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The Story of Electricity By John Munro Characters: 38451

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04

The electric "trembling bell," now in common use, was first invented by John Mirand in 1850. Figure 83 shows the scheme of the circuit, where

B is a small battery, say two or three "dry" or Leclanche cells, joined by insulated wire to P, a press-button or contact key, and G an electromagnetic gong or bell. On pressing the button P, a spring contact is made, and the current flowing through the circuit strikes the bell. The action of the contact key will be understood from figure 84, where P is the press-button removed to show the underlying mechanism, which is merely a metal spring A over a metal plate B. The spring is connected by wire to a pole of the battery, and the plate to a terminal or binding screw of the bell, or vice versa. When the button P is pressed by the finger the spring is forced against the plate, the circuit is made, and the bell rings. On releasing the button it springs back, the circuit is broken, and the bell stops.

Figure 85 shows the inner mechanism of the bell, which consists of a double-poled electromagnet M, having a soft iron armature A hinged on a straight spring or tongue S, with one end fixed, and the other resting against a screw contact T. The hammer H projects from the armature beside the edge of the gong E.

In passing through the instrument the current proceeds from one terminal, say that on the right, by the wire W to the screw contact T, and thence by the spring S through the bobbins of the electromagnet to the other terminal. The electromagnet attracts the armature A, and the hammer H strikes the gong; but in the act the spring S is drawn from the contact T, and the circuit is broken. Consequently the electromagnet, no longer excited, lets the armature go, and the spring leaps back against the contact T, withdrawing the hammer from the gong. But the instrument is now as it was at first, the current again flows, and the hammer strikes the gong, only to fly back a second time. In this way, as long as the button is pressed by the operator, the hammer will continue to tap the bell and give a ringing sound. Press-buttons are of various patterns, and either affixed to the wall or inserted in the handle of an ordinary bell-pull, as shown in figure 86.

The ordinary electric bell actuated by a battery is liable to get out of order owing to the battery spending its force, or to the contacts becoming dirty. Magnetoelectric bells have, therefore, been introduced of late years. With these no battery or interrupting contacts are required, since the bell-pull or press- button is made in the form of a small dynamo which generates the current when it is pulled or pushed. Figure 87 illustrates a form of this apparatus, where M P is the bell-pull and B the bell, these being connected by a double wire W, to convey the current. The bell-pull consists of a horseshoe magnet M, having a bobbin of insulated wire between its poles, and mounted on a spindle. When the key P is turned round by the hand, the bobbin moves in the magnetic field between the poles of the magnet, and the current thus generated circulates in the wires W, and passing through an electromagnet under the bell, attracts its armature, and strikes the hammer on the bell. Of course the bell may be placed at any distance from the generator. In other types the current is generated and the bell rung by the act of pulling, as in a common house-bell.

Electric bells in large houses and hotels are usually fitted up with indicators, as shown in figure 88, which tell the room from which the call proceeds. They are serviceable as instantaneous signals, annunciators, and alarms in many different ways. An outbreak of fire can be announced by causing the undue rise of temperature to melt a piece of tallow or fusible metal, and thus release a weight, which tails on a press-button, and closes the circuit of an electric bell. Or, the rising temperature may expand the mercury in a tube like that of a thermometer until it connects two platinum wires fused through the glass and in circuit with a bell. Some employ a curving bi-metallic spring to make the necessary contact. The spring is made by soldering strips of brass and iron back to back, and as these metals expand unequally when heated, the spring is deformed, and touches the contact which is connected in the circuit, thus permitting the current to ring the bell. A still better device, however, is a small box containing a thin metallic diaphragm, which expands with the heat, and sagging in the centre, touches a contact screw, thus completing the circuit, and allowing the current to pass.

These automatic or self-acting fire-alarms can, of course, be connected in the circuit of the ordinary street fire-alarms, which are usually worked by pulling a handle to make the necessary contact.

From what has been said, it will be easy to understand how the stealthy entrance of burglars into a house can be announced by an electric bell or warning lamp. If press-buttons or contact-keys are placed on the sashes of the windows, the posts of the door, or the treads of the stair, so that when the window or door is opened, or the tread bends under the footstep, an electric circuit is closed, the alarm will be given. Of course, the connections need only be arranged when the device is wanted. Shops and offices can be guarded by making the current show a red light from a lamp hung in front of the premises, so that the night watchman can see it on his beat. This can readily be done by adjusting an electromagnet to drop a screen of red glass before the flame of the lamp. Safes and showcases forcibly opened can be made to signal the fact, and recently in the United States a thief was photographed by a flashlight kindled in this way, and afterwards captured through the likeness.

