In a French edition of Fiat Homo (first part of A Canticle for Leibowitz) I found the following footnote about the definition of the electron given by Brother Francis to another monk, namely “Torsion du néant négativement chargée”. The original English has “negative twist of nothingness”, but there are no footnote in any English edition.
The footnote is, in French, copied exactly as it appears, (including the misprint in the name of Millikan !):
Définition exacte (donnée par le Pr Léon Brillouin, puis reprise par Robert Andrews Mullikan, prix Nobel). Elle est en effet incompréhensible si l’on n’a pas le contexte, c’est à dire toute la complexe structure de notre physique.
The second sentence is not important for my question and the first one, I believe, does not need any translation.
So is there any source about Léon Brillouin giving such a definition for the electron ? He might have given it in French, or in English. Again, any source about Robert Andrews Millikan giving it ?
Millikan might have translated into English Brillouin’s original phrase which might have been slightly different, Miller probably used Millikan’s form (if it really exists) and the french translator maybe did not bother to trace Brillouin original phrase (if it exists).
Besides Brillouin and/or Millikan does anyone know of a similar definition of the electron by a “serious” physicist of that time, even if his theories are now totally abandoned ? I am thinking in particular of William Thomson, a.k.a. Lord Kelvin and his “Vertex Theory”, or J. J. Thomson who, before he discovered the electron, did write papers about Kelvin's Vertex Theory.