Experimental Researches in Electricity, Volume 1
by Michael Faraday
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1232. I have had occasion in describing the precautions necessary in the use of the inductive apparatus, to refer to one founded on induction in curved lines (1203.); and after the experiments already described, it will easily be seen how great an influence the shell-lac stem may exert upon the charge of the carrier ball when applied to the apparatus (1218.), unless that precaution be attended to.

1233. I think it expedient, next in the course of these experimental researches, to describe some effects due to conduction, obtained with such bodies as glass, lac, sulphur, &c., which had not been anticipated. Being understood, they will make us acquainted with certain precautions necessary in investigating the great question of specific inductive capacity.

1234. One of the inductive apparatus already described (1187, &c.) had a hemispherical cup of shell-lac introduced, which being in the interval between the inner bull and the lower hemisphere, nearly occupied the space there; consequently when the apparatus was charged, the lac was the dielectric or insulating medium through which the induction took place in that part. When this apparatus was first charged with electricity (1198.) up to a certain intensity, as 400 deg., measured by the COULOMB'S electrometer (1180.), it sank much faster from that degree than if it had been previously charged to a higher point, and had gradually fallen to 400 deg.; or than it would do if the charge were, by a second application, raised up again to 400 deg.; all other things remaining the same. Again, if after having been charged for some time, as fifteen or twenty minutes, it was suddenly and perfectly discharged, even the stem having all electricity removed from it (1203.), then the apparatus being left to itself, would gradually recover a charge, which in nine or ten minutes would rise up to 50 deg. or 60 deg., and in one instance to 80 deg..

1235. The electricity, which in these cases returned from an apparently latent to a sensible state, was always of the same kind as that which had been given by the charge. The return took place at both the inducing surfaces; for if after the perfect discharge of the apparatus the whole was insulated, as the inner ball resumed a positive state the outer sphere acquired a negative condition.

1236. This effect was at once distinguished from that produced by the excited stem acting in curved lines of induction (1203. 1232.), by the circumstance that all the returned electricity could be perfectly and instantly discharged. It appeared to depend upon the shell-lac within, and to be, in some way, due to electricity evolved from it in consequence of a previous condition into which it had been brought by the charge of the metallic coatings or balls.

1237. To examine this state more accurately, the apparatus, with the hemispherical cup of shell-lac in it, was charged for about forty-five minutes to above 600 deg. with positive electricity at the balls h and B. (fig. 104.) above and within. It was then discharged, opened, the shell-lac taken out, and its state examined; this was done by bringing the carrier ball near the shell-lac, uninsulating it, insulating it, and then observing what charge it had acquired. As it would be a charge by induction, the state of the ball would indicate the opposite state of electricity in that surface of the shell-lac which had produced it. At first the lac appeared quite free from any charge; but gradually its two surfaces assumed opposite states of electricity, the concave surface, which had been next the inner and positive ball; assuming a positive state, and the convex surface, which had been in contact with the negative coating, acquiring a negative state; these states gradually increased in intensity for some time.

1238. As the return action was evidently greatest instantly after the discharge, I again put the apparatus together, and charged it for fifteen minutes as before, the inner ball positively. I then discharged it, instantly removing the upper hemisphere with the interior ball, and, leaving the shell-lac cup in the lower uninsulated hemisphere, examined its inner surface by the carrier ball as before (1237.). In this way I found the surface of the shell-lac actually negative, or in the reverse state to the ball which had been in it; this state quickly disappeared, and was succeeded by a positive condition, gradually increasing in intensity for some time, in the same manner as before. The first negative condition of the surface opposite the positive charging ball is a natural consequence of the state of things, the charging ball being in contact with the shell-lac only in a few points. It does not interfere with the general result and peculiar state now under consideration, except that it assists in illustrating in a very marked manner the ultimate assumption by the surfaces of the shell-lac of an electrified condition, similar to that of the metallic surfaces opposed to or against them.

1239. Glass was then examined with respect to its power of assuming this peculiar state. I had a thick flint-glass hemispherical cup formed, which would fit easily into the space o of the lower hemisphere (1188. 1189.); it had been heated and varnished with a solution of shell-lac in alcohol, for the purpose of destroying the conducting power of the vitreous surface (1254.). Being then well-warmed and experimented with, I found it could also assume the same state, but not apparently to the same degree, the return action amounting in different cases to quantities from 6 deg. to 18 deg..

1240. Spermaceti experimented with in the same manner gave striking results. When the original charge had been sustained for fifteen or twenty minutes at about 500 deg., the return charge was equal to 95 deg. or 100 deg., and was about fourteen minutes arriving at the maximum effect. A charge continued for not more than two or three seconds was here succeeded by a return charge of 50 deg. or 60 deg.. The observations formerly made (1234.) held good with this substance. Spermaceti, though it will insulate a low charge for some time, is a better conductor than shell-lac, glass, and sulphur; and this conducting power is connected with the readiness with which it exhibits the particular effect under consideration.

1241. Sulphur.—I was anxious to obtain the amount of effect with this substance, first, because it is an excellent insulator, and in that respect would illustrate the relation of the effect to the degree of conducting power possessed by the dielectric (1247.); and in the next place, that I might obtain that body giving the smallest degree of the effect now under consideration for the investigation of the question of specific inductive capacity (1277.).

1242. With a good hemispherical cup of sulphur cast solid and sound, I obtained the return charge, but only to an amount of 17 deg. or 18 deg.. Thus glass and sulphur, which are bodily very bad conductors of electricity, and indeed almost perfect insulators, gave very little of this return charge.

1243. I tried the same experiment having air only in the inductive apparatus. After a continued high charge for some time I could obtain a little effect of return action, but it was ultimately traced to the shell-lac of the stem.

1244. I sought to produce something like this state with one electric power and without induction; for upon the theory of an electric fluid or fluids, that did not seem impossible, and then I should have obtained an absolute charge (1169. 1177.), or something equivalent to it. In this I could not succeed. I excited the outside of a cylinder of shell-lac very highly for some time, and then quickly discharging it (1203.), waited and watched whether any return charge would appear, but such was not the case. This is another fact in favour of the inseparability of the two electric forces (1177.), and another argument for the view that induction and its concomitant phenomena depend upon a polarity of the particles of matter.

1245. Although inclined at first to refer these effects to a peculiar masked condition of a certain portion of the forces, I think I have since correctly traced them to known principles of electrical action. The effects appear to be due to an actual penetration of the charge to some distance within the electric, at each of its two surfaces, by what we call conduction; so that, to use the ordinary phrase, the electric forces sustaining the induction are not upon the metallic surfaces only, but upon and within the dielectric also, extending to a greater or smaller depth from the metal linings. Let c (fig. 113.) be the section of a plate of any dielectric, a and b being the metallic coatings; let b be uninsulated, and a be charged positively; after ten or fifteen minutes, if a and b be discharged, insulated, and immediately examined, no electricity will appear in them; but in a short time, upon a second examination, they will appear charged in the same way, though not to the same degree, as they were at first. Now suppose that a portion of the positive force has, under the coercing influence of all the forces concerned, penetrated the dielectric and taken up its place at the line p, a corresponding portion of the negative force having also assumed its position at the line n; that in fact the electric at these two parts has become charged positive and negative; then it is clear that the induction of these two forces will be much greater one towards the other, and less in an external direction, now that they are at the small distance np from each other, than when they were at the larger interval ab. Then let a and b be discharged; the discharge destroys or neutralizes all external induction, and the coatings are therefore found by the carrier ball unelectrified; but it also removes almost the whole of the forces by which the electric charge was driven into the dielectric, and though probably a part of that charge goes forward in its passage and terminates in what we call discharge, the greater portion returns on its course to the surfaces of c, and consequently to the conductors a and b, and constitutes the recharge observed.

1246. The following is the experiment on which I rest for the truth of this view. Two plates of spermaceti, d and, f (fig. 114.), were put together to form the dielectric, a and b being the metallic coatings of this compound plate, as before. The system was charged, then discharged, insulated, examined, and found to give no indications of electricity to the carrier ball. The plates d and fwere then separated from each other, and instantly a with d was found in a positive state, and b with f in a negative state, nearly all the electricity being in the linings a and b. Hence it is clear that, of the forces sought for, the positive was in one-half of the compound plate and the negative in the other half; for when removed bodily with the plates from each other's inductive influence, they appeared in separate places, and resumed of necessity their power of acting by induction on the electricity of surrounding bodies. Had the effect depended upon a peculiar relation of the contiguous particles of matter only, then each half-plate, d and f, should have shown positive force on one surface and negative on the other.