The level of water in cisterns and reservoirs, can be told in a similar manner by causing a float to rise with the water and make the required contact. The degree of frost in a conservatory can also be announced by means of the mercury "thermostat," already described, or some equivalent device. There are, indeed, many actual or possible applications of a similar kind.

The Massey log is an instrument for telling the speed of a ship by the revolutions of a "fly" as it is towed through the water, and by making the fly complete a circuit as it revolves the number of turns a second can be struck by a bell on board. In one form of the "electric log," the current is generated by the chemical action of zinc and copper plates attached to the log, and immersed in the sea water, and in others provided by a battery on the ship.

Captain M'Evoy has invented an alarm for torpedoes and torpedo boats, which is a veritable watchdog of the sea. It consists of an iron bell-jar inverted in the water, and moored at a depth below the agitation of the waves. In the upper part of the jar, where the pressure of the air keeps back the water, there is a delicate needle contact in circuit with a battery and an electric bell or lamp, as the case may be, on the shore. Waves of sound passing through the water from the screw propeller of the torpedo, or, indeed, any ship, make and break the sensitive contact, and ring the bell or light the lamp. The apparatus is intended to alarm a fleet lying at anchor or a port in time of war.

Electricity has also been employed to register the movements of weathercocks and anemometers. A few years ago it was applied successfully to telegraph the course marked by a steering compass to the navigating officer on the bridge. This was done without impeding the motion of the compass card by causing an electric spark to jump from a light pointer on the card to a series of metal plates round the bowl of the compass, and actuate an electric alarm.

The "Domestic Telegraph," an American device, is a little dial apparatus by which a citizen can signal for a policeman, doctor, messenger, or carriage, as well as a fire engine, by the simple act of setting a hand on the dial.

Alexander Bain was the first to drive a clock with electricity instead of weights, by employing a pendulum having an iron bob, which was attracted to one side and the other by an electromagnet, but as its rate depends on the constancy of the current, which is not easy to maintain, the invention has not come into general use. The "butterfly clock" of Lemoine, which we illustrate in figure 89, is an improved type, in which the bob of soft iron P swings to and fro over the poles of a double electro magnet M in circuit with a battery and contact key. When the rate is too slow the key is closed, and a current passing through the electromagnet pulls on the pendulum, thus correcting the clock. This is done by the ingenious device of Hipp, shown in figure 90, where M is the electromagnet, P the iron bob, from which projects a wire bearing a light vane B of mica in the shape of a butterfly. As the bob swings the wire drags over the hump of the metal spring S, and when the bob is going too slowly the wire thrusts the spring into contact with another spring T below, thus closing the circuit, and sending a current through the magnet M, which attracts the bob and gives a fillip to the pendulum.

Local clocks controlled from a standard clock by electricity have been more successful in practice, and are employed in several towns-for example, Glasgow. Behind local dials are electromagnets which, by means of an armature working a frame and ratchet wheel, move the hands forward every minute or half-minute as the current is sent from the standard clock.

The electrical chronograph is an instrument for measuring minute intervals of time by means of a stylus tracing a line on a band of travelling paper or a revolving barrel of smoked glass. The current, by exciting an electromagnet, jerks the stylus, and the interval between two jerks is found from the length of the trace between them and the speed of the paper or smoked surface. Retarded clocks are sometimes employed as electric meters for registering the consumption of electricity. In these the current to be measured flows through a coil beneath the bob of the pendulum, which is a magnet, and thus affects the rate. In other meters the current passes through a species of galvanometer called an ampere meter, and controls a clockwork counter. In a third kind of meter the chemical effect of the current is brought into play- that of Edison, for example, decomposing sulphate of copper, or more commonly of zinc.

The electric light is now used for signalling and advertising by night in a variety of ways. Incandescent lamps inside a translucent balloon, and their light controlled by a current key, as in a telegraph circuit, so as to give long and short flashes, according to the Morse code, are employed in the army. Signals at sea are also made by a set of red and white glow-lamps, which are combined according to the code in use. The powerful arc lamp is extremely useful as a "search light," especially on men of war and fortifications, and it has also been tried in signalling by projecting the beam on the clouds by way of a screen, and eclipsing it according to a given code.

