Page:Scientific Memoirs, Vol. 1 (1837).djvu/20

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8
M. MELLONI ON THE FREE TRANSMISSION

with other plates of glass, or of any transparent substance whatsoever, possessing different degrees of thickness, from the hundredth part of a line to five or six inches, the galvanometer exhibits deviations greater or less than 21°; but the time requisite to attain the equilibrium is in all cases the same. In short, if we mark the time which the needle takes to arrive at 30°, we shall find it to be one minute and a half.

The invariability of this time, in such a variety of circumstances, affords the most decisive evidence that the deviations of the galvanometer are exclusively due to that portion of heat which reaches the pile by immediate transmission. Whence it follows, that in the arrangement we have adopted, the heat of the transparent body has no appretiable influence on the instrument.

But a direct proof of this proposition may be obtained by operating on opake screens.

I take a plate of glass a millimetre in thickness. I blacken it on one

uniform distribution over all the points of the mass of air within,—a distribution which will necessarily take place, because of the fluidity of the thermoscopic body.

Another inconvenience produced by the interposition of the glass, and from which the thermomultiplier is free, is the lapse of a perceptible interval between the commencement of the action and its manifestation on the instrument; for there is always some time required, in order that the heat may pass from one surface to the other. I speak not here of the caloric which might pass to the air by free transmission through the diaphanous sides of the cover; for when we have to estimate the intensities of caloric rays by means of thermoscopes, we cannot dispense with the blackening of the glass. So necessary indeed is this, that in order to make sure of the opacity of the glass, it must be overlaid with several coats of colouring matter. Otherwise, a portion of the rays would freely pass through the mass of air contained in the ball without dilating it.

Now, in the common thermoscopes, we always measure the radiation through an opake plate of glass. This plate, however thin, must offer a considerable resistance to the propagation of heat, because of the feebleness of its conducting power, and will therefore, as we have already observed, render the apparatus insensible during the first moments of action. Let it be observed, moreover, that the more we endeavour to increase the sensibility of the thermoscope by enlarging the dimensions of the balls, the more we diminish the promptitude of its indications; for the increase of volume is proportionally greater than that of the part of the surface turned towards the source, and the mass of air within is increased in a proportionally greater degree than those points of the glass which can communicate to it the heat they have acquired. Hence arises a greater difficulty in attaining the moment of equal temperature in all the points of the fluid mass, and, of course, the necessity of a longer time to mark the entire effect.

In fine, the thermoscopes are utterly useless when it is required to measure caloric rays that are very feeble, and distributed according to given lines, or forming sheaves of small dimension. In fact, it would be necessary in this case to preserve the whole sensibility of the instrument by considerably reducing the size of the balls. But this is impossible.

Whoever takes the trouble to weigh these considerations duly, will not, I think, hesitate for a moment to prefer the thermomultiplier to every other thermoscopic apparatus in studying the subject of caloric radiation.