1247. Thus it would appear that the best solid insulators, such as shell-lac, glass, and sulphur, have conductive properties to such an extent, that electricity can penetrate them bodily, though always subject to the overruling condition of induction (1178.). As to the depth to which the forces penetrate in this form of charge of the particles, theoretically, it should be throughout the mass, for what the charge of the metal does for the portion of dielectric next to it, should be close by the charged dielectric for the portion next beyond it again; but probably in the best insulators the sensible charge is to a very small depth only in the dielectric, for otherwise more would disappear in the first instance whilst the original charge is sustained, less time would be required for the assumption of the particular state, and more electricity would re-appear as return charge.

1248. The condition of time required for this penetration of the charge is important, both as respects the general relation of the cases to conduction, and also the removal of an objection that might otherwise properly be raised to certain results respecting specific inductive capacities, hereafter to be given (1269. 1277.)

1249. It is the assumption for a time of this charged state of the glass between the coatings in the Leyden jar, which gives origin to a well-known phenomenon, usually referred to the diffusion of electricity over the uncoated portion of the glass, namely, the residual charge. The extent of charge which can spontaneously be recovered by a large battery, after perfect uninsulation of both surfaces, is very considerable, and by far the largest portion of this is due to the return of electricity in the manner described. A plate of shell-lac six inches square, and half an inch thick, or a similar plate of spermaceti an inch thick, being coated on the sides with tinfoil as a Leyden arrangement, will show this effect exceedingly well.

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1250. The peculiar condition of dielectrics which has now been described, is evidently capable of producing an effect interfering with the results and conclusions drawn from the use of the two inductive apparatus, when shell-lac, glass, &c. is used in one or both of them (1192. 1207.), for upon dividing the charge in such cases according to the method described (1198. 1207.), it is evident that the apparatus just receiving its half charge must fall faster in its tension than the other. For suppose app. i. first charged, and app. ii. used to divide with it; though both may actually lose alike, yet app. i., which has been diminished one-half, will be sustained by a certain degree of return action or charge (1234.), whilst app. ii. will sink the more rapidly from the coming on of the particular state. I have endeavoured to avoid this interference by performing the whole process of comparison as quickly as possible, and taking the force of app. ii. immediately after the division, before any sensible diminution of the tension arising from the assumption of the peculiar state could be produced; and I have assumed that as about three minutes pass between the first charge of app. i. and the division, and three minutes between the division and discharge, when the force of the non-transferable electricity is measured, the contrary tendencies for those periods would keep that apparatus in a moderately steady and uniform condition for the latter portion of time.

1251. The particular action described occurs in the shell-lac of the stems, as well as in the dielectric used within the apparatus. It therefore constitutes a cause by which the outside of the stems may in some operations become charged with electricity, independent of the action of dust or carrying particles (1203.).

P v. On specific induction, or specific inductive capacity.

1252. I now proceed to examine the great question of specific inductive capacity, i.e. whether different dielectric bodies actually do possess any influence over the degree of induction which takes place through them. If any such difference should exist, it appeared to me not only of high importance in the further comprehension of the laws and results of induction, but an additional and very powerful argument for the theory I have ventured to put forth, that the whole depends upon a molecular action, in contradistinction to one at sensible distances.

The question may be stated thus: suppose A an electrified plate of metal suspended in the air, and B and C two exactly similar plates, placed parallel to and on each side of A at equal distances and uninsulated; A will then induce equally towards B and C. If in this position of the plates some other dielectric than air, as shell-lac, be introduced between A and C, will the induction between them remain the same? Will the relation of C and B to A be unaltered, notwithstanding the difference of the dielectrics interposed between them?[A]

[A] Refer for the practical illustration of this statement to the supplementary note commencing 1307, &c.—Dec. 1838.

1253. As far as I recollect, it is assumed that no change will occur under such variation of circumstances, and that the relations of B find C to A depend entirely upon their distance. I only remember one experimental illustration of the question, and that is by Coulomb[A], in which he shows that a wire surrounded by shell-lac took exactly the same quantity of electricity from a charged body as the same wire in air. The experiment offered to me no proof of the truth of the supposition: for it is not the mere films of dielectric substances surrounding the charged body which have to be examined and compared, but the whole mass between that body and the surrounding conductors at which the induction terminates. Charge depends upon induction (1171. 1178.); and if induction is related to the particles of the surrounding dielectric, then it is related to all the particles of that dielectric inclosed by the surrounding conductors, and not merely to the few situated next to the charged body. Whether the difference I sought for existed or not, I soon found reason to doubt the conclusion that might be drawn from Coulomb's result; and therefore had the apparatus made, which, with its use, has been already described (1187, &c.), and which appears to me well-suited for the investigation of the question.

[A] Memoires de l'Academie, 1787, pp. 452, 453.

1254. Glass, and many bodies which might at first be considered as very fit to test the principle, proved exceedingly unfit for that purpose. Glass, principally in consequence of the alkali it contains, however well-warmed and dried it may be, has a certain degree of conducting power upon its surface, dependent upon the moisture of the atmosphere, which renders it unfit for a test experiment. Resin, wax, naphtha, oil of turpentine, and many other substances were in turn rejected, because of a slight degree of conducting power possessed by them; and ultimately shell-lac and sulphur were chosen, after many experiments, as the dielectrics best fitted for the investigation. No difficulty can arise in perceiving how the possession of a feeble degree of conducting power tends to make a body produce effects, which would seem to indicate that it had a greater capability of allowing induction through it than another body perfect in its insulation. This source of error has been that which I have found most difficult to obviate in the proving experiments.

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1255. Induction through shell-lac.—As a preparatory experiment, I first ascertained generally that when a part of the surface of a thick plate of shell-lac was excited or charged, there was no sensible difference in the character of the induction sustained by that charged part, whether exerted through the air in the one direction, or through the shell-lac of the plate in the other; provided the second surface of the plate had not, by contact with conductors, the action of dust, or any other means, become charged (1203.). Its solid condition enabled it to retain the excited particles in a permanent position, but that appeared to be all; for these particles acted just as freely through the shell-lac on one side as through the air on the other. The same general experiment was made by attaching a disc of tinfoil to one side of the shell-lac plate, and electrifying it, and the results were the same. Scarcely any other solid substance than shell-lac and sulphur, and no liquid substance that I have tried, will bear this examination. Glass in its ordinary state utterly fails; yet it was essentially necessary to obtain this prior degree of perfection in the dielectric used, before any further progress could be made in the principal investigation.

1256. Shell-lac and air were compared in the first place. For this purpose a thick hemispherical cup of shell-lac was introduced into the lower hemisphere of one of the inductive apparatus (1187, &c.), so as nearly to fill the lower half of the space o, o (fig. 104.) between it and the inner ball; and then charges were divided in the manner already described (1198. 1207.), each apparatus being used in turn to receive the first charge before its division by the other. As the apparatus were known to have equal inductive power when air was in both (1209. 1211.), any differences resulting from the introduction of the shell-lac would show a peculiar action in it, and if unequivocally referable to a specific inductive influence, would establish the point sought to be sustained. I have already referred to the precautions necessary in making the experiments (1199, &c.); and with respect to the error which might be introduced by the assumption of the peculiar state, it was guarded against, as far as possible, in the first place, by operating quickly (1248); and, afterwards, by using that dielectric as glass or sulphur, which assumed the peculiar state most slowly, and in the least degree (1239. 1241.).

1257. The shell-lac hemisphere was put into app. i., and app. ii. left filled with air. The results of an experiment in which the charge through air was divided and reduced by the shell-lac app. were as follows:

App. i. Lac. App. ii. Air. Balls 255 deg..

0 deg. . . . . . . . . 304 deg. . . . . 297 Charge divided. 113 . . . . . . . . 121 0 . . . . after being discharged. . . . . 7 after being discharged.

1258. Here 297 deg., minus 7 deg., or 290 deg., may be taken as the divisible charge of app. ii. (the 7 deg. being fixed stem action (1203. 1232.)), of which 145 deg. is the half. The lac app. i. gave 113 deg. as the power or tension it had acquired after division; and the air app. ii. gave 121 deg., minus 7 deg., or 114 deg., as the force it possessed from what it retained of the divisible charge of 290 deg.. These two numbers should evidently be alike, and they are very nearly so, indeed far within the errors of experiment and observation, but these numbers differ very much from 145 deg., or the force which the half charge would have had if app. i. had contained air instead of shell-lac; and it appears that whilst in the division the induction through the air has lost 176 deg. of force, that through the lac has only gained 113 deg..

1259. If this difference be assumed as depending entirely on the greater facility possessed by shell-lac of allowing or causing inductive action through its substance than that possessed by air, then this capacity for electric induction would be inversely as the respective loss and gain indicated above; and assuming the capacity of the air apparatus as 1, that of the shell-lac apparatus would be 176/113 or 1.55.

1260. This extraordinary difference was so unexpected in its amount, as to excite the greatest suspicion of the general accuracy of the experiment, though the perfect discharge of app. i. after the division, showed that the 113 deg. had been taken and given up readily. It was evident that, if it really existed, it ought to produce corresponding effects in the reverse order; and that when induction through shell-lac was converted into induction through air, the force or tension of the whole ought to be increased. The app. i. was therefore charged in the first place, and its force divided with app. ii. The following were the results:

App. i. Lac. App. ii. Air. . . . . 0 deg. 215 deg. . . . . 204 . . . . Charge divided. . . . . 118 118 . . . . . . . . 0 after being discharged. 0 . . . . after being discharged.

1261. Here 204 deg. must be the utmost of the divisible charge. The app. i. and app. ii. present 118 deg. as their respective forces; both now much above the half of the first force, or 102 deg., whereas in the former case they were below it. The lac app. i. has lost only 86 deg., yet it has given to the air app. ii. 118 deg., so that the lac still appears much to surpass the air, the capacity of the lac app. i. to the air app. ii. being as 1.37 to 1.

1262. The difference of 1.55 and 1.37 as the expression of the capacity for the induction of shell-lac seems considerable, but is in reality very admissible under the circumstances, for both are in error in contrary directions. Thus in the last experiment the charge fell from 215 deg. to 204 deg. by the joint effects of dissipation and absorption (1192. 1250.), during the time which elapsed in the electrometer operations, between the applications of the carrier ball required to give those two results. Nearly an equal time must have elapsed between the application of the carrier which gave the 204 deg. result, and the division of the charge between the two apparatus; and as the fall in force progressively decreases in amount (1192.), if in this case it be taken at 6 deg. only, it will reduce the whole transferable charge at the time of division to 198 deg. instead of 204 deg.; this diminishes the loss of the shell-lac charge to 80 deg. instead of 86 deg.; and then the expression of specific capacity for it is increased, and, instead of 1.37, is 1.47 times that of air.

1263. Applying the same correction to the former experiment in which air was first charged, the result is of the contrary kind. No shell-lac hemisphere was then in the apparatus, and therefore the loss would be principally from dissipation, and not from absorption: hence it would be nearer to the degree of loss shown by the numbers 304 deg. and 297 deg., and being assumed as 6 deg. would reduce the divisible charge to 284 deg.. In that case the air would have lost 170 deg., and communicated only 113 deg. to the shell-lac; and the relative specific capacity of the latter would appear to be 1.50, which is very little indeed removed from 1.47, the expression given by the second experiment when corrected in the same way.

1264. The shell-lac was then removed from app. i. and put into app. ii. and the experiments of division again made. I give the results, because I think the importance of the point justifies and even requires them.

App. i. Air. App. ii. Lac. Balls 200 deg..

. . . . 0 deg.. 286 deg. . . . . 283 . . . . Charge divided. . . . . 110 109 . . . . . . . . 0.25 after discharge. Trace . . . . after discharge.

Here app. i. retained 109 deg., having lost 174 deg. in communicating 110 deg. to app. ii.; and the capacity of the air app. is to the lac app., therefore, as 1 to 1.58. If the divided charge be corrected for an assumed loss of only 3 deg., being the amount of previous loss in the same time, it will make the capacity of the shell-lac app. 1.55 only.

1265. Then app. ii. was charged, and the charge divided thus:

App. i. Air. App. ii. Lac, 0 deg. . . . . . . . . 250 deg. . . . . 251 Charge divided. 146 . . . . . . . . 149 a little . . . . after discharge. . . . . a little after discharge.

Here app. i. acquired a charge of 146 deg., while app. ii. lost only 102 deg. in communicating that amount of force; the capacities being, therefore, to each other as 1 to 1.43. If the whole transferable charge be corrected for a loss of 4 deg. previous to division, it gives the expression of l.49 for the capacity of the shell-lac apparatus.

1266. These four expressions of 1.47, 1.50, 1.55, and 1.49 for the power of the shell-lac apparatus, through the different variations of the experiment, are very near to each other; the average is close upon 1.5, which may hereafter be used as the expression of the result. It is a very important result; and, showing for this particular piece of shell-lac a decided superiority over air in allowing or causing the act of induction, it proved the growing necessity of a more close and rigid examination of the whole question.

1267. The shell-lac was of the best quality, and had been carefully selected and cleaned; but as the action of any conducting particles in it would tend, virtually, to diminish the quantity or thickness of the dielectric used, and produce effects as if the two inducing surfaces of the conductors in that apparatus were nearer together than in the one with air only, I prepared another shell-lac hemisphere, of which the material had been dissolved in strong spirit of wine, the solution filtered, and then carefully evaporated. This is not an easy operation, for it is difficult to drive off the last portions of alcohol without injuring the lac by the heat applied; and unless they be dissipated, the substance left conducts too well to be used in these experiments. I prepared two hemispheres this way, one of them unexceptionable; and with it I repeated the former experiments with all precautions. The results were exactly of the same kind; the following expressions for the capacity of the shell-lac apparatus, whether it were app. i. or ii., being given directly by the experiments, 1.46, 1.50, 1.52, 1.51; the average of these and several others being very nearly 1.5.

1268. As a final check upon the general conclusion, I then actually brought the surfaces of the air apparatus, corresponding to the place of the shell-lac in its apparatus, nearer together, by putting a metallic lining into the lower hemisphere of the one not containing the lac (1213.). The distance of the metal surface from the carrier ball was in this way diminished from 0.62 of an inch to 0.435 of an inch, whilst the interval occupied by the lac in the other apparatus remained O.62 of an inch as before. Notwithstanding this change, the lac apparatus showed its former superiority; and whether it or the air apparatus was charged first, the capacity of the lac apparatus to the air apparatus was by the experimental results as 1.45 to 1.

1269. From all the experiments I have made, and their constant results, I cannot resist the conclusion that shell-lac does exhibit a case of specific inductive capacity. I have tried to check the trials in every way, and if not remove, at least estimate, every source of error. That the final result is not due to common conduction is shown by the capability of the apparatus to retain the communicated charge; that it is not due to the conductive power of inclosed small particles, by which they could acquire a polarized condition as conductors, is shown by the effects of the shell-lac purified by alcohol; and, that it is not due to any influence of the charged state, formerly described (1250.), first absorbing and then evolving electricity, is indicated by the instantaneous assumption and discharge of those portions of the power which are concerned in the phenomena, that instantaneous effect occurring in these cases, as in all others of ordinary induction, by charged conductors. The latter argument is the more striking in the case where the air apparatus is employed to divide the charge with the lac apparatus, for it obtains its portion of electricity in an instant, and yet is charged far above the mean.

1270. Admitting for the present the general fact sought to be proved; then 1.5, though it expresses the capacity of the apparatus containing the hemisphere of shell-lac, by no means expresses the relation of lac to air. The lac only occupies one-half of the space o, o, of the apparatus containing it, through which the induction is sustained; the rest is filled with air, as in the other apparatus; and if the effect of the two upper halves of the globes be abstracted, then the comparison of the shell-lac powers in the lower half of the one, with the power of the air in the lower half of the other, will be as 2:1; and even this must be less than the truth, for the induction of the upper part of the apparatus, i.e. of the wire and ball B. (fig. 104.) to external objects, must be the same in both, and considerably diminish the difference dependent upon, and really producible by, the influence of the shell-lac within.

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1271. Glass.—I next worked with glass as the dielectric. It involved the possibility of conduction on its surface, but it excluded the idea of conducting particles within its substance (1267.) other than those of its own mass. Besides this it does not assume the charged state (1239.) so readily, or to such an extent, as shell-lac.

1272. A thin hemispherical cup of glass being made hot was covered with a coat of shell-lac dissolved in alcohol, and after being dried for many hours in a hot place, was put into the apparatus and experimented with. It exhibited effects so slight, that, though they were in the direction indicating a superiority of glass over air, they were allowed to pass as possible errors of experiment; and the glass was considered as producing no sensible effect.

1273. I then procured a thick hemispherical flint glass cup resembling that of shell-lac (1239.), but not filling up the space o, o, so well. Its average thickness was 0.4 of an inch, there being an additional thickness of air, averaging 0.22 of an inch, to make up the whole space of 0.62 of an inch between the inductive metallic surfaces. It was covered with a film of shell-lac as the former was, (1272.) and being made very warm, was introduced into the apparatus, also warmed, and experiments made with it as in the former instances (1257. &c.). The general results were the same as with shell-lac, i.e. glass surpassed air in its power of favouring induction through it. The two best results as respected the state of the apparatus for retention of charge, &c., gave, when the air apparatus was charged first 1.336, and when the glass apparatus was charged first 1.45, as the specific inductive capacity for glass, both being without correction. The average of nine results, four with the glass apparatus first charged, and five with the air apparatus first charged, gave 1.38 as the power of the glass apparatus; 1.22 and 1.46 being the minimum and maximum numbers with all the errors of experiment upon them. In all the experiments the glass apparatus took up its inductive charge instantly, and lost it as readily (1269.); and during the short time of each experiment, acquired the peculiar state in a small degree only, so that the influence of this state, and also of conduction upon the results, must have been small.

