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The Story of Electricity By John Munro Characters: 35686

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04

We have already seen how electricity was first produced by the simple method of rubbing one body on another, then by the less obvious means of chemical union, and next by the finer agency of heat. In all these, it will be observed, a substantial contact is necessary. We have now to consider a still more subtle process of generation, not requiring actual contact, which, as might be expected, was discovered later, that, mainly through the medium of magnetism.

The curious mineral which has the property of attracting iron was known to the Chinese several thousand years ago, and certainly to the Greeks in the times of Thales, who, as in the case of the rubbed amber, ascribed the property to its possession of a soul.

Lodestone, a magnetic oxide of iron (FE3O4), is found in various parts of China, especially at T'szchou in Southern Chihli, which was formerly known as the "City of the Magnet." It was called by the Chinese the love-stone or thsu-chy, and the stone that snatches iron or ny-thy-chy, and perchance its property of pointing out the north and south direction was discovered by dropping a light piece of the stone, if not a sewing needle made of it, on the surface of still water. At all events, we read in Pere Du Halde's Description de la Chine, that sometime in or about the year 2635 B.C. the great Emperor Hoang-ti, having lost his way in a fog whilst pursuing the rebellious Prince Tchiyeou on the plains of Tchou-lou, constructed a chariot which showed the cardinal points, thus enabling him to overtake and put the prince to death.

A magnetic car preceded the Emperors of China in ceremonies of state during the fourth century of our era. It contained a genius in a feather dress who pointed to the south, and was doubtless moved by a magnet floating in water or turning on a pivot. This rude appliance was afterwards refined into the needle compass for guiding mariners on the sea, and assisting the professors of feng- shui or geomancy in their magic rites.

Magnetite was also found at Heraclea in Lydia, and at Magnesium on the Meander or Magnesium at Sipylos, all in Asia Minor. It was called the "Heraclean Stone" by the people, but came at length to bear the name of "Magnet" after the city of Magnesia or the mythical shepherd Magnes, who was said to have discovered it by the attraction of his iron crook.

The ancients knew that it had the power of communicating its attractive property to iron, for we read in Plato's "Ion" that a number of iron rings can be supported in a chain by the Heraclean Stone. Lucretius also describes an experiment in which iron filings are made to rise up and "rave" in a brass basin by a magnet held underneath. We are told by other writers that images of the gods and goddesses were suspended in the air by lodestone in the ceilings of the temples of Diana of Ephesus, of Serapis at Alexandria, and others. It is surprising, however, that neither the Greeks nor Romans, with all their philosophy, would seem to have discovered its directive property.

During the dark ages pieces of Lodestone mounted as magnets were employed in the "black arts." A small natural magnet of this kind is shown in figure 25, where L is the stone shod with two iron "pole-pieces," which are joined by a "keeper" A or separable bridge of iron carrying a hook for supporting weights.

Apparently it was not until the twelfth century that the compass found its way into Europe from the East. In the Landnammabok of Ari Frode, the Norse historian, we read that Flocke Vildergersen, a renowned viking, sailed from Norway to discover Iceland in the year 868, and took with him two ravens as guides, for in those days the "seamen had no lodestone (that is, no lidar stein, or leading stone) in the northern countries." The Bible, a poem of Guiot de Provins, minstrel at the court of Barbarossa, which was written in or about the year 890, contains the first mention of the magnet in the West. Guiot relates how mariners have an "art which cannot deceive" of finding the position of the polestar, that does not move. After touching a needle with the magnet, "an ugly brown stone which draws iron to itself," he says they put the needle on a straw and float it on water so that its point turns to the hidden star, and enables them to keep their course. Arab traders had probably borrowed the floating needle from the Chinese, for Bailak Kibdjaki, author of the Merchant's Treasure, written in the thirteenth century, speaks of its use in the Syrian sea. The first Crusaders were probably instrumental in bringing it to France, at all events Jacobus de Vitry (1204-15) and Vincent de Beauvais (1250) mention its use, De Beauvais calling the poles of the needle by the Arab words aphron and zohran.

