Page:A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism - Volume 1.djvu/92
place among a system of bodies surrounded by a metallic vessel, the charge on the outside of that vessel is not altered.
Now if any portion of electricity could be forced into a body so as to be absorbed in it, or to become latent, or in any way to exist in it, without being connected with an equal portion of the opposite electricity by lines of induction, or if, after having being absorbed, it could gradually emerge and return to its ordinary mode of action, we should find some change of electrification in the surrounding vessel.
As this is never found to be the case, Faraday concluded that it is impossible to communicate an absolute charge to matter, and that no portion of matter can by any change of state evolve or render latent one kind of electricity or the other. He therefore regarded induction as 'the essential function both in the first development and the consequent phenomena of electricity'. His 'induction' is (1298) a polarized state of the particles of the dielectric, each particle being positive on one side and negative on the other, the positive and the negative electrification of each particle being always exactly equal.
Disruptive Discharge 
55.] If the electromotive force acting at any point of a dielectric is gradually increased, a limit is at length reached at which there is a sudden electrical discharge through the dielectric, generally accompanied with light and sound, and with a temporary or permanent rupture of the dielectric.
The intensity of the electromotive force when this takes place depends on the nature of the dielectric. It is greater, for instance, in dense air than in rare air, and greater in glass than in air, but in every case, if the electromotive force be made great enough, the dielectric gives way and its insulating power is destroyed, so that a current of electricity takes place through it. It is for this reason that distributions of electricity for which the electric resultant force becomes anywhere infinite cannot exist in nature.
The Electric Glow.
Thus, when a conductor having a sharp point is electrified, the theory, based on the hypothesis that it retains its charge, leads to the conclusion that as we approach the point the superficial density of the electricity increases without limit, so that at the point itself the surface-density, and therefore the resultant
- See Faraday, Exp. Rts., vol. i., series xii. and xiii.