The Standard Electrical Dictionary - A Popular Dictionary of Words and Terms Used in the Practice - of Electrical Engineering
by T. O'Conor Slone
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S. P. Thompson thus summarizes the methods of governing or regulating dynamos. Premising that alteration of the magnetic flux is the almost universal way of control, it can be done in two ways; first, by varying the excitation or ampere turns of the field, and second by varying the reluctance of the magnetic circuit. The excitation or magnetic flux may be varied

(a) by hand, with the aid of rheostats and commutators in the exciting circuit;

(b) automatically, by governors, taking the place of the hand;

(c) by compound windings. The magnetic circuit may have its reluctance caused to vary in several ways;

(d) by moving the pole pieces nearer to or further from the armature;

(e) by opening or closing some gap in the magnetic circuit (field-magnet core);

(f) by drawing the armature endways from between the pole pieces;

(g) by shunting some of the magnetic lines away from the armature by a magnetic shunt.

The latter magnetic circuit methods d, e, f, and g, have never met with much success except on small machines or motors. Method e is adopted in the Edison motor, the yoke being withdrawn or brought nearer the cores of the coils. (See Regulation, Constant Current-Regulation, constant Potential.)


Reguline. adj. Having the characteristics of a piece of metal, being flexible, adherent, continuous, and coherent. Applied to electrolytic deposits.

Relative. Indicating the relation between two or more things without reference to absolute value of any one of them. Thus one lamp may be of relatively double resistance compared to another, but this states nothing of the resistance in ohms of either lamp.

Relay. A receiving instrument which moves in accordance with impulses of currents received, and in so moving opens and closes a local circuit, which circuit may include as powerful a battery as required or desirable, while the relay may be on the other hand so delicate as to work with a very weak current.

Fig. 287. RELAY.

The typical relay includes an electro-magnet and armature. To the latter an arm is attached and the lower end of the arm works in pivots. As the armature is attracted the arm swings towards the magnet. When the current is cut off, the armature and arm are drawn back by a spring. When the arm swings towards the magnet its upper end touching a contact screw closes the local circuit. When it swings back it comes in contact with a second screw, with insulated point, and opens the circuit as it leaves the first named screw.

One terminal connects with the arm through the pivots and frame. The other connects with the contact screw through the frame carrying it.

Synonym—Relay Magnet.


Relay Bells. Bells connected by relay connection to a main line for acoustic telegraphy. A stroke on one bell indicates a dot and on the other a dash. The system is now nearly extinct.

Relay, Box-sounding. A relay which is surrounded by or mounted on a resonator or wooden box of such proportions and size as to reinforce the sound. This enables a relay to act as a sounder, its weak sounds being virtually magnified so as to be audible.

Relay Connection. A connection used in telegraphy, including a local battery, with a short circuit normally open, but closed by a switch and a sounder or other appliance. The latter is made very sensitive so as to be worked by a feeble current, and is connected to the main line. A very slight current closes the switch and the local battery comes into operation to work a sounder, etc. When the current ceases on the main line the switch opens and throws the local battery out of action. The switch is termed a relay, q. v. A long main line may thus produce strong effects at distant stations, the intensity of action depending on the local battery.


Relay, Differential. A relay containing two coils wound differentially, and of the same number of turns and resistance. If two equal currents pass through the coils they counteract each other and no action takes place. If there is a difference in the currents the relay acts as one coil preponderates. The coils may be wound for uneven currents with different resistance and number of turns.

Relay, Microphone. A relay connection applied to a telephone circuit. It consists of a microphone mounted in front of the diaphragm of a telephone receiver. In circuit with the microphone is a battery and second telephone receiver. The microphone is supposed to intensify the sounds of the first telephone.


Relay, Polarized. A relay whose armature is of steel, and polarized or permanently magnetized, or in which a permanent magnet is used as the basis for the electro-magnets. In the relay shown in the cut the coils shown are mounted on cores carried on the end of a powerful bent permanent magnet. Thus when no current passes their upper poles are both of the same sign, and the horizontally vibrating tongue is held by the magnetic attraction against one or the other pole piece. If a current is sent through the electro-magnet it gives opposite polarity to the two polar extensions. As the end of the vibrating tongue is of polarity determined by the permanent magnet it is attracted to one pole and repelled from the other. On cessation of current it remains attached by the permanent magnetism. If now a current is sent in the opposite direction the two poles again acquire opposite polarity, the reverse of the former, and the tongue flies across to the opposite side. On cessation of current it remains attached as before by the permanent magnetism.

In its movements to and fro the relay tongue opens and closes a contact, so as to work a sounder or other apparatus. The polarized relay is of high sensibility, and requires little or no change of adjustment.


Reluctance. In a magnetic circuit or portion thereof, the resistance offered to the flow of lines of force. The magnetic circuit as has already been stated is treated like an electric circuit, and in it reluctance occupies the place of resistance in the electric circuit. It is the reciprocal of permeance. S. P. Thompson expresses the law thus:

Total number of magnetic lines = (magneto-motive force) / (magnetic reluctance)

Synonyms—Magnetic Reluctance-Magnetic Resistance.

Reluctance, Unit of. The reluctance of a circuit through which unit magnetizing power (magneto-motive force) can produce a unit of induction or one line of force. This value is very high; the reluctance of ordinary magnetic circuits ranges from 1E-5 to 1E-8 unit of reluctance.

Reluctivity. Specific reluctance; the reluctance of a cube of material whose edge measures one centimeter in length. It is a quality bearing the same relation to reluctance that permeability does to permeance.

It is defined as the reciprocal of magnetic permeability. (Kenelly.) If plotted as a curve for different values of the magnetizing force it is found to be nearly a straight line, a linear function of the magnetizing force, H with the equation a + b H. Reluctivity is the property of a substance; reluctance is the property of a circuit.


Remanence. The residual magnetism left after magnetic induction, expressed in lines of force per square centimeter.

Repeater. In telegraphy an instrument for repeating the signals through a second line. It is virtually a relay which is operated by the sender, and which in turn operates the rest of the main line, being situated itself at about the middle point of the distance covered. In the simpler forms of repeater two relays are used, one for transmission in one direction the other for transmission in the other. An attendant switches one or the other in as required.

Thus a common relay is virtually a repeater for its local circuit. If such a relay is placed half way down a line, and if the line beyond it is connected as its local, it becomes a repeater.

Some forms of repeaters are automatic, and repeat both ways without the need of an attendant.

It is the practice to somewhat prolong the signals sent through a repeater.

Replenisher, Sir William Thomson's. A static accumulating influence machine contained in Thomson's quadrant electrometer and used to change the quadrants. The cut shows the horizontal section and construction of the apparatus.

It contains two gilt brass inductors A B, and two eccentric sectors or carriers, C, D, which are mounted on an ebonite spindle, which is spun around by the fingers. The springs s s1 connect each with its inductor; the springs S S1 connect only each other, and touch the sectors as they turn around.

One of the inductors may be always assumed to be of slightly higher potential than that of the other one. When the carriers are in contact with the springs S S1 they are each charged by induction with electricity opposite in sign to that of the nearest quadrant. As they leave the springs S S1 in their rotation, they next touch the springs s s1, but of the recently opposite inductor. They share each a portion of its charge with the inductors building up their charges. The action is repeated over and over again as they rotate.



Reservoir, Common. A term applied to the earth, because all electrified bodies discharge into it if connected thereto.


Residual Atmosphere. The air left in a receiver after exhaustion by an air pump. The quantity, where good air pumps are used, is very minute.

Residue, Electric. The residual charge of a condenser. (See Charge, Residual.)

Resin. (a) The product obtained by non-destructive distillation of the juice of the pitch pine. It is the solid residue left after the turpentine has been evaporated or distilled. It is a mixture of abietic acid C44 H64 O5 and pinic acid C20 H30 O2. It is an insulator; its specific inductive capacity is 2.55. (Baltzmann.)


(b) The name is also generally applied to similar substances obtained from the sap of other trees; thus shellac is a resin. The resins are a family of vegetable products; the solid portions of the sap of certain trees. Common resin, lac, dragons blood, are examples. They are all dielectrics and sources of resinous or negative electricity when rubbed with cotton, flannel, or silk. (See Electrostatic Series.)


Resinous Electricity. Negative electricity; the electricity produced upon the surface of a resinous body by rubbing it; such a body is shellac or sealing wax; flannel and other substances may be used as the rubbing material. (See Electrostatic Series.)

Resistance. (a) The quality of an electric conductor, in virtue of which it opposes the passage of an electric current, causing the disappearance of electro-motive force if a current passes through it, and converting electric energy into heat energy in the passage of a current through it. If a current passes through a conductor of uniform resistance there is a uniform fall of potential all along its length. If of uneven resistance the fall in potential varies with the resistance. (See Potential, Fall of.)

The fall of potential is thus expressed by Daniell. "In a conductor, say a wire, along which a current is steadily and uniformly passing, there is no internal accumulation of electricity, no density of internal distribution; there is, on the other hand, an unequally distributed charge of electricity on the surface of the wire, which results in a potential diminishing within the wire from one end of the wire to the other."

Resistance varies inversely with the cross section of a cylindrical or prismatic conductor, in general with the average cross-section of any conductor, and in the same sense directly with its true or average or virtual length. It varies for different substances, and for different conditions as of temperature and pressure for the same substance. A rise of temperature in metals increases the resistance, in some bad conductors a rise of temperature decreases the resistance.


Approximately, with the exception of iron and mercury, the resistance of a metallic conductor varies with the absolute temperature. This is very roughly approximate.

Except for resistance energy would not be expended in maintaining a current through a circuit. The resistance of a conductor may be supposed to have its seat and cause in the jumps from molecule to molecule, which the current has to take in going through it. If so a current confined to a molecule would, if once started, persist because there would be no resistance in a molecule. Hence on this theory the Amprian currents (see Magnetism, Ampere's Theory of) would require no energy for their maintenance and Ampre's theory would become a possible truth.

When metals melt their resistance suddenly increases.

Light rays falling on some substances, notably selenium, q. v., vary the resistance.

Longitudinal stretching of a conductor decreases it, it increases with longitudinal compression, and increases in iron and diminishes in tin and zinc when a transverse stress tends to widen the conductor.

(b) The term resistance is used to express any object or conductor used in circuit to develop resistance.

[Transcriber's note: At room temperatures, the thermal motion of ions in the conductor's crystal lattice scatters the electrons of the current. Imperfections of the lattice contribute slightly. At low temperatures superconductivity (zero resistance) can occur because an energy gap between the electrons and the crystal lattice prevents any interaction. At the time of this book, none of this was known. "Jumps from molecule to molecule" is a good guess.]

Resistance, Apparent. Impedance; the virtual resistance of a circuit including the spurious resistance due to counter-electromotive force. It may be made up of true resistance and partly of an inductive reaction, as it represents the net factor, the entire obstruction to the passage of a current, and not merely a superadded resistance or counter-electro-motive force.


[Transcriber's note: Impedance can also have a component due to capacitance.]

Resistance, Asymmetrical. Resistance which varies in amount in different directions through a conductor. It implies a compound or composite conductor such as the human system. The presence of counter-electro-motive force in different parts of a conductor may bring about asymmetrical resistance.

Resistance, B. A. Unit of. The British Association Ohm. (See Ohm, B. A.)


Resistance Box. A box filled with resistance coils. The coils are connected in series so that a circuit including any given number has their aggregate resistance added to its own. The terminals of consecutive coils are connected to short blocks of brass which are secured to the top of the box, lying flatwise upon it, nearly but not quite in contact with each other. Plugs of brass are supplied which can go in between pairs of blocks, which have a pair of grooves reamed out to receive them. Such plugs short circuit the coil below them when in position. The cut shows how such coils are connected and the use of plugs to short circuit them. The diagram shows the top of a Wheatstone bridge, q. v., resistance box with connections for determining resistances.


Resistance Box, Sliding. A resistance box whose coils are set in a circle. Two metal arms with handles are pivoted at the centre of the circle and by moving them around they make and break contacts so as to throw the coils in and out of circuit. The object is to permit an operator to adjust resistance without looking at the box—an essential in duplex telegraphy.

Resistance, Breguet Unit of. The same in origin as the Digney Unit. (See Resistance, Digney Unit of.)

It is equal to 9.652 Legal Ohms.

Resistance, Carbon. A resistance, a substitute for a resistance coil; it is made of carbon, and is of various construction. In the Brush dynamo regulator a set of four vertical piles of plates of retort carbon, q. v., is used as a resistance, whose resistance is made to vary by changing the pressure. This pressure automatically increases as the current strength increases, thus reducing the resistance.


Resistance Coil, Standard. A standard or resistance issued by the Electric Standard Committee of Great Britain. The cut shows the standard ohm. It is formed either of German silver, or of an alloy of silver, 66.6 per cent. and platinum, 33.4 per cent. The wire is insulated and doubled before winding as described before. (See Coil, Resistance.) The two ends of the wire are soldered, each one to a heavy copper wire or rod r. The whole coil is enclosed in a brass case, and is enclosed with paraffine melted in at A. A place for a thermometer is provided at t. By immersing the lower part of the case B in water of different degrees of heat any desired temperature can be attained.


Resistance, Combined. The actual resistance of several parallel conductors starting from the same point and ending at the same point. If the individual resistance be a b c d .. and the combined resistance be x then we have x = 1 / (( 1/a) + (1/b) + (1/c) + (1/d) + )

Synonym—Joint Resistance.

Resistance, Critical. In a series wound dynamo the resistance of the outer circuit above which the machine will refuse to excite itself.

Resistance, Dielectric. The mechanical resistance of a dielectric to the tendency to perforation or to the strains due to electrification. This is a phase of mechanical resistance, and is distinct from the electrical or ohmic resistance of the same substance.

Resistance, Digney Unit of. The resistance of an iron wire, 1 kilometer long, 4 millimeters diameter, temperature unknown.

It is equal to 9.163 legal ohms.

Resistance, Electrolytic. The resistance of an electrolyte to the passage of a current decomposing it. It is almost entirely due to electrolysis and is added to by counter- electro-motive force, yet it is not treated specifically as such, but as an actual resistance. When a current of a circuit of too low voltage to decompose an electrolyte is caused by way of immersed terminals to pass through an electrolyte the resistance appears very high and sometimes almost infinite. If the voltage is increased until the electrolyte is decomposed the resistance suddenly drops, and what should be termed electrolytic resistance, far lower than the true resistance, appears.


Resistance, English Absolute or Foot-Second Unit of. A unit based on the foot and second. It is equal to (( foot / second ) * 1E7) , being based on these dimensions.

It is equal to 0.30140 legal ohm.

Resistance, Equivalent. A resistance equivalent to other resistances, which may include counter-electro-motive force.

Resistance, Essential. The resistance of the generator in an electric circuit; the same as internal resistance.

Resistance, External. In an electric circuit the resistance of the circuit outside of the generator, or battery.

Synonym—Non-essential Resistance.


Resistance Frame. An open frame filled with resistance coils of iron, or German silver wire. It is used as a resistance for dynamos and the larger or working class of plant. The coils are sometimes connected so that by a switch moving over a row of studs one or more can be thrown into series according to the stud the switch is in contact with.

Resistance, German Mile Unit of. The resistance of 8,238 yards of iron wire 1/6 inch in diameter. It is equal to 56.81 legal ohms.


Resistance, Hittorf's. A high resistance, often a megohm, composed of Hittorf's solution, q. v. It is contained in a vertical glass tube near whose upper and lower ends are electrodes of metallic cadmium attached to platinum wires. The cadmium is melted in glass tubes, the platinum wire is inserted into the melted metal and the tube is broken after all is solid. The resistance should show no polarization current.


Resistance, Inductive. A resistance in which self-induction is present; such as a coil of insulated wire wound around an iron core.

Resistance, Insulation. The resistance of the insulation of an insulated conductor. It is stated in ohms per mile. It is determined by immersing a section of the line in water and measuring the resistance between its conductor and the water. The section must be of known length, and its ends must both be above the liquid.

Resistance, Internal. The resistance of a battery, or generator in an electric circuit as distinguished from the resistance of the rest of the circuit, or the external resistance.

Synonym—Essential Resistance.

Resistance, Jacobi's Unit of. The resistance of a certain copper wire 25 feet long and weighing 345 grains.

It is equal to 0.6296 legal ohm.

Resistance, Matthiessen's Meter-gram Standard. The resistance of a pure hard drawn copper wire of such diameter that one meter of it weighs one gram. It is equal to .1434 Legal Ohms at 0 C. (32 F.)

Resistance, Matthiessen's Unit of. The resistance of a standard mile of pure annealed copper wire 1/16 inch diameter, at a temperature of 15.5 C. (60 F.).

It is equal to 13.44 legal ohms.


Resistance, Meter-millimeter Unit of. The resistance of a wire of copper one meter long and one square millimeter in section. It is equal to .02057 ohms at 0 C. (32 F.) The term may also be applied to the resistance of similar sized wire of other metals.

Resistance, Mil-foot Unit of. The resistance of a foot of copper wire one-thousandth of an inch in diameter. It is equal to 9.831 ohms at 0 C. (32 F.) The term may also be applied to the resistance of similar sized wire of other metals.

Resistance, Non-essential. The resistance of the portion of an electric circuit not within the generator; the same as external resistance.

Synonym—External Resistance.

Resistance, Non-inductive. A resistance with comparatively little or negligible self-induction.

Resistance of Human Body. The resistance of the human body is largely a matter of perfection of the contacts between its surface and the electrodes. It has been asserted that it is affected by disease. From 350 to 8,000 ohms have been determined as resistances, but so much depends on the contacts that little value attaches to the results.

Resistance, Ohmic. True resistance measured in ohms as distinguished from counter-electro-motive force, q. v. The latter is called often spurious resistance.

Synonym—True Resistance.

[Transcriber's note: "True" vs. "spurious" are interesting terms, considering that today we define impedance as a combination of "real" resistance and "imaginary" capacitive and inductive reactance.]

Resistance, Reduced. The resistance of a conductor reduced to ohms, or to equivalent lengths of a column of mercury, 1 square millimeter in cross area.

Resistance, Siemen's Unit of. The resistance of a column of mercury 1 meter long and 1 square millimeter cross-sectional area at 0 C. (32 F.)

It is equal to .9431 legal ohm.

Resistance, Specific. The relative resistance of a substance. It is expressed as the actual resistance of a cube of the substance which is one centimeter on each edge. For metals it is usually expressed in microhms, for liquids in ohms.

The resistances of a specified length of wire of specified diameter of different substances is often given, and is really a particular way of stating specific resistances.

Synonym—Specific Conduction Resistance.

Resistance, Spurious. The counter-electro-motive force, q. v., operating to prevent a current being produced of what should be its full strength were the true resistance and actuating electro-motive force only concerned. Such counter-electro-motive force may be treated as a spurious resistance and such a value in ohms assigned to it as would correspond to its proper effect.


In its effect on opposing a current and in resisting its formation it differs from true resistance. The latter in diminishing current strength absorbs energy and develops heat; spurious resistance opposes and diminishes a current without absorption of energy or production of heat.

[Transcriber's note: "Spurious resistance" is now called reactance, consisting of capacitive reactance and inductive reactance. The combination of reactance and (Ohmic/true) resistance is called impedance. The calculation of impedance requires complex algebra, not just real values used in DC circuit analysis.]

Resistance, Steadying. When arc lamps are connected in parallel or multiple arc a small resistance coil is sometimes placed in series with each lamp for steadying purposes. It reduces the percentage of variation of resistance in each lamp, which may be caused by a change in the position of the carbons.

Resistance, Swiss Unit of. A unit constructed by the "Administration Suisse," based on the same data as the Breguet and the Digney Units. (See Resistance, Digney Unit of)

It is equal to 10.30 legal ohms.

Resistance, Thomson's Unit of. A unit of resistance based on the foot and second.

It is equal to 0.3166 legal ohm.

Resistance, Unit. Unit resistance is that of a conductor in which unit current is produced by unit electro-motive force.

Resistance, Varley's Unit of. The resistance of a standard mile of a special copper wire 1/16 inch diameter.

It is equal to 25.33 ohms.

Resistance, Weber's Absolute Unit. A metric system unit; (meter / second) * 1E7

It is equal to 0.9089 legal ohm.

Resonance, Electric. A set of phenomena known as the Hertz experiments are grouped under this title, which phenomena are incidents of and depend on the propagation of electric waves through wires or current conductors, as well as through the ether. Ordinarily a wire is only a seat of current, and is in its nature inconsistent with wave propagation through its mass. Such waves are virtually confined to the exterior of the wire. The point is that the current-producing force is supposed to enter the wire at all points from without, the current not being produced by an end-push. Hence in rapidly recurring waves which are produced by a rapidly pulsatory or alternating current, no time is afforded for the current-producing force, in this case the wave-producing force, to penetrate into the substance of the wire. In one of his experiments Dr. Hertz surrounded a wire by a glass tube chemically silvered. The coating was so thin as to be translucent. Through this metallic layer a current could be induced in the wire in its interior. Any mechanical layer of metal took up the induction itself, and protected the central wire. This gave a clue to the thickness of metal penetrated by the rapid induced waves used by Dr. Hertz.



The method used for the production of rapid oscillations is the following. To the terminals of an induction coil two metal spheres AA1 are connected as shown. This apparatus is termed the exciter; in its discharge a series of isochronous discharges takes place, alternating in direction. The period of duration T of a single one is given by the formula T= 2* PI * squareRoot( LC ), in which C is the capacity and L is the self-induction. The spheres may be 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) in diameter, connected each to conductors 0.5 centimeter (.2 inch) in diameter and 40 centimeters (15.7 inches) long each. For the length of an undulation the formula gives for this apparatus 4.8 meters (15.75 feet) as the length of a wave, assuming for them the velocity of propagation equal to that of light. The exciter may have 10,000 times the rate of oscillation possessed by the plain induction coil.

When this apparatus is worked it produces induced waves in every neighboring conductor. The resonance effects appear in the size of the spark induced. Thus a wire bent into a circle with its ends nearly touching will give a spark, but if made of proper electrostatic capacity, corresponding with the particular waves employed, the spark will be very much larger. The ring, with its spark gap is termed a resonator. It is used as an explorer to trace the waves.

Waves thus produced are transmitted by stone walls and nonconductors in general. A plate of zinc reflects part and transmits part. The reflected waves can be traced by the resonator, their angle of reflection being equal to their angle of incidence. They can be received by one parabolic reflector, reflected to another and brought to a focus. They can be reflected so as to produce interference or loops and nodes, and the loops and nodes can be traced by the resonator. By a prism of asphalt they are refracted exactly like light.

From all this it is concluded that an additional proof is furnished of the identity of light and electro-magnetic waves, and a very strong experimental proof of Maxwell's theory of light is furnished.

Synonym—Hertz's Experiments.



Resonator, Electric. A small open electric circuit, with ends nearly touching. When exposed to electric resonance, or to a sympathetic electric oscillatory discharge, a spark passes from across the gap. The production of this spark is altogether a matter of the inductance of the resonator. The simplest form is a circle of copper wire with its ends nearly touching. The length of the gap is adjustable by bending. A screw adjustment may also be provided. Another form is shown in the cut, Fig. 296. Here sheets of tinfoil are used to regulate the electrostatic capacity, while at m is shown the finger piece for regulating the size of the spark gap a.

Synonym—Spark Micrometer.

Resultant. The line indicating the result of the application of two or more forces to a point. Its direction and length give the elements of direction and intensity. (See Forces, Resolution of Forces, Composition of Components.)

Resultant Polarity. The magnetic polarity imparted to a mass of iron acted on by two or more separate inducing forces or currents. It appears in dynamos and motors. The final polarity is the resultant of the inducing effect of the field magnet poles and of the windings.

Retardation. In telegraphy a retardation of the rate of transmission of signals. It is due to several causes.

(a) The self-induction of the circuit, especially if it includes many electro-magnets, produces extra currents (see Currents, Extra.) These are opposed to the main current on closing it and hence retard the action. They are in the same direction on opening it and hence again retard the action.

(b) Every line has a certain static capacity. This is affected by the proximity of the lines to the earth. For each signal electricity has to be charged upon the line until the line is charged to its end with a certain proportion of the initial density. This charging takes time and hence introduces retardation.

(c) The cores of the electro-magnets of the relays or sounders are not instantly magnetized and demagnetized. This magnetic lag, q. v., introduces retardation.


Retardation of Phase. The fractional lagging behind of waves or alternating currents; by lagging behind a portion of a wave length the corresponding phases, as of full amplitude, are kept back or retarded. The phase of current intensity may be retarded with reference to the electro-motive force by the introduction of transformers of high capacity with high resistance on open secondary circuits.

[Transcriber's note: Capacitors are used to correct current phase lag.]

Retentivity. Coercitive or coercive force; by virtue of which steel retains its magnetism. It is the more modern name, "coercive force" as a term being rejected by many.

Synonyms—Coercive Force—Coercitive Force.

Retort Carbon. Carbon deposited in coal gas retorts from decomposition of the hydrocarbons. It is a very hard, pure form, and is of graphitic modification. Owing to its great hardness it is little used for electrical purposes, the molded carbons being easier to make. The deposition occurs in the regular gas-making process, and is a disadvantage to the working.

Return. A line or conductor which is supposed to carry current back to its starting point, after it has traversed a line. It may be a wire or the grounding of the ends of a line [or] may make the earth act as a return, termed ground- or earth-return. The best distinction of a return is to so term the portion of a circuit on which no apparatus is placed.

Reversibility. The principal in virtue of which a device for producing a given form of energy can absorb the same and do work. The reversibility of the dynamo is its quality in virtue of which it can act as a current generator, thereby converting mechanical energy into electric energy, or if a current is passed through it, it rotates, doing work, and thereby converting electric energy into mechanical energy. The knowledge of this principle can be traced back to Jacobi in 1850.

Reversible Bridge. A form of Wheatstone's Bridge adapted for reversal of the positions or interchange of the proportionate arms, v., so that the accuracy of the coils can be tested.

Rheochord. An apparatus by means of which variable quantities of wire are thrown into the circuit; a rheostat using wire. (See Rheostat, Wheatstone's.)

Rheometer. A galvanometer. (Obsolete.)


Rheomotor. A source of current; a current generator; a producer of potential difference. (Obsolete.)

Rheophore. The portion of an active circuit capable of deflecting a magnetic needle. This properly includes all of the metallic conductor of a circuit. (Obsolete.)

Rheoscope. A galvanoscope; an instrument for qualitatively detecting potential difference, fall or rise. (See Galvanoscope.)

Rheostat. An adjustable resistance; an apparatus for changing the resistance without opening the circuit. Its action may depend on the introduction of variable lengths of mercury column, of some other liquid, or of wire into a circuit. (See Rheostat, Wheatstone's.)

Rheostat Arm. The third arm of known resistance in a Wheatstone bridge. (See Proportionate Arms.)

Rheostatic Machine. An apparatus for increasing potential difference. It consists of a number of static condensers. They are charged in multiple arc or in parallel, and are discharged in series. Secondary batteries may be used for the charging; thus a static effect is produced from a galvanic battery.

Rheostat, Wheatstone's. This apparatus consists of two cylinders, one, A, made of brass, the other, B, of wood, with a spiral groove. At its end is a copper ring a. A fine brass wire has one end attached to this ring. Its other end is fastened at e, and it is wound as shown; n and o are binding screws connected, one with the cylinder-ring a, the other with the brass cylinder, A. The current entering at o, traverses the wire on B, as there the windings are insulated by the grooves, thence it passes to m and by A, whose metal short circuits all the wire on it, to the binding-post n. The handle, d, is turned one way or the other to regulate the length of the wire through which the current must pass. On each cylinder there is a square head, one of which is shown at c, so that the handle can be shifted from one to the other as required; to A if the wire is to be wound on that cylinder, to B if the reverse is desired.



Rheotome. An automatic circuit breaker, one which rapidly opens and closes a circuit, as in the case of the primary of an induction coil an interrupter. (Obsolete.)

Rheotrope. A pole changer, current reverser, or commutator, g., such as the commutator of an induction coil. (Obsolete.)

Rhigolene. A petroleum product; a hydrocarbon of low boiling point. Its vapor is used in flashing (q. v.) carbon filaments for incandescent lamps.

Rhumbs. In a mariners' compass, the thirty-two points, designated, north, north by east, north north east, etc. (See Compass Mariner's-Compass, Points of the.)

Rhumkorff Coil. The induction coil, q. v.

Rigidity, Molecular. The tendency of molecules to resist rotation or change of position; the assumed cause of magnetic coercive force, or retentivity.

Ring Contact. A contact formed by a terminal clip in the shape of a ring, split or cut at one point so that its ends tend to spring together. The other terminal is a bar which passes into the cut and is tightly pressed by the elastic ring.



Ring, Faraday. A closed ring of iron used as the core of a transformer or induction coil. The term is derived from Faraday's classic experiment with such an apparatus when he produced a spark by induction in a secondary circuit.

Roaring. A term applied to the noise sometimes produced in a voltaic arc, when the electrodes are close together and a heavy current is passing.

Rocker. In a dynamo the movable piece, mounted concentrically with the commutator, and carrying the rocker-arms and brush-holders. By moving it the brushes are adjusted for proper lead.

Rocker Arms. The arms projecting from a rocker and each carrying one of the brush-holders.

Roget's Spiral. An experimental apparatus for illustrating the mutual attraction of currents going in like direction. A cylindrical helix or spiral of wire is suspended by one end. Its lower end just dips into a mercury cup. An active circuit is connected, one terminal to the upper end, the other terminal to the mercury cup, bringing the apparatus in series into the circuit. The current as it passes causes the coil to shorten, each spiral attracting its neighbors. This breaks the circuit by drawing the lower end out of the mercury cup. The current being cut off the coils cease to attract each other, and the end dips into the mercury cup again. This closes the circuit, the coils again attract each other and the same sequence follows and is repeated over and over again. A bright spark is produced at each break of the mercury contact.

Rotation of Liquids, Electro-dynamic. By passing a current through a liquid, such as dilute sulphuric acid, it rotates if exposed to the induction of a current flowing at right angles to it. The condition resolves itself into a liquid traversed by horizontal currents from centre to circumference or vice versa, rotated by a current passing through a circular conductor below it.


Rotation of Liquids, Electro-magnetic. The rotation produced in a liquid carrying centripetal or centrifugal currents by an electromagnet. It is practically an intensification of electro-dynamic rotation. (See Rotation of Liquids, Electro-dynamic.)

Rubber. In a frictional electric machine the cushion of leather which is pressed against the plate as it rotates.

S. (a) Symbol for second.

(b) Symbol for space, or length; L is preferable.

(c) Symbol for south-seeking pole of a magnet.

Saddle Bracket. A bracket carried on the top of telegraph poles, carrying an insulator for the upper wire.

Safety Device. (a) A device to prevent overheating of any portion of a circuit by excess of current. It generally consists of a slip of fusible metal which if the current attains too much strength melts and opens the circuit. To ensure its breaking a weight is sometimes suspended from the strip. In one form an insulated German silver wire is wrapped around the end of the fusible strip a number of times and its end is connected to it. The other end of the German silver wire connects with the main lead, so that all the current goes through both in series. If the German silver wire becomes heated from excess of current the coil wrapped tightly around the end of the fusible strip melts it and opens the circuit.

(b) Lightning arresters, q. v., may be cited under this heading.

Synonyms—Automatic Cut Out—Safety Fuse, Plug, or Strip.


Safety Fuse. A strip of metal inserted so as to form part of a circuit and of such size that a smaller current [than] would heat the regular wire of the circuit dangerously, so as to cause a conflagration for instance, would melt the fuse and open the circuit. As it sometimes happens that a safety fuse melts without parting a weight is sometimes hung upon it, so as to break it as it softens.

Salt. A salt is a chemical compound containing two atoms of two radicals,. which saturate each other. One atom or radical is electro-positive referred to the other, which is electro-negative. By electrolysis salts are decomposed, the atoms or radicals separating and uniting to form new molecules.


Saturated. adj. A liquid is saturated with a substance when it has dissolved all that it can, while an excess is present in the liquid. It is possible, by dissolving some salts in hot water and allowing the solution to cool without access of air, to obtain a supersaturated solution. On introduction of a crystal of the salt, or often on mere access of air, the solution forms crystals and the liquid left is saturated.

Saw, Electric. A platinum coated steel wire mounted and connected to be raised to incandescence for cutting purposes.

Schweigger's Multiplier. An old term for the galvanometer as invented by Schweigger soon after Oerstedt's discovery.

Scratch Brushes. Brushes for cleaning the surface of articles to be electroplated to give a good metallic surface suitable for deposition. They have often wire instead of bristles.



Screen, Electric. A large plate or a hollow case or cage of conducting material connected with the earth, and used to protect any body placed within it from electrostatic influences.

If within a hollow conducting sphere an electrified body is placed, the inner surface of the sphere will be charged with electricity of opposite kind to that of the sphere, and the outer surface with the same kind as that of the sphere. Thus the sum of the electricities called into action by induction is zero. The two inner charges are bound to each other. The induced charge on the outer surface of the sphere is all that has any effect on objects in the outer air.

If the outer surface is connected to the earth it becomes discharged, and however highly electrified the body introduced into the sphere and the inner surface of such sphere may be, they produce no external effects, as they are bound one to the other.

If the sphere is connected to the earth and an unelectrified object is placed within it, such object will be perfectly shielded from the effects of an outer electrostatic field. Perforated tinfoil or wire gauze has just as good a result. A large plate of metal connected to the earth has the same effect. The screen whether plane or hollow simply retains a bound charge due to the field of force, thereby neutralizing it, and the electricity of the opposite sign escapes to the earth. Thus a true shielding or screening effect is produced.

In the cut an experiment is shown in which an electric screen is carried by a Leyden jar. Pith balls are suspended outside and inside of it. By the approach of an electrified body the outer pith balls will diverge, while no effect is produced upon the inner ones.

Secondary Actions. In electrolysis the direct products of the electrical decomposition are not always obtained at the electrodes, but products due to their reaction on the water and other chemicals may appear. These constitute secondary actions. Thus if a solution of copper sulphate is electrolyzed with platinum electrodes, metallic copper appears at one pole and sulphuric acid and oxygen gas at the other. But the products of electrolysis by the current are copper (Cu) and sulphion (SO4). The latter reacting on water sets free oxygen gas and forms sulphuric acid. The latter is a secondary action.

Secondary Generator. (a) An alternating current converter generating a so-called secondary current.

(b) A secondary battery, q. v., may be thus termed.

Secondary, Movable. The term movable secondaries has been applied to rings, spheres and discs of conducting material, such as copper, whose behavior when near the pole of an electro-magnet traversed by an alternating current, have been studied by Elihu Thomson. Such masses are subjected to very peculiar movements and mutual reactions. As the phenomena are due to induced currents the above term has been applied to the masses in which the currents are induced.


Secondary Plates, Colors of. In a secondary battery of the lead plate type, the color of the plates is a good indication of the condition of the battery. The negative plate should be brown or deep-reddish, the other should be slate-colored.

Secondary Poles. Poles sometimes found in magnets existing in positions intermediate between the end or true poles.

Synonym—Consequent Poles.

Seebeck Effect. The production of a current by heating the junction of two different metals forming part of a circuit, or the thermo-electric production of current, is stated as the Seebeck effect, having been discovered by that investigator.

Selenium. A non-metallic element. It is interesting electrically on account of the changes its electric resistance undergoes when it is subjected to light.

In one set of experiments it was found that diffused light caused the resistance to fall in the ratio of 11 to 9. Full sunlight reduced it to one-half. Of the spectrum colors red was most powerful and the ultra red region still more strongly affected its resistance.

The effect produced by exposure to light is instantaneous, but on removal to the dark only slowly disappears.

A vessel of hot water was found to have no effect, showing that short ether waves are essential to the effect.

Selenium Cell. A selenium resistance box. Vitreous selenium is made by keeping ordinary selenium for some hours at a temperature of about 220 C. (428 F.) after fusing. It is placed in an electric circuit as part of the conductor.

Its resistance can then be determined. It decreases in sunlight to about one-half its resistance in the dark.

The selenium cell is used in the Photophone, q. v. Otherwise it is little more than a subject of experiment.

Selenium Eye. A model eye in which selenium in circuit with a battery and galvanometer takes the place of the retina of the human eye.

Self-repulsion. When a body is electrified each molecule repels its neighbor and the condition in question is thus designated. An electrified soap-bubble expands in virtue of self-repulsion.

Semi-conductors. Substances which conduct static electricity poorly, but quite appreciably and beyond the extent of leakage. The following are examples: Alcohol and ether, powdered glass, flowers of sulphur, dry wood, paper, ice at 0 C. (32 F.)


Sensibility. The measure of the effect of a current upon a galvanometer, or any similar case.

Sensitiveness, Angle of Maximum. Every galvanometer has its angle of maximum sensitiveness, which is the angle of deflection at which a small increment of current will produce the greatest deflection. For every tangent galvanometer 45 is the angle in question. In using a galvanometer for direct reading methods it is an object to have it work at its angle of maximum sensitiveness.

Separately Excited Dynamo. A dynamo-electric machine whose field magnet is excited from an outside source, which may be another dynamo or a battery. Alternating current dynamos are often of this description.

Separate Touch. In magnetism a method of inducing magnetism in a steel bar. The opposite poles of two magnets are applied at the center of the bar to be magnetized, but without touching each other, and are drawn apart to its ends. They are returned through the air and the process is repeated a number of times and on both sides of the bar if necessary.

Separation of Electricities. Under the double fluid theory of electricity the action of electrification in accumulating positive electricity in one conductor and negative on the other of the excited surfaces of two conductors.

Separator. India rubber bands or other forms used in batteries to keep the plates from touching in the cell; especially applied to secondary batteries, where the plates are so near together as to require separators to prevent short circuiting.


Series. (a) Arranged in succession as opposed to parallel. Thus if a set of battery jars are arranged with the zinc of one connected to the carbon of the next one for the entire number, it is said to be arranged in series. When incandescent lamps are arranged in succession so that the current goes through one after the other they are arranged in series.

The opposite of parallel, q. v., or multiple arc, q. v.; it may be used as a noun or as an adjective.

(b) See Electro-Chemical Series;

(c) Thermo-Electric Series

(d) Electrostatic Series;

(e) Electro-motive Series.

Synonym—Cascade Connection (but little used.)


Series-multiple. Arrangement of electric apparatus, in which the parts are grouped in sets in parallel and these sets are connected in series. It is used as a noun, as "arranged in series-multiple," or as an adjective, as "a series-multiple circuit or system."


Service Conductors. In electric distribution the equivalents of service pipes in the distribution of gas; wires leading from the street mains to the houses, where current is to be supplied.

Serving. The wrapping or winding of a cable composed of small size wire, laid closely and smoothly with a tool called a serving mallet, or serving block, or by machinery. It serves to protect the cable from wear.

Shackle. In telegraph lines a swinging insulator bracket for use where wires make an angle with the pole. A journal box is attached to the pole, like half of a gate hinge. To this a short iron arm is pivoted so as to be free to swing through a considerable angle. At its end an insulator is carried to which the wire is attached. The shackle swings into line with the wire, or takes a position for two wires corresponding to the resultant of their directions of pull.


Shadow. Electric. A term applied to a phenomenon of high vacua. If an electric discharge is maintained in a Crookes' tube the glass opposite the negative electrode tends to phosphoresce. A plate of aluminum, used also as the positive electrode, protects the glass directly behind it so as to produce the effect of a shadow.

Synonym—Molecular Shadow.

[Transcriber's note: The effect is due to the "shadowing" of the electrons streaming past the plate.]


Sheath for Magnet Coils. In 1867 C. E. Varley proposed the use of a copper sheath surrounding a magnet core to diminish self-induction. It has since been used by Brush and others. Sometimes metallic foil is laid between the successive coils of wire.

Synonym—Mutual Induction Protector.

Sheath for Transformers. A protective sheath of copper, interposed between the primary and secondary circuits of an alternating current transformer. It is connected to the earth. If the primary coil loses its insulation before it can leak to the secondary it is grounded. This protects the secondary circuit from the high electro-motive force of the primary circuit.

Shellac. A resin; produced as an exudation upon the branches of certain Asiatic trees, such as the banyan (Ficus religiosa). It is due to punctures in the bark of the trees in question, which punctures are made by the female of the insect coccus ficus or c. lacca.

Commercial shellac contains about 90 per cent. of resinous material, the rest is made up of wax, gluten, coloring matter and other substances.

Shellac is soluble in alcohol, and in aqueous solutions of ammonium chloride, of borax and in strong ammonia solution. Long standing is required in the case of the last named solvent. Dilute hydrochloric and acetic acids dissolve it readily; nitric acid slowly; strong sulphuric acid is without action on it. Alkalies dissolve it.

In electric work it is used as an insulator and dielectric. Its alcoholic solution is used to varnish glass plates of influence machines, for the coils of induction coils and similar purposes.

Resistance in ohms per centimeter cube at 28 C. (82.4 F.)—(Ayrton), 9.0E15

Specific Inductive Capacity (Wllner), 2.95 to 3.73

The same substance in less pure forms occurs in commerce, as stick lac, lump lac, seed lac, button lac.

Shellac Varnish. Solution of shellac in alcohol; methylic alcohol (wood alcohol or wood naphtha) is often used as solvent.

Dr. Muirhead recommends button lac, dissolved in absolute alcohol, and the top layers decanted. For highest insulation he dissolves the lac in ordinary alcohol, precipitates by dropping into water, collects the precipitate, dries and dissolves in absolute alcohol.

Shielded. adj. An electric measuring instrument of the galvanometer type is shielded when it is so constructed that its indications are not seriously affected by the presence of neighboring magnets or by fields of force. Shielding can be effected by using a very strong permanent magnet to produce a field within which the magnetic needle moves and which reacts upon it, or by enclosing the instrument in a thick iron box.


S. H. M. Symbol or abbreviation for "simple harmonic motion."

Shock, Break. A term in electro-therapeutics; the shock received when an electric circuit, including the patient in series, is broken or opened.

Synonym—Opening Shock.

Shock, Electric. The effect upon the animal system of the discharge through it of electricity with high potential difference. Pain, nervous shock, violent muscular contortions accompany it. Of currents, an alternating current is reputed worse than a direct current; intermediate is the pulsatory current.

The voltage is the main element of shock, amperage has also some direct influence.

Shock, Static. A term in electro-therapeutics. The application of static discharges from small condensers or Leyden jars to a patient who is insulated from the ground with one electrode applied to the conducting surface on which he rests, while the other, a spherical electrode, is brought near the body so as to produce a disruptive or spark discharge.

Short Circuit. A connection between two parts of a circuit, which connection is of low resistance compared to the intercepted portion. The term is used also as a verb, as "to short circuit a lamp."


Short Circuit Working. A method of working intermittently an electro-magnet so as to avoid sparking. It consists in providing a short circuit in parallel with the magnetic coils. This short circuit is of very low resistance. To throw the magnet into action the short circuit is opened; to throw it out of action the short circuit is closed. The shunt or short circuit must be of negligibly small resistance and inductance.


Shovel Electrodes. Large plate electrodes used in a medical bipolar bath. (See Bath, Bipolar.)

Shunt. In a current circuit a connection in parallel with a portion of the circuit. Thus in a dynamo a special winding for the field may have its ends connected to the bushes, from which the regular external circuit also starts. The field is then wound in shunt with the armature. In the case of a galvanometer a resistance coil may be put in parallel with it to prevent too much current going through the galvanometer; this connection is a shunt.

The word is used as a noun, as "a shunt," or "a connection or apparatus in shunt with another," and as an adjective, as "a shunt connection," or as a verb, as "to shunt a battery."

Shunt Box. A resistance box designed for use as a galvanometer shunt. (See Shunt, Galvanometer.) The box contains a series of resistance coils which can be plugged in or out as required.

Shunt, Electro-magnetic. In telegraphy a shunt for the receiving relay consisting of the coils of an electro-magnet. It is placed in parallel with the relay. Its poles are permanently connected by an armature. Thus it has high self-induction.

On opening and closing the circuit by the sending key, extra currents are produced in the shunt. The connections are so arranged that on making the circuit the extra current goes through the relay in the same direction as the principal current, while on breaking the circuit the induced current goes in the opposite direction.

Thus the extra currents accelerate the production and also the cessation of signalling currents, tending to facilitate the operations of sending despatches.

Shunt, Galvanometer. A resistance placed in parallel with a galvanometer, so as to short circuit its coils and prevent enough current passing through it to injure it. By knowing the resistance of the shunt and of the galvanometer coils, the proportion of current affecting the galvanometer is known. This gives the requisite factor for calculation. (See Multiplying Power of Shunt.)

Shunt Ratio. The coefficient expressing the ratio existing between the current in a shunt and in the apparatus or conductor in parallel with it. (See Multiplying Power of/ Shunt.)

Shunt Winding. A dynamo or motor is shunt-wound when the field magnet winding is in shunt or in parallel with the winding of the armature.

Shuttle Current. A current alternating in direction; an alternating current.


Side-Flash. A bright flashing lateral discharge from a conductor conveying a current due to a static discharge.

Sighted Position. In an absolute electrometer (see Electrometer, Absolute) the position of the balanced arm carrying the movable disc or plate, when the disc and guard plate are in one plane. The cross-hair on the lever-end is then seen midway between two stops, or some other equivalent position is reached which is discerned by sighting through a magnifying glass or telescope.

Silver. A metal; one of the elements; symbol Ag.; atomic weight, 108; valency, 1; equivalent, 108; specific gravity, 10.5. It is a conductor of electricity. Relative resistance, annealed, 1.0 Specific Resistance, annealed, at 0 C. (32 F.) 1.504 microhms. Resistance of a wire at 0 C. (32 F.), Annealed. Hard Drawn. (a) 1 foot long, weighing 1 grain, .2190 ohms .2389 ohms. (b) 1 foot long, 1/1000 inch thick, 9.048 " 9.826 " (c) 1 meter long, weighing 1 gram, .1527 " .1662 " (d) 1 meter long, 1 millimeter thick, .01916 " .02080 "

Resistance annealed of a 1-inch cube, at 0 C. (32F.) .5921 microhms.

Percentage increase in resistance per degree C. (1.8 F.) at about 20 C. (68 F.), annealed, 0.377 per cent.

Electro-chemical equivalent, (Hydrogen = .0105) .1134 mgs.

Silver Bath. A solution of a salt of silver for deposition in the electroplating process.

The following is a typical formula: Water, 10.0 parts by weight. Potassium Cyanide, 5 " " Metallic Silver, 2.5 " "

The silver is first dissolved as nitrate and converted into cyanide and added in that form, or for 2.5 parts metallic silver we may read: Silver cyanide, 3 parts by weight.

While many other formulas have been published the above is representative of the majority. Other solvents for the silver than potassium cyanide have been suggested, such as sodium hyposulphite, but the cyanide solution remains the standard.

Silver Stripping Bath. Various baths are used to remove silver from old electroplated articles. Their composition depends upon the base on which the metal is deposited. Silvered iron articles are placed as anodes in a solution of 1 part potassium cyanide in 20 parts of water. As kathode a silver anode or a copper one lightly oiled may be used. From the latter the silver easily rubs off. For copper articles a mixture of fuming sulphuric acid and nitric acid (40 Beaum) may be used. The presence of any water in this mixture will bring about the solution of the copper. Or fuming sulphuric acid may be heated to between 300 and 400 F., some pinches of dry pulverized potassium nitrate may be thrown in and the articles at once dipped. These methods effect the solution of the silver, leaving the copper unattacked.


Simple Substitution. A method of obtaining a resistance equal to that of a standard. The standard is put in circuit with a galvanometer and the deflection is noted. For the standard another wire is substituted and its length altered until the same deflection is produced. The two resistances are then evidently identical. The standard can be again substituted to confirm the result.

Sine Curve. If we imagine a point moved back and forth synchronously with a pendulum, and if such point made a mark upon paper, it would trace the same line over and over again. If now the paper were drawn steadily along at right angles to the line of motion of the point, then the point would trace upon it a line like the profile of a wave. Such line is a sine curve. It derives its name from the following construction. Let a straight line be drawn, and laid off in fractions, such as degrees, of the perimeter of a circle of given diameter. Then on each division of the line let a perpendicular be erected equal in height to the sine of the angle of the circle corresponding to that division; then if the extremities of such lines be united by a curve such curve will be a sine curve.

In such a curve the abscissas are proportional to the times, while the ordinates are proportional to the sines of angles, which angles are themselves proportional to the times. The ordinates pass through positive and negative values alternately, while the abscissas are always positive.

Any number of sine curves can be constructed by varying the diameter of the original circle, or by giving to the abscissas a value which is a multiple of the true length of the divisions of circle. If the pendulum method of construction were used this would be attained by giving a greater or less velocity to the paper as drawn under the pendulum.

A species of equation for the curve is given as follows: y = sin( x )

In this x really indicates the arc whose length is x, and reference should be made to the value of the radius of the circle from which the curve is described. It will also be noticed that the equation only covers the case in which the true divisions of the circle are laid off on the line. If a multiple of such divisions are used, say n times, or 1-n times, then the equation should read y = n sin( x ) or y = sin( x ) / n

Synonyms—Curve of Sines—Sinusoidal Curve—Harmonic Curve.


Sine Law. The force acting on a body is directly proportional to the sine of the angle of deflection when—

I. The controlling force is constant in magnitude and direction; and

II. The deflecting force, although variable in its direction in space, is fixed in direction relatively to the deflecting body.

Single Fluid Theory. A theory of electricity. Electricity, as has been said, being conveniently treated as a fluid or fluids, the single fluid theory attributes electrical phenomena to the presence or absence of a single fluid. The fluid repels itself but attracts matter; an excess creates positive, a deficiency, negative electrification; friction, contact action or other generating cause altering the distribution creates potential difference or electrification. The assumed direction (see Direction) of the current and of lines of force are based on the single fluid theory. Like the double fluid theory, q. v., it is merely a convenience and not the expression of a truth. (See Fluid, Electric, and Double Fluid Theory.)

Synonym—Franklin's Theory.

Single Fluid Voltaic Cell. A galvanic couple using only a single fluid, such as the Smee or Volta cell.

Simple Harmonic Motion. Motion of a point or body back and forth along a line; the motion of a pendulum, as regards its successive swings back and forth, is an example of harmonic motion.

Sinistrotorsal. adj. The reverse of dextrotorsal, q. v. A helix with left-handed winding, the reverse of an ordinary screw, such as a wood-screw or corkscrew.

Skin Effect. A current of very brief duration does not penetrate the mass of a conductor. Alternating currents for this reason are mainly conducted by the outer layers of a conductor. The above is sometimes called the skin effect.

Sled. A contact for electric cars of the conduit system. It is identical with the plow, q.v., but is drawn after the cars instead of being pushed along with them.

Slide Meter Bridge. A name for a Slide Bridge one meter long. There are also slide half meter and slide quarter meter bridges and others. (See Meter Bridge.)

S. N. Code. Abbreviation for single needle code, the telegraphic alphabet used with the single needle system.

Soaking-in-and-out. A term for the phenomena of the residual electrostatic charge; the gradual acquirement or loss by a condenser of a portion of its electrostatic charge.


Soldering, Electric. (a) Soldering in which the solder is melted by means of electricity; either current incandescence or the voltaic arc may be used. It is identical in general with electric welding. (See Welding, Electric.)

(b) The deposition by electric plating of a metal over the ends of two conductors held in contact. This secures them as if by soldering. It is used in connecting the carbon filament of an incandescent lamp with the platinum wires that pass through the glass. Copper is the metal usually deposited.

Solenoid. The ideal solenoid is a system of circular currents of uniform direction, equal, parallel, of equal diameter of circle, and with their centers lying on the same straight line, which line is perpendicular to their planes.


The simple solenoid as constructed of wire, is a helical coil, of uniform diameter, so as to represent a cylinder. After completing the coil one end of the wire is bent back and carried through the centre of the coil, bringing thus both ends out at the same end. The object of doing this is to cause this straight return member to neutralize the longitudinal component of the helical turns. This it does approximately so as to cause the solenoid for its practical action to correspond with the ideal solenoid.

Instead of carrying one end of the wire through the centre of the coil as just described, both ends may be bent back and brought together at the centre.

A solenoid should always have this neutralization of the longitudinal component of the helices provided for; otherwise it is not a true solenoid.

Solenoids are used in experiments to represent magnets and to study and illustrate their laws. When a current goes through them they acquire polarity, attract iron, develop lines of force and act in general like magnets.

A solenoid is also defined as a coil of insulated wire whose length is not small as compared with its diameter.


Sonometer, Hughes'. A sound measurer; a modification of a portion of Hughes' induction balance, used for testing the delicacy of the ear or for determining the relative intensity of sounds. (See Hughes' Induction Balance.) It is the arrangement of three coils, two mounted one at each of the ends of a graduated bar, and the third one between them and free to slide back and forth thereon.

Sonorescence. The property of producing sounds under the influence of momentary light radiations rapidly succeeding each other. It is the property utilized in the photophone, q. v.


Sounder. In telegraphy an instrument consisting of an electromagnet with armature attached to an oscillating bar, the range of whose movements is restricted by adjusting screws. The armature is drawn away from the magnet by a spring. When a current is sent through the magnet the armature is drawn towards the poles and produces a sound as the bar strikes a striking piece or second adjusting screw. When the current ceases the bar and armature are drawn back, striking the first mentioned screw with a distinct sound, the back stroke.

The sounder is used to receive Morse and analogous character messages. The forward strokes correspond to the beginnings of the dots or dashes of the code, the back strokes to beginnings of the intervals. The distinction between dots and dashes is made by observing the interval between forward and back stroke.

Various devices are used to increase the sound. Sometimes a resonance box is used on which the sounder is mounted.

In practice sounders are generally placed on local circuits and are actuated by relays.


Sound Reading. The art or method of receiving telegraph messages by ear. It is now universally used by all expert Morse operators. It can only be applied to telegraph systems producing audible sounds; in some cases, as in needle telegraphy, it may be quite inapplicable.

Space, Clearance. The space between faces of the pole pieces and the surface of the armature in a dynamo. It is really the air gap, but in calculating dynamo dimensions the thickness of the insulated copper wire windings of the commutator are counted in as part of the air gap, because copper is almost the same as air in impermeability. Clearance space is a mechanical factor; the air gap is an electric or magnetic factor.

Synonym—Inter-air Space.

Space, Crookes' Dark. In an exhausted tube, through which an electric discharge is caused to pass, the space surrounding the negative electrode of the tube. This space is free from any luminous effect, and by contrast with the light of the discharge appears dark. The vacuum may be made so high that the dark space fills the whole space between the electrodes. It is less for a less vacuum and varies for other factors, such as the temperature of the negative electrode from which it originates, the kind of residual gas present, and the quality of the spark.

Space, Faraday's Dark. The space in an exhausted tube between the luminous glows about the two electrodes.

Space, Interferric. A term for the air-gap in a magnetic circuit. It is etymologically more correct than air-gap, for the latter is often two-thirds or more filled with the insulating material and copper wire of the armature windings. (See Space, Clearance.)

Spark Arrester. A screen of wire netting fitting around the carbons of an arc lamp above the globe to prevent the escape of sparks from the carbons.

Spark Coil. A coil for producing a spark from a source of comparatively low electro-motive force. It consists of insulated wire wound round a core of soft iron, best a bundle of short pieces of wire. Such a coil may be eight inches long and three inches thick, and made of No. 18-20 copper wire, with a core one inch in diameter. On connecting a battery therewith and opening or closing the circuit, a spark is produced by self-induction, q. v. It is used for lighting gas.


Spark, Duration of Electric. Wheatstone determined the duration of the spark given by a Leyden jar as 1/24000 second. Feddersen by interposing a tube of water 9 millimeters (.36 inch) long in its path found that it lasted 14/10000 second, and with one 180 millimeters (7.2 inches) long, 188/10000 second. Lucas and Cazin for a 5 millimeter (.2 inch) spark, with different numbers of Leyden jars, found the following: Number of jars. Duration of Spark. 2 .000026 second 4 .000041 " 6 .000045 " 8 .000047 "

The duration increases with the striking distance, and is independent of the diameter of the balls between which it is produced.

Spark Gap. The space left between the ends of an electric resonator (see Resonator, Electric) across which the spark springs. Its size may be adjustable by a screw, something like the arrangement of screw calipers.

Sparking. In dynamo-electric machines, the production of sparks at the commutator between the brushes and commutator sections. The sparks are often true voltaic arcs, and in all cases are injurious if in any quantity, wearing out the commutator and brushes.

Sparking, Line or Points of Least. In a dynamo or electric motor the diameter of the commutator determining, or the points on the commutator marking the position of the brushes where the sparking is a minimum. Field magnets powerful in proportion to the armature are a preventative cause. The direction of the line fixes the angle of lead to be given to the brushes.

Sparking, Resistance to. The resistance to disruptive discharge through its substance offered by a dielectric or insulator. It does not depend on its insulating qualities, but on its rigidity and strength.

Spark, Length of. The length of the spark accompanying the disruptive discharge is counted as the distance from one electrode to the other in a straight line. It is longer for an increased potential difference between the two electrodes. If the gas or air between the electrodes is exhausted the length increases, until the vacuum becomes too high, when the length begins to decrease, and for a perfect vacuum no spark however small can be produced. The shape of the conductor which is discharged, the material of the electrodes, and the direction of the current are all factors affecting the length of spark producible.


Spark Tube. A tube used as a gauge or test to determine when the exhaustion of the vacuum chamber or bulb of an incandescent lamp is sufficiently high.

The interior of the tube is connected with the interior of the bulb or chamber of the lamps in process of exhaustion, and hence shares their degree of exhaustion. From time to time connections with an induction coil are made. When the exhaustion is carried far enough no discharge will take place through the vacuum. As long as the tube acts like a Geissler tube the exhaustion is not considered perfect.

Specific Heat of Electricity. The heat absorbed or given out by a fluid in passing from one temperature to another depends on its specific heat. In the Peltier and the Thomson effects. q. v., the electric current acts as the producer of a change of temperature, either an increase or decrease as the case may be. This suggests an absorption of and giving out of heat which amount of heat corresponding to a current of known amount is determinable, and may be referred to any unit of quantity such as the coulomb. This or some equivalent definite quantity of heat it has been proposed (Sir William Thomson) to term the Specific Heat of Electricity.

Spent Acid. Acid which has become exhausted. In a battery the acid becomes spent from combination with zinc. It also loses its depolarizing power, if it is a chromic acid solution or of that type, and then may be said to be spent.

Spent Liquor. The liquor of a plating bath which has become exhausted from use, the metal it contained being all or partly deposited.

Sphygmograph, Electric. An electric apparatus for recording the beat of the pulse, both as regards its rate and strength.

Sphygmophone. An apparatus for examination of the pulse by the microphone and telephone.

Spiders. Core-discs of a dynamo or motor armature are sometimes perforated with a large central aperture, are fastened together with insulated bolts, and the whole mass is secured to the shaft by three- or four-armed spiders. These are like rimless wheels, the ends of their arms being secured to the hollow cylinder constituting the armature core, and a central aperture in their hub receiving the shaft.


Spiral. This term is sometimes used instead of coil, as the primary spiral or secondary spiral of an induction coil or transformer.

Spiral Winding. The winding used on ring armatures. This may diagrammatically be represented by a spiral carried around the ring shaped core. With two field poles it gives two collecting points, positive and negative, with four field poles it gives four collecting points, alternately positive and negative.

Splice Box. A box in which the splices in underground cables and electric lines are contained. The splicing is generally done in the boxes with the cables in place. They may be two-way for straight lines, or be four-way for two side or lateral connections.

Spluttering. A term applied to a sound sometimes produced in a voltaic arc, perhaps caused by impure or insufficiently baked electrodes. (Elihu Thomson.)

Spring Control. Control of or giving the restitutive force to the needle of a galvanometer, core of a solenoid ammeter or moving part of any similar instrument by a spring. As an example see Ammeter, Ayrton's.


Spring Jack. An arrangement for effecting, at one insertion of a species of plug, the opening or breaking of a circuit and for the simultaneous connection to the terminals formed by the breaking of two terminals of another system or loop. Thus let a line include in its circuit two springs pressing against each other, thereby completing the circuit. If a plug or wedge of insulating material were inserted between the springs so as to press them apart it would break the circuit and the whole would constitute a spring jack cut-out. If each side of the plug had a strip of brass or copper attached to it, and if the ends of another circuit were connected to these strips, then the insertion of the plug would throw the new line into the circuit of the other line.


Spring Jack Cut-out. A cut-out, of the general construction of a spring jack, q. v., except that a simple insulating plug or wedge is used in place of the metal-faced wedge with its connections of the regular spring jack. The insertion of an insulating wedge opens the circuit, which on its removal is closed. The regular spring jack wedge will operate in the same way, if its connections are kept open.

Spurious Voltage. The voltage in excess of that developed by a secondary battery which is required in the charging process. It is about .25 volt.

Square Wire. Wire whose cross-section is a square. It has been used of iron for building up the cores of armatures for dynamos or motors, for which it is peculiarly suitable, and also of copper as a winding for armatures.

Staggering. adj. When the brushes of a dynamo are set, one a little in advance of the other on the surface of the commutator, they are said to be set staggering. It is used to get over a break in the armature circuit.

State, Electrotonic. A term expressing an abandoned theory. Faraday at one time proposed the theory that a wire had to be in the electrotonic state to produce electro-motive force by movement through an electric field. Any such idea was ultimately abandoned by Faraday.

Static Breeze. The electric breeze obtained by the silent discharge of high tension electricity.

Static Electricity. Electricity at rest or not in the current form ordinarily speaking. The term is not very definite and at any rate only expresses a difference in degree, not in kind. The recognition of the difference in degree has now to a great extent also disappeared.

Station, Central. The building or place in which are placed electrical apparatus, steam engines and plant supplying a district with electric energy.

Station, Distant. The place at the further end of a telegraph line, as referred to the home station.

Station, Home. The end of a telegraph line where the operators using the expression are working.


Station, Transforming. In alternating current distribution, a building or place where a number of transformers are worked, so that low potential or secondary circuits are distributed therefrom.

Steel. A compound of iron with carbon. The carbon may range from a few hundredths of one per cent. up to two per cent. For magnets, tool steel drawn to a straw color or a little lower is good. All shaping and filing should be done before magnetization.

Steeling. The deposition of iron on copper plates by electrolysis. In electrotyping a thin deposit of iron is thus given the relief plates before printing from them. The deposit is very hard and exceedingly thin, so that it does not interfere with the perfection of the impression in the printing process. As the iron becomes worn it can be dissolved off with hydrochloric acid, which does not dissolve the copper, and a new deposit can be given it. Thus the plate may last for an indefinite number of impressions.

The iron bath may be prepared by immersing in a solution of ammonium chloride, two plates of iron, connected as anode and kathode in a circuit. One plate dissolves while hydrogen is given off from the other. The solution thus produced is used for a bath.

The hardness of the deposit, which is really pure iron, gives the name of "steeling."


St. Elmo's Fire. Luminous static discharge effects sometimes seen on objects elevated in the air. They are especially noticed on ships' masts. The sailors term them corpusants (holy bodies). They resemble tongues or globes of fire.

Step-by-step Telegraphy. A system of telegraphy in which in the receiving instrument a hand is made to move step-by-step, with an escape movement around a dial. For each step there is a letter and the hand is made to stop at one or the other letter until the message is spelled out. (See Dial Telegraph.)

Step-down. adj. A qualification applied to a converter or transformer in the alternating current distribution, indicating that it lowers potential difference and increases current from the secondary.

Step-up. adj. The reverse of step-down; a qualification of a transformer or converter indicating that it raises the potential and decreases the current in the secondary.

Sticking. The adherence, after the current is cut off, of the armature to the poles of a magnet. In telegraphy it is a cause of annoyance and obstructs the working. It may, in telegraphy, be due to too weak a spring for drawing back the armature, or to imperfect breaking of the contact by the despatcher's key or by the receiver's relay.


Stopping Off. In electroplating the prevention of deposition of the plating metal on any desired portions of the object. It is effected by varnishing the places where no coating is desired. An article can be plated with silver, stopped off in any desired design, and the unvarnished portions may then be plated with gold in another bath. Various effects can be produced by such means.

Storage Capacity. A term for the ampere-hours of electricity, which can be taken in current form from a storage battery.

Storage of Electricity. Properly speaking electricity can only be stored statically or in static condensers, such as Leyden jars. The term has been popularly applied to the charging of secondary or storage batteries, in which there is really no such thing as a storage of electricity, but only a decomposition and opposite combination brought about, which leave the battery in a condition to give a current.

Storms, Electric. Wide-spread magnetic and electric disturbances, involving the disturbance of the magnetic elements and other similar phenomena. (See Magnetic Storms.)

