Page:A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism - Volume 1.djvu/71

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If a body electrified in any manner whatever behaves as the glass does, that is, if it repels the glass and attracts the resin, the body is said to be vitreously electrified, and if it attracts the glass and repels the resin it is said to be resinously electrified. All electrified bodies are found to be either vitreously or resinously electrified.

It is the established practice of men of science to call the vitreous electrification positive, and the resinous electrification negative. The exactly opposite properties of the two kinds of electrification justify us in indicating them by opposite signs, but the application of the positive sign to one rather than to the other kind must be considered as a matter of arbitrary convention, just as it is a matter of convention in mathematical diagrams to reckon positive distances towards the right hand.

No force, either of attraction or of repulsion, can be observed between an electrified body and a body not electrified. When, in any case, bodies not previously electrified are observed to be acted on by an electrified body, it is because they have become electrified by induction.

Electrification by Induction

28.] Experiment II[1]. Let a hollow vessel of metal be hung up by white silk threads, and let a similar thread be attached to the lid of the vessel so that the vessel may be opened or closed without touching it.

A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism fig4.png
Fig. 4.

Let the pieces of glass and resin be similarly suspended and electrified as before.

Let the vessel be originally unelectrified, then if an electrified piece of glass is hung up within it by its thread without touching the vessel, and the lid closed, the outside of the vessel will be found to be vitreously electrified, and it may be shewn that the electrification outside of the vessel is exactly the same in whatever part of the interior space the glass is suspended.

If the glass is now taken out of the vessel without touching it, the electrification of the glass will be the same as before it was put in, and that of the vessel will have disappeared.

This electrification of the vessel, which depends on the glass

  1. This, and several experiments which follow, are due to Faraday, ' On Static Electrical Inductive Action.' Phil. Mag., 1843, or Exp. Res., vol. ii. p. 279.