1274. Allowing specific inductive capacity to be proved and active in this case, and 1.38 as the expression for the glass apparatus, then the specific inductive capacity of flint glass will be above 1.76, not forgetting that this expression is for a piece of glass of such thickness as to occupy not quite two-thirds of the space through which the induction is sustained (1253. 1273.).

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1275. Sulphur.—The same hemisphere of this substance was used in app. ii. as was formerly referred to (1242.). The experiments were well made, i.e. the sulphur itself was free from charge both before and after each experiment, and no action from the stem appeared (1203. 1232.), so that no correction was required on that account. The following are the results when the air apparatus was first charged and divided:

App. i. Air, App. ii. Sulphur. Balls 280 deg..

0 deg. . . . . . . . . 0 deg. 438 . . . . 434 . . . . Charge divided. . . . . 162 164 . . . . . . . . 160 162 . . . . . . . . 0 after discharge. 0 . . . . after discharge.

Here app. i. retained 164 deg., having lost 276 deg. in communicating 162 deg. to app. ii., and the capacity of the air apparatus is to that of the sulphur apparatus as 1 to 1.66.

1276. Then the sulphur apparatus was charged first, thus:

. . . . 0 deg. 0 deg. . . . . . . . . 395 . . . . 388 Charge divided. 237 . . . . . . . . 238 0 . . . . after discharge. . . . . 0 after discharge.

Here app. ii. retained 238 deg., and gave up 150 deg. in communicating a charge of 237 deg. to app. i., and the capacity of the air apparatus is to that of the sulphur apparatus as 1 to 1.58. These results are very near to each other, and we may take the mean 1.62 as representing the specific inductive capacity of the sulphur apparatus; in which case the specific inductive capacity of sulphur itself as compared to air = 1 (1270.) will be about or above 2.24.

1277. This result with sulphur I consider as one of the most unexceptionable. The substance when fused was perfectly clear, pellucid, and free from particles of dirt (1267.), so that no interference of small conducting bodies confused the result. The substance when solid is an excellent insulator, and by experiment was found to take up, with great slowness, that state (1244. 1242.) which alone seemed likely to disturb the conclusion. The experiments themselves, also, were free from any need of correction. Yet notwithstanding these circumstances, so favourable to the exclusion of error, the result is a higher specific inductive capacity for sulphur than for any other body as yet tried; and though this may in part be clue to the sulphur being in a better shape, i.e. filling up more completely the space o, o, (fig. 104.) than the cups of shell-lac and glass, still I feel satisfied that the experiments altogether fully prove the existence of a difference between dielectrics as to their power of favouring an inductive action through them; which difference may, for the present, be expressed by the term specific inductive capacity.

1278. Having thus established the point in the most favourable cases that I could anticipate, I proceeded to examine other bodies amongst solids, liquids, and gases. These results I shall give with all convenient brevity.

* * * * *

1279. Spermaceti.—A good hemisphere of spermaceti being tried as to conducting power whilst its two surfaces were still in contact with the tinfoil moulds used in forming it, was found to conduct sensibly even whilst warm. On removing it from the moulds and using it in one of the apparatus, it gave results indicating a specific inductive capacity between 1.3 and 1.6 for the apparatus containing it. But as the only mode of operation was to charge the air apparatus, and then after a quick contact with the spermaceti apparatus, ascertain what was left in the former (1281.), no great confidence can be placed in the results. They are not in opposition to the general conclusion, but cannot be brought forward as argument in favour of it.

* * * * *

1280. I endeavoured to find some liquids which would insulate well, and could be obtained in sufficient quantity for these experiments. Oil of turpentine, native naphtha rectified, and the condensed oil gas fluid, appeared by common experiments to promise best as to insulation. Being left in contact with fused carbonate of potassa, chloride of lime, and quick lime for some days and then filtered, they were found much injured in insulating power; but after distillation acquired their best state, though even then they proved to be conductors when extensive metallic contact was made with them.

1281. Oil of turpentine rectified.—I filled the lower half of app. i. with the fluid: and as it would not hold a charge sufficiently to enable me first to measure and then divide it, I charged app. ii. containing air, and dividing its charge with app. i. by a quick contact, measured that remaining in app. ii.: for, theoretically, if a quick contact would divide up to equal tension between the two apparatus, yet without sensible loss from the conducting power of app. i.; and app. ii. were left charged to a degree of tension above half the original charge, it would indicate that oil of turpentine had less specific inductive capacity than air; or, if left charged below that mean state of tension, it would imply that the fluid had the greater inductive capacity. In an experiment of this kind, app. ii. gave as its charge 390 deg. before division with app. i., and 175 deg. afterwards, which is less than the half of 390 deg.. Again, being at 176 deg. before division, it was 79 deg. after, which is also less than half the divided charge. Being at 79 deg., it was a third time divided, and then fell to 36 deg., less than the half of 79 deg.. Such are the best results I could obtain; they are not inconsistent with the belief that oil of turpentine has a greater specific capacity than air, but they do not prove the fact, since the disappearance of more than half the charge may be due to the conducting power merely of the fluid.

1282. Naphtha.—This liquid gave results similar in their nature and direction to those with oil of turpentine.

* * * * *

1283. A most interesting class of substances, in relation to specific inductive capacity, now came under review, namely, the gases or aeriform bodies. These are so peculiarly constituted, and are bound together by so many striking physical and chemical relations, that I expected some remarkable results from them: air in various states was selected for the first experiments.

1284. Air, rare and dense.—Some experiments of division (1208.) seemed to show that dense and rare air were alike in the property under examination. A simple and better process was to attach one of the apparatus to an air-pump, to charge it, and then examine the tension of the charge when the air within was more or less rarefied. Under these circumstances it was found, that commencing with a certain charge, that charge did not change in its tension or force as the air was rarefied, until the rarefaction was such that discharge across the space o, o (fig. 104.) occurred. This discharge was proportionate to the rarefaction; but having taken place, and lowered the tension to a certain degree, that degree was not at all affected by restoring the pressure and density of the air to their first quantities.

inches of mercury. Thus at a pressure of 30 the charge was 88 deg. Again 30 the charge was 88 Again 30 the charge was 87 Reduced to 11 the charge was 87 Raised again to 30 the charge was 86 Being now reduced to 3.4 the charge fell to 81 Raised again to 30 the charge was still 81

1285. The charges were low in these experiments, first that they might not pass off at low pressure, and next that little loss by dissipation might occur. I now reduced them still lower, that I might rarefy further, and for this purpose in the following experiment used a measuring interval in the electrometer of only 15 deg. (1185.). The pressure of air within the apparatus being reduced to 1.9 inches of mercury, the charge was found to be 29 deg.; then letting in air till the pressure was 30 inches, the charge was still 29 deg..

1286. These experiments were repeated with pure oxygen with the same consequences.

1287. This result of no variation in the electric tension being produced by variation in the density or pressure of the air, agrees perfectly with those obtained by Mr. Harris[A], and described in his beautiful and important investigations contained in the Philosophical Transactions; namely that induction is the same in rare and dense air, and that the divergence of an electrometer under such variations of the air continues the same, provided no electricity pass away from it. The effect is one entirely independent of that power which dense air has of causing a higher charge to be retained upon the surface of conductors in it than can be retained by the same conductors in rare air; a point I propose considering hereafter.

[A] Philosophical Transactions, 1834, pp. 223, 224, 237, 244.

1288. I then compared hot and cold air together, by raising the temperature of one of the inductive apparatus as high as it could be without injury, and then dividing charges between it and the other apparatus containing cold air. The temperatures were about 50 deg. and 200 deg., Still the power or capacity appeared to be unchanged; and when I endeavoured to vary the experiment, by charging a cold apparatus and then warming it by a spirit lamp, I could obtain no proof that the inductive capacity underwent any alteration.

1289. I compared damp and dry air together, but could find no difference in the results.

* * * * *

1290. Gases.—A very long series of experiments was then undertaken for the purpose of comparing different gases one with another. They were all found to insulate well, except such as acted on the shell-lac of the supporting stem; these were chlorine, ammonia, and muriatic acid. They were all dried by appropriate means before being introduced into the apparatus. It would have been sufficient to have compared each with air; but, in consequence of the striking result which came out, namely, that all had the same power of or capacity for, sustaining induction through them, (which perhaps might have been expected after it was found that no variation of density or pressure produced any effect,) I was induced to compare them, experimentally, two and two in various ways, that no difference might escape me, and that the sameness of result might stand in full opposition to the contrast of property, composition, and condition which the gases themselves presented.

