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found that the positive terminal or pole is hotter than the negative.
According to Mr. Joule, the quantity of heat generated in a unit of time is proportional to the strength of the current, and when a galvanic current is employed in chemical analysis, the heat in the entire circuit generated in a unit of time is equal to the work expended in producing it, minus that employed in the analysis. In fact, a current of electricity cannot pass through a homogeneous conductor without generating heat in overcoming resistance, an effect proved by Mr. Joule to be proportional to the square of the force of the current, and the same in whatever direction the current may be flowing. Any other thermal action that can take place must depend upon the heterogeneousness of the circuit, and must be reversible with the current. For example, if a semicircle of bismuth be joined to a semicircle of antimony, an electric current in passing through it produces cold where it passes from the bismuth to the antimony by absorption, and heat where it passes from the antimony to the bismuth.
The transit of the electricity from pole to pole is accompanied by light, and in consequence of the continuous current sparks occur every time the contact of the wires is either broken or renewed; but considerable intensity is requisite to enable the electricity to force its way through atmospheric air or gas. Both its length and colour are affected by the density of the medium through which it passes. If the medium be gradually rarefied the discharge increases from a spark to a luminous glow, differing in colour in different gases, but white in air. much attenuated a discharge may be made to pass across 6 or 7 feet of space, while in air of the ordinary density it will not pass through an inch. In rarefied gas it resembles the Aurora by its continuous flashes. When the battery is powerful the luminous effects are very brilliant.
The most splendid artificial light known is produced by fixing pencils of charcoal at the extremities of the wires, and bringing them into contact. This light is the more remarkable as it is independent of combustion, since the charcoal suffers no apparent change, and, likewise, because it is equally vivid in such gases as do not contain oxygen. It depends upon the molecular arrangement of the charcoal; for Mr. Grove observes that “carbon in a transparent crystalline
state, as diamond, is as perfect a non-conductor as we know, while in an opaque amorphous state, as graphite or charcoal, it is one of the best conductors : thus in one state it transmits light and stops electricity, in the other it transmits electricity and stops light. It is a circumstance worthy of remark, that the arrangement of molecules which renders a solid body capable of transmitting light is most unfavourable to the transmission of electricity, transparent solids being very imperfect conductors of electricity; so all gases readily transmit light, but are amongst the worst conductors of electricity, if indeed they can be said to conduct it at all. The fact that the molecular structure or arrangement of a body influences, indeed I may say determines, its conducting power, is by no means explained by the theory of a fluid; but if electricity be only a transmission of force or motion, the influence of the molecular state is just what would be expected.”
Professor Wheatstone, by fixing metallic points at the extremities of the wires or poles, has found that the appearance of the spectrum of the voltaic arc or vivid flame that is seen between the terminals of a battery, depends, as in static electricity, upon the metal from whence it is taken. The spectrum of that from mercury consists of seven definite rays, separated from each other by dark intervals; these visible rays are two orange lines close together, a bright green line, two blueish-green lines near each other, a very bright purple line, and, lastly, a blue line. It is the same when it passes through carbonic acid gas, oxygen gas, air, or vacuum. The light from zinc, cadmium, tin, bismuth, and lead, in a melted state, gives similar results; but the number, position, and colour of the lines vary so much in each case, and the appearances are so different, that the metals may easily be distinguished from one another by this mode of investigation. The electric spark is considered by M. Angström to be the overlapping of two spectra, one of which belongs to the metal, and the other to the gas through which the spark passes, and that the bright lines vary with the gas as well as with the metal. In an oxygen spectrum the greatest number of bright lines occur in the blue and violet, in nitrogen in the green and yellow, and in hydrogen in the red. These effects must necessarily be connected with the chemical and thermal properties of the gases.
