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TUTOR. I will now explain to you the construction of the electrical machine, and show you
how to use it.
Tutor Soon after the subject of the electric fluid engaged the attention of men of science, they began to contrive the readiest methods of collecting large quantities of it. By rubbing this stick of sealing-wax I can collect a small portion: if I excite or rub the glass tube, I get still more. The object, therefore, was, to find out a machine by which the largest quantities can be collect
ed, with as little trouble and expense as
James. You get more electricity from the tube than from the sealing-wax, because it is five or six times as large : by increasing the size of thetube, you would increase the quantity of the electric fluid, I should think.
Tutor. That is a natural conclusion. But if you look to the table of electrics, which I made out yesterday, you will see that had the wax been as large as the glass tube, it would not have collected so much of the electric fluid, because, in its own nature, it is not so good an electric.
Charles. By the table, glass stands as the most perfect electric, but there are several substances between it and wax, all of which are, I believe, more perfect electrics
Tutor. They are : Electricians, therefore, had no hesitation as to the nature of the substance : they fixed on glass, which being easily melted and run, or blown into all sorts of forms, is, on that account, very valuable.
The most common form that is now used is that of a glass cylinder, from five or six inches in diameter to ten or twelve. Here is one completely fitted up(Plate vii. Fig.2.) the cylinder A B is about eight inches in die ameter, and twelve or fourteen in length: this I turn round in the frame-work, with the handle D c.
James. What is the piece of black silk
Tutor. The cylinder would be of no use without a rubber you know : on which account you see the glass pillar R s, which, being cemented into a piece of hard wood, is made to screw into the bottom of the machine ; on the pillar is a cushion, to which is attached a piece of black silk.
Charles. And I perceive the cushion is made to press very hard against the glass.
Tutor. This pressure, when the cylinder is turned round fast, acts precisely like the rubbing of the tube by the hand, though in a still more perfect manner. I will turn it round.
James. Here is not much sign of electricity yet.
Tutor. No: the machine is complete, but it has no means of collecting the fluid from the surrounding bodies : for you see the cushion or rubber is fixed on a glass pillar, and glass will not conduct the electric fuid.
Charles. Nevertheless it does, by turning round, show some signs of attraction.
Tutor. Every body in nature with which we are acquainted possesses a portion of this fluid, and therefore the signs which are now evident arise from the small quantity which exists in the rubber itself, and the atmosphere that immediately surrounds the machine.
Charles. Would the case be different if the rubber were fixed on a conducting substance instead of glass?
Tutor. It would ; but there is a much it easier method: I will attach one end of this a brass chain to the cushion at R,which being se? veral feet long, lies on the table, or on the floor, and this you know is connected, by VOL. III.
means of other objects, with the earth, which is the grand reservoir of the electric fluid. Now see the effect of turning round the cylinder : but I must make every part of it dry and rather warm, by rubbing it with a dry warm cloth.
James. It is indeed very powerful. What a crackling noise it makes ! * Tutor. Shut the window-shutters.
Charles. The appearance is very beautiful: the flashes from the silk dart all round the cylinder.
Tutor. I will now bring to the cylinder the tin conductor £, which is also placed on a glass pillar, F n, fixed in the stand at F.
James. What are the points in the tin conductor for ?
Tutor. They are intended to collect the fluid from the cylinder. I will turn the cylinder, and do you hold your knuckle within four or five inches of the conductor.
Charles. The painful sensations which these sparks occasion, prove that the electric fluid is a very powerful agent when collected in large quantities.