging to it, and nothing belonging to any other tree, and to shape this surface so that it will coincide all round with portions of similar surfaces around neighbouring trees. Wonderful as it is, this is a perfectly easy problem if the trees are given, and if they fulfil the condition of being perfectly homogeneous.
In fact we may begin with the actual bounding surface of leaves, bark, and roots of each tree. Wherever there is a contact, whether with leaves, bark, or roots of neighbouring trees, the areas of contact form part of the required cell-surface. To complete the cell-surface we