In 1879, Professor Graham Bell, the inventor of the speaking telephone, and Mr Summer Tamter, brought out an ingenious apparatus called the photophone, by which music and speech were sent along a beam of light for several hundred yards. The action of the photophone is based on the peculiar fact observed in 1873 by Mr J E Mayhew, that the electrical resistance of crystalline selenium diminishes when a ray of light falls upon it. Figure 91 shows how Bell and Tamter utilised this property in the telephone. A beam of sun or electric light, concentrated by a lens L, is reflected by a thin mirror M, and after traversing another lens L, travels to the parabolic reflector R, in the focus of which there is a selenium resistance in circuit with a battery S and two telephones T T'. Now, when a person speaks into the tube at the back of the mirror M, the light is caused to vibrate with the sounds, and a wavering beam falls on the selenium, changing its resistance to the current. The strength of the current is thus varied with the sonorous waves, and the words spoken by the transmitter are heard in the telephones by the receiver. The photophone is, however, more of a scientific toy than a practical instrument.

Becquerel, the French chemist, found that two plates of silver freshly coated with silver from a solution of chloride of silver and plunged into water, form a voltaic cell which is sensitive to light. This can be seen by connecting the plates through a galvanometer, and allowing a ray of light to fall upon them. Other combinations of the kind have been discovered, and Professor Minchin, the Irish physicist, has used one of these cells to measure the intensity of starlight.

The "induction balance" of Professor Hughes is founded on the well-known fact that a current passing in one wire can induce a sympathetic current in a neighbouring wire. The arrangement will be understood from figure 92, where P and P1 are two similar coils or bobbins of thick wire in circuit with a battery B and a microphone M, while S and S1 are two similar coils or bobbins of fine wire in circuit with a telephone T. It need hardly be said that when the microphone M is disturbed by a sound, the current in the primary coils P P1 will induce a corresponding current in the secondary coils S S1; but the coils S S1 are so wound that the induction of P on S neutralises the induction of P1 on S1; and no current passes in the secondary circuit, hence no sound is heard in the telephone. When, however, this balance of induction is upset by bringing a piece of metal-say, a coin-near one or other of the coils S S1, a sound will be heard in the telephone.

The induction balance has been used as a "Sonometer" for measuring the sense of hearing, and also for telling base coins. The writer devised a form of it for "divining" the presence of gold and metallic ores which has been applied by Captain M'Evoy in his "submarine detector" for exploring the sea bottom for lost anchors and sunken treasure. When President Garfield was shot, the position of the bullet was ascertained by a similar arrangement.

The microphone as a means of magnifying feeble sounds has been employed for localising the leaks in water pipes and in medical examinations. Some years ago it saved a Russian lady from premature burial by rendering the faint beating of her heart audible.

Edison's electric pen is useful in copying letters. It works by puncturing a row of minute holes along the lines of the writing, and thus producing a stencil plate, which, when placed over a clean sheet of paper and brushed with ink, gives a duplicate of the writing by the ink penetrating the holes to the paper below. It is illustrated in figure 93, where P is the pen, consisting of a hollow stem in which a fine needle actuated by the armature of a small electromagnet plies rapidly up and down and pierces the paper. The current is derived from a small battery B, and an inking roller like that used in printing serves to apply the ink.

In 1878 Mr. Edison announced his invention of a machine for the storage and reproduction of speech, and the announcement was received with a good deal of incredulity, notwithstanding the partial success of Faber and others in devising mechanical articulators. The simplicity of Edison's invention when it was seen and heard elicited much admiration, and although his first instrument was obviously imperfect, it was nevertheless regarded as the germ of something better. If the words spoken into the instrument were heard in the first place, the likeness of the reproduction was found to be unmistakable. Indeed, so faithful was the replica, that a member of the Academy of Sciences, Paris, stoutly maintained that it was due to ventriloquism or some other trickery. It was evident, however, that before the phonograph could become a practical instrument, further improvements in the nicety of its articulation were required. The introduction of the electric light diverted Mr. Edison from the task of improving it, although he does not seem to have lost faith in his pet invention. During the next ten years he accumulated a large fortune, and was the principal means of introducing both electric light and power to the world at large. This done, however, he returned to his earlier love, and has at length succeeded in perfecting it so as to redeem his past promises and fulfill his hopes regarding it.

