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of equal length, made of sash-glass, cut in narrow strips, issue horizontally from the circumference of the board, the ends most distant from the centre being about four inches apart. On the end of every one, a brass thimble is fixed. If now the wire of a bottle, electrified in the common way, be brought near the circumference of this wheel, it will attract the nearest thimble, and so put the wheel in motion ; that thimble, in passing by, receives a spark, and thereby being electrified is repelled, and so driven forwards; while a second, being attracted, approaches the wire, receives a spark, and is driven after the first, and so on till the wheel has gone once round, when the thimbles before electrified approaching the wire, instead of being attracted as they were at first, are repelled, and the motion presently ceases. But if another bottle, which had been charged through the coating, be placed near the same wheel, its wire will attract the thimble repelled by the first, and thereby double the force that carries the wheel round; and, not only taking out the fire that had been communicated to the thimbles by the first bottle, but even robbing them of their natural quantity, instead of being repelled when they come again towards the first bottle, they are more strongly attracted, so that the wheel mends its pace, till it goes with great rapidity, twelve or fifteen rounds in a minute, and with such strength, as that the weight of one hundred Spanish dollars, with which we once loaded it, did not seem in the least to retard its motion. This is called an electrical jack; and, if a large fowl were spitted on the upright shaft, it would be carried round before a fire with a motion fit for roasting.
22. But this wheel, like those driven by wind, water, or weights, moves by a foreign force, to wit, that of the bottles. The self-moving wheel, though constructed
on the same principles, appears more surprising. It is made of a thin, round plate of window-glass, seventeen inches diameter, well gilt on both sides, all but two inches next the edge. Two small hemispheres of wood are then fixed with cement to the middle of the upper and under sides, centrally opposite, and in each of them a thick strong wire eight or ten inches long, which together make the axis of the wheel. It turns horizontally on a point at the lower end of its axis, which rests on a bit of brass cemented within a glass saltcellar. The upper end of its axis passes through a hole in a thin brass plate cemented to a long strong piece of glass, which keeps it six or eight inches distant from any non-electric, and has a small ball of wax or metal on its top, to keep in the fire. In a circle on the table which supports the wheel, are fixed twelve small pillars of glass, at about four inches distance, with a thimble on the top of each. On the edge of the wheel is a small leaden bullet, communicating by a wire with the gilding of the upper surface of the wheel; and about six inches from it is another bullet, communicating in like manner with the under surface. When the wheel is to be charged by the upper surface, a communication must be made from the under surface to the table. When it is well charged, it begins to move; the bullet nearest to a pillar moves towards the thimble on that pillar, and passing by electrifies it, and then pushes itself from it; the succeeding bullet, which communicates with the other surface of the glass, more strongly attracts that thimble, on account of its being before electrified by the other bullet; and thus the wheel increases its motion till it comes to such a height that the resistance of the air regulates it. It will go half an hour, and make, one minute with another, twenty turns in a minute, which is six hundred upper surface
turns in the whole; the bullet of the giving in each turn twelve sparks to the thimbles, which makes seven thousand two hundred sparks; and the bullet of the under surface receiving as many from the thimbles; those bullets moving in the time near two thousand five hundred feet. The thimbles are well fixed, and in so exact a circle, that the bullets may pass within a very small distance of each of them. If, instead of two bullets, you put eight, four communicating with the upper surface and four with the under surface, placed alternately, which eight at about six inches distance completes the circumference, the force and swiftness will be greatly increased, the wheel making fifty turns in a minute; but then it will not continue moving so long. These wheels may be applied, perhaps, to the ringing of chimes,* and moving of lightmade orreries.
23. A small wire bent circularly, with a loop at each end; let one end rest against the under surface of the wheel, and bring the other end near the upper surface, it will give a terrible crack, and the force will be discharged.
24. Every spark in that manner drawn from the surface of the wheel, makes a round hole in the gilding, tearing off a part of it in coming out; which shows that the fire is not accumulated on the gilding, but is in the glass itself.
25. The gilding being varnished over with turpentine varnish, the varnish, though dry and hard, is burnt by the spark drawn through it, and gives a strong smell and visible smoke. And, when the spark is drawn through paper, all round the hole made by it, the paper will be blacked by the smoke, which sometimes penetrates several of the leaves. Part of the
This was afterwards done with success by Mr. Kinnersley.
gilding torn off is also found forcibly driven into the hole made in the paper by the stroke.
26. It is amazing to observe in how small a portion of glass a great electrical force may lie. A thin glass bubble, about an inch diameter, weighing only six grains, being half filled with water, partly gilt on the outside, and furnished with a wire hook, gives, when electrified, as great a shock as a man can well bear. As the glass is thickest near the orifice, I suppose the lower half, which, being gilt, was electrified and gave the shock, did not exceed two grains; for it appeared, when broken, much thinner than the upper half. If one of these thin bottles be electrified by the coating, and the spark taken out through the gilding, it will break the glass inwards, at the same time that it breaks the gilding outwards.
27. And allowing (for the reasons before given, § 8, 9, 10,) that there is no more electrical fire in a bottle after charging than before, how great must be the quantity in this small portion of glass! It seems as if it were of its very substance and essence. Perhaps if that due quantity of electrical fire so obstinately retained by glass, could be separated from it, it would no longer be glass; it might lose its transparency, or its brittleness, or its elasticity. Experiments may possibly be invented hereafter to discover this.
28. We were surprised at the account, given in Mr. Watson's book, of a shock communicated through a great space of dry ground, and suspect there must be some metalline quality in the gravel of that ground; having found that simply dry earth, rammed in a glass tube, open at both ends, and a wire hook inserted in the earth at each end, the earth and wires making part of a circuit, would not conduct the least perceptible shock; and, indeed, when one wire was electrified, the other hardly showed any signs of its being in connexion with it. * Even a thoroughly wet packthread sometimes fails of conducting a shock, though it otherwise conducts electricity very well. A dry cake of ice, or an icicle held between two in a circle, likewise prevents the shock, which one would not expect, as water conducts it so perfectly well. Gilding on a new book, though at first it conducts the shock extremely well, yet fails after ten or a dozen experiments, though it appears otherwise in all respects the same, which we cannot account for.t
29. There is one experiment more which surprises us, and is not hitherto satisfactorily accounted for; it is this. Place an iron shot on a glass stand, and let a ball of damp cork, suspended by a silk thread, hang in contact with the shot. Take a bottle in each hand, one that is electrified through the hook, the other through the coating ; apply the giving wire to the shot, which will electrify it positively, and the cork shall be repelled; then apply the requiring wire, which will take out the spark given by the other; when the cork will return to the shot; apply the same again, and take out another spark, so will the shot be electrified negatively, and the cork in that case shall be repelled equally as before. Then apply the giving wire to the shot, and give the spark it wanted, so will the cork return; give it another, which will be an addition to its natural
* Probably the ground is never so dry.
† We afterwards found, that it failed after one stroke with a large bottle; and the continuity of the gold appearing broken, and many of its parts dissipated, the electricity could not pass the remaining parts without leaping from part to part through the air, which always resists the motion of this fluid, and was probably the cause of the gold's not conducting so well as before ; the number of interruptions in the line of gold, making, when added together, a space larger, perhaps, than the striking distance. VOL. V.