1291. The experiments were made upon the following pairs of gases.

1. Nitrogen and Oxygen. 2. Oxygen Air. 3. Hydrogen Air. 4. Muriatic acid gas Air. 5. Oxygen Hydrogen. 5. Oxygen Carbonic acid. 7. Oxygen Olefiant gas. 8. Oxygen Nitrous gas. 9. Oxygen Sulphurous acid. 10. Oxygen Ammonia. 11. Hydrogen Carbonic acid. 12 Hydrogen Olefiant gas. 13. Hydrogen Sulphurous acid. 14. Hydrogen Fluo-silicic acid. 15. Hydrogen Ammonia. 16, Hydrogen Arseniuretted hydrogen. 17. Hydrogen Sulphuretted hydrogen. 18, Nitrogen Olefiant gas. 19. Nitrogen Nitrous gas. 20. Nitrogen Nitrous oxide. 21. Nitrogen Ammonia. 22. Carbonic oxide Carbonic acid. 23. Carbonic oxide Olefiant gas. 24. Nitrous oxide Nitrous gas. 25. Ammonia Sulphurous acid.

1292. Notwithstanding the striking contrasts of all kinds which these gases present of property, of density, whether simple or compound, anions or cations (665.), of high or low pressure (1284. 1286.), hot or cold (1288.), not the least difference in their capacity to favour or admit electrical induction through them could be perceived. Considering the point established, that in all these gases induction takes place by an action of contiguous particles, this is the more important, and adds one to the many striking relations which hold between bodies having the gaseous condition and form. Another equally important electrical relation, which will be examined in the next paper[A], is that which the different gases have to each other at the same pressure of causing the retention of the same or different degrees of charge upon conductors in them. These two results appear to bear importantly upon the subject of electrochemical excitation and decomposition; for as all these phenomena, different as they seem to be, must depend upon the electrical forces of the particles of matter, the very distance at which they seem to stand from each other will do much, if properly considered, to illustrate the principle by which they are held in one common bond, and subject, as they must be, to one common law.

[A] See in relation to this point 1382. &c.—Dec. 1838.

1293. It is just possible that the gases may differ from each other in their specific inductive capacity, and yet by quantities so small as not to be distinguished in the apparatus I have used. It must be remembered, however, that in the gaseous experiments the gases occupy all the space o, o, (fig. 104.) between the inner and the outer ball, except the small portion filled by the stem; and the results, therefore, are twice as delicate as those with solid dielectrics.

1294. The insulation was good in all the experiments recorded, except Nos. 10, 15, 21, and 25, being those in which ammonia was compared with other gases. When shell-lac is put into ammoniacal gas its surface gradually acquires conducting power, and in this way the lac part of the stem within was so altered, that the ammonia apparatus could not retain a charge with sufficient steadiness to allow of division. In these experiments, therefore, the other apparatus was charged; its charge measured and divided with the ammonia apparatus by a quick contact, and what remained untaken away by the division again measured (1281.). It was so nearly one-half of the original charge, as to authorize, with this reservation, the insertion of ammoniacal gas amongst the other gases, as having equal power with them.

P vi. General results as to induction.

1295. Thus induction appears to be essentially an action of contiguous particles, through the intermediation of which the electric force, originating or appearing at a certain place, is propagated to or sustained at a distance, appearing there as a force of the same kind exactly equal in amount, but opposite in its direction and tendencies (1164.). Induction requires no sensible thickness in the conductors which may be used to limit its extent; an uninsulated leaf of gold may be made very highly positive on one surface, and as highly negative on the other, without the least interference of the two states whilst the inductions continue. Nor is it affected by the nature of the limiting conductors, provided time be allowed, in the case of those which conduct slowly, for them to assume their final state (1170.).

1296. But with regard to the dielectrics or insulating media, matters are very different (1167.). Their thickness has an immediate and important influence on the degree of induction. As to their quality, though all gases and vapours are alike, whatever their state; yet amongst solid bodies, and between them and gases, there are differences which prove the existence of specific inductive capacities, these differences being in some cases very great.

1297. The direct inductive force, which may be conceived to be exerted in lines between the two limiting and charged conducting surfaces, is accompanied by a lateral or transverse force equivalent to a dilatation or repulsion of these representative lines (1224.); or the attractive force which exists amongst the particles of the dielectric in the direction of the induction is accompanied by a repulsive or a diverging force in the transverse direction (1304.).

1298. Induction appears to consist in a certain polarized state of the particles, into which they are thrown by the electrified body sustaining the action, the particles assuming positive and negative points or parts, which are symmetrically arranged with respect to each other and the inducting surfaces or particles[A]. The state must be a forced one, for it is originated and sustained only by force, and sinks to the normal or quiescent state when that force is removed. It can be continued only in insulators by the same portion of electricity, because they only can retain this state of the particles (1304).

[A] The theory of induction which I am stating does not pretend to decide whether electricity be a fluid or fluids, or a mere power or condition of recognized matter. That is a question which I may be induced to consider in the next or following series of these researches.

1299. The principle of induction is of the utmost generality in electric action. It constitutes charge in every ordinary case, and probably in every case; it appears to be the cause of all excitement, and to precede every current. The degree to which the particles are affected in this their forced state, before discharge of one kind or another supervenes, appears to constitute what we call intensity.

1300. When a Leyden jar is charged, the particles of the glass are forced into this polarized and constrained condition by the electricity of the charging apparatus. Discharge is the return of these particles to their natural state from their state of tension, whenever the two electric forces are allowed to be disposed of in some other direction.

1301. All charge of conductors is on their surface, because being essentially inductive, it is there only that the medium capable of sustaining the necessary inductive state begins. If the conductors are hollow and contain air or any other dielectric, still no charge can appear upon that internal surface, because the dielectric there cannot assume the polarized state throughout, in consequence of the opposing actions in different directions.

1302. The known influence of form is perfectly consistent with the corpuscular view of induction set forth. An electrified cylinder is more affected by the influence of the surrounding conductors (which complete the condition of charge) at the ends than at the middle, because the ends are exposed to a greater sum of inductive forces than the middle; and a point is brought to a higher condition than a ball, because by relation to the conductors around, more inductive force terminates on its surface than on an equal surface of the ball with which it is compared. Here too, especially, can be perceived the influence of the lateral or transverse force (1297.), which, being a power of the nature of or equivalent to repulsion, causes such a disposition of the lines of inductive force in their course across the dielectric, that they must accumulate upon the point, the end of the cylinder, or any projecting part.

1303. The influence of distance is also in harmony with the same view. There is perhaps no distance so great that induction cannot take place through it[A]; but with the same constraining force (1298.) it takes place the more easily, according as the extent of dielectric through which it is exerted is lessened. And as it is assumed by the theory that the particles of the dielectric, though tending to remain in a normal state, are thrown into a forced condition during the induction; so it would seem to follow that the fewer there are of these intervening particles opposing their tendency to the assumption of the new state, the greater degree of change will they suffer, i.e. the higher will be the condition they assume, and the larger the amount of inductive action exerted through them.

[A] I have traced it experimentally from a ball placed in the middle of the large cube formerly described (1173.) to the sides of the cube six feet distant, and also from the same ball placed in the middle of our large lecture-room to the walls of the room at twenty-six feet distance, the charge sustained upon the ball in these cases being solely due to induction through these distances.

1304. I have used the phrases lines of inductive force and curved lines of force (1231. 1297. 1298. 1302.) in a general sense only, just as we speak of the lines of magnetic force. The lines are imaginary, and the force in any part of them is of course the resultant of compound forces, every molecule being related to every other molecule in all directions by the tension and reaction of those which are contiguous. The transverse force is merely this relation considered in a direction oblique to the lines of inductive force, and at present I mean no more than that by the phrase. With respect to the term polarity also, I mean at present only a disposition of force by which the same molecule acquires opposite powers on different parts. The particular way in which this disposition is made will come into consideration hereafter, and probably varies in different bodies, and so produces variety of electrical relation[A]. All I am anxious about at present is, that a more particular meaning should not be attached to the expressions used than I contemplate. Further inquiry, I trust, will enable us by degrees to restrict the sense more and more, and so render the explanation of electrical phenomena day by day more and more definite.

[A] See now 1685. &c.—Dec. 1838.

1305. As a test of the probable accuracy of my views, I have throughout this experimental examination compared them with the conclusions drawn by M. Poisson from his beautiful mathematical inquiries[A]. I am quite unfit to form a judgment of these admirable papers; but as far as I can perceive, the theory I have set forth and the results I have obtained are not in opposition to such of those conclusions as represent the final disposition and state of the forces in the limited number of cases be has considered. His theory assumes a very different mode of action in induction to that which I have ventured to support, and would probably find its mathematical test in the endeavour to apply it to cases of induction in curved lines. To my feeling it is insufficient in accounting for the retention of electricity upon the surface of conductors by the pressure of the air, an effect which I hope to show is simple and consistent according to the present view[B]; and it does not touch voltaic electricity, or in any way associate it and what is called ordinary electricity under one common principle.

