Page:Scientific Memoirs, Vol. 1 (1837).djvu/30

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18
M. MELLONI ON THE FREE TRANSMISSION

candle be held for some minutes at a suitable distance, and the communication then intercepted, the needle will be forced back to zero in an interval of time less than 8s. These operations would be impossible if the side of the pile opposite to the lamp were hermetically closed. The second moveable screen serves then to abridge the duration of the experiments. It is particularly useful when the calorific action has been very powerful or considerably prolonged, which sometimes happens in the first attempts at adjustment. During these, the portions of heat penetrate the pile to a great depth, and cannot return until a considerable time has elapsed. Before these simple means of correction had occurred to me, the difficulty of restoring the equilibrium of the two extremes of the pile, as well as that which I experienced in respect to he different temperatures of the screens and the apparatus, often obliged me to stand still for fifteen or twenty minutes between two consecutive experiments.

When any object of research requires numerous experiments, we should endeavour from the very outset to avail ourselves of all that contributes to make them more expeditious; for the least delay arising from imperfectness of method will, by gradually accumulating, ultimately render the labour of whole days utterly fruitless. Yet, the attention being absorbed by the main object, these little defects are at first unnoticed. At length, however, we become sensible of them, and endeavour to apply a remedy when it is almost too late. But the result of the experiment is not without its use, since it may be more or less serviceable in analogous circumstances. This consideration must be my apology for the minuteness of detail into which I have entered.

The first problem that presents itself, in the series of questions relative to the passage of radiant heat through solid bodies, is to determine the influence which the degree of their polish has, and the quantity of rays transmitted. In order to solve this, we have but to apply our thermometrical method to several screens perfectly similar in all respects, except as to the state of the surface.

Out of the glass of a mirror which was very pure, and nine millimetres in thickness, I cut eight pieces sufficiently large to cover the central aperture of the screen when they were placed on the stand; and, after having removed the quicksilver, I wore them down with sand, emery, and other such substances, so as to form by their succession a complete series of plane surfaces more or less finely wrought, from the first and coarsest to the highest and most perfect polish. These different pieces reduced to one common thickness of 8mm·371[1] and ex-

  1. All the measures of small degrees of thickness contained in this Memoir have been taken with a pair of calipers with pivots, a species of double compasses, with a spring and with legs of unequal lengths, much used in the manufacture of clockwork. This instrument measures directly, and with great nicety, even the fortieth part of a line.