Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/25

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15
THE RADIOMETER.

screened one-half of the bulb, so that only the blackened faces were exposed to the light as the wheel turned them into the beam. Again, I several times observed the number of seconds during ten turns, which, although equally constant, was greater than before. Lastly, I screened the blackened surfaces so that, as the wheel turned, only the lustrous surfaces of mica were exposed to the light, when, to my surprise, the wheel continued to turn in the same direction as before, although much more slowly. It appeared as if the lustrous surfaces were attracted by the light. Again I observed the time of ten revolutions, and here I have collected my results, reducing them, in the last column, so as to show the corresponding number of revolutions in the same time:

 
CONDITIONS. Time of Ten
Revolutions.
No. of Revolutions
in same Time.
Both faces exposed.  8 seconds. 319
Blackened faces only.  11 " 232
Mica faces only.  29 " 88
 

It will be noticed that 88 + 232 equals very nearly 319. Evidently the effect, so far from being differential, is concurrent. Hence, the action which causes the motion must take place between the parts of the instrument, and cannot be a direct effect of impulses imparted by ether-waves; or else we are driven to the most improbable alternative, that lampblack and mica should have such a remarkable selective power that the impulses imparted by the light should exert a repulsive force at one surface and an attractive force at the other. Were there, however, such an improbable effect, it must be independent of the thickness of the mica vanes; while on the other hand, if, as seemed to us now most probable, the whole effect depended on the difference of temperature between the lampblack and the mica, and if the light produced an effect on the mica surface only because, the mica plate being diathermous to a very considerable extent, the lampblack became heated through the plate more than the plate itself, then it would follow that, if we used a thicker mica plate, which would absorb more of the heat, we ought to obtain a marked difference of effect. Accordingly we repeated the experiment with an equally sensitive radiometer, which we made for the purpose, with comparatively thick vanes, and with this the effect of a beam of light on the mica surface was absolutely null, the wheel revolving in the same time, whether these faces were protected or not.

But one thing was now wanting to make the demonstration complete. A heat-engine is reversible, and if the motion of the radiometer depended on the circumstance that the temperature of the blackened faces of the vanes was higher than that of the glass, then by reversing the conditions we ought to reverse the motion. Accordingly, I carefully heated the glass bulb over a lamp, until it was as hot as the hand