Page:A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism - Volume 1.djvu/104
64 ELECTROSTATIC PHENOMENA. [62.
force and the electric displacement multiplied, if necessary, by the cosine of the angle between their directions.
That in fluid dielectrics the electric polarization is accompanied by a tension in the direction of the lines of force combined with an equal pressure in all directions at right angles to the lines of force, the amount of the tension or pressure per unit of area being numerically equal to the energy per unit of volume at the same place.
That the surfaces of any elementary portion into which we may conceive the volume of the dielectric divided must be conceived to be electrified, so that the surface-density at any point of the surface is equal in magnitude to the displacement through that point of the surface reckoned inwards, so that if the displacement is in the positive direction, the surface of the element will be electrified negatively on the positive side and positively on the negative side. These superficial electrifications will in general destroy one another when consecutive elements are considered, except where the dielectric has an internal charge, or at the surface of the dielectric.
That whatever electricity may be, and whatever we may understand by the movement of electricity, the phenomenon which we have called electric displacement is a movement of electricity in the same sense as the transference of a definite quantity of electricity through a wire is a movement of electricity, the only difference being that in the dielectric there is a force which we have called electric elasticity which acts against the electric displacement, and forces the electricity back when the electromotive force is removed; whereas in the conducting wire the electric elasticity is continually giving way, so that a current of true conduction is set up, and the resistance depends, not on the total quantity of electricity displaced from its position of equilibrium, but on the quantity which crosses a section of the conductor in a given time.
That in every case the motion of electricity is subject to the same condition as that of an incompressible fluid, namely, that at every instant as much must flow out of any given closed space as flows into it.
It follows from this that every electric current must form a closed circuit. The importance of this result will be seen when we investigate the laws of electro-magnetism. Since, as we have seen, the theory of direct action at a distance is mathematically identical with that of action by means of a