Mr. Grove considers that the colour of the voltaic arc, or flame, which appears between the poles of a very powerful battery, depends upon the substance of the metal from whence it proceeds and on the medium through which it passes. The spark from zinc is blue, from silver it is green, from iron it is red and scintillating-precisely the colours afforded by these metals in their ordinary combustion. But the colour varies also with the medium through which the light passes, for when the medium is changed a change takes place in the colour, showing an affection of the intervening matter. A portion of the metal terminals or poles is actually transmitted with every electrical or Voltaic discharge, whence Mr. Grove concludes that the electrical discharge arises, at least in part, from an actual repulsion and severance of the electrified matter itself, which flies off at the points of least resistance. He observes that “ the phenomena attending the electric spark or Voltaic arc tends to modify considerably our previous idea of the nature of the electric force as a producer of ignition and combustion. The Voltaic arc is perhaps, strictly speaking, neither ignition nor combustion. It is not simply ignition ; because the matter of the terminals is not merely brought to a state of inoandescence, but is physically separated, and partially transferred from one terminal to another, much of it being dissipated in a vaporous state. It is not combustion ; for the phenomena will take place independently of atmospheric air, oxygen gas, or any of the bodies usually called supporters of combustion ; combustion being in fact chemical union attended with heat and light. In the Voltaic arc we may have no chemical union, for if the experiment be performed in an exhausted receiver, or in nitrogen, the substance forming the terminals is condensed and precipitated upon the interior of the vessel, in, chemically speaking, an unaltered state. Thus, to take a very striking example, if the Voltaic discharge be taken between zinc terminals in an exhausted receiver, a fine black powder of zinc is deposited on the sides of the receiver; this can be collected, and takes fire readily in air by being touched with a match, or ignited wire, instantly burning into white oxide of zinc. To an ordinary observer the zinc would appear to be burned twice-first in the receiver, where the phenomenon presents all the appearance of combustion, and, secondly, in the real combustion in air. With iron the experiment is equally instructive. Iron is volatilized by the Voltaic arc in nitrogen, or in an exhausted receiver; and when a scarcely perceptible film has lined the receiver, if it be washed with an acid, it then gives, with ferrocyanide of potassium, the Prussian-blue precipitate. In this case we readily distil iron, a metal by ordinary means fusible only at a very high temperature.”
Another strong evidence that the Voltaic discharge consists of the material itself of which the terminals are composed, is the peculiar rotation which is observed in the light when iron is employed, the magnetic character of this metal causing its particles to rotate by the influence of the Voltaic current. In short, Mr. Grove concludes that, although it would be hasty to assert that the electrical disruptive discharge can in no case take place without the terminals being affected, yet he had met with no instance of such a result, provided the discharge had been sufficiently prolonged, and the terminals in such a state as could be expected to render manifest slight changes ! *
Some years ago Mr. Grove discovered that the electrical discharge possesses certain phases or fits of an alternate character, forming rings of alternate oxidation and deoxidation on metallic surfaces. A highly polished silver plate in an air-pump was connected with the pole of a powerful inductive battery, while a fine metallic wire, or even a common sewing needle, was fixed at the other pole, and so arranged as to be perpendicular to the silver plate, and very near, but not touching it. By means of this apparatus the electrical discharge could be sent through any kind of rarefied media. In some of the experiments a series of concentric coloured rings of oxide alternating with rings of polished or unoxidated silver were formed on the plate under the point of the needle or wire. When the plate was previously coated with a film of oxide, the oxide was removed in concentric spaces by the discharge, and increased on the alternate ones, showing an alternate positive and negative electricity, or electricity of an opposite character in the same discharge.
When the silver plate was polished the centre of the rings formed on it was yellow-green surrounded by blue-green ; then a ring of polished silver, followed by a crimson ring with a slight orange tint on the inner side and deep purple on the outer; lastly the indication of a polished one. When the air-pump was filled with attenuated olefiant gas the rings were precisely the same with those seen in thin plates ; hence the effect is the same as that produced by the interference of light. In these experiments the luminous appearance extended from three quarters of an inch to an inch round the point of the needle or wire.
* Correlation of the Physical Forces, by W. R. Grove, Esq.,' one of the most remarkable and talented works that has appeared, to which the author with pleasure acknowledges her obligations.
When the silver plate was connected with the negative pole of the battery a polished point appeared upon it opposite the needle, surrounded by a dusky ill-defined areola of a brown colour tinged with purple when viewed in one direction, and greenish-white when seen in another.
In the present year Mr. Gassiot, Vice-President of the Royal Society, has shown that the stratified character of the electric discharge is remarkably developed in the torrecelian vacuum. Among the various experiments made by that gentleman two may be selected as strongly illustrative of this new and singular property of electrical light.
In a closed glass tube about an inch internal diameter and 33 inches long, in which a vacuum had been made, two platinum wires were hermetically sealed, 32 inches apart, and connected with the poles of an inductive battery. The luminous appearance at the two poles was very different when electricity passed through the wires. A glow surrounded the negative pole, and in close approximation to the glow a well-defiņed dark space appeared, while from the positive pole or wire the light proceeded in a stream ; but unless the charge be great or the tube short, the stream will not extend to the black band, which is totally different from the intervening space. When discharges of electricity were sent through this vacuum tube a series of bands or stratifications were formed which were concave towards the positive pole; and as in the changes in making and breaking the circuit the electricity emanates from the different terminals or wires, their concavities were in opposite directions.
When instead of platinum wires narrow tinfoil coatings were placed round the exterior of the glass tube and connected with the wires of the battery, brilliant stratifications filled the interior of the tube between the foil coatings, but no dark band appeared. At present Mr. Gassiot is inclined to believe that the dark band is due to interference ; but that the stratifications arise from pulsations or impulses of a force acting in a highly attenuated but