The old instrument consisted, as is well known, of a vibrating tympan or drum, from the centre of which projected a steel point or stylus, in such a manner that on speaking to the tympan its vibrations would urge the stylus to dig into a sheet of tinfoil moving past its point. The foil was supported on a grooved barrel, so that the hollow of the groove behind it permitted the foil to give under the point of the stylus, and take a corrugated or wavy surface corresponding to the vibrations of the speech. Thus recorded on a yielding but somewhat stiff material, these undulations could be preserved, and at a future time made to deflect the point of a similar stylus, and set a corresponding diaphragm or tympan into vibration, so as to give out the original sounds, or an imitation of them.

Tinfoil, however, is not a very satisfactory material on which to receive the vibrations in the first place. It does not precisely respond to the movements of the marking stylus in taking the impression, and does not guide the receiving stylus sufficiently well in reproducing sounds. Mr. Edison has therefore adopted wax in preference to it; and instead of tinfoil spread on a grooved support, he now employs a cylinder of wax to take the print of the vibrations. Moreover, he no longer uses the same kind of diaphragm to print and receive the sounds, but employs a more delicate one for receiving them. The marking cylinder is now kept in motion by an electric motor, instead of by hand-turning, as in the earlier instrument.

The new phonograph, which we illustrate in figure 94, is about the size of an ordinary sewing machine, and is of exquisite workmanship, the performance depending to a great extent on the perfection and fitness of the mechanism. It consists of a horizontal spindle S, carrying at one end the wax cylinder C, on which the sonorous vibrations are to be imprinted. Over the cylinder is supported a diaphragm or tympan T, provided with a conical mouthpiece M for speaking into. Under the tympan there is a delicate needle or stylus, with its point projecting from the centre of the tympan downwards to the surface of the wax cylinder, so that when a person speaks into the mouthpiece, the voice vibrates the tympan and drives the point of the stylus down into the wax, making an imprint more or less deep in accordance with the vibrations of the voice. The cylinder is kept revolving in a spiral path, at a uniform speed, by means of an electric motor E, fitted with a sensitive regulator and situated at the base of the machine. The result is that a delicate and ridgy trace is cut in the surface

of wax along a spiral line. This is the sound record, and by substituting a finer tympan for the one used in producing it, the ridges and inequalities of the trace can be made to agitate a light stylus resting on them, and cause it to set the delicate tympan into vibrations corresponding very accurately to those of the original sounds. The tympan employed for receiving is made of gold-beater's skin, having a stud at its centre and a springy stylus of steel wire. The sounds emitted by this device are almost a whisper as compared to the original ones, but they are faithful in articulation, which is the main object, and they are conveyed to the ear by means of flexible hearing-tubes.

These tympans are interchangeable at will, and the arm which carries them is also provided with a turning tool for smoothing the wax cylinder prior to its receiving the print. The cylinders are made of different sizes, from 1 to 8 inches long and 4 inches in diameter. The former has a storage capacity of 200 words. The next in size has twice that, or 400 words, and so on. Mr. Edison states that four of the large 8-inch cylinders can record all "Nicholas Nickleby," which could therefore be automatically read to a private invalid or to a number of patients in a hospital simultaneously, by means of a bunch of hearing-tubes. The cylinders can be readily posted like letters, and made to deliver their contents viva voce in a duplicate phonograph, every tone and expression of the writer being rendered with more or less fidelity. The phonograph has proved serviceable in recording the languages and dialects of vanishing races, as well as in teaching pronunciation.

The dimensions, form, and consequent appearance of the present commercial American phonograph are quite different from that above described, but the underlying principles and operations are identical.

A device for lighting gas by the electric spark is shown in figure 95, where A is a flat vulcanite box, containing the apparatus which generates the electricity, and a stem or pointer L, which applies the spark to the gas jet. The generator consists of a small "influence" machine, which is started by pressing the thumb- key C on the side of the box. The rotation of a disc inside the box produces a supply of static electricity, which passes in a stream of sparks between two contact-points in the open end of the stem D. The latter is tubular, and contains a wire insulated from the metal of the tube, and forming with the tube the circuit for the electric discharge. The handle enables the contrivance to be readily applied. The apparatus is one of the few successful practical applications of static electricity.

Other electric gas-lighters consist of metal points placed on the burner, so that the electric spark from a small induction coil or dynamo kindles the jet.

