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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Contractures. A muscular spasm or tetanus due to the passage of a current of electricity; a term in electro-therapeutics.

Controlling Field. The magnetic or electro-magnetic field, which is used in galvanometers to control the magnetic needle, tending to restore it to a definite position whenever it is turned therefrom. It may be the earth's field or one artificially produced.

Controlling Force. In galvanometers and similar instruments, the force used to bring the needle or indicator back to zero. (See Controlling Field—Electro-Magnetic Control—Gravity Control—Magnetic Control—Spring Control.)


Convection, Electric. The production of blasts or currents of air (convection streams) from points connected to statically charged conductors. The term is sometimes applied to electric convection of heat. (See Convection of Heat, Electric.)

Convection, Electrolytic. The resistance of acidulated water as a true conductor is known to be very, almost immeasurably, high. As an electrolytic, its resistance is very much lower. Hence the current produced between immersed electrodes is theoretically almost null, unless the difference of potential between them is high enough to decompose the liquid. Yet a feeble current too great for a true conduction current is sometimes observed when two electrodes with potential difference too low to cause decomposition are immersed in it. Such a current is termed an electrolytic convection current. It is supposed to be due to various causes. Some attribute it to the presence of free oxygen from the air, dissolved in the water with which the hydrogen combines. Others attribute it to the diffusion of the gases of decomposition in the solution; others assume a partial polarization of the molecules without decomposition. Other theories are given, all of which are unsatisfactory. The term is due to Helmholtz.

Convection of Heat, Electric. The effect of a current upon the distribution of heat in an unevenly heated conductor. In some, such as copper, the current tends to equalize the varying temperatures; the convection is then said to be positive, as comparable to that of water flowing through an unequally heated tube. In others, such as platinum or iron, it is negative, making the heated parts hotter, and the cooler parts relatively cooler.

The effect of the electric current in affecting the distribution of heat in unequally heated metal (Thomson's effect. q. v.), is sometimes so termed. If a current passes through unequally heated iron it tends to increase the difference of temperature, and the convection is negative; in copper it tends to equalize the temperature, and the convection is positive.

Converter. An induction coil used with the alternating current for changing potential difference and inversely therewith the available current. They generally lower the potential, and increase the current, and are placed between the primary high potential system that connects the houses with the central station, and the secondary low potential system within the houses. A converter consists of a core of thin iron sheets, wound with a fine primary coil of many convolutions, and a coarse secondary coil of few convolutions. The ratio of convolutions gives the ratio of maximum potential differences of their terminals between the primary and secondary coils. The coil may be jacketed with iron to increase the permeance. (See Alternating Current System.)




Co-ordinates, System of. A system for indicating the position of points in space by reference to fixed lines, intersecting at a determined and arbitrary point 0, termed the origin of co-ordinates. In plane rectangular co-ordinates two lines are drawn through the origin, one horizontal, termed the axis of abscissas, or axis of X. All distances measured parallel to it, if unknown, are indicated by x, and are termed abscissas. The other axis is vertical, and is termed the axis of ordinates, or axis of Y. All distances measured parallel to it, if unknown, are indicated by y and are termed ordinates. Thus by naming its abscissa and ordinate a point has its position with reference to the axes determined, and by indicating the relation between a point, line or curve, and a system of abscissas and ordinates, the properties of a line or curve can be expressed algebraically. Co-ordinates may also be inclined to each other at any other angles, forming oblique co-ordinates; relations may be expressed partly in angles referred to the origin as a centre, giving polar co-ordinates. For solid geometry or calculations in three dimensions, a third axis, or axis of Z, is used, distances parallel to which if unknown are indicated by z.



Cooling Box. In a hydroelectric machine, q. v., a conduit or chest through which the steam passes on its way to the nozzles. Its object is to partially condense the steam so as to charge it with water vesicles whose friction against the sides of the nozzles produces the electrification .


Copper. A metal; one of the elements. Symbol, Cu; atomic weight, 63.5; equivalent, 63.5 and 31.75; valency, 1 and 2; specific gravity, 8.96. It is a conductor of electricity, whose conductivity is liable to vary greatly on account of impurities.

Annealed. Hard drawn. Relative resistance (Silver = 1), 1.063 1.086 Specific resistance, 1.598 1.634 microhms.

Resistance of a wire at 0 C. (32 F.), Annealed. Hard Drawn. (a) 1 foot long, weighing 1 grain, .2041 ohms .2083 ohms. (b) 1 foot long, 1/1000 inch thick, 9.612 " 9.831 " (c) 1 meter long, weighing 1 gram, .1424 " .1453 " (d) 1 meter long, 1 millimeter thick, .02034 " .02081 "

microhm. microhm. Resistance of 1 inch cube at 0C. (32 F.) .6292 .6433

Percentage of resistance change, per 1 C. (1.8 F.) at about 20 C. (68 F.) = 0.388 per cent.

Electro-chemical Equivalent (Hydrogen = .0105) Cuprous .6667 Cupric .3334

In electricity it has been very extensively used as the negative plate of voltaic batteries. It has its most extensive application as conductors for all classes of electrical leads.

Copper Bath. A solution of copper used for depositing the metal in the electroplating process. For some metals, such as zinc or iron, which decompose copper sulphate solution, special baths have to be used.

The regular bath for copper plating is the following:

To water acidulated with 8 to 10 percent. of sulphuric acid as much copper sulphate is added as it will take up at the ordinary temperature. The saturated bath should have a density of 1.21. It is used cold and is kept in condition by the use of copper anodes, or fresh crystals may be added from time to time.

For deposition on zinc, iron, tin and other metals more electropositive than copper, the following baths may be used, expressed in parts by weight:

Tin Iron and Steel. Cast Iron Cold Hot. and Zinc. Zinc. Sodium Bisulphate, 500 200 300 100 Potassium Cyanide, 500 700 500 700 Sodium Carbonate, 1000 500 —- —- Copper Acetate, 475 500 350 450 Aqua Ammoniae, 350 300 200 150 Water, 2500 2500 2500 2500

These are due to Roseleur.


Copper Stripping Bath. There is generally no object in stripping copper from objects. It can be done with any of the regular copper baths using the objects to be stripped as anode. The danger of dissolving the base itself and thereby injuring the article and spoiling the bath is obvious.

Cord Adjuster. A device for shortening or lengthening the flexible cord, or flexible wire supplying the current, and by which an incandescent lamp is suspended. It often is merely a little block of wood perforated with two holes through which the wires pass, and in which they are retained in any desired position by friction and their own stiffness.


Cord, Flexible. A pair of flexible wire conductors, insulated lightly, twisted together and forming apparently a cord. They are used for minor services, such as single lamps and the like, and are designated according to the service they perform, such as battery cords, dental cords (for supplying dental apparatus) and other titles.

Core. (a) The conductor or conductors of an electric cable. (See Cable Core.)

(b) The iron mass, generally central in an electro-magnet or armature, around which the wire is coiled. It acts by its high permeance to concentrate or multiply the lines of force, thus maintaining a more intense field. (See Armature—Magnet, Electro—Magnet, Field—Core, Laminated). In converters or transformers (See Converter) it often surrounds the wire coils.

Core-discs. Discs of thin wire, for building up armature cores. (See Laminated Core.) The usual form of core is a cylinder. A number of thin discs of iron are strung upon the central shaft and pressed firmly together by end nuts or keys. This arrangement, it will be seen, gives a cylinder as basis for winding the wire on.

Core-discs, Pierced. Core-discs for an armature of dynamo or motor, which are pierced around the periphery. Tubes of insulating material pass through the peripheral holes, and through these the conductors or windings are carried. The conductors are thus embedded in a mass of iron and are protected from eddy currents, and they act to reduce the reluctance of the air gaps. From a mechanical point of view they are very good. For voltages over 100 they are not advised.

Synonym—Perforated Core-discs.


Core-discs, Segmental. Core-discs made in segments, which are bolted together to form a complete disc or section of the core. The plan is adopted principally on large cores. The discs thus made up are placed together to form the core exactly as in the case of ordinary one piece discs.


Core-discs, Toothed. Core-discs of an armature of a dynamo or motor, which discs are cut into notches on the periphery. These are put together to form the armature core, with the notches corresponding so as to form a series of grooves in which the wire winding is laid. This construction reduces the actual air-gaps, and keeps the wires evenly spaced. Distance-pieces of box-wood, m, m, are sometimes used to lead the wires at the ends of the armature.


Core, Laminated. A core of an armature, induction coil or converter or other similar construction, which is made up of plates insulated more or less perfectly from each other. The object of lamination is to prevent the formation of Foucault currents. (See Currents, Foucault.) As insulation, thin shellacked paper may be used, or sometimes the superficial oxidation of the plates alone is relied on. The plates, in general, are laid perpendicular to the principal convolutions of the wire, or parallel to the lines of force. The object is to break up currents, and such currents are induced by the variation in intensity of the field of force, and their direction is perpendicular to the lines of force, or parallel to the inducing conductors.

A core built up of core discs is sometimes termed a tangentially laminated core. Made up of ribbon or wire wound coil fashion, it is termed a radially laminated core.


Core Ratio. In a telegraph cable the ratio existing between the diameter of the conducting core and the insulator. To get a ratio approximately accurate in practical calculations, the diameter of the core is taken at 5 per cent. less than its actual diameter. The calculations are those referring to the electric constants of the cable, such as its static capacity and insulation resistance.

Core, Ribbon. For discoidal ring-shaped cores of armatures, iron ribbon is often used to secure lamination and prevent Foucault currents.

Synonym—Tangentially Laminated Core.

Core, Ring. A core for a dynamo or motor armature, which core forms a complete ring.

Core, Stranded. In an electric light cable, a conducting core made up of a group of wires laid or twisted together.

Core, Tubular. Tubes used as cores for electro-magnets. For very small magnetizing power, tubular cores are nearly as efficient as solid ones in straight magnets, because the principal reluctance is due to the air-path. On increasing the magnetization the tubular core becomes less efficient than the solid core, as the reluctance of the air-path becomes proportionately of less importance in the circuit.

Corpusants. The sailors' name for St. Elmo's Fire, q. v.

Coulomb. The practical unit of quantity of electricity. It is the quantity passed by a current of one ampere intensity in one second. It is equal to 1/10 the C. G. S. electro-magnetic unit of quantity, and to 3,000,000,000 C. G. S. electrostatic units of quantity. It corresponds to the decomposition of .0935 milligrams of water, or to the deposition of 1.11815 milligrams of silver.

[Transcriber's note: A coulomb is approximately 6.241E18 electrons. Two point charges of one coulomb each, one meter apart, exerts a force of 900,000 metric tons.]

Coulomb's Laws of Electrostatic Attraction and Repulsion. 1. The repulsions or attractions between two electrified bodies are in the inverse ratio of the squares of their distance.

2. The distance remaining the same, the force of attraction or repulsion between two electrified bodies is directly as the product of the quantities of electricity with which they are charged.


Counter, Electric. A device for registering electrically, or by electro-magnetic machinery, the revolutions of shafts, or any other data or factors.

Counter-electro-motive Force. A potential difference in a circuit opposed to the main potential difference, and hence, resisting the operation of the latter, and diminishing the current which would be produced without it. It appears in electric motors, which, to a certain extent, operate as dynamos and reduce the effective electro-motive force that operates them. It appears in the primary coils of induction coils, and when the secondary circuit is open, is almost equal to the main electro-motive force, so that hardly any current can go through them under such conditions. It appears in galvanic batteries, when hydrogen accumulates on the copper plate, and in other chemical reactions. A secondary battery is charged by a current in the reverse direction to that which it would normally produce. Its own potential difference then appears as a counter-electro-motive force.

Synonym—Back Electro-motive Force.

Counter-electro-motive Force of Polarization. To decompose a solution by electrolysis, enough electro-motive force is required to overcome the energy of composition of the molecule decomposed. A part of this takes the form of a counter-electromotive force, one which, for a greater or less time would maintain a current in the opposite direction if the original source of current were removed. Thus in the decomposition of water, the electrodes become covered, one with bubbles of oxygen, the others with bubbles of hydrogen; this creates a counter E. M. F. of polarization. In a secondary battery, the working current may be defined as due to this cause.

Synonym—Back Electro-motive Force of Polarization.

Couple. Two forces applied to different points of a straight line, when opposed in direction or unequal in amount, tend to cause rotation about a point intermediate between their points of application and lying on the straight line. Such a pair constitute a couple.

Couple, Voltaic or Galvanic. The combination of two electrodes, and a liquid or liquids, the electrodes being immersed therein, and being acted on differentially by the liquid or liquids. The combination constitutes a source of electro-motive force and consequently of current. It is the galvanic or voltaic cell or battery. (See Battery, Voltaic—Contact Theory—Electro-motive Force—Electro-motive Series.)

Coupling. The joining of cells of a galvanic battery, of dynamos or of other devices, so as to produce different effects as desired.


Couple, Astatic. An astatic couple is a term sometimes applied to astatic needles, q.v.

C. P. (a) An abbreviation of or symbol for candle power, q. v.

(b) An abbreviation of chemically pure. It is used to indicate a high degree of purity of chemicals. Thus, in a standard Daniell battery, the use of C. P. chemicals may be prescribed or advised.

Crater. The depression that forms in the positive carbon of a voltaic arc. (See Arc, Voltaic.)

Creeping. A phenomenon of capillarity, often annoying in battery jars. The solution, by capillarity, rises a little distance up the sides, evaporates, and as it dries more creeps up through it, and to a point a little above it. This action is repeated until a layer of the salts may form over the top of the vessel. To avoid it, paraffine is often applied to the edges of the cup, or a layer of oil, often linseed oil, is poured on the battery solution,

Crith. The weight of a litre of hydrogen at 0 C. (32 F.), and 760 mm. (30 inches) barometric pressure. It is .0896 grams. The molecular weight of any gas divided by 2 and multiplied by the value of the crith, gives the weight of a litre of the gas in question. Thus a litre of electrolytic gas, a mixture of two molecules of hydrogen for one of oxygen, with a mean molecular weight of 12, weighs (12/2) * .0896 or .5376 gram.

Critical Speed. (a) The speed of rotation at which a series dynamo begins to excite its own field.

(b) In a compound wound dynamo, the speed at which the same potential is generated with the full load being taken from the machine, as would be generated on open circuit, in which case the shunt coil is the only exciter. The speed at which the dynamo is self-regulating.

(c) In a dynamo the rate of speed when a small change in the speed of rotation produces a comparatively great change in the electro-motive force. It corresponds to the same current (the critical current) in any given series dynamo.

Cross. (a) A contact between two electric conductors; qualified to express conditions as a weather cross, due to rain, a swinging cross when a wire swings against another, etc.

(b) vb. To make such contact.

Cross-Connecting Board. A special switch board used in telephone exchanges and central telegraph offices. Its function is, by plugs and wires, to connect the line wires with any desired section of the main switchboard. The terminals of the lines as they enter the building are connected directly to the cross-connecting board.


Cross Connection. A method of disposing of the effects of induction from neighboring circuits by alternately crossing the two wires of a metallic telephone circuit, so that for equal intervals they lie to right and left, or one above, and one below.

[Transcriber's note: Also used to cancel the effect of variations in the ambient magnetic field, such as solar activity.]

Crossing Wires. The cutting out of a defective section in a telegraph line, by carrying two wires from each side of the defective section across to a neighboring conductor, pressing it for the time into service and cutting the other wire if necessary.

Cross-magnetizing Effect. A phase of armature interference. The current in an armature of a dynamo or motor is such as to develop lines of force approximately at right angles to those of the field. The net cross-magnetizing effect is such component of these lines, as is at right angles to the lines produced by the field alone.

Cross-over Block. A piece of porcelain or other material shaped to receive two wires which are to cross each other, and hold them so that they cannot come in contact. It is used in wiring buildings, and similar purposes. (See Cleat, Crossing.)

Cross Talk. On telephone circuits by induction or by contact with other wires sound effects of talking are sometimes received from other circuits; such effects are termed cross talk.

Crucible, Electric. A crucible for melting difficultly fusible substances, or for reducing ores, etc., by the electric arc produced within it. Sometimes the heating is due more to current incandescence than to the action of an arc.


Crystallization, Electric. Many substances under proper conditions take a crystalline form. The great condition is the passage from the fluid into the solid state. When such is brought about by electricity in any way, the term electric crystallization may be applied to the phenomenon. A solution of silver nitrate for instance, decomposed by a current, may give crystals of metallic silver.


Cup, Porous. A cup used in two-fluid voltaic batteries to keep the solutions separate to some extent. It forms a diaphragm through which diffusion inevitably takes place, but which is considerably retarded, while electrolysis and electrolytic convection take place freely through its walls. As material, unglazed pottery is very generally used.

In some batteries the cup is merely a receptacle for the solid depolarizer. Thus, in the Leclanch battery, the cup contains the manganese dioxide and graphite in which the carbon electrode is embedded, but does not separate two solutions, as the battery only uses one. Nevertheless, the composition of the solution outside and inside may vary, but such variation is incidental only, and not an essential of the operation.

Current. The adjustment, or effects of a continuous attempt at readjustment of potential difference by a conductor, q. v., connecting two points of different potential. A charged particle or body placed in a field of force tends to move toward the oppositely charged end or portion of the field. If a series of conducting particles or a conducting body are held so as to be unable to move, then the charge of the field tends, as it were, to move through it, and a current results. It is really a redistribution of the field and as long as such redistribution continues a current exists. A current is assumed to flow from a positive to a negative terminal; as in the case of a battery, the current in the outer circuit is assumed to flow from the carbon to the zinc plate, and in the solution to continue from zinc to carbon. As a memoria technica the zinc may be thought of as generating the current delivering it through the solution to the carbon, whence it flows through the wire connecting them. (See Ohm's Law—Maxwell's Theory of Light—Conductor-Intensity.)

[Transcriber's note: Supposing electric current to be the motion of positive charge causes no practical difficulty, but the current is actually the (slight) motion of negative electrons.]

Current, After. A current produced by the animal tissue after it has been subjected to a current in the opposite direction for some time. The tissue acts like a secondary battery. The term is used in electro-therapeutics.

Current, Alternating. Usually defined and spoken of as a current flowing alternately in opposite directions. It may be considered as a succession of currents, each of short duration and of direction opposite to that of its predecessor. It is graphically represented by such a curve as shown in the cut. The horizontal line may denote a zero current, that is no current at all, or may be taken to indicate zero electro-motive force. The curve represents the current, or the corresponding electro-motive forces. The further from the horizontal line the greater is either, and if above the line the direction is opposite to that corresponding to the positions below the line. Thus the current is alternately in opposite directions, has periods of maximum intensity, first in one and then in the opposite sense, and between these, passing from one direction to the other, is of zero intensity. It is obvious that the current may rise quickly in intensity and fall slowly, or the reverse, or may rise and fall irregularly. All such phases may be shown by the curve, and a curve drawn to correctly represent these variations is called the characteristic curve of such current. It is immaterial whether the ordinates of the curve be taken as representing current strength or electromotive force. If interpreted as representing electro-motive force, the usual interpretation and best, the ordinates above the line are taken as positive and those below as negative.

Synonyms—Reversed Current—Periodic Currents.



Current, Atomic. A unit of current strength used in Germany; the strength of a current which will liberate in 24 hours (86,400 seconds) one gram of hydrogen gas, in a water voltameter. The atomic current is equal to 1.111 amperes. In telegraphic work the milliatom is used as a unit, comparable to the milliampere. The latter is now displacing it.

Current, Charge. If the external coatings of a charged and uncharged jar are placed in connection, and if the inner coatings are now connected, after separating them they are both found to be charged in the same manner. In this process a current has been produced between the outside coatings and one between the inner ones, to which Dove has given the name Charge Current, and which has all the properties of the ordinary discharge current. (Ganot.)

Current, Circular. A current passing through a circular conductor; a current whose path is in the shape of a circle.

Current, Commuted. A current changed, as regards direction or directions, by a commutator, q. v., or its equivalent.

Current, Constant. An unvarying current. A constant current system is one maintaining such a current. In electric series, incandescent lighting, a constant current is employed, and the system is termed as above. In arc lighting systems, the constant current series arrangement is almost universal.


Current, Continuous. A current of one direction only; the reverse of an alternating current. (See Current, Alternating.)

Current, Critical. The current produced by a dynamo at its critical speed; at that speed when a slight difference in speed produces a great difference in electro-motive force. On the characteristic curve it corresponds to the point where the curve bends sharply, and where the electro-motive force is about two-thirds its maximum.

Current, Daniell/U.S. , Daniell/Siemens' Unit. A unit of current strength used in Germany. It is the strength of a current produced by one Daniell cell in a circuit of the resistance of one Siemens' unit. The current deposits 1.38 grams of copper per hour. It is equal to 1.16 amperes.

Current, Demarcation. In electro-therapeutics, a current which can be taken from an injured muscle, the injured portion acting electro-negatively toward the uninjured portion.

Current Density. The current intensity per unit of cross-sectional area of the conductor. The expression is more generally used for electrolytic conduction, where the current-density is referred to the mean facing areas of the electrodes, or else to the facing area of the cathode only.

The quality of the deposited metal is intimately related to the current density. (See Burning.)

Proper Current Density for Electroplating Amperes Per Square Foot of Cathode.—(Urquhart.) Copper, Acid Bath. 5.0 to 10.0 " Cyanide Bath, 3.0 " 5.0 Silver, Double Cyanide, 2.0 " 5.0 Gold, Chloride dissolved in Potassium Cyanide, 1.0 " 2.0 Nickel, Double Sulphate, 6.6 " 8.0 Brass, Cyanide, 2.0 " 3.0

Current, Diacritical. A current, which, passing through a helix surrounding an iron core, brings it to one-half its magnetic saturation, q. v.

Current, Diaphragm. If a liquid is forced through a diaphragm, a potential difference between the liquid on opposite sides of the diaphragm is maintained. Electrodes or terminals of platinum may be immersed in the liquid, and a continuous current, termed a diaphragm current, may be taken as long as the liquid is forced through the diaphragm. The potential difference is proportional to the pressure, and also depends on the nature of the diaphragm and on the liquid.


Current, Direct. A current of unvarying direction, as distinguished from an alternating current. It may be pulsatory or intermittent in character, but must be of constant direction.

Current, Direct Induced. On breaking a circuit, if it is susceptible of exercising self-induction, q. v., an extra current, in the direction of the original is induced, which is called "direct" because in the same direction as the original. The same is produced by a current in one circuit upon a parallel one altogether separated from it. (See Induction, Electro-Magnetic-Current, Extra.)

Synonym—Break Induced Current.

Current, Direction of. The assumed direction of a current is from positively charged electrode to negatively charged one; in a galvanic battery from the carbon or copper plate through the outer circuit to the zinc plate and back through the electrolyte to the carbon or copper plate. (See Current.)

[Transcriber's note: Current is caused by the motion of negative electrons, from the negative pole to the positive. The electron was discovered five years after this publication.]

Current, Displacement. The movement or current of electricity taking place in a dielectric during displacement. It is theoretical only and can only be assumed to be of infinitely short duration. (See Displacement, Electric.)

Currents, Eddy Displacement. The analogues of Foucault currents, hypothetically produced in the mass of a dielectric by the separation of the electricity or by its electrification. (See Displacement.)

Current, Extra. When a circuit is suddenly opened or closed a current of very brief duration, in the first case in the same direction, in the other case in the opposite direction, is produced, which exceeds the ordinary current in intensity. A high potential difference is produced for an instant only. These are called extra currents. As they are produced by electro-magnetic induction, anything which strengthens the field of force increases the potential difference to which they are due. Thus the wire may be wound in a coil around an iron core, in which case the extra currents may be very strong. (See Induction, Self-Coil, Spark.)

Current, Faradic. A term in medical electricity for the induced or secondary alternating current, produced by comparatively high electro-motive force, such as given by an induction coil or magneto-generator, as distinguished from the regular battery current.


Current, Foucault. A current produced in solid conductors, and which is converted into heat (Ganot). These currents are produced by moving the conductors through a field, or by altering the strength of a field in which they are contained. They are the source of much loss of energy and other derangement in dynamos and motors, and to avoid them the armature cores are laminated, the plane of the laminations being parallel to the lines of force. (See Core, Laminated.)

The presence of Foucault currents, if of long duration, is shown by the heating of the metal in which they are produced. In dynamo armatures they are produced sometimes in the metal of the windings, especially if the latter are of large diameter.

Synonyms—Eddy Currents—Local Currents—Parasitical Currents.

Current, Franklinic. In electro-therapeutics the current produced by a frictional electric machine.

Current, Induced. The current produced in a conductor by varying the conditions of a field of force in which it is placed; a current produced by induction.

Current Induction. Induction by one current on another or by a portion of a current on another portion of itself. (See Induction.)

Current Intensity. Current strength, dependent on or defined by the quantity of electricity passed by such current in a given time. The practical unit of current intensity is the ampere, equal to one coulomb of quantity per second of time.

Current, Inverse Induced. The current induced in a conductor, when in a parallel conductor or in one having a parallel component a current is started, or is increased in strength. It is opposite in direction to the inducing current and hence is termed inverse. (See Induction, Electro-magnetic.) The parallel conductors may be in one circuit or in two separate circuits.

Synonyms—Make-induced Current—Reverse-induced Current.

Current, Jacobi's Unit of. A current which will liberate one cubic centimeter of mixed gases (hydrogen and oxygen) in a water voltameter per minute, the gases being measured at 0 C. (32 F.) and 760 mm. (29.92 inches) barometric pressure. It is equal to .0961 ampere.

Current, Joint. The current given by several sources acting together. Properly, it should be restricted to sources connected in series, thus if two battery cells are connected in series the current they maintain is their joint current.

Current, Linear. A current passing through a straight conductor; a current whose path follows a straight line.


Current, Make and Break. A succession of currents of short duration, separated by absolute cessation of current. Such current is produced by a telegraph key, or by a microphone badly adjusted, so that the circuit is broken at intervals. The U. S. Courts have virtually decided that the telephone operates by the undulatory currents, and not by a make and break current. Many attempts have been made to produce a telephone operating by a demonstrable make and break current, on account of the above distinction, in hopes of producing a telephone outside of the scope of the Bell telephone patent.

[Transcriber's note: Contemporary long distance telephone service is digital, as this item describes.]

Current-meter. An apparatus for indicating the strength of current. (See Ammeter.)

Current, Negative. In the single needle telegraph system the current which deflects the needle to the left.

Current, Nerve and Muscle. A current of electricity yielded by nerves or muscles. Under proper conditions feeble currents can be taken from nerves, as the same can be taken from muscles.

Current, Opposed. The current given by two or more sources connected in opposition to each other. Thus a two volt and a one volt battery may be connected in opposition, giving a net voltage of only one volt, and a current due to such net voltage.

Current, Partial. A divided or branch current. A current which goes through a single conductor to a point where one or more other conductors join it in parallel, and then divides itself between the several conductors, which must join further on, produces partial currents. It produces as many partial currents as the conductors among which it divides. The point of division is termed the point of derivation.

Synonym—Derived Current.

Current, Polarizing. In electro-therapeutics, a constant current.

Current, Positive. In the single needle telegraph system the current which deflects the needle to the right.

Current, Pulsatory. A current of constant direction, but whose strength is constantly varying, so that it is a series of pulsations of current instead of a steady flow.

Current, Rectified. A typical alternating current is represented by a sine curve, whose undulations extend above and below the zero line. If by a simple two member commutator the currents are caused to go in one direction, in place of the sine curve a series of short convex curves following one another and all the same side of the zero line results. The currents all in the same direction, become what is known as a pulsating current.

Synonym—Redressed Current.


Current, Rectilinear. A current flowing through a rectilinear conductor. The action of currents depending on their distance from the points where they act, their contour is a controlling factor. This contour is determined by the conductors through which they flow.

Current Reverser. A switch or other contrivance for reversing the direction of a current in a conductor.

Currents, Amprian. The currents of electricity assumed by Ampere's theory to circulate around a magnet. As they represent the maintenance of a current or of currents without the expenditure of energy they are often assumed to be of molecular dimensions. As they all go in the same sense of rotation and are parallel to each other the result is the same as if a single set of currents circulated around the body of the magnet. More will be found on this subject under Magnetism. The Amprian currents are purely hypothetical and are predicated on the existence of a field of force about a permanent magnet. (See Magnetism, Ampre's Theory of.)

If the observer faces the north pole of a magnet the Amprian currents are assumed to go in the direction opposite to that of a watch, and the reverse for the south pole.


Currents, Angular. Currents passing through conductors which form an angle with each other.

Currents, Angular, Laws of. 1. Two rectilinear currents, the directions of which form an angle with each other, attract one another when both approach to or recede from the apex of the angle.

2. They repel one another, if one approaches and the other recedes from the apex of the angle.


Currents, Earth. In long telegraph lines having terminal grounds or connected to earth only at their ends, potential differences are sometimes observed that are sufficient to interfere with their working and which, of course, can produce currents. These are termed earth-currents. It will be noted that they exist in the wire, not in the earth. They may be of 40 milliamperes strength, quite enough to work a telegraph line without any battery. Lines running N. E. and S. W. are most affected; those running N.W. and S. E. very much less so. These currents only exist in lines grounded at both ends, and appear in underground wires. Hence they are not attributable to atmospheric electricity. According to Wilde they are the primary cause of magnetic storms, q. v., but not of the periodical changes in the magnetic elements. (See Magnetic Elements.)

Synonym—Natural Currents.

Current, Secondary. (a) A current induced in one conductor by a variation in the current in a neighboring one; the current produced in the secondary circuit of an induction coil or alternating current converter.

(b) The current given by a secondary battery. This terminology is not to be recommended.

Current, Secretion. In electro-therapeutics, a current due to stimulation of the secretory nerves.

Current Sheet. (a) If two terminals of an active circuit are connected to two points of a thin metallic plate the current spreads over or occupies practically a considerable area of such plate, and this portion of the current is a current sheet.

The general contour of the current sheet can be laid out in lines of flux. Such lines resemble lines of force. Like the latter, they are purely an assumption, as the current is not in any sense composed of lines.

(b) A condition of current theoretically brought about by the Amprian currents in a magnet. Each molecule having its own current, the contiguous portions of the molecules counteract each other and give a resultant zero current. All that remains is the outer sheet of electric current that surrounds the whole.

Current, Sinuous. A current passing through a sinuous conductor.

Currents, Multiphase. A term applied to groups of currents of alternating type which constantly differ from each other by a constant proportion of periods of alternation. They are produced on a single dynamo, the winding being so contrived that two, three or more currents differing a constant amount in phase are collected from corresponding contact rings. There are virtually as many windings on the armature as there are currents to be produced. Separate conductors for the currents must be used throughout.

Synonyms—Polyphase Currents—Rotatory Currents.


Currents of Motion. In electro-therapeutics, the currents produced in living muscle or nerves after sudden contraction or relaxation.

Currents of Rest. In electro-therapeutics, the currents traversing muscular or nervous tissue when at rest. Their existence is disputed.

Currents, Orders of. An intermittent current passing through a conductor will induce secondary alternating currents in a closed circuit near it. This secondary current will induce a tertiary current in a third closed circuit near it, and so on. The induced currents are termed as of the first, second, third and other orders. The experiment is carried out by Henry's coils. (See Coils, Henry's.)

Currents, Thermo-electric. These currents, as produced from existing thermo-electric batteries, are generated by low potential, and are of great constancy. The opposite junctions of the plates can be kept at constant temperatures, as by melting ice and condensing steam, so that an identical current can be reproduced at will from a thermopile.

Thermo-electric currents were used by Ohm in establishing his law. (See Ohm's Law.)

Current, Swelling. In electro-therapeutics, a current gradually increasing in strength.

Current, Undulatory. A current varying in strength without any abrupt transition from action to inaction, as in the make and break current. The current may be continually changing in direction (see Current, Alternating), and hence, of necessity, may pass through stages of zero intensity, but such transition must be by a graduation, not by an abrupt transition. Such current may be represented by a curve, such as the curve of sines. It is evident that the current may pass through the zero point as it crosses the line or changes direction without being a make and break current. When such a current does alternate in direction it is sometimes called a "shuttle current." The ordinary commercial telephone current and the alternating current is of this type. (See Current, Make and Break.)

Current, Unit. Unit current is one which in a wire of unit length, bent so as to form an arc of a circle of unit length of radius, would act upon a unit pole (see Magnetic Pole, Unit,) at the center of the circle with unit force. Unit length is the centimeter; unit force is the dyne.

[Transcriber's note: The SI definition of an ampere: A current in two straight parallel conductors of infinite length and negligible cross-section, 1 metre apart in vacuum, would produce a force equal to 2E-7 newton per metre of length.]


Current, Wattless. Whenever there is a great difference in phase in an alternating current dynamo between volts and current, the true watts are much less than the product of the virtual volts and amperes, because the the watts are obtained by multiplying the product of the virtual volts and amperes by the cosine of the angle of lag (or lead). Any alternating current may be resolved into two components in quadrature with each other, one in phase with the volts, the other in quadrature therewith, the former is termed by S. P. Thompson the Working Current, the latter the Wattless Current. The greater the angle of lag the greater will be the wattless current.

Curve, Arrival. A curve representing the rate of rise of intensity of current at the end of a long conductor when the circuit has been closed at the other end. In the Atlantic cable, for instance, it would require about 108 seconds for the current at the distant end to attain 9/10 of its full value. The curve is drawn with its abscissa representing time and its ordinates current strength.

Curve, Characteristic. A curve indicating, graphically, the relations between any two factors, which are interdependent, or which vary simultaneously. Thus in a dynamo, the voltage increases with the speed of rotation, and a characteristic curve may be based on the relations between the speed of rotation and voltage developed. The current produced by a dynamo varies with the electro-motive force, and a curve can express the relations between the electro-motive force and the current produced.

A characteristic curve is usually laid out by rectangular co-ordinates (see Co-ordinates). Two lines are drawn at right angles to each other, one vertical, and the other horizontal. One set of data are marked off on the horizontal line, say one ampere, two amperes, and so on, in the case of a dynamo's characteristic curve.

For each amperage of current there is a corresponding voltage in the circuit. Therefore on each ampere mark a vertical is erected, and on that the voltage corresponding to such amperage is laid off. This gives a series of points, and these points may be connected by a curve. Such curve will be a characteristic curve.

The more usual way of laying out a curve is to work directly upon the two axes. On one is laid off the series of values of one set of data; on the other the corresponding series of values of the other dependent data. Vertical lines or ordinates, q. v., are erected on the horizontal line or axis of abscissas at the points laid off; horizontal lines or abscissas, q. v., are drawn from the points laid off on the vertical line or axis of ordinates. The characteristic curve is determined by the intersections of each corresponding pair of abscissa and ordinate.


Variations exist in characteristic curve methods. Thus to get the characteristic of a commutator, radial lines may be drawn from a circle representing its perimeter. Such lines may be of length proportional to the voltage developed on the commutator at the points whence the lines start. A cut giving an example of such a curve is given in Fig. 125. (See Curve of Distribution of Potential in Armature.)

There is nothing absolute in the use of ordinates or abscissas. They may be interchanged. Ordinarily voltages are laid off as ordinates, but the practise may be reversed. The same liberty holds good for all characteristic curves. Custom, however, should be followed.



Curve, Characteristic, of Converter. The characteristic curve of the secondary circuit of an alternating current converter. It gives by the usual methods (see Curve, Characteristic,) the relations between the electro-motive force and the current in the secondary circuit at a fixed resistance. If connected in parallel a constant electro-motive force is maintained, and the curve is virtually a straight line. If connected in series an elliptical curve is produced.


Curve, Charging. In secondary battery manipulation, a curve indicating the increase of voltage as the charging is prolonged. The rise in voltage with the duration of the charging current is not uniform. In one case, shown in the cut, there was a brief rapid rise of about 0.1 volt; then a long slow rise for 0.15 volt; then a more rapid rise for nearly 0.40 volt, and then the curve became a horizontal line indicating a cessation of increase of voltage. The charging rate should be constant.

The horizontal line is laid off in hours, the vertical in volts, so that the time is represented by abscissas and the voltage by ordinates of the curve.


Curve, Discharging. A characteristic curve of a storage battery, indicating the fall in voltage with hours of discharge. The volts may be laid off on the axis of ordinates, and the hours of discharging on the axis of abscissas. To give it meaning the rate of discharge must be constant.

Curve, Electro-motive Force. A characteristic curve of a dynamo. It expresses the relation between its entire electromotive force, as calculated by Ohm's Law, and the current intensities corresponding thereto. To obtain the data the dynamo is driven with different resistances in the external circuit and the current is measured for each resistance. This gives the amperes. The total resistance of the circuit, including that of the dynamo, is known. By Ohm's Law the electro-motive force in volts is obtained for each case by multiplying the total resistance of the circuit in ohms by the amperes of current forced through such resistance. Taking the voltages thus calculated for ordinates and the corresponding amperages for abscissas the curve is plotted. An example is shown in the cut.


Curve, External Characteristic. A characteristic curve of a dynamo, corresponding to the electro-motive force curve, except that the ordinates represent the voltages of the external circuit, the voltages as taken directly from the terminals of the machine, instead of the total electro-motive force of the circuit. The dynamo is run at constant speed. The resistance of the external circuit is varied. The voltages at the terminals of the machine and the amperages of current corresponding thereto are determined. Using the voltages thus determined as ordinates and the corresponding amperages as abscissas the external characteristic curve is plotted.

This curve can be mechanically produced. A pencil may be moved against a constant force by two electro-magnets pulling at right angles to each other. One must be excited by the main current of the machine, the other by a shunt current from the terminals of the machine. The point of the pencil will describe the curve.


Curve, Horse Power. Curves indicating electric horse power. They are laid out with co-ordinates, volts being laid off on the axis of ordinates, and amperes on the axis of abscissas generally. The curves are drawn through points where the product of amperes by volts equals 746. On the same diagram 1, 2, 3 .... and any other horse powers can be plotted if within the limits. See Fig. 120.

Curve, Isochasmen. A line drawn on the map of the earth's surface indicating the locus of equal frequency of auroras.


Curve, Life. A characteristic curve showing the relations between the durability and conditions affecting the same in any appliance. It is used most for incandescent lamps. The hours of burning before failure give ordinates, and the rates of burning, expressed indirectly in volts or in candle-power, give abscissas. For each voltage or for each candle-power an average duration is deducible from experience, so that two dependent sets of data are obtained for the construction of the curve.

Curve, Load. A characteristic curve of a dynamo, expressing the relation between its voltage and the amount of excitation under a definite condition of ampere load, at a constant speed. The ordinates represent voltage, the abscissas ampere turns in the field, and the curves may be constructed for a flow of 0, 50, 100, or .. , or any other number of amperes.

Fig. 123. LOAD CURVES.

Curve, Magnetization. A characteristic curve of an electromagnet, indicating the relation of magnetization to exciting current. Laying off on the axis of ordinates the quantities of magnetism evoked, and the corresponding strengths of the exciting current on the axis of abscissas, the curve can be plotted. It first rises rapidly, indicating a rapid increase of magnetization, but grows nearly horizontal as the iron becomes more saturated. The effect due to the coils alone, or the effect produced in the absence of iron is a straight line, because air does not change in permeability.

Curve of Distribution of Potential in Armature. A characteristic curve indicating the distribution of potential difference between adjoining sections of the commutator of an armature in different positions all around it. The potential differences are taken by a volt-meter or potential galvanometer, connection with the armature being made by two small metal brushes, held at a distance apart equal to the distance from centre to centre of two adjoining commutator bars. The curve is laid out as if by polar co-ordinates extending around the cross-section of the commutator, with the distances from the commutator surface to the curve proportional to the potential differences as determined by shifting the pair of brushes all around the commutator.

The above is S. P. Thompson's method. Another method of W. M. Mordey involves the use of a pilot brush. (See Brush, Pilot.) Otherwise the method is in general terms identical with the above.





Curve of Dynamo. The characteristic curve of a dynamo. (See Curve, Characteristic.)

Curve of Sines. An undulating curve representing wave motion. It is produced by compounding a simple harmonic motion, or a two and fro motion like that of an infinitely long pendulum with a rectilinear motion. Along a horizontal line points may be laid off to represent equal periods of time. Then on each point a perpendicular must be erected. The length of each must be equal to the length of path traversed by the point up to the expiration of each one of the given intervals of time. The abscissas are proportional to the times and the ordinates to the sines of angles proportional to the times. Thus if a circle be drawn upon the line and divided into thirty-two parts of equal angular value, the sines of these angles may be taken as the ordinates and the absolute distance or length of arc of the angle will give the abscissas.

Synonyms—Sine Curve—Sinusoidal Curve—Harmonic Curve.



Curve of Saturation of the Magnetic Circuit. A characteristic curve whose ordinates may represent the number of magnetic lines of force induced in a magnetic circuit, and whose abscissas may represent the ampere turns of excitation or other representative of the inducing force.

Curve of Torque. A characteristic curve showing the relations between torque, q. v., and current in a dynamo or motor.

Curve, Permeability Temperature. A characteristic curve expressing the changes in permeability of a paramagnetic substance as the temperature changes. The degrees of temperature may be abscissas, and the permeabilities corresponding thereto ordinates of the curve.

Cut In. v. To connect any electric appliance, mechanism or conductor, into a circuit.

Cut Out. v. The reverse of to cut in; to remove from a circuit any conducting device, and sometimes so arranged as to leave the circuit completed in some other way.

Cut Out. An appliance for removing any apparatus from an electric circuit, so that no more current shall pass through such apparatus, and sometimes providing means for closing the circuit so as to leave it complete after the removal of the apparatus.


Cut Out, Automatic. (a) A mechanism for automatically shunting an arc or other lamp when it ceases to work properly. It is generally worked by an electro-magnet of high resistance placed in parallel with the arc. If the arc grows too long the magnet attracts its armature, thereby completing a shunt of approximately the resistance of the arc, and which replaces it until the carbons approach again to within a proper distance. Sometimes a strip or wire of fusible metal is arranged in shunt with the arc. When the arc lengthens the current through the wire increases, melts it and a spring is released which acts to complete or close a shunt circuit of approximately arc-resistance.

(b) See Safety Device—Safety Fuse.

(c) See below.

Cut-out, Magnetic. A magnetic cut-out is essentially a coil of wire with attracted core or armature. When the coil is not excited the core, by pressing down a strip of metal or by some analogous arrangement, completes the circuit. When the current exceeds a certain strength the core rises as it is attracted and the circuit is opened.

Cut-out, Safety. A block of porcelain or other base carrying a safety fuse, which melts and breaks the circuit before the wire connected to it is dangerously heated.

Synonyms—Fuse Block—Safety Catch—Safety Fuse.

Cut Out, Wedge. A cut out operated by a wedge. The line terminals consist of a spring bearing against a plate, the circuit being completed through their point of contact. A plug or wedge composed of two metallic faces insulated from each other is adapted to wedge the contact open. Terminals of a loop circuit are connected to the faces of the wedge. Thus on sliding it into place, the loop circuit is brought into series in the main circuit.

Synonym—Plug Cut Out—Spring Jack.

Cutting of Lines of Force. A field of force is pictured as made up of lines of force; a conductor swept through the field is pictured as cutting these lines. By so doing it produces potential difference or electro-motive force in itself with a current, if the conductor is part of a closed circuit.

Cycle of Alternation. A full period of alternation of an alternating current. It begins properly at the zero line, goes to a maximum value in one sense and returns to zero, goes to maximum in the other sense and returns to zero.

Cystoscopy. Examination of the human bladder by the introduction of a special incandescent electric lamp. The method is due to Hitze.


Damper. (a) A copper frame on which the wire in a galvanometer is sometimes coiled, which acts to damp the oscillations of the needle.

(b) A tube of brass or copper placed between the primary and secondary coils of an induction coil. It cuts off induction and diminishes the current and potential of the secondary circuit. On pulling it out, the latter increases. It is used on medical coils to adjust their strength of action.

Damping. Preventing the indicator of an instrument from oscillating in virtue of its own inertia or elasticity. In a galvanometer it is defined as resistance to quick vibrations of the needle, in consequence of which it is rapidly brought to rest when deflected (Ayrton). In dead-beat galvanometers (see Galvanometer, Dead-Beat,) damping is desirable in order to bring the needle to rest quickly; in ballistic galvanometers (see Galvanometer, Ballistic,) damping is avoided in order to maintain the principle of the instrument. Damping may be mechanical, the frictional resistance of air to an air-vane, or of a liquid to an immersed diaphragm or loosely fitting piston, being employed. A dash-pot, q. v., is an example of the latter. It may be electro-magnetic. A mass of metal near a swinging magnetic needle tends by induced currents to arrest the oscillations thereof, and is used for this purpose in dead-beat galvanometers. This is termed, sometimes, magnetic friction. The essence of damping is to develop resistance to movement in some ratio proportional to velocity, so that no resistance is offered to the indicator slowly taking its true position. (See Galvanometer, Dead-Beat.)

Dash-Pot. A cylinder and piston, the latter loosely fitting or perforated, or some equivalent means being provided to permit movement. The cylinder may contain a liquid such as glycerine, or air only. Thus the piston is perfectly free to move, but any oscillations are damped (see Damping). In some arc lamps the carbon holder is connected to a dash-pot to check too sudden movements of the carbon. The attachment may be either to the piston or to the cylinder. In the Brush lamp the top of the carbon holder forms a cylinder containing glycerine, and in it a loosely fitting piston works. This acts as a dash-pot.

Dead Beat. adj. Reaching its reading quickly; applied to instruments having a moving indicator, which normally would oscillate back and forth a number of times before reaching its reading were it not prevented by damping. (See Galvanometer, Aperiodic—Damping.)

Dead Earth. A fault in a telegraph line which consists in the wire being thoroughly grounded or connected to the earth.


Dead Point of an Alternator. A two-phase alternator of the ordinary type connected as a motor to another alternator cannot start itself, as it has dead points where the relations and polarity of field and armature are such that there is no torque or turning power.

Dead-Turns. In the winding of an armature, a given percentage of the turns, it may be 80 per cent., more or less, is assumed to be active; the other 20 per cent. or thereabouts, is called dead-turns. This portion represents the wire on such portions of the armature as comes virtually outside of the magnetic field. They are termed dead, as not concurring to the production of electro-motive force.

Dead Wire. (a) The percentage or portion of wire on a dynamo or motor armature that does not concur in the production of electromotive force. The dead-turns, q. v., of a drum armature or the inside wire in a Gramme ring armature are dead wire.

(b) A disused and abandoned electric conductor, such as a telegraph wire.

(c) A wire in use, but through which, at the time of speaking, no current is passing.

Death, Electrical. Death resulting from electricity discharged through the animal system. The exact conditions requisite for fatal results have not been determined. High electro-motive force is absolutely essential; a changing current, pulsatory or alternating, is most fatal, possibly because of the high electro-motive force of a portion of each period. Amperage probably has something to do with it, although the total quantity in coulombs may be very small. As applied to the execution of criminals, the victim is seated in a chair and strapped thereto. One electrode with wet padded surface is placed against his head or some adjacent part. Another electrode is placed against some of the lower parts, and a current from an alternating dynamo passed for 15 seconds or more. The potential difference of the electrodes is given at 1,500 to 2,000 volts, but of course the maximum may be two or three times the measured amount, owing to the character of the current.

Decalescence. The converse of recalescence, q. v. When a mass of steel is being heated as it reaches the temperature of recalescence it suddenly absorbs a large amount of heat, apparently growing cooler.

Deci. Prefix originally used in the metric system to signify one-tenth of, now extended to general scientific units. Thus decimeter means one-tenth of a meter; decigram, one-tenth of a gram.

Declination, Angle of. The angle intercepted between the true meridian and the axis of a magnetic needle at any place. The angle is measured to east or west, starting from the true meridian as zero.


Declination of the Magnetic Needle. The deviation of the magnetic needle from the plane of the earth's meridian. It is also called the variation of the compass. (See Magnetic Elements.)

Decomposition. The reduction of a compound substance into its constituents, as in chemical analysis. The constituents may themselves be compounds or proximate constituents, or may be elemental or ultimate constituents.

Decomposition, Electrolytic. The decomposition or separation of a compound liquid into its constituents by electrolysis. The liquid must be an electrolyte, q. v., and the decomposition proceeds subject to the laws of electrolysis, q. v. See also Electrolytic Analysis.

Decrement. When a suspension needle which has been disturbed is oscillating the swings gradually decrease in amplitude if there is any damping, as there always is. The decrement is the ratio of the amplitude of one oscillation to the succeeding one. This ratio is the same for any successive swings.

De-energize. To cut off its supply of electric energy from an electric motor, or any device absorbing and worked by electric energy.

Deflagration. The explosive or violent volatilizing and dissipating of a substance by heat, violent oxidation and similar means. It may be applied among other things to the destroying of a conductor by an intense current, or the volatilization of any material by the electric arc.

Deflecting Field. The field produced in a galvanometer by the current which is being tested, and which field deflects the needle, such deflection being the measure of the current strength.

Deflection. In magnetism the movement out of the plane of the magnetic meridian of a magnetic needle, due to disturbance by or attraction towards a mass of iron or another magnet.

Deflection Method. The method of electrical measurements in which the deflection of the index of the measuring instrument is used as the measure of the current or other element under examination. It is the opposite of and is to be distinguished from the zero or null method, q. v. In the latter conditions are established which make the index point to zero and from the conditions necessary for this the measurement is deduced. The Wheatstone Bridge, q. v., illustrates a zero method, the sine or the tangent compass, illustrates a deflection method. The use of deflection methods involves calibration, q. v., and the commercial measuring instruments, such as ammeters and volt meters, which are frequently calibrated galvanometers, are also examples of deflection instruments.


Degeneration, Reaction of. The diminished sensibility to electro-therapeutic treatment exhibited by the human system with continuance of the treatment in question. The general lines of variation are stated in works on the subject.

Deka. Prefix originally used in the metric system to signify multiplying by ten, as dekameter, ten meters, dekagram, ten grams; now extended to many scientific terms.

De la Rive's Floating Battery. A small galvanic couple, immersed in a little floating cell and connected through a coil of wire immediately above them. When the exciting battery solution is placed in the cell the whole, as it floats in a larger vessel, turns until the coil lies at right angles to the magnetic needle. Sometimes the two plates are thrust through a cork and floated thus in a vessel of dilute sulphuric acid.

A magnet acts to attract or repel the coil in obedience to Ampre's Theory, (See Magnetism, Ampere's Theory of.)

Delaurier's Solution. A solution for batteries of the Bunsen and Grenet type. It is of the following composition: Water, 2,000 parts; potassium bichromate, 184 parts; sulphuric acid, 428 parts.

Demagnetization. Removal of magnetism from a paramagnetic substance. It is principally used for watches which have become magnetized by exposure to the magnetic field surrounding dynamos or motors.

The general principles of most methods are to rotate the object, as a watch, in a strong field, and while it is rotating to gradually remove it from the field, or to gradually reduce the intensity of the field itself to zero. A conical coil of wire within which the field is produced in which the watch is placed is sometimes used, the idea being that the field within such a coil is strongest at its base. Such a coil supplied by an alternating current is found effectual (J. J. Wright).

If a magnetized watch is made to turn rapidly at the end of a twisted string and is gradually brought near to and withdrawn from the poles of a powerful dynamo it may be considerably improved.

A hollow coil of wire connected with a pole changer and dip-battery has been used. The battery creates a strong field within the coil. The watch is placed there and the pole changer is worked so as to reverse the polarity of the field very frequently. By the same action of the pole changer the plates of the battery are gradually withdrawn from the solution so as to gradually reduce the magnetic field to zero while constantly reversing its polarity. (G. M. Hopkins.)

Steel may be demagnetized by jarring when held out of the magnetic meridian, or by heating to redness.


Density, Electric Superficial. The relative quantity of electricity residing as an electric charge upon a unit area of surface. It may be positive or negative.

Synonyms—Density of Charge—Surface Density.

Dental Mallet, Electric. A dentist's instrument for hammering the fillings as inserted into teeth. It is a little hammer held in a suitable handle, and which is made to strike a rapid succession of blows by electro-magnetic motor mechanism.

Depolarization. (a) The removal of permanent magnetism. (See Demagnetization.)

(b) The prevention of the polarization of a galvanic cell. It is effected in the Grove battery by the reduction of nitric acid; in the Bunsen, by the reduction of chromic acid; in the Smee battery, mechanically, by the platinum coated or rather platinized negative plate. Other examples will be found under the description of various cells and batteries. A fluid which depolarizes is termed a depolarizer or depolarizing fluid or solution. (See Electropoion Fluid.)

Deposit, Electrolytic. The metal or other substance precipitated by the action of a battery or other current generator.

Derivation, Point of. A point where a circuit branches or divides into two or more leads. The separate branches then receive derived or partial currents.

Desk Push. A press or push button, with small flush rim, for setting into the woodwork of a desk.

Detector. A portable galvanometer, often of simple construction, used for rough or approximate work.

Detector, Lineman's. A portable galvanometer with a high and a low resistance actuating coil, constructed for the use of linemen and telegraph constructors when in the field, and actually putting up, repairing or testing lines.

Deviation, Quadrantal. Deviation of the compass in iron or steel ships due to the magnetization of horizontal beams by the earth's induction. The effect of this deviation disappears when the ship is in the plane of the electric meridian, or at right angles thereto; its name is taken from the fact that a swing of the ship through a quadrant brings the needle from zero deviation to a maximum and back to zero.


Deviation, Semicircular. Deviation of the compass in iron or steel ships due to vertical induction. (See Induction, Vertical.) The effect of this induction disappears when the ship is in the electric meridian. Its name is derived from the fact that a swing of the ship through half the circle brings the needle from zero deviation to a maximum and back to zero.

Dextrotorsal. adj. Wound in the direction or sense of a right-handed screw; the reverse of sinistrotorsal, q. v.


Diacritical. adj. (a) The number of ampere turns, q. v., required to bring an iron core to one half its magnetic saturation, q. v., is termed the diacritical number.

(b) The diacritical point of magnetic saturation is proposed by Sylvanus P. Thompson as a term for the coefficient of magnetic saturation which gives a magnet core one-half its maximum magnetization.

Diagnosis, Electro. A medical diagnosis of a patient's condition based on the action of different parts of the body under electric excitement.

Diamagnetic. adj. Possessing a negative coefficient of magnetic susceptibility; having permeability inferior to that of air. Such substances placed between the poles of a magnet are repelled; if in the form of bars, they tend to turn so as to have their long axis at right angles to the line joining the poles. The reason is that the lines of force always seek the easiest path, and these bodies having higher reluctance than air, impede the lines of force, and hence are as far as possible pushed out of the way. The above is the simplest explanation of a not well understood set of phenomena. According to Tyndall, "the diamagnetic force is a polar force, the polarity of diamagnetic bodies being opposed to that of paramagnetic ones under the same conditions of excitement." Bismuth is the most strongly diamagnetic body known; phosphorus, antimony, zinc, and many others are diamagnetic. (See Paramagnetic.)


Diagometer. An apparatus for use in chemical analysis for testing the purity of substances by the time required for a charged surface to be discharged through them to earth. It is the invention of Rousseau.

An electrometer is charged with a dry pile. One of its terminals is connected with one surface of the solution or substance to be tested, and the other with the other surface. The time of discharge gives the index of the purity of the substance.

Diamagnetic Polarity. Treating diamagnetism as due to a polar force, the polarity of a diamagnetic body is the reverse of the polarity of iron or other paramagnetic bodies. A bar-shaped diamagnetic body in a field of force tends to place itself at right angles to the lines of force.

Diamagnetism. (a) The science or study of diamagnetic substances and phenomena.

(b) The magnetic property of a diamagnetic substance.

Diameter of Commutation. The points on the commutator of a closed circuit ring—or drum—armature, which the brushes touch, and whence they take the current, mark the extremities of the diameter of commutation. Were it not for the lag this would be the diameter at right angles to the line connecting the centers of the opposite faces of the field. It is always a little to one side of this position, being displaced in the direction of rotation. In open circuit armatures the brushes are placed on the diameter at right angles to this one, and sometimes the term diameter of commutation is applied to it. All that has been said is on the supposition that the armature divisions correspond not only in connection but in position with those of the armature coils. Of course, the commutator could be twisted so as to bring the diameter of commutation into any position desired.

Diapason, Electric. A tuning-fork or diapason kept in vibration by electricity. In general principle the ends of the fork act as armatures for an electro-magnet, and in their motion by a mercury cup or other form of contact they make and break the circuit as they vibrate. Thus the magnet alternately attracts and releases the leg, in exact harmony with its natural period of vibration.

Diaphragm. (a) In telephones and microphones a disc of iron thrown into motion by sound waves or by electric impulses, according to whether it acts as the diaphragm of a transmitter or receiver. It is generally a plate of japanned iron such as used in making ferrotype photographs. (See Telephone and Microphone.)

(b) A porous diaphragm is often used in electric decomposition cells and in batteries. The porous cup represents the latter use.

[Transcriber's note: Japanned—covered with heavy black lacquer, like enamel paint.]


Dielectric. A non-conductor; a substance, the different parts of which may, after an electric disturbance, remain, without any process of readjustment, and for an indefinite period of time, at potentials differing to any extent (Daniell). There is no perfect dielectric. The term dielectric is generally only used when an insulator acts to permit induction to take place through it, like the glass of a Leyden jar.

Dielectric Constant. The number or coefficient expressing the relative dielectric capacity of a medium or substance. (See Capacity, Specific Inductive.)

Dielectric, Energy of. In a condenser, the conducting coatings are merely to conduct the current all over the surface they cover; the keeping the electricities separated is the work of the dielectric, and represents potential energy which appears in the discharge. The amount of energy is proportional to the charge, and to the potential difference. As any electrified body implies an opposite electrification somewhere, and a separating dielectric, the existence of a condenser is always implied.

[Transcriber's note: The energy stored in a capacitor (condenser) is (Q*Q)/2C = (Q*V)/2 = (C*V*V)/2 The energy is proportional to the voltage SQUARED or the charge SQUARED.]

Dielectric Polarization. A term due to Faraday. It expresses what he conceived to be the condition of a dielectric when its opposite faces are oppositely electrified. The molecules are supposed to be arranged by the electrification in a series of polar chains, possibly being originally in themselves seats of opposite polarities, or having such imparted to them by the electricities. The action is analogous to that of a magnet pole on a mass of soft iron, or on a pile of iron filings.

Dielectric Strain. The strain a solid dielectric is subjected to, when its opposite surfaces are electrified. A Leyden jar dilates under the strain, and when discharged gives a dull sound. The original condition is not immediately recovered. Jarring, shaking, etc., assist the recovery from strain. The cause of the strain is termed Electric Stress. (See Stress, Electric.) This is identical with the phenomenon of residual charge. (See Charge, Residual.) Each loss of charge is accompanied with a proportional return of the dielectric towards its normal condition.

Dielectric Resistance. The mechanical resistance a body offers to perforation or destruction by the electric discharge.

Dielectric Strength. The resistance to the disruptive discharge and depending on its mechanical resistance largely or entirely. It is expressible in volts per centimeter thickness. Dry air requires 40,000 volts per centimeter for a discharge.


Differential Winding Working. A method of working an electro-magnet intermittently, so as to avoid sparking. The magnet is wound with two coils. One is connected straight into the circuit, the other is connected in parallel therewith with a switch inserted. The coils are so connected that when the switch is closed the two are in opposition, the current going through them in opposite senses. Thus one overcomes the effect of the other and the magnet core shows no magnetism, provided the two coils are of equal resistance and equal number of convolutions or turns.


Diffusion. A term properly applied to the varying current density found in conductors of unequal cross sectional area. In electro-therapeutics it is applied to the distribution of current as it passes through the human body. Its density per cross-sectional area varies with the area and with the other factors.

Diffusion Creep. When electrodes of an active circuit are immersed in a solution of an electrolyte, a current passes electrolytically if there is a sufficient potential difference. The current passes through all parts of the solution, spreading out of the direct prism connecting or defined by the electrodes. To this portion of the current the above term is applied. If the electrodes are small enough in proportion to the distance between them the current transmission or creep outside of the line becomes the principal conveyor of the current so that the resistance remains the same for all distances.

Dimensions and Theory of Dimensions. The expression of the unitary value of a physical quantity in one or more of the units of length (L), time (T) and mass (M) is termed the dimensions of such quantity. Thus the dimension or dimensions of a distance is simply L; of an angle, expressible by dividing the arc by the radius is L/L; of a velocity, expressible by distance divided by time—L/T; of acceleration, which is velocity acquired in a unit of time, and is therefore expressible by velocity divided by time—L/T/T or L/T2; of momentum, which is the product of mass into velocity—M*L/T; of kinetic energy taken as the product of mass into the square of velocity—M*(L2/T2); of potential energy taken as the product of mass into acceleration into space-M*(L/T2)*L reducing to M*(L2/T2). The theory is based on three fundamental units and embraces all electric quantities. The simple units generally taken are the gram, centimeter and second and the dimensions of the fundamental compound units are expressed in terms of these three, forming the centimeter-gram-second or C. G. S. system of units. Unless otherwise expressed or implied the letters L, M and T, may be taken to indicate centimeter, gram and second respectively. It is obvious that very complicated expressions of dimensions may be built up, and that a mathematical expression of unnamed quantities may be arrived at. Dimensions in their application by these symbols are subject to the laws of algebra. They were invented by Fourier and were brought into prominence by J. Clerk Maxwell. Another excellent definition reads as follows: "By the dimensions of a physical quantity we mean the quantities and powers of quantities, involved in the measurement of it." (W. T. A. Emtage.)


Dimmer. An adjustable choking coil used for regulating the intensity of electric incandescent lights. Some operate by the introduction and withdrawal of an iron core as described for the choking coil (see Coil, Choking), others by a damper of copper, often a copper ring surrounding the coil and which by moving on or off the coil changes the potential of the secondary circuit.

Dip of Magnetic Needle. The inclination of the magnetic needle. (See Elements, Magnetic.)

Dipping. (a) Acid or other cleaning processes applied by dipping metals in cleaning or pickling solutions before plating in the electroplater's bath.

(b) Plating by dipping applies to electroplating without a battery by simple immersion. Copper is deposited on iron from a solution of copper sulphate in this way.

Synonym—Simple Immersion.

Dipping Needle. A magnet mounted in horizontal bearings at its centre of gravity. Placed in the magnetic meridian it takes the direction of the magnetic lines of force of the earth at that point. It is acted on by the vertical component of the earth's magnetism, as it has no freedom of horizontal movement. (See Magnetic Elements, and Compass, Inclination.)

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