Experimental researches in electricity/Terrestrial magneto-electric induction
§ 5. _Terrestrial Magneto-electric Induction._
140. When the general facts described in the former paper were discovered, and the _law_ of magneto-electric induction relative to direction was ascertained (114.), it was not difficult to perceive that the earth would produce the same effect as a magnet, and to an extent that would, perhaps, render it available in the construction of new electrical machines. The following are some of the results obtained in pursuance of this view.
141. The hollow helix already described (6.) was connected with a galvanometer by wires eight feet long; and the soft iron cylinder (34.) after being heated red-hot and slowly cooled, to remove all traces of magnetism, was put into the helix so as to project equally at both ends, and fixed there. The combined helix and bar were held in the magnetic direction or line of dip, and (the galvanometer needle being motionless) were then inverted, so that the lower end should become the upper, but the whole still correspond to the magnetic direction; the needle was immediately deflected. As the latter returned to its first position, the helix and bar were again inverted; and by doing this two or three times, making the inversions and vibrations to coincide, the needle swung through an arc of 150° or 160°.
142. When one end of the helix, which may be called A, was uppermost at first (B end consequently being below), then it mattered not in which direction it proceeded during the inversion, whether to the right hand or left hand, or through any other course; still the galvanometer needle passed in the same direction. Again, when B end was uppermost, the inversion of the helix and bar in any direction always caused the needle to be deflected one way; that way being the opposite to the course of the deflection in the former case.
143. When the helix with its iron core in any given position was inverted, the effect was as if a magnet with its marked pole downwards had been introduced from above into the inverted helix. Thus, if the end B were upwards, such a magnet introduced from above would make the marked end of the galvanometer needle pass west. Or the end B being downwards, and the soft iron in its place, inversion of the whole produced the same effect.
144. When the soft iron bar was taken out of the helix and inverted in various directions within four feet of the galvanometer, not the slightest effect upon it was produced.
145. These phenomena are the necessary consequence of the inductive magnetic power of the earth, rendering the soft iron cylinder a magnet with its marked pole downwards. The experiment is analogous to that in which two bar magnets were used to magnetize the same cylinder in the same helix (36.), and the inversion of position in the present experiment is equivalent to a change of the poles in that arrangement. But the result is not less an instance of the evolution of electricity by means of the magnetism of the globe.
146. The helix alone was then held permanently in the magnetic direction, and the soft iron cylinder afterwards introduced; the galvanometer needle was instantly deflected; by withdrawing the cylinder as the needle returned, and continuing the two actions simultaneously, the vibrations soon extended through an arc of 180°. The effect was precisely the same as that obtained by using a cylinder magnet with its marked pole downwards; and the direction of motion, &c. was perfectly in accordance with the results of former experiments obtained with such a magnet (39.). A magnet in that position being used, gave the same deflections, but stronger. When the helix was put at right angles to the magnetic direction or dip, then the introduction or removal of the soft iron cylinder produced no effect at the needle. Any inclination to the dip gave results of the same kind as those already described, but increasing in strength as the helix approximated to the direction of the dip.
147. A cylinder magnet, although it has great power of affecting the galvanometer when moving into or out of the helix, has no power of continuing the deflection (39.); and therefore, though left in, still the magnetic needle comes to its usual place of rest. But upon repeating (with the magnet) the experiment of inversion in the direction of the dip (141), the needle was affected as powerfully as before; the disturbance of the magnetism in the steel magnet, by the earth's inductive force upon it, being thus shown to be nearly, if not quite, equal in amount and rapidity to that occurring in soft iron. It is probable that in this way magneto-electrical arrangements may become very useful in indicating the disturbance of magnetic forces, where other means will not apply; for it is not the whole magnetic power which produces the visible effect, but only the difference due to the disturbing causes.
148. These favourable results led me to hope that the direct magneto-electric induction of the earth might be rendered sensible; and I ultimately succeeded in obtaining the effect in several ways. When the helix just referred to (141. 6.) was placed in the magnetic dip, but without any cylinder of iron or steel, and was then inverted, a feeble action at the needle was observed. Inverting the helix ten or twelve times, and at such periods that the deflecting forces exerted by the currents of electricity produced in it should be added to the momentum of the needle (39.), the latter was soon made to vibrate through an arc of 80° or 90°. Here, therefore, currents of electricity were produced by the direct inductive power of the earth's magnetism, without the use of any ferruginous matter, and upon a metal not capable of exhibiting any of the ordinary magnetic phenomena. The experiment in everything represents the effects produced by bringing the same helix to one or both poles of any powerful magnet (50.).
149. Guided by the law already expressed (114.), I expected that all the electric phenomena of the revolving metal plate could now be produced without any other magnet than the earth. The plate so often referred to (85.) was therefore fixed so as to rotate in a horizontal plane. The magnetic curves of the earth (114. _note_), i.e. the dip, passes through this plane at angles of about 70°, which it was expected would be an approximation to perpendicularity, quite enough to allow of magneto-electric induction sufficiently powerful to produce a current of electricity.
150. Upon rotation of the plate, the currents ought, according to the law (114. 121.), to tend to pass in the direction of the radii, through _all_ parts of the plate, either from the centre to the circumference, or from the circumference to the centre, as the direction of the rotation of the plate was one way or the other. One of the wires of the galvanometer was therefore brought in contact with the axis of the plate, and the other attached to a leaden collector or conductor (86.), which itself was placed against the amalgamated edge of the disc. On rotating the plate there was a distinct effect at the galvanometer needle; on reversing the rotation, the needle went in the opposite direction; and by making the action of the plate coincide with the vibrations of the needle, the arc through which the latter passed soon extended to half a circle.
151. Whatever part of the edge of the plate was touched by the conductor, the electricity was the same, provided the direction of rotation continued unaltered.
152. When the plate revolved _screw-fashion_, or as the hands of a watch, the current of electricity (150.) was from the centre to the circumference; when the direction of rotation was _unscrew_, the current was from the circumference to the centre. These directions are the same with those obtained when the unmarked pole of a magnet was placed beