Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

one, and I shall be obliged to him that affords me a better.

36. Thus I take the difference between non-electrics, and glass, an electric per se, to consist in these two particulars. Ist, That a non-electric easily suffers a change in the quantity of the electric fluid it contains. You may lessen its whole quantity, by drawing out a part, which the whole body will again resume; but of glass you can only lessen the quantity contained in one of its surfaces; and not that, but by supplying an equal quantity at the same time to the other surface; so that the whole glass may always have the same quantity in the two surfaces, their two different quantities being added together. And this can only be done in glass that is thin ; beyond a certain thickness we have yet no power that can make this change. And, 2dly, that the electric fire freely removes from place to place, in and through the substance of a non-electric, but not so through the substance of glass. If you offer a quantity to one end of a long rod of metal, it receives it, and, when it enters, every particle that was before in the rod pushes its neighbour quite to the farther end, where the overplus is discharged; and this instantaneously, where the rod is part of the circle in the experiment of the shock. But glass, from the smallness of its pores, or stronger attraction of what it contains, refuses to admit so free a motion; a glass rod will not conduct a shock, nor will the thinnest glass suffer any particle entering one of its surfaces to pass through to the other.

37. Hence we see the impossibility of success in the experiments proposed, to draw out the effluvial virtues of a non-electric, as cinnamon, for instance, and mixing them with the electric fluid, to convey them with that into the body, by including it in the globe, and then applying friction, &c. For, though the effluvia of cinnamon and the electric fluid should mix within the globe, they would never come out together through the pores of the glass, and so go to the prime conductor; for the electrie fluid itself cannot come through; and the prime conductor is always supplied from the cushion, and that from the floor. And, besides, when the globe is filled with cinnamon, or other non-electric, no electric fluid can be obtained from its outer surface, for the reason before mentioned. I have tried another way, which I thought more likely to obtain a mixture of the electric and other effluvia together, if such a mixture had been possible. I placed a glass plate under my cushion, to cut off the communication between the cushion and floor; then brought a small chain from the cushion into a glass of oil of turpentine, and carried another chain from the oil of turpentine to the floor, taking care that the chain from the cushion to the glass should touch no part of the frame of the machine. Another chain was fixed to the prime conductor, and held in the hand of a person to be electrified. The ends of the two chains in the glass were near an inch distant from each other, the oil of turpentine between. Now the globe being turned could draw no fire from the floor through the machine, the communication that way being cut off by the thick glass, plate under the cushion; it must then draw it through the chains whose ends were dipped in the oil of turpentine. And, as the oil of turpentine, being an electric per se, would not conduct, what came up from the floor was obliged to jump from the end of one chain to the end of the other, through the substance of that oil, which we could see in large sparks, and so it had a fair opportunity of seizing some of the finest particles of the oil in its passage, and carrying them off with it; but no such effect followed, nor could I perceive the least difference in the smell of the electric effluvia thus collected, from what it has when collected otherwise, nor does it otherwise affect the body of a person electrized. I likewise put into a phial, instead of water, a strong purgative liquid, and then charged the phial, and took repeated shocks from it, in which case every particle of the electrical fluid must, before it went through my body, have first gone through the liquid when the phial is charging, and returned through it when discharging, yet no other effect followed than if it had been charged with water. I have also smelled the electric fire when drawn through gold, silver, copper, lead, iron, wood, and the human body, and could perceive no difference; the odor is always the same, where the spark does not burn what it strikes; and therefore I imagine it does not take that smell from any quality of the bodies it passes through. And indeed, as that smell so readily leaves the electric matter, and adheres to the knuckle receiving the sparks, and to other things, I suspect that it never was connected with it, but arises instantaneously from something in the air acted upon by it. For, if it was fine enough to come with the electric fluid through the body of one person, why should it stop on the skin of another ?

But I shall never have done, if I tell you all my conjectures, thoughts, and imaginations on the nature and operations of this electric fluid, and relate the variety of little experiments we have tried. I have already made this paper too long, for which I must crave pardon, not having now time to abridge it. I shall only add, that, as it has been observed here that spirits will fire by the electric spark in the summer-time, without heating them, when Fahrenheit's thermometer is above seventy; so, when colder, if the operator puts a small flat bottle of spirits in his bosom, or a close pocket, with the spoon, some little time before he uses them, the heat of his body will communicate warmth more than sufficient for the purpose.

ADDITIONAL EXPERIMENTS ;

Proving that the Leyden Bottle has no more Electrical

Fire in it when charged, than before ; nor less when discharged ; that, in discharging, the Fire does not issue from the Wire and the Coating at the same Time, as some have thought, but that the Coating always receives what is discharged by the Wire, or an equal Quantity; the outer Surface being always in a Negative State of Electricity, when the inner Surface is in a Positive State.

Place a thick plate of glass under the rubbing cushion, to cut off the communication of electrical fire from the floor to the cushion; then, if there be no fine points or hairy threads sticking out from the cushion, or from the parts of the machine opposite to the cushion, (of which you must be careful,) you can get but a few sparks from the prime conductor, which are all the cushion will part with.

Hang'a phial then on the prime conductor, and it will not charge, though you hold it by the coating. But,

Form a communication by a chain from the coating to the cushion, and the phial will charge.

For the globe then draws the electric fire out of the outside surface of the phial, and forces it through the prime conductor and wire of the phial into the inside surface.

VOL. v.

Thus the bottle is charged with its own fire, no other being to be had while the glass plate is under the cushion.

Hang two cork balls by flaxen threads to the prime conductor; then touch the coating of the bottle, and they will be electrified and recede from each other.

For, just as much fire as you give the coating, so much is discharged through the wire upon the prime conductor, whence the cork balls receive an electrical atmosphere. But,

Take a wire bent in the form of a C, with a stick of wax fixed to the outside of the curve, to hold it by; and apply one end of this wire to the coating, and the other at the same time to the prime conductor, the phial will be discharged; and, if the balls are not electrified before the discharge, neither will they appear to be so after the discharge, for they will not repel each other.

If the phial really exploded at both ends, and discharged fire from both coating and wire, the balls would be more electrified, and recede farther; for none of the fire can escape, the wax handle preventing.

But if the fire with which the inside surface is surcharged, be so much precisely as is wanted by the outside surface, it will pass round through the wire fixed to the wax handle, restore the equilibrium in the glass, and make no alteration in the state of the prime conductor.

Accordingly we find, that, if the prime conductor be electrified, and the cork balls in a state of repellency before the bottle is discharged, they continue so afterwards. If not, they are not electrified by that discharge.

« ZurückWeiter »