Ere long the needle was mounted on a pivot and provided with a moving card showing the principal directions. The variation of the needle from the true north and south was certainly known in China during the twelfth, and in Europe during the thirteenth century. Columbus also found that the variation changed its value as he sailed towards America on his memorable voyage of 1492. Moreover, in 1576, Norman, a compass maker in London, showed that the north- seeking end of the needle dipped below the horizontal.

In these early days it was supposed that lodestone in the pole- star, that is to say, the "lodestar" of the poets or in mountains of the far north, attracted the trembling needle; but in the year 1600, Dr. Gilbert, the founder of electric science, demonstrated beyond a doubt that the whole earth was a great magnet. A magnet, as is well known, has, like an electric battery, always two poles or centres of attraction, which are situated near its extremities. Sometimes, indeed, when the magnet is imperfect, there are "consequent poles" of weaker force between them. One of the poles is called the "north," and the other the "south," because if the magnet were freely pivotted like a compass needle, the former would turn to the north and the latter to the south.

Either pole will attract iron, but soft or annealed iron does not retain the magnetism nearly so well as steel. Hence a boy's test for the steel of his knife is only efficacious when the blade itself becomes magnetic after being touched with the magnet. A piece of steel is readily magnetised by stroking it from end to end in one direction with the pole of a magnet, and in this way compass needles and powerful bar magnets can be made.

The poles attract iron at a distance by "induction," just as a charge of electricity, be it positive or negative, will attract a neutral pith ball; and Dr. Gilbert showed that a north pole always repels another north pole and attracts a south pole, while, on the other hand, a south pole always repels a south pole and attracts a north pole. This can be proved by suspending a magnetic needle like a pithball, and approaching another towards it, as illustrated in figure 26, where the north pole N attracts the south S. Obviously there are two opposite kinds of magnetic poles, as of electricity, which always appear together, and like magnetic poles repel, unlike magnetic poles attract each other.

It follows that the magnetic pole of the compass needle which turns to the north must be unlike the north and like the south magnetic pole of the earth. Instead of calling it the "north," it would be less confusing to call it the "north-seeking" pole of the needle.

Gilbert made a "terella," or miniature of the earth, as a magnet, and not only demonstrated how the compass needle sets along the lines joining the north and south magnetic poles, but explained the variation and the dip. He imagined that the magnetic poles coincided with the geographical poles, but, as a matter of fact, they do not, and, moreover, they are slowly moving round the geographical poles, hence the declination of the needle, that is to say its angle of divergence from the true meridian or north and south line, is gradually changing. The north magnetic pole of the earth was actually discovered by Sir John Ross north of British America, on the coast of Boothia (latitude 70 degrees 5' N, longitude 96 degrees 46' W), where, as foreseen, the needle entirely lost its directive property and stood upright, or, so to speak, on its head. The south magnetic pole lies in the Prince Albert range of Victona Land, and was almost reached by Sir James Clark Ross.

The magnetism of the earth is such as might be produced by a powerful magnet inside, but its origin is unknown, although there is reason to believe that masses of lodestone or magnetic iron exist in the crust. Coulomb found that not only iron, but all substances are more or less magnetic, and Faraday showed in 1845 that while some are attracted by a magnet others are repelled. The former he called paramagnetic and the latter diamagnetic bodies.

The following is a list of these.-

Paramagnetic Diamagnetic

Iron Bismuth

Nickel Phosphorus

Cobalt Antimony

Aluminium Zinc

Manganese Mercury

Chromium Lead

Cerium Silver

Titanium Copper

Platinum Water

Many ores and Alcohol

salts of the Tellurium

above metals Selenium

Oxygen Sulphur




We have theories of magnetism that reduce it to a phenomenon of electricity, though we are ignorant of the real nature of both. If we take a thin bar magnet and break it in two, we find that we have now two shorter magnets, each with its "north" and "south" poles, that is to say, poles of the same kind as the south and north-magnetic poles of the earth. If we break each of these again, we get four smaller magnets, and we can repeat the process as often as we like. It is supposed, therefore, that every atom of the bar is a little magnet in itself having its two opposite poles, and that in magnetising the bar we have merely partially turned all these atoms in one direction, that is to say, with their north poles pointing one way and their south poles the other way, as shown in figure 27. The polarity of the bar only shows itself at the ends, where the molecular poles are, so to speak, free.

