48 ELECTROSTATIC PHENOMENA. [50.
of potential, but these causes are not considered in treating of statical electricity. We shall consider them when we come to chemical actions, motions of magnets, inequalities of temperature, &c.
Capacity of a Conductor.
50.] If one conductor is insulated while all the surrounding conductors are kept at the zero potential by being put in communication with the earth, and if the conductor, when charged with a quantity of electricity, has a potential , the ratio of to is called the Capacity of the conductor. If the conductor is completely enclosed within a conducting vessel without touching it, then the charge on the inner conductor will be equal and opposite to the charge on the inner surface of the outer conductor, and will be equal to the capacity of the inner conductor multiplied by the difference of the potentials of the two conductors.
A system consisting of two conductors whose opposed surfaces are separated from each other by a thin stratum of an insulating medium is called an electric Accumulator. Its capacity is directly proportional to the area of the opposed surfaces and inversely proportional to the thickness of the stratum between them. A Leyden jar is an accumulator in which glass is the insulating medium. Accumulators are sometimes called Condensers, but I prefer to restrict the term condenser to an instrument which is used not to hold electricity but to increase its superficial density.
Resistance to the Passage of Electricity through a Body.
51.] When a charge of electricity is communicated to any part of a mass of metal the electricity is rapidly transferred from places of high to places of low potential till the potential of the whole mass becomes the same. In the case of pieces of metal used in ordinary experiments this process is completed in a time too short to be observed, but in the case of very long and thin wires, such as those used in telegraphs, the potential does not become uniform till after a sensible time, on account of the resistance of the wire to the passage of electricity through it. The resistance to the passage of electricity is exceedingly different in different substances, as may be seen from the tables at