[A] Memoires de L'Institut, 1811, tom. xii. the first page 1, and the second paging 163.

[B] Refer to 1377, 1378, 1379, 1398.—Dec. 1838.

I have also looked with some anxiety to the results which that indefatigable philosopher Harris has obtained in his investigation of the laws of induction[A], knowing that they were experimental, and having a full conviction of their exactness; but I am happy in perceiving no collision at present between them and the views I have taken.

[A] Philosophical Transactions, 1834, p. 213.

1306. Finally, I beg to say that I put forth my particular view with doubt and fear, lest it should not bear the test of general examination, for unless true it will only embarrass the progress of electrical science. It has long been on my mind, but I hesitated to publish it until the increasing persuasion of its accordance with all known facts, and the manner in which it linked together effects apparently very different in kind, urged me to write the present paper. I as yet see no inconsistency between it and nature, but, on the contrary, think I perceive much new light thrown by it on her operations; and my next papers will be devoted to a review of the phenomena of conduction, electrolyzation, current, magnetism, retention, discharge, and some other points, with an application of the theory to these effects, and an examination of it by them.

Royal Institution, November 16, 1837.

* * * * *

Supplementary Note to Experimental Researches in Electricity.

Eleventh Series.

Received March 29, 1838.

1307. I have recently put into an experimental form that general statement of the question of specific inductive capacity which is given at No. 1252 of Series XI., and the result is such as to lead me to hope the Council of the Royal Society will authorize its addition to the paper in the form of a supplementary note. Three circular brass plates, about five inches in diameter, were mounted side by side upon insulating pillars; the middle one, A, was a fixture, but the outer plates B and C were moveable on slides, so that all three could be brought with their sides almost into contact, or separated to any required distance. Two gold leaves were suspended in a glass jar from insulated wires; one of the outer plates B was connected with one of the gold leaves, and the other outer plate with the other leaf. The outer plates B and C were adjusted at the distance of an inch and a quarter from the middle plate A, and the gold leaves were fixed at two inches apart; A was then slightly charged with electricity, and the plates B and C, with their gold leaves, thrown out of insulation at the same time, and then left insulated. In this state of things A was charged positive inductrically, and B and C negative inducteously; the same dielectric, air, being in the two intervals, and the gold leaves hanging, of course, parallel to each other in a relatively unelectrified state.

1308. A plate of shell-lac three-quarters of an inch in thickness, and four inches square, suspended by clean white silk thread, was very carefully deprived of all charge (1203.) (so that it produced no effect on the gold leaves if A were uncharged) and then introduced between plates A and B; the electric relation of the three plates was immediately altered, and the gold leaves attracted each other. On removing the shell-lac this attraction ceased; on introducing it between A and C it was renewed; on removing it the attraction again ceased; and the shell-lac when examined by a delicate Coulomb electrometer was still without charge.

1309. As A was positive, B and C were of course negative; but as the specific inductive capacity of shell-lac is about twice that of air (1270.), it was expected that when the lac was introduced between A and B, A would induce more towards B than towards C; that therefore B would become more negative than before towards A, and consequently, because of its insulated condition, be positive externally, as at its back or at the gold leaves; whilst C would be less negative towards A, and therefore negative outwards or at the gold leaves. This was found to be the case; for on whichever side of A the shell-lac was introduced the external plate at that side was positive, and the external plate on the other side negative towards each other, and also to uninsulated external bodies.

1310. On employing a plate of sulphur instead of shell-lac, the same results were obtained; consistent with the conclusions drawn regarding the high specific inductive capacity of that body already given (1276.).

1311. These effects of specific inductive capacity can be exalted in various ways, and it is this capability which makes the great value of the apparatus. Thus I introduced the shell-lac between A and B, and then for a moment connected B and C, uninsulated them, and finally left them in the insulated state; the gold leaves were of course hanging parallel to each other. On removing the shell-lac the gold leaves attracted each other; on introducing the shell-lac between A and C this attraction was increased, (as had been anticipated from theory,) and the leaves came together, though not more than four inches long, and hanging three inches apart.

1312. By simply bringing the gold leaves nearer to each other I was able to show the difference of specific inductive capacity when only thin plates of shell-lac were used, the rest of the dielectric space being filled with air. By bringing B and C nearer to A another great increase of sensibility was made. By enlarging the size of the plates still further power was gained. By diminishing the extent of the wires, &c. connected with the gold leaves, another improvement resulted. So that in fact the gold leaves became, in this manner, as delicate a test of specific inductive action as they are, in Bennet's and Singer's electrometers, of ordinary electrical charge.

1313. It is evident that by making the three plates the sides of cells, with proper precautions as regards insulation, &c., this apparatus may be used in the examination of gases, with far more effect than the former apparatus (1187. 1290), and may, perhaps, bring out differences which have as yet escaped me (1292. 1293.)

1314. It is also evident that two metal plates are quite sufficient to form the instrument; the state of the single inducteous plate when the dielectric is changed, being examined either by bringing a body excited in a known manner towards its gold leaves, or, what I think will be better, employing a carrier ball in place of the leaf, and examining that ball by the Coulomb electrometer (1180.). The inductive and inducteous surfaces may even be balls; the latter being itself the carrier ball of the Coulomb's electrometer (1181. 1229.).

1315. To increase the effect, a small condenser may be used with great advantage. Thus if, when two inducteous plates are used, a little condenser were put in the place of the gold leaves, I have no doubt the three principal plates might be reduced to an inch or even half an inch in diameter. Even the gold leaves act to each other for the time as the plates of a condenser. If only two plates were used, by the proper application of the condenser the same reduction might take place. This expectation is fully justified by an effect already observed and described (1229.).

1316. In that case the application of the instrument to very extensive research is evident. Comparatively small masses of dielectrics could be examined, as diamonds and crystals. An expectation, that the specific inductive capacity of crystals will vary in different directions, according as the lines of inductive force (1304.) are parallel to, or in other positions in relation to the axes of the crystals, can be tested[A]: I purpose that these and many other thoughts which arise respecting specific inductive action and the polarity of the particles of dielectric matter, shall be put to the proof as soon as I can find time.

[A] Refer for this investigation to 1680-1698.—Dec. 1838.

1317. Hoping that this apparatus will form an instrument of considerable use, I beg to propose for it (at the suggestion of a friend) the name of Differential Inductometer.

Royal Institution, March 29, 1838.


S 18. On Induction (continued). P vii. Conduction, or conductive discharge. P viii. Electrolytic discharge. P ix. Disruptive discharge—Insulation—Spark—Brush—Difference of discharge at the positive and negative surfaces of conductors.

Received January 11,—Read February 8, 1838.

1318. I Proceed now, according to my promise, to examine, by the great facts of electrical science, that theory of induction which I have ventured to put forth (1165. 1295. &c.). The principle of induction is so universal that it pervades all electrical phenomena; but the general case which I purpose at present to go into consists of insulation traced into and terminating with discharge, with the accompanying effects. This case includes the various modes of discharge, and also the condition and characters of a current; the elements of magnetic action being amongst the latter. I shall necessarily have occasion to speak theoretically, and even hypothetically; and though these papers profess to be experimental researches, I hope that, considering the facts and investigations contained in the last series in support of the particular view advanced, I shall not be considered as taking too much liberty on the present occasion, or as departing too far from the character which they ought to have, especially as I shall use every opportunity which presents itself of returning to that strong test of truth, experiment.

1319. Induction has as yet been considered in these papers only in cases of insulation; opposed to insulation is discharge. The action or effect which may be expressed by the general term discharge, may take place, as far as we are aware at present, in several modes. Thus, that which is called simply conduction involves no chemical action, and apparently no displacement of the particles concerned. A second mode may be called electrolytic discharge; in it chemical action does occur, and particles must, to a certain degree, be displaced. A third mode, namely, that by sparks or brushes, may, because of its violent displacement of the particles of the dielectric in its course, be called the disruptive discharge; and a fourth may, perhaps, be conveniently distinguished for a time by the words convection, or carrying discharge, being that in which discharge is effected either by the carrying power of solid particles, or those of gases and liquids. Hereafter, perhaps, all these modes may appear as the result of one common principle, but at present they require to be considered apart; and I will now speak of the first mode, for amongst all the forms of discharge, that which we express by the term conduction appears the most simple and the most directly in contrast with insulation.

P vii. Conduction, or conductive discharge.

1320. Though assumed to be essentially different, yet neither Cavendish nor Poisson attempt to explain by, or even state in, their theories, what the essential difference between insulation and conduction is. Nor have I anything, perhaps, to offer in this respect, except that, according to my view of induction, insulation and conduction depend upon the same molecular action of the dielectrics concerned; are only extreme degrees of one common condition or effect; and in any sufficient mathematical theory of electricity must be taken as cases of the same kind. Hence the importance of the endeavour to show the connection between them under my theory of the electrical relations of contiguous particles.