There are many experiments which support this view. For example, if we heat a magnet red hot it loses its magnetism, perhaps because the heat has disarranged the particles and set the molecular poles in all directions. Again, if we magnetise a piece of soft iron we can destroy its magnetism by striking it so as to agitate its atoms and throw them out of line. In steel, which is iron with a small admixture of carbon, the atoms are not so free as in soft iron, and hence, while iron easily loses its magnetism, steel retains it, even under a shock, but not under a cherry red- heat. Nevertheless, if we put the atoms of soft iron under a strain by bending it, we shall find it retain its magnetism more like a bit of steel.

It has been found, too, that the atoms show an indisposition to be moved by the magnetising force which is known as HYSTERESIS. They have a certain inertia, which can be overcome by a slight shock, as though they had a difficulty of turning in the ranks to take up their new positions. Even if this molecular theory is true, however, it does not help us to explain why a molecule of matter is a tiny magnet. We have only pushed the mystery back to the atom. Something more is wanted, and electricians look for it in the constitution of the atom, and in the luminiferous ether which is believed to surround the atoms of matter, and to propagate not merely the waves of light, but induction from one electrified body to another.

We know in proof of this ethereal action that the space around a magnet is magnetic. Thus, if we lay a horse-shoe magnet on a table and sprinkle iron filings round it, they will arrange themselves in curving lines between the poles, as shown in figure 28. Each filing has become a little magnet, and these set themselves end to end as the molecules in the metal are supposed to do. The "field" about the magnet is replete with these lines, which follow certain curves depending on the arrangement of the poles. In the horse- shoe magnet, as seen, they chiefly issue from one pole and sweep round to the other. They are never broken, and apparently they are lines of stress in the circumambient ether. A pivoted magnet tends to range itself along these lines, and thus the compass guides the sailor on the ocean by keeping itself in the line between the north and south magnetic poles of the earth. Faraday called them lines of magnetic force, and said that the stronger the magnet the more of these lines pass through a given space. Along them "magnetic induction" is supposed to be propagated, and a magnet is thus enabled to attract iron or any other magnetic substance. The pole induces an opposite pole to itself in the nearest part of the induced body and a like pole in the remote part. Consequently, as unlike poles attract and like repel, the soft iron is attracted by the inducing pole much as a pithball is attracted by an electric charge.

The resemblances of electricity and magnetism did not escape attention, and the derangement of the compass needle by the lightning flash, formerly so disastrous at sea, pointed to an intimate connection between them, which was ultimately disclosed by Professor Oersted, of Copenhagen, in the year 1820. Oersted was on the outlook for the required clue, and a happy chance is said to have rewarded him. His experiment is shown in figure 29, where a wire conveying a current of electricity flowing in the direction of the arrow is held over a pivoted magnetic needle so that the current flows from south to north. The needle will tend to set itself at right angles to the wire, its north or north-seeking pole moving towards the west. If the direction of the current is reversed, the needle is deflected in the opposite direction, its north pole moving towards the east. Further, if the wire is held below the needle, in the first place, the north pole will turn towards the east, and if the current be reversed it will move towards the west.

The direction of a current can thus be told with the aid of a compass needle. When the wire is wound many times round the needle on a bobbin, the whole forms what is called a galvanoscope, as shown in figure 30, where N is the needle and B the bobbin. When a proper scale is added to the needle by which its deflections can be accurately read, the instrument becomes a current measurer or galvanometer, for within certain limits the deflection of the needle is proportional to the strength of the current in the wire.

A rule commonly given for remembering the movement of the needle is as follows:-Imagine yourself laid along the wire so that the current flows from your feet to your head; then if you face the needle you will see its north pole go to the left and its south pole to the right. I find it simpler to recollect that if the current flows from your head to your feet a north pole will move round you from left to right in front. Or, again, if a current flows from north to south, a north pole will move round it like the sun round the earth.

The influence of the current on the needle implies a magnetic action, and if we dust iron filings around the wire we shall find they cling to it in concentric layers, showing that circular lines of magnetic force enclose it like the water waves caused by a stone dropped into a pond. Figure 31 represents the section of a wire carrying a current, with the iron filings arranged in circles round it. Since a magnetic pole tends to move in the direction of the lines of force, we now see why a north or south pole tends to move ROUND a current, and why a compass needle tries to set itself at right angles to a current, as in the original experiment of Oersted. The needle, having two opposite poles, is pulled in opposite directions by the lines, and being pivoted, sets itself tangentically to them. Were it free and flexible, it would curve itself along one of the lines. Did it consist of a single pole, it would revolve round the wire.

Action and re-action are equal and opposite, hence if the needle is fixed and the wire free the current will move round the magnet; and if both are free they will circle round each other. Applying the above rule we shall find that when the north pole moves from left to right the current moves from right to left. Ampere of Paris, following Oersted, promptly showed that two parallel wires carrying currents attracted each other when the currents flowed in the same direction, and repelled each other when they flowed in opposite directions. Thus, in figure 32, if A and B are the two parallel wires, and A is mounted on pivots and free to move in liquid "contacts" of mercury, it will be attracted or repelled by B according as the two currents flow in the same or in opposite directions. If the wires cross each other at right angles there is no attraction or repulsion. If they cross at an acute angle, they will tend to become parallel like two compass needles, when the currents are in one direction, and to open to a right angle and close up the other way when the currents are in opposite directions, always tending to arrange themselves parallel and flowing in the same direction. These effects arise from the circular lines of force around the wire. When the currents are similar the lines act as unlike magnetic poles and attract, but when the currents are dissimilar the lines act as like magnetic poles and repel each other.

Another important discovery of Ampere is that a circular current behaves like a magnet; and it has been suggested by him that the atoms are magnets because each has a circular current flowing round it. A series of circular currents, such as the spiral S in figure 33 gives, when connected to a battery C Z

, is in fact a skeleton ELECTRO-MAGNET having its north and south poles at the extremities. If a rod or core of soft iron I be suspended by fibres from a support, it will be sucked towards the middle of the coil as into a vortex, by the circular magnetic lines of every spire or turn of the coil. Such a combination is sometimes called a solenoid, and is useful in practice.

When the core gains the interior of the coil it becomes a veritable electromagnet, as found by Arago, having a north pole at one end and a south pole at the other. Figure 34 illustrates a common poker magnetised in the same way, and supporting nails at both ends. The poker has become the core of the electromagnet. On reversing the direction of the current through the spiral we reverse the poles of the core, for the poker being of soft or wrought iron, does not retain its magnetism like steel. If we stop the current altogether it ceases to be a magnet, and the nails will drop away from it.

Ampere's experiment in figure 32 has shown us that two currents, more or less parallel, influence each other; but in 1831 Professor Faraday of the Royal Institution, London, also found that when a current is started and stopped in a wire, it induces a momentary and opposite current in a parallel wire. Thus, if a current is STARTED in the wire B (fig. 32) in direction of the arrow, it will induce or give rise to a momentary current in the wire A, flowing in a contrary direction to itself. Again, if the current in B be STOPEED, a momentary current is set up in the wire A in a direction the same as that of the exciting current in B. While the current in B is quietly flowing there is no induced current in A; and it is only at the start or the stoppage of the inducing or PRIMARY current that the induced or SECONDARY current is set up. Here again we have the influence of the magnetic field around the wire conveying a current.

This is the principle of the "induction coil" so much employed in medical electricity, and of the "transformer" or "converter" used in electric illumination. It consists essentially, as shown in figure 35, of two coils of wire, one enclosing the other, and both parallel or concentric. The inner or primary coil P C is of short thick wire of low resistance, and is traversed by the inducing current of a battery B. To increase its inductive effect a core of soft iron I C occupies its middle. The outer or secondary coil S C is of long thin wire terminating in two discharging points D1 D2. An interrupter or hammer "key" interrupts or "makes and breaks" the circuit of the primary coil very rapidly, so as to excite a great many induced currents in the secondary coil per second, and produce energetic sparks between the terminals D1 D2. The interrupter is actuated automatically by the magnetism of the iron core I C, for the hammer H has a soft iron head which is attracted by the core when the latter is magnetised, and being thus drawn away from the contact screw C S the circuit of the primary is broken, and the current is stopped. The iron core then ceases to be a magnet, the hammer H springs back to the contact screw, and the current again flows in the primary circuit only to be interrupted again as before. In this way the current in the primary coil is rapidly started and stopped many times a second, and this, as we know, induces corresponding currents in the secondary which appear as sparks at the discharging points. The effect of the apparatus is enhanced by interpolating a "condenser" C C in the primary circuit. A condenser is a form of Leyden jar, suitable for current electricity, and consists of layers of tinfoil separated from each other by sheets of paraffin paper, mica, or some other convenient insulator, and alternate foils are connected together. The wires joining each set of plates are the poles of the condenser, and when these are connected in the circuit of a current the condenser is charged. It can be discharged by joining its two poles with a wire, and letting the two opposite electricities on its plates rush together. Now, the sudden discharge of the condenser C C through the primary coil P C enhances the inductive effect of the current. The battery B, here shown by the conventional symbol [Electrical Symbol] where the thick dash is the negative and the thin dash the positive pole, is connected between the terminals T1 T2, and a COMMUTATOR or pole- changer R, turned with a handle, permits the direction of the current to be reversed at will.

Figure 36 represents the exterior of an ordinary induction coil of the Ruhmkorff pattern, with its two coils, one over the other C, its commutator R, and its sparkling points D1D2, the whole being mounted on a mahogany base, which holds the condenser.

The intermittent, or rather alternating, currents from the secondary coil are often applied to the body in certain nervous disorders. When sent through glass tubes filled with rarefied gases, sometimes called "Geissler tubes," they elicit glows of many colours, vieing in beauty with the fleeting tints of the aurora polaris, which, indeed, is probably a similar effect of electrical discharges in the atmosphere.

The action of the induction is reversible. We can not only send a current of low "pressure" from a generator of weak electromotive force through the primary coil, and thus excite a current of high pressure in the secondary coil, but we can send a current of high pressure through the secondary coil and provoke a current of low pressure in the primary coil The transformer or converter, a modified induction coil used in distributing electricity to electric lamps and motors, can not only transform a low pressure current into a high, but a high pressure current into a low. As the high pressure currents are best able to overcome the resistance of the wire convening them, it is customary to transmit high pressure currents from the generator to the distant place where they are wanted by means of small wires, and there transform them into currents of the pressure required to light the lamps or drive the motors.

We come now to another consequence of Oersted's great discovery, which is doubtless the most important of all, namely, the generation of electricity from magnetism, or, as it is usually called, magneto-electric induction. In the year 1831 the illustrious Michael Faraday further succeeded in demonstrating that when a magnet M is thrust into a hollow coil of wire C, as shown in figure 37, a current of electricity is set up in the coil whilst the motion lasts. When the magnet is withdrawn again another current is induced in the reverse direction to the first. If the coil be closed through a small galvanometer G the movements of the needle to one side or the other will indicate these temporary currents. It follows from the principle of action and reaction that if the magnet is kept still and the coil thrust over it similar currents will be induced in the coil. All that is necessary is for the wires to cut the lines of magnetic force around the magnet, or, in other words, the lines of force in a magnetic field We have seen already that a wire conveying a current can move a magnetic pole, and we are therefore prepared to find that a magnetic pole moved near a wire can excite a current in it.

Figure 38 illustrates the conditions of this remarkable effect, where N and S are two magnetic poles with lines of force between them, and W is a wire crossing these lines at right angles, which is the best position. If, now, this wire be moved so as to sink bodily through the paper away from the reader, an electric current flowing in the direction of the arrow will be induced in it. If, on the contrary, the wire be moved across the lines of force towards the reader, the induced current will flow oppositely to the arrow. Moreover, if the poles of the magnet N and S exchange places, the directions of the induced currents will also be reversed. This is the fundamental principle of the well known dynamo-electric machine, popularly called a dynamo.

Again, if we send a current from some external source through the wire in the direction of the arrow, the wire will move OF ITSELF across the lines of force away from the reader, that is to say, in the direction it would need to be moved in order to excite such a current; and if, on the other hand, the current be sent through it in the reverse direction to the arrow, it will move towards the reader. This is the principle of the equally well-known electric motor. Figure 39 shows a simple method of remembering these directions.

Let the right hand rest on the north pole of a magnet and the forefinger be extended in the direction of the lines of force, then the outstretched thumb will indicate the direction in which the wire or conductor moves and the bent middle finger the direction of the current. These three digits, as will be noticed, are all at right angles to each other, and this relation is the best for inducing the strongest current in a dynamo or the most energetic movement of the conductor in an electric motor.

Of course in a dynamo-electric generator the stronger the magnetic field, the less the resistance of the conductor, and the faster it is moved across the lines of force, that is to say, the more lines it cuts in a second the stronger is the current produced. Similarly in an electric motor, the stronger the current and magnetic field the faster will the conductor move.

The most convenient motion to give the conductor in practice is one of rotation, and hence the dynamo usually consists of a coil or series of coils of insulated wire termed the "armature," which is mounted on a spindle and rapidly rotated in a strong magnetic field between the poles of powerful magnets. Currents are generated in the coils, now in one direction then in another, as they revolve or cross different parts of the field; and, by means of a device termed a commutator, these currents can be collected or sifted at will, and led away by wires to an electric lamp, an accumulator, or an electric motor, as desired. The character of the electricity is precisely the same as that generated in the voltaic battery.

The commutator may only collect the currents as they are generated, and supply what is called an alternating current, that is to say, a current which alternates or changes its direction several hundred times a second, or it may sift the currents as they are produced and supply what is termed a continuous current, that is, a current always in the same direction, like that of a voltaic battery. Some machines are made to supply alternating currents, others continuous currents. Either class of current will do for electric lamps, but only continuous currents are used for electo-plating, or, in general, for electric motors.

In the "magneto-electric" machine the FIELD MAGNETS are simply steel bars permanently magnetised, but in the ordinary dynamo the field magnets are electro-magnets excited to a high pitch by means of the current generated in the moving conductor or armature. In the "series-wound" machine the whole of the current generated in the armature also goes through the coils of the field magnets. Such a machine is sketched in figure 40, where A is the armature, consisting of an iron core surrounded by coils of wire and rotating in the field of a powerful electro-magnet NS in the direction of the arrows. For the sake of simplicity only twelve coils are represented. They are all in circuit one with another, and a wire connects the ends of each coil to corresponding metal bars on the commutator C. These bars are insulated from each other on the spindle X of the armature. Now, as each coil passes through the magnetic field in turn, a current is excited in it. Each coil therefore resembles an individual cell of a voltaic battery, connected in series. The current is drawn off from the ring by two copper "brushes" b, be which rub upon the bars of the commutator at opposite ends of a diameter, as shown. One brush is the positive pole of the dynamo, the other is the negative, and the current will flow through any wire or external circuit which may be connected with these, whether electric lamps, motors, accumulators, electro-plating baths, or other device. The small arrows show the movements of the current throughout the machine, and the terminals are marked (+) positive and (-) negative.

It will be observed that the current excited in the armature also flows through the coils of the electro-magnets, and thus keeps up their strength. When the machine is first started the current is feeble, because the field of the magnets in which the armature revolves is merely that due to the dregs or "residual magnetism" left in the soft iron cores of the magnet since the last time the machine was used. But this feeble current exalts the strength of the field-magnets, producing a stronger field, which in turn excites a still stronger current in the armature, and this process of give and take goes on until the full strength or "saturation" of the magnets is attained.

Such is the "series" dynamo, of which the well-known Gramme machine is a type. Figure 41 illustrates this machine as it is actually made, A being the armature revolving between the poles NS of the field-magnets M, M, M' M', on a spindle which is driven by means of a belt on the pulley P from a separate engine The brushes b b' of the commutator C collect the current, which in this case is continuous, or constant in its direction.

The current of the series machine varies with the resistance of the external or working circuit, because that is included in the circuit of the field magnets and the armature. Thus, if we vary the number of electric lamps fed by the machine, we shall vary the current it is capable of yielding. With arc lamps in series, by adding to the number in circuit we increase the resistance of the outer circuit, and therefore diminish the strength of the current yielded by the machine, because the current, weakened by the increase of resistance, fails to excite the field magnets as strongly as before. On the other hand, with glow lamps arranged in parallel, the reverse is the case, and putting more lamps in circuit increases the power of the machine, by diminishing the resistance of the outer circuit in providing more cross-cuts for the current. This, of course, is a drawback to the series machine in places where the number of lamps to be lighted varies from time to time. In the "shunt-wound" machine the field magnets are excited by diverting a small portion of the main current from the armature through them, by means of a "shunt" or loop circuit. Thus in figure 42 where C is the commutator and b b' the brushes, M is a shunt circuit through the magnets, and E is the external or working circuit of the machine.

The small arrows indicate the directions of the currents. With this arrangement the addition of more glow lamps to the external circuit E DIMINISHES the current, because the portion of it which flows through the by-path M, and excites the magnets, is less now that the alternative route for the current through E is of lower resistance than before. When fewer glow lamps are in the external circuit E, and its resistance therefore higher, the current in the shunt circuit M is greater than before, the magnets become stronger, and the electromotive force of the armature is increased. The Edison machine is of this type, and is illustrated in figure 43, where M M' are the field magnets with their poles N S, between which the armature A is revolved by means of the belt B, and a pulley seen behind. The leading wires W W convey the current from the brushes of the commutator to the external circuit. In this machine the conductors of the armature are not coils of wire, but separate bars of copper.

In shunt machines the variation of current due to a varying number of lamps in use occasions a rise and fall in the brightness of the lamps which is undesirable, and hence a third class of dynamo has been devised, which combines the principles of both the series and shunt machines. This is the "compound-wound" machine, in which the magnets are wound partly in shunt and partly in series with the armature, in such a manner that the strength of the field-magnets and the electromotive force of the current do not vary much, whatever be the number of lamps in circuit. In alternate current machines the electromotive force keeps constant, as the field- magnets are excited by a separate machine, giving a continuous current.

We have already seen that the action of the dynamo is reversible, and that just as a wire moved across a magnetic field supplies an electric current, so a wire at rest, but conducting a current across a magnetic field, will move. The electric motor is therefore essentially a dynamo, which on being traversed by an electric current from an external source puts itself in motion. Thus, if a current be sent through the armature of the Gramme machine, shown in figure 41, the armature will revolve, and the spindle, by means of a belt on the pulley P, can communicate its energy to another machine.

Hence the electric motor can be employed to work lathes, hoists, lifts, drive the screws of boats or the wheels of carriages, and for many other purposes. There are numerous types of electric motor as of the dynamo in use, but they are all modifications of the simple continuous or alternating current dynamo.

Obviously, since mechanical power can be converted into electricity by the dynamo, and reconverted into mechanical power by the motor, it is sufficient to connect a dynamo and motor together by insulated wire in order to transmit mechanical power, whether it be derived from wind, water, or fuel, to any reasonable distance.

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