Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 63.djvu/112

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108
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The wire has capacity with respect to the earth, and it acts like the inner coating of a Leyden jar, of which the dielectric is the air and ether around it, and the outer coating is the earth's surface. When the discharge takes place, we may consider that electrons rush out of the wire and then rush back again into it. At the moment when the electrons rush out of or into the aerial wire, we say there is an electric current flowing into or out of the wire, and this electron movement, therefore, creates the magnetic flux which is distributed in concentric circles round the wire. This current, and, therefore, motion of electrons, can be proved to exist by its heating effect upon a fine wire inserted in series with the aerial, and in the case of large aerials it may have a mean value of many amperes and a maximum value of hundreds of amperes. Inside the aerial wire we have, therefore, alternations of electric potential or charge and electric current, or we may call it electron-pressure and electron-movement.

There is, therefore, an oscillation of electrons in the aerial wire, just as in the case of an organ pipe there is an oscillation of air molecules in the pipe. Outside the aerial we have variations and distributions

PSM V63 D112 Amplitudes of pressure variation in a closed organ pipe.png

Fig. 5. Amplitude of pressure Variation in a Closed Organ Pipe, indicated by the ordinates of the dotted Dotted Line xy.

of electric strain and magnetic flux. The resemblance between the closed organ-pipe and the simple Marconi aerial is, in fact, very complete. In the case of the closed organ-pipe, we have a longitudinal oscillation of air molecules in the pipe. At the open end or mouthpiece, where we have air moving in and out, the air movement is alternating and considerable, but there is little or no variation of air pressure. At the upper or closed end of the pipe we have great variation of air pressure, but little or no air movement (see Fig. 5).

Compare this now with the electrical phenomena of the aerial. At the spark ball or lower end we have little or no variation of potential or electron pressure, but we nave electrons rushing into and out of the aerial each half oscillation, forming the electric discharge or current. At the upper or insulated end we have little or no current, but great variations of potential or electron pressure. Supposing we could examine the wire inch by inch, all the way up from the spark balls at the bottom to the top, we should find at each stage of our journey that the range of variation and maximum value of the current in the wire became less and those of the potential became greater. At the bottom we have nearly zero potential or no electric pressure, but large current, and at the top end, no current, but great variation of potential.

We can represent the amplitude of the current and potential values