6. Note on Gravity and Cohesion
Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
The view, founded on Boscovich's theory, commonly taken of cohesion, whether of solids or of liquids, is, that it results from a force of attraction between the particles of matter, which increases much more rapidly than according to the inverse square of the distance, when the distance is diminished below some very small limit. This view might, indeed, seem inevitable, unless the idea of "attraction" is to be discarded altogether; because the law of attraction at sensible distances—the
... stances—the Newtonian law—demonstrated by its discoverer for distances not incomparably smaller than the earth's dimensions, and verified by Maskelyne and Cavendish in a manner rendering it impossible for any naturalist to reasonably doubt its applicability to the mutual action between particles a few hundred yards or a few inches asunder, seems to give only very small, scarcely appreciable, forces between bodies of such masses as those we experiment on in our laboratories, everywhere placed as close as possible to one another,—that is to say, in contact, and does not seem to provide for any considerable increase of attraction when the area of contact is increased, whether by pressing the bodies together, or by shaping them to fit over a large area.