1321. Though the action of the insulating dielectric in the charged Leyden jar, and that of the wire in discharging it, may seem very different, they may be associated by numerous intermediate links, which carry us on from one to the other, leaving, I think, no necessary connection unsupplied. We may observe some of these in succession for information respecting the whole case.

1322. Spermnceti has been examined and found to be a dielectric, through which induction can take place (1240. 1246.), its specific inductive capacity being about or above 1.8 (1279.), and the inductive action has been considered in it, as in all other substances, an action of contiguous particles.

1323. But spermaceti is also a conductor, though in so low a degree that we can trace the process of conduction, as it were, step by step through the mass (1247.); and even when the electric force has travelled through it to a certain distance, we can, by removing the coercitive (which is at the same time the inductive) force, cause it to return upon its path and reappear in its first place (1245. 1246.). Here induction appears to be a necessary preliminary to conduction. It of itself brings the contiguous particles of the dielectric into a certain condition, which, if retained by them, constitutes insulation, but if lowered by the communication of power from one particle to another, constitutes conduction.

1324. If glass or shell-lac be the substances under consideration, the same capabilities of suffering either induction or conduction through them appear (1233. 1239. 1247.), but not in the same degree. The conduction almost disappears (1239. 1242.); the induction therefore is sustained, i.e. the polarized state into which the inductive force has brought the contiguous particles is retained, there being little discharge action between them, and therefore the insulation continues. But, what discharge there is, appears to be consequent upon that condition of the particles into which the induction throws them; and thus it is that ordinary insulation and conduction are closely associated together or rather are extreme cases of one common condition.

1325. In ice or water we have a better conductor than spermaceti, and the phenomena of induction and insulation therefore rapidly disappear, because conduction quickly follows upon the assumption of the inductive state. But let a plate of cold ice have metallic coatings on its sides, and connect one of these with a good electrical machine in work, and the other with the ground, and it then becomes easy to observe the phenomena of induction through the ice, by the electrical tension which can be obtained and continued on both the coatings (419. 426.). For although that portion of power which at one moment gave the inductive condition to the particles is at the next lowered by the consequent discharge due to the conductive act, it is succeeded by another portion of force from the machine to restore the inductive state. If the ice be converted into water the same succession of actions can be just as easily proved, provided the water be distilled, and (if the machine be not powerful enough) a voltaic battery be employed.

1326. All these considerations impress my mind strongly with the conviction, that insulation and ordinary conduction cannot be properly separated when we are examining into their nature; that is, into the general law or laws under which their phenomena are produced. They appear to me to consist in an action of contiguous particles dependent on the forces developed in electrical excitement; these forces bring the particles into a state of tension or polarity, which constitutes both induction and insulation; and being in this state, the continuous particles have a power or capability of communicating their forces one to the other, by which they are lowered, and discharge occurs. Every body appears to discharge (444. 987.); but the possession of this capability in a greater or smaller degree in different bodies, makes them better or worse conductors, worse or better insulators; and both induction and conduction appear to be the same in their principle and action (1320.), except that in the latter an effect common to both is raised to the highest degree, whereas in the former it occurs in the best cases, in only an almost insensible quantity.

1327. That in our attempts to penetrate into the nature of electrical action, and to deduce laws more general than those we are at present acquainted with, we should endeavour to bring apparently opposite effects to stand side by side in harmonious arrangement, is an opinion of long standing, and sanctioned by the ablest philosophers. I hope, therefore, I may be excused the attempt to look at the highest cases of conduction as analogous to, or even the same in kind with, those of induction and insulation.

1328. If we consider the slight penetration of sulphur (1241. 1242.) or shell-lac (1234.) by electricity, or the feebler insulation sustained by spermaceti (1279. 1240.), as essential consequences and indications of their conducting power, then may we look on the resistance of metallic wires to the passage of electricity through them as insulating power. Of the numerous well-known cases fitted to show this resistance in what are called the perfect conductors, the experiments of Professor Wheatstone best serve my present purpose, since they were carried to such an extent as to show that time entered as an element into the conditions of conduction[A] even in metals. When discharge was made through a copper wire 2640 feet in length, and 1/15th of an inch in diameter, so that the luminous sparks at each end of the wire, and at the middle, could be observed in the same place, the latter was found to be sensibly behind the two former in time, they being by the conditions of the experiment simultaneous. Hence a proof of retardation; and what reason can be given why this retardation should not be of the same kind as that in spermaceti, or in lac, or sulphur? But as, in them, retardation is insulation, and insulation is induction, why should we refuse the same relation to the same exhibitions of force in the metals?

[A] Philosophical Transactions, 1834, p. 583.

1329. We learn from the experiment, that if time be allowed the retardation is gradually overcome; and the same thing obtains for the spermaceti, the lac, and glass (1248.); give but time in proportion to the retardation, and the latter is at last vanquished. But if that be the case, and all the results are alike in kind, the only difference being in the length of time, why should we refuse to metals the previous inductive action, which is admitted to occur in the other bodies? The diminution of time is no negation of the action; nor is the lower degree of tension requisite to cause the forces to traverse the metal, as compared to that necessary in the cases of water, spermaceti, or lac. These differences would only point to the conclusion, that in metals the particles under induction can transfer their forces when at a lower degree of tension or polarity, and with greater facility than in the instances of the other bodies.

1330. Let us look at Mr. Wheatstone's beautiful experiment in another point of view, If, leaving the arrangement at the middle and two ends of the long copper wire unaltered, we remove the two intervening portions and replace them by wires of iron or platina, we shall have a much greater retardation of the middle spark than before. If, removing the iron, we were to substitute for it only five or six feet of water in a cylinder of the same diameter as the metal, we should have still greater retardation. If from water we passed to spermaceti, either directly or by gradual steps through other bodies, (even though we might vastly enlarge the bulk, for the purpose of evading the occurrence of a spark elsewhere (1331.) than at the three proper intervals,) we should have still greater retardation, until at last we might arrive, by degrees so small as to be inseparable from each other, at actual and permanent insulation. What, then, is to separate the principle of these two extremes, perfect conduction and perfect insulation, from each other; since the moment we leave in the smallest degree perfection at either extremity, we involve the element of perfection at the opposite end? Especially too, as we have not in nature the case of perfection either at one extremity or the other, either of insulation or conduction.

1331. Again, to return to this beautiful experiment in the various forms which may be given to it: the forces are not all in the wire (after they have left the Leyden jar) during the whole time (1328.) occupied by the discharge; they are disposed in part through the surrounding dielectric under the well-known form of induction; and if that dielectric be air, induction takes place from the wire through the air to surrounding conductors, until the ends of the wire are electrically related through its length, and discharge has occurred, i.e. for the time during which the middle spark is retarded beyond the others. This is well shown by the old experiment, in which a long wire is so bent that two parts (Plate VIII. fig. 115.), a, b, near its extremities shall approach within a short distance, as a quarter of an inch, of each other in the air. If the discharge of a Leyden jar, charged to a sufficient degree, be sent through such a wire, by far the largest portion of the electricity will pass as a spark across the air at the interval, and not by the metal. Does not the middle part of the wire, therefore, act here as an insulating medium, though it be of metal? and is not the spark through the air an indication of the tension (simultaneous with induction) of the electricity in the ends of this single wire? Why should not the wire and the air both be regarded as dielectrics; and the action at its commencement, and whilst there is tension, as an inductive action? If it acts through the contorted lines of the wire, so it also does in curved and contorted lines through air (1219, 1224, 1231.), and other insulating dielectrics (1228); and we can apparently go so far in the analogy, whilst limiting the case to the inductive action only, as to show that amongst insulating dielectrics some lead away the lines of force from others (1229.), as the wire will do from worse conductors, though in it the principal effect is no doubt due to the ready discharge between the particles whilst in a low state of tension. The retardation is for the time insulation; and it seems to me we may just as fairly compare the air at the interval a, b (fig. 115.) and the wire in the circuit, as two bodies of the same kind and acting upon the same principles, as far as the first inductive phenomena are concerned, notwithstanding the different forms of discharge which ultimately follow[A], as we may compare, according to Coulomb's investigations[B] different lengths of different insulating bodies required to produce the same amount of insulating effect.

[A] These will be examined hereafter (1348. &c.).

[B] Memoires de l'Academie, 1785, p. 612. or Ency. Britann. First Supp. vol. i. p. 614.

1332. This comparison is still more striking when we take into consideration the experiment of Mr. Harris, in which he stretched a fine wire across a glass globe, the air within being rarefied[A]. On sending a charge through the joint arrangement of metal and rare air, as much, if not more, electricity passed by the latter as by the former. In the air, rarefied as it was, there can be no doubt the discharge was preceded by induction (1284.); and to my mind all the circumstances indicate that the same was the case with the metal; that, in fact, both substances are dielectrics, exhibiting the same effects in consequence of the action of the same causes, the only variation being one of degree in the different substances employed.

[A] Philosophical Transactions, 1834, p, 212.

1333. Judging on these principles, velocity of discharge through the same wire may be varied greatly by attending to the circumstances which cause variations of discharge through spermaceti or sulphur. Thus, for instance, it must vary with the tension or intensity of the first urging force (1234. 1240.), which tension is charge and induction. So if the two ends of the wire, in Professor Wheatstone's experiment, were immediately connected with two large insulated metallic surfaces exposed to the air, so that the primary act of induction, after making the contact for discharge, might be in part removed from the internal portion of the wire at the first instant, and disposed for the moment on its surface jointly with the air and surrounding conductors, then I venture to anticipate that the middle spark would be more retarded than before; and if these two plates were the inner and outer coating of a large jar or a Leyden battery, then the retardation of that spark would be still greater.

1334. Cavendish was perhaps the first to show distinctly that discharge was not always by one channel[A], but, if several are present, by many at once. We may make these different channels of different bodies, and by proportioning their thicknesses and lengths, may include such substances as air, lac, spermaceti, water, protoxide of iron, iron and silver, and by one discharge make each convey its proportion of the electric force. Perhaps the air ought to be excepted, as its discharge by conduction is questionable at present (1336.); but the others may all be limited in their mode of discharge to pure conduction. Yet several of them suffer previous induction, precisely like the induction through the air, it being a necessary preliminary to their discharging action. How can we therefore separate any one of these bodies from the others, as to the principles and mode of insulating and conducting, except by mere degree? All seem to me to be dielectrics acting alike, and under the same common laws.

[A] Philosophical Transactions, 1776, p. 197.

1335. I might draw another argument in favour of the general sameness, in nature and action, of good and bad conductors (and all the bodies I refer to are conductors more or less), from the perfect equipoise in action of very different bodies when opposed to each other in magneto-electric inductive action, as formerly described (213.), but am anxious to be as brief as is consistent with the clear examination of the probable truth of my views.

1336. With regard to the possession by the gases of any conducting power of the simple kind now under consideration, the question is a very difficult one to determine at present. Experiments seem to indicate that they do insulate certain low degrees of tension perfectly, and that the effects which may have appeared to be occasioned by conduction have been the result of the carrying power of the charged particles, either of the air or of dust, in it. It is equally certain, however, that with higher degrees of tension or charge the particles discharge to one another, and that is conduction. If the gases possess the power of insulating a certain low degree of tension continuously and perfectly, such a result may be due to their peculiar physical state, and the condition of separation under which their particles are placed. But in that, or in any case, we must not forget the fine experiments of Cagniard de la Tour[A], in which he has shown that liquids and their vapours can be made to pass gradually into each other, to the entire removal of any marked distinction of the two states. Thus, hot dry steam and cold water pass by insensible gradations into each other; yet the one is amongst the gases as an insulator, and the other a comparatively good conductor. As to conducting power, therefore, the transition from metals even up to gases is gradual; substances make but one series in this respect, and the various cases must come under one condition and law (444.). The specific differences of bodies as to conducting power only serves to strengthen the general argument, that conduction, like insulation, is a result of induction, and is an action of contiguous particles.

[A] Annales de Chimie, xxi. pp. 127, 178, or Quarterly Journal of Science, xv. 145.

1337. I might go on now to consider induction and its concomitant, conduction, through mixed dielectrics, as, for instance, when a charged body, instead of acting across air to a distant uninsulated conductor, acts jointly through it and an interposed insulated conductor. In such a case, the air and the conducting body are the mixed dielectrics; and the latter assumes a polarized condition as a mass, like that which my theory assumes each particle of the air to possess at the same time (1679). But I fear to be tedious in the present condition of the subject, and hasten to the consideration of other matter.

1338. To sum up, in some degree, what has been said, I look upon the first effect of an excited body upon neighbouring matters to be the production of a polarized state of their particles, which constitutes induction; and this arises from its action upon the particles in immediate contact with it, which again act upon those contiguous to them, and thus the forces are transferred to a distance. If the induction remain undiminished, then perfect insulation is the consequence; and the higher the polarized condition which the particles can acquire or maintain, the higher is the intensity which may be given to the acting forces. If, on the contrary, the contiguous particles, upon acquiring the polarized state, have the power to communicate their forces, then conduction occurs, and the tension is lowered, conduction being a distinct act of discharge between neighbouring particles. The lower the state of tension at which this discharge between the particles of a body takes place, the better conductor is that body. In this view, insulators may be said to be bodies whose particles can retain the polarized state; whilst conductors are those whose particles cannot be permanently polarized. If I be right in my view of induction, then I consider the reduction of these two effects (which have been so long held distinct) to an action of contiguous particles obedient to one common law, as a very important result; and, on the other hand, the identity of character which the two acquire when viewed by the theory (1326.), is additional presumptive proof in favour of the correctness of the latter.

* * * * *

1339. That heat has great influence over simple conduction is well known (445.), its effect being, in some cases, almost an entire change of the characters of the body (432. 1340.). Harris has, however, shown that it in no respect affects gaseous bodies, or at least air[A]; and Davy has taught us that, as a class, metals have their conducting power diminished by it[B].

[A] Philosophical Transactions, 1834, p. 230

[B] Ibid. 1821, p. 431.

1340. I formerly described a substance, sulphuret of silver, whose conducting power was increased by heat (433. 437. 438.); and I have since then met with another as strongly affected in the same way: this is fluoride of lead. When a piece of that substance, which had been fused and cooled, was introduced into the circuit of a voltaic battery, it stopped the current. Being heated, it acquired conducting powers before it was visibly red-hot in daylight; and even sparks could be taken against it whilst still solid. The current alone then raised its temperature (as in the case of sulphuret of silver) until it fused, after which it seemed to conduct as well as the metallic vessel containing it; for whether the wire used to complete the circuit touched the fused fluoride only, or was in contact with the platina on which it was supported, no sensible difference in the force of the current was observed. During all the time there was scarcely a trace of decomposing action of the fluoride, and what did occur, seemed referable to the air and moisture of the atmosphere, and not to electrolytic action.

1341. I have now very little doubt that periodide of mercury (414. 448. 691.) is a case of the same kind, and also corrosive sublimate (692.). I am also inclined to think, since making the above experiments, that the anomalous action of the protoxide of antimony, formerly observed and described (693. 801.), may be referred in part to the same cause.

1342. I have no intention at present of going into the particular relation of heat and electricity, but we may hope hereafter to discover by experiment the law which probably holds together all the above effects with those of the evolution and the disappearance of heat by the current, and the striking and beautiful results of thermo-electricity, in one common bond.

P viii. Electrolytic discharge.

1343. I have already expressed in a former paper (1164.), the view by which I hope to associate ordinary induction and electrolyzation. Under that view, the discharge of electric forces by electrolyzation is rather an effect superadded, in a certain class of bodies, to those already described as constituting induction and insulation, than one independent of and distinct from these phenomena.

1344. Electrolytes, as respects their insulating and conducting forces, belong to the general category of bodies (1320. 1334.); and if they are in the solid state (as nearly all can assume that state), they retain their place, presenting then no new phenomenon (426. &c.); or if one occur, being in so small a proportion as to be almost unimportant. When liquefied, they also belong to the same list whilst the electric intensity is below a certain degree; but at a given intensity (910. 912. 1007.), fixed for each, and very low in all known cases, they play a new part, causing discharge in proportion (783.) to the development of certain chemical effects of combination and decomposition; and at this point, move out from the general class of insulators and conductors, to form a distinct one by themselves. The former phenomena have been considered (1320. 1338.); it is the latter which have now to be revised, and used as a test of the proposed theory of induction.

1345. The theory assumes, that the particles of the dielectric (now an electrolyte) are in the first instance brought, by ordinary inductive action, into a polarized state, and raised to a certain degree of tension or intensity before discharge commences; the inductive state being, in fact, a necessary preliminary to discharge. By taking advantage of those circumstances which bear upon the point, it is not difficult to increase the tension indicative of this state of induction, and so make the state itself more evident. Thus, if distilled water be employed, and a long narrow portion of it placed between the electrodes of a powerful voltaic battery, we have at once indications of the intensity which can be sustained at these electrodes by the inductive action through the water as a dielectric, for sparks may be obtained, gold leaves diverged, and Leyden bottles charged at their wires. The water is in the condition of the spermaceti (1322. 1323.) a bad conductor and a bad insulator; but what it does insulate is by virtue of inductive action, and that induction is the preparation for and precursor of discharge (1338.).

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