Page:Scientific Memoirs, Vol. 1 (1837).djvu/22

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10
M. MELLONI ON THE FREE TRANSMISSION

natural state when the radiation is stopped; or that the heat, which is supposed to be diffused through the material points of the screen, is but common caloric obeying the known laws of equilibrium. In the first case we should be only attempting to explain the very cause of the transmission, and the hypothesis, true or false, does not at all invalidate the fact which we are desirous to establish. In the second case, this heat, when it has reached the interior of the body, must take some time to issue from it; besides, this time must vary with the thickness of the screen, and its powers of conduction and emission. But let us intercept the calorific communication in our apparatus; let us remove the diaphanous screen from its stand, and expose it for some moments to the free radiation of the lamp on the other side of the diaphragm: if the supposition be true, the internal molecules of the glass will instantaneously acquire some heat. In order to see whether this heat really exists, let us replace the screen on its stand before the pile, still leaving the calorific communication with the lamp intercepted. The further surface of the plate of glass will, according to the hypothesis, immediately begin to emit towards the pile that caloric which reaches it successively from within, and the index of the galvanometer must lose its equilibrium. But whatever be the nature or the thickness of the screen with which this experiment is performed, we never obtain the slightest indication of a movement in the magnetic needle. It is therefore completely demonstrated that the deviations of the galvanometer exhibited in the experiments made with the diaphanous screens are not to be attributed, in the least degree, either to the external or the internal heat of the screen itself, but solely and exclusively to free transmission. Thus, whenever, in consequence of the radiant heat of the source being made to fall on a screen, a deviation of the galvanometer is perceptible, we may rest assured that the whole of the effect produced is to be ascribed to the rays of heat immediately transmitted through it, in the same manner as luminous rays.

Before I conclude these preliminary considerations, it is necessary to remark, 1st, that galvanometers of very great sensibility, such as must be used for the thermomultiplier, do not directly indicate quantities less than half-degrees; 2ndly, that the ratios of the degrees of the galvanometer and the forces of deviation are unknown. But it is often useful to have the fractions below the half-degree, and in certain circumstances it is absolutely indispensable to know the ratios of the several degrees of calorific action which move the magnetic needles to different distances from their primitive position.

To find the fractions sought, we have only to take the means of a certain number of observations. As to the ratio of the deviations and the forces, it is difficult and, in the present state of the science, perhaps impossible to determine it generally. But electric piles, such as those