Strain. The condition of a body when subjected to a stress. Various consequences may ensue from strain in the way of disturbance of electric and other qualities of the body strained.

Stratification Tube. A Geissler tube, q. v., for showing the stratification of the electric discharge through a high vacuum.

The stratifications are greatly intensified by the presence of a little vapor of turpentine, alcohol, bisulphide of carbon and other substances.

Stray Field. In a dynamo or motor the portion of the field whose lines of force are not cut by the armature windings.

Stray Power. The proportion of the energy wasted in driving a dynamo, lost through friction and other hurtful resistances.

Streamlets, Current. A conception bearing the same relation to an electric current that lines of force do to a field of force; elementary currents. If evenly distributed the current is of uniform density; if unevenly distributed, as in alternating currents, the current density varies in different parts of the cross section of the conductor. This evenness or unevenness may be referred to the number of streamlets per unit of area of cross-section.

[Transcriber's note: Streamlets per unit of area is redundant with current density.]

Stress. Force exercised upon a solid tending to distort it, or to produce a strain.


Stress, Dielectric. The condition of a dielectric when maintaining a charge; its two extremities are in opposite states of polarity, or are under permanent potential difference. As the two opposite polarities tend to unite a condition of stress is implied in the medium which separates them.

Stress, Electro-magnetic. The stress produced upon transparent substances in an electro-magnetic field of force. It is shown in the modified optical properties of glass and similar substances placed between the poles of a strong electro-magnet.

Stress, Electrostatic. The stress produced upon substances in an electrostatic field of force; the exact analogue of electro-magnetic stress, and affecting transparent substances in the same general way.

Striae, Electric. In Geissler tubes the light produced by the electric discharge is filled with striae, bright bands alternating with dark spaces; these may be termed electric striae.

Striking Distance. The distance that separates two conductors charged with electricity of different potential, when a spark starts between them.

Striking Solution. In silver-plating a bath composed of a weak solution of silver cyanide-with a large proportion of free potassium cyanide. It is used with a strong current and a large silver anode. This gives an instantaneous deposition of metallic silver over the surface of the article which goes to insure a perfect coating in the silver bath proper. After a few seconds in the striking solution, the article is at once removed to the plating bath.

Stripping. The removal of electroplating from an object. It may be effected in several ways. An object whose plating is to be removed is placed in a plating bath of the solution of the metal with which it is coated. It is connected as the anode to the positive plate of the battery or corresponding terminal of the generator. A kathode connected to the other terminal being placed in the bath, the coating is dissolved by electrolytic action. Sometimes simple treatment with acid is employed. Different stripping baths are described under the heads of the different metals.

S. U. Symbol or abbreviation for Siemens' Unit of Resistance. (See Resistance, Siemens' Unit of.)

Sub-branch. A branch or lead of wire taken from a branch lead: a term used in electric distribution.

Sub-main. In electric distribution a conductor connected directly to a main; a branch.


Subway, Electric. A subterranean system of conduits for electric cables. As generally constructed in this country it includes manholes, q. v., at the street corners connected by ducts or pipes. These pipes are large enough to hold a cable. To introduce a cable into a duct, which latter may be two or three inches in diameter, and from two hundred to six or seven hundred feet long, a wire or rope is first passed through the duct. This is done by a set of short wooden rods with screws at the end so as to be screwed together. Each rod must be shorter than the diameter of the manhole. A rod is thrust in, another is screwed to it and thrust in, and thus a set of rods is made to extend as far as desired. In pulling them out a rope is attached and drawn through. This rope or a larger one is used in drawing the cable through the duct. A windlass is employed to draw the rope with cable attached through the ducts.

Sulphating. In storage battery cells, the formation of a hard white basic lead sulphate, Pb2 S05. Its formation is due to over-exhaustion of the cells. As long as the voltage is not allowed to fall below 1.90 volts per cell little of it forms. As it accumulates it is apt to drop off the plate and fall to the bottom, thus weakening the plate possibly, and depriving it of active material, and clogging up the cell. If it carries a film of metallic lead with it, there is danger of short circuiting the cell.

The presence of some sodium sulphate in the solution is said to tend to prevent sulphating, or to diminish it.

Sulphur Dioxide. A compound gas, S O2; composed of Sulphur, 32 Oxygen, 32 Molecular weight, 64 Specific gravity, 2.21.

It is a dielectric of about the same resistance as air. Its specific inductive capacity at atmospheric pressure is: 1.0037 (Ayrton).

Synonyms—Sulphurous Acid—Sulphurous Acid Gas.

Sunstroke, Electric. Exposure to the arc light sometimes produces the effects observed in cases of sunstroke. It is said that, in the case of workmen at electric furnaces, these effects are very noticeable. (See Prostration, Electric.)

[Transcriber's note: Effects are due to ultraviolet light.]

Supersaturated. adj. A liquid is supersaturated when it has dissolved a substance at a temperature favorable to its solubility and its temperature has been allowed to change, the liquid being kept free from agitation or access of air, provided crystallization or precipitation has not taken place. It expresses the state of a liquid when it holds in solution more than the normal quantity of any substance soluble in it.

Surface. A galvanic battery is arranged in surface when all the positive plates are connected together and all the negative plates are also connected. This makes it equivalent to one large cell, the surface of whose plates would be equal to the aggregate surface of the plates of the battery. It is also used as an adjective, as "a surface arrangement of battery."


Surface Density. The relative quantity of an electric charge upon a surface.

Surface, Equipotential. A surface over all of which the potential is the same. In a general sense equipotential surfaces are given by planes or surfaces which cut lines of force at right angles thereto, or which are normal to lines of force. The conception applies to electrostatic and electro-magnetic fields of force, and for current conductors the planes normal to the direction of the current are equipotential surfaces.

The contour of an equipotential surface of a field of force which is drawn or represented by delineations of its lines of force can be obtained by drawing a line normal thereto. This line will ordinarily be more or less curved, and will be a locus of identical potentials.

An electric equipotential surface may be described as electro-static, electro- magnetic, or magnetic; or may be an equipotential surface of a current conductor. Besides these there are mechanical and physical equipotential surfaces, such as those of gravitation.

Surface Leakage. Leakage of current from one part of an insulating material to another by the film of moisture or dirt on the surface.

Suspension. This term is applied to methods of supporting galvanometer needles, balance beams, magnetic compass needles and similar objects which must be free to rotate. (See Suspension, Bifilar—Fibre and Spring Suspension—Fibre Suspension—Knife Edge Suspension—Pivot Suspension—Suspension, Torsion.)


Suspension, Bifilar. Suspension by two vertical parallel fibres, as of a galvanometer needle. The restitution force is gravity, the torsion being comparatively slight and negligible. Leaving torsion out of account the restitution force is (a) proportional to the distance between the threads;. (b) inversely proportional to their length; (c) proportional to weight of the needle or other object suspended; (d) proportional to the angle of displacement.


Assume two masses A and B at the end of a weightless rod, suspended by the parallel cords a A, b B. Let the rod be rotated through an angle theta. Consider the cord a A. Its lower end is swung through the angle theta, as referred to the center O; the cord is deflected from the vertical by an angle psi, such that a A tang(psi)= O A 2 sin (theta/2). The component of gravitation tending to restore A to A, acting towards A is equal to m g tan(psi). Its moment around O is equal to (m g tan(psi)) * (O A cos(theta/2). The whole moment of the couple is 2 m g tan(psi). 0 A. cos(theta/2) = 2 m g (O A2/ a A) 2 sin(theta/2). Cos(theta/2) = 2mgl(OA2/aA) sin(theta). The moment of the restoring force is thus proportional to the sine of the angle of deflection, and the oscillations of such a system are approximately simple harmonic. (Daniell.)

If the twisting is carried so far as to cause the threads to cross and come in contact with each other the suspension ceases to be a bifilar suspension, but assumes the nature of a torsional suspension.

[Transcriber's note: This is the image of the first paragraph.]

Swaging, Electric. Mechanical swaging in which the objects to be swaged are heated by an electric current as in electric welding.

S. W. G. Abbreviation for Standard Wire Gauge.


Switch. A device for opening and closing an electric circuit.

A simple type is the ordinary telegrapher's switch. A bar of metal is mounted horizontally by a pivot at one end, so as to be free to rotate through an arc of a circle. In one position its free end rests upon a stud of metal. One terminal of a circuit is attached to its journal, the other to the stud. Resting on the stud it closes the circuit, in other positions it opens the circuit.


Switch, Automatic. A switch opened and closed by the electric current. It is used for lighting distant incandescent lamps. It includes one or two electro-magnets operated by two push buttons. In the usual arrangement one button is black and the other white, for extinguishing and lighting respectively. When the white button is pushed it causes a current to pass through one of the electro-magnets. This attracts its armature, thereby making a contact and throwing the lamps into the lighting circuit. Then they remain lighted until the black button is pressed. This excites the other magnet, which attracts its armature, breaks the contact and extinguishes the lights.

The object of the automatic switch is to enable distant lamps to be lighted without the necessity of carrying the electric leads or wires to the place whence the lighting is to be done. A very small wire will carry enough current to operate the magnets, and open circuit batteries, such as Leclanch batteries, may be used as the source of current for the switch, but generally the lighting current is used for the purpose.

A single magnet may do the work. When the lighting button is pressed the magnet is excited, attracts its armature and holds it attracted, until by pressing the black button the current is turned off from it. In this case the lighting current is used to excite the magnet.

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