Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/30

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20
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tion. The two poles are at a and b, and at the end c is a small supplementary tube, connected with the other by a narrow aperture, and containing solid caustic potash. The tube has been exhausted to a very high point, and the potash heated so as to drive off moisture and injure the vacuum. Exhaustion has then been recommenced, and the alternate heating and exhaustion repeated until the tube has been

Fig. 5.
PSM V16 D030 Phosphorescence of potash molecules.jpg

brought to the state in which it now appears before you. When the induction spark is first turned on nothing is visible—the vacuum is so high that the tube is non-conducting. I now warm the potash slightly and liberate a trace of aqueous vapor. Instantly conduction commences, and the green phosphorescence flashes out along the length of the tube. I continue the heat, so as to drive off more gas from the potash. The green gets fainter, and now a wave of cloudy luminosity sweeps over the tube, and stratifications appear, which rapidly get narrower, until the spark passes along the tube in the form of a narrow purple line. I take the lamp away, and allow the potash to cool; as it cools, the aqueous vapor, which the heat had driven off, is reabsorbed. The purple line broadens out, and breaks up into fine stratifications; these get wider, and travel toward the potash-tube. Now a wave of green light appears on the glass at the other end, sweeping on and driving the last pale stratification into the potash; and now the tube glows over its whole length with the green phosphorescence. I might keep it before you, and show the green growing fainter and the vacuum becoming non-conducting; but I should detain you too long, as time is required for the absorption of the last traces of vapor by the potash, and I must pass on to the next subject.

Radiant Matter proceeds in Straight Lines.—The radiant matter whose impact on the glass causes an evolution of light, absolutely refuses to turn a corner. Here is a V-shaped tube (Fig. 6), a pole being at each extremity. The pole at the right side (a) being negative, you see that the whole of the right arm is flooded with green light, but at the bottom it stops sharply and will not turn the corner to get into the left side. When I reverse the current and make the left pole negative, the green changes to the left side, always following the negative pole and leaving the positive side with scarcely any luminosity.

In the ordinary phenomena exhibited by vacuum-tubes—phenomena with which we are all familiar—it is customary, in order to bring out the striking contrasts of color, to bend the tubes into very elaborate designs. The luminosity caused by the phosphorescence of the residual