A platinum wire made white-hot by the passage of a current is sometimes used to light lamps, as shown in figure 96, where W is a small spiral of platinum connected in circuit with a generator by the terminals T T. When the lamp L is pressed against the button B the wire glows and lights it.

Explosives, such as gunpowder and guncotton, are also ignited by the electric spark from an induction coil or the incandescence of a wire. Figure 97 shows the interior of an ordinary electric fuse for blasting or exploding underground mines. It consists of a box of wood or metal primed with gunpowder or other explosive, and a platinum wire P soldered to a pair of stout copper wires W, insulated with gutta-percha. When the current is sent along these wires, the platinum glows and ignites the explosive. Detonating fuses are primed with fulminate of mercury.

Springs for watches and other purposes are tempered by heating them with the current and quenching them in a bath of oil.

Electrical cautery is performed with an incandescent platinum wire in lieu of the knife, especially for such operations as the removal of the tongue or a tumour.

It was known to the ancients that a fish called a torpedo existed in the Mediterranean which was capable of administering a shock to persons and benumbing them. The torpedo, or "electric ray," is found in the Atlantic as well as the Mediterranean, and is allied to the skate. It has an electric organ composed of 800 or 1000 polygonal cells in its head, and the discharge, which appears to be a vibratory current, passes from the back or positive pole to the belly or negative pole through the water. The gymotus, or Surinam eel, which attains a length of five or six feet, has an electric organ from head to tail, and can give a shock sufficient to kill a man. Humboldt has left a vivid picture of the frantic struggles of wild horses driven by the Indians of Venezuela into the ponds of the savannahs infested by these eels, in order to make them discharge their thunderbolts and be readily caught.

Other fishes-the silurus, malapterurus, and so on-are likewise endowed with electric batteries for stunning and capturing their prey. The action of the organs is still a mystery, as, indeed, is the whole subject of animal electricity. Nobili and Matteucci discovered that feeble currents are generated by the excitation of the nerves and the contraction of the muscles in the human subject.

Electricity promises to become a valuable remedy, and currents- continuous, intermittent, or alternating-are applied to the body in nervous and muscular affections with good effect; but this should only be done under medical advice, and with proper apparatus.

In many cases of severe electric shock or lightning stroke, death is merely apparent, and the person may be brought back to life by the method of artificial respiration and rhythmic traction of the tongue, as applied to the victims of drowning or dead faint.

A good lightning conductor should not have a higher electrical resistance than 10 ohms from the point to the ground, including the "earth" contact. Exceptionally good conductors have only about 5 ohms. A high resistance in the rod is due either to a flaw in the conductor or a bad earth connection, and in such a case the rod may be a source of danger instead of security, since the discharge is apt to find its way through some part of the building to the ground, rather than entirely by the rod. It is, therefore, important to test lightning conductors from time to time, and the magneto-electric tester of Siemens, which we illustrate in figures 98 and 99, is very serviceable for the purpose, and requires no battery. The apparatus consists of a magneto-electric machine AT, which generates the testing current by turning a handle, and a Wheatstone bridge. The latter comprises a ring of German silver wire, forming two branches. A contact lever P moves over the ring, and is used as a battery key. A small galvanometer G shows the indications of the testing current. A brass sliding piece S puts the galvanometer needle in and out of action. There are also several connecting terminals, b b', l, &c., and a comparison resistance R (figure 98). A small key K is fixed to the terminal l (figure 99), and used to put the current on the lightning-rod, or take it off at will. A leather bag A at one side of the wooden case (figure 99) holds a double conductor leading wire, which is used for connecting the magneto-electric machine to the bridge. On turning the handle of M the current is generated, and on closing the key K it circulates from the terminals of the machine through the bridge and the lightning-rod joined with the latter. The needle of the galvanometer is deflected by it, until the resistance in the box R is adjusted to balance that in the rod. When this is so, the galvanometer needle remains at rest. In this way the resistance of the rod is told, and any change in it noted. In order to effect the test, it is necessary to have two earth plates, E1 and E2, one (El) that of the rod, and the other (E2) that for connecting to the testing apparatus by the terminal b1 (figure 99). The whole instrument only weighs about 9 lbs. In order to test the "earth" alone, a copper wire should be soldered to the rod at a convenient height above the ground, and terminal screws fitted to it, as shown at T (figure 99), so that instead of joining the whole rod in circuit with the apparatus, only that part from T downwards is connected. The Hon. R. Abercrombie has recently drawn attention to the fact that there are three types of thunderstorm in Great Britain. The first, or squall thunderstorms, are squalls associated with thunder and lightning. They form on the sides of primary cyclones. The second, or commonest thunderstorms, are associated with secondary cyclones, and are rarely accompanied by squalls The third, or line thunderstorms, take the form of narrow bands of rain and thunder-for example, 100 miles long by 5 to 10 miles broad. They cross the country rapidly, and nearly broadside on. These are usually preceded by a violent squall, like that which capsized the Eurydice.

The gloom of January, 1896, with its war and rumours of war, was, at all events, relieved by a single bright spot. Electricity has surprised the world with a new marvel, which confirms her title to be regarded as the most miraculous of all the sciences. Within the past twenty years she has given us the telephone of Bell, enabling London to speak with Paris, and Chicago with New York; the microphone of Hughes, which makes the tread of a fly sound like the "tramp of an elephant," as Lord Kelvin has said; the phonograph of Edison, in which we can hear again the voices of the dead; the electric light which glows without air and underwater, electric heat without fire, electric power without fuel, and a great deal more beside. To these triumphs we must now add a means of photographing unseen objects, such as the bony skeletons in the living body, and so revealing the invisible.

Whether it be that the press and general public are growing more enlightened in matters of science, or that Professor Rontgen's discovery appeals in a peculiar way to the popular imagination, it has certainly evoked a livelier and more sudden interest than either the telephone, microphone, or phonograph. I was present when Lord Kelvin first announced the invention of the telephone to a British audience, and showed the instrument itself, but the intelligence was received so apathetically that I suspect its importance was hardly realised. It fell to my own lot, a few years afterwards, to publish the first account of the phonograph in this country, and I remember that, between incredulity on the one hand, and perhaps lack of scientific interest on the other, a considerable time elapsed before the public at large were really impressed by the invention. Perhaps the uncanny and mysterious results of Rontgen's discovery, which seem to link it with the "black arts," have something to do with the quickness of its reception by all manner of people.

Like most, if not all, discoveries and inventions, it is the outcome of work already done by other men. In the early days of electricity it was found that when an electric spark from a frictional machine was sent through a glass bulb from which the air had been sucked by an air pump, a cloudy light filled the bulb, which was therefore called an "electric egg". Hittorf and others improved on this effect by employing the spark from an induction coil and large tubes, highly exhausted of air, or containing a rare infusion of other gases, such as hydrogen. By this means beautiful glows of various colours, resembling the tender hues of the tropical sky, or the fleeting tints of the aurora borealis, were produced, and have become familiar to us in the well-known Geissler tubes.

Crookes, the celebrated English chemist, went still further, and by exhausting the bulbs with an improved Sprengel air-pump, obtained an extremely high vacuum, which gave remarkable effects (page 120). The diffused glow or cloudy light of the tube now shrank into a single stream, which joined the sparking points inserted through the ends of the tube as with a luminous thread A magnet held near the tube bent the streamer from its course; and there was a dark space or gap in it near the negative point or cathode, from which proceeded invisible rays, having the property of impressing a photographic plate, and of rendering matter in general on which they impinged phosphorescent, and, in course of time, red-hot. Where they strike on the glass of the tube it is seen to glow with a green or bluish phosphorescence, and it will ultimately soften with heat.

These are the famous "cathode rays" of which we have recently heard so much. Apparently they cannot be produced except in a very high vacuum, where the pressure of the air is about 1-100th millionth of an atmosphere, or that which it is some 90 or 100 miles above the earth. Mr Crookes regards them as a stream of airy particles electrified by contact with the cathode or negative discharging point, and repelled from it in straight lines. The rarity of the air in the tube enables these particles to keep their line without being jostled by the other particles of air in the tube. A molecular bombardment from the cathode is, in his opinion, going on, and when the shots, that is to say, the molecules of air, strike the wall of the tube, or any other body within the tube, the shock gives rise to phosphorescence or fluorescence and to heat. This, in brief, is the celebrated hypothesis of "radiant matter," which has been supported in the United Kingdom by champions such as Lord Kelvin, Sir Gabriel Stokes, and Professor Fitzgerald, but questioned abroad by Goldstem, Jaumann, Wiedemann, Ebert, and others.

Lenard, a young Hungarian, pupil of the illustrious Heinrich Hertz, was the first to inflict a serious blow on the hypothesis, by showing that the cathode rays could exist outside the tube in air at ordinary pressure. Hertz had found that a thin foil of aluminium was penetrated by the rays, and Lenard made a tube having a "window" of aluminium, through which the rays darted into the open air. Their path could be traced by the bluish phosphorescence which they excited in the air, and he succeeded in getting them to penetrate a thin metal box and take a photograph inside it. But if the rays are a stream of radiant matter which can only exist in a high vacuum, how can they survive in air at ordinary pressure? Lenard's experiments certainly favour the hypothesis of their being waves in the luminiferous ether.

Professor Rontgen, of Wirzburg, profiting by Lenard's results, accidentally discovered that the rays coming from a Crookes tube, through the glass itself, could photograph the bones in the living hand, coins inside a purse, and other objects covered up or hid in the dark. Some bodies, such as flesh, paper, wood, ebonite, or vulcanised fibre, thin sheets of metal, and so on, are more or less transparent, and others, such as bones, carbon, quartz, thick plates of metal, are more or less opaque to the rays. The human hand, for example, consisting of flesh and bones, allows the rays to pass easily through the flesh, but not through the bones. Consequently, when it is interposed between the rays and a photographic plate, the skeleton inside is photographed on the plate. A lead pencil photographed in this way shows only the black lead, and a razor with a horn handle only the blade.

Thanks to the courtesy of Mr. A. A. Campbell Swinton, of the firm of Swinton & Stanton, the well-known electrical engineers, of Victoria Street, Westminster, a skilful experimentalist, who was the first to turn to the subject in England, I have witnessed the taking of these "shadow photographs," as they are called, somewhat erroneously, for "radiographs" or "cryptographs" would be a better word, and shall briefly describe his method. Rontgen employs an induction coil insulated in oil to excite the Crookes tube and yield the rays, but Mr. Swinton uses a "high frequency current," obtained from apparatus similar to that of Tesla, and shown in figure 100, namely, a high frequency induction coil insulated by means of oil and excited by the continuous discharge of twelve half-gallon Leyden jars charged by an alternating current at a pressure of 20,000 volts produced by an ordinary large induction coil sparking across its high pressure terminals.

A vacuum bulb connected between the discharge terminals of the high frequency coil, as shown in figure 101, was illuminated with a pink glow, which streamed from the negative to the positive pole-that is to say, the cathode to the anode, and the glass became luminous with bluish phosphorescence and greenish fluorescence. Immediately under the bulb was placed my naked hand resting on a photographic slide containing a sensitive bromide plate covered with a plate of vulcanised fibre. An exposure of five or ten minutes is sufficient to give a good picture of the bones, as will be seen from the frontispiece.

The term "shadow" photograph requires a word of explanation. The bones do not appear as flat shadows, but rounded like solid bodies, as though the active rays passed through their substance. According to Rontgen, these "x" rays, as he calls them, are not true cathode rays, partly because they are not deflected by a magnet, but cathode rays transformed by the glass of the tube; and they are probably not ultra-violet rays, because they are not refracted by water or reflected from surfaces. He thinks they are the missing "longitudinal" rays of light whose existence has been conjectured by Lord Kelvin and others-that is to say, waves in which the ether sways to and fro along the direction of the ray, as in the case of sound vibrations, and not from side to side across it as in ordinary light.

Be this as it may, his discovery has opened up a new field of research and invention. It has been found that the immediate source of the rays is the fluorescence and phosphorescence of the glass, and they are more effective when the fluorescence is greenish-yellow or canary colour. Certain salts-for example, the sulphates of zinc and of calcium, barium platino-cyanide, tungstate of calcium, and the double sulphate of uranyle and potassium-are more active than glass, and even emit the rays after exposure to ordinary light, if not also in the dark. Salvioni of Perugia has invented a "cryptoscope," which enables us to see the hidden object without the aid of photography by allowing the rays to fall on a plate coated with one of these phosphorescent substances. Already the new method has been applied by doctors in examining malformations and diseases of the bones or internal organs, and in localising and extracting bullets, needles, or other foreign matters in the body. There is little doubt that it will be very useful as an adjunct to hospitals, especially in warfare, and, if the apparatus can be reduced in size, it will be employed by ordinary practitioners. It has also been used to photograph the skeleton of a mummy, and to detect true from artificial gems. However, one cannot now easily predict its future value, and applications will be found out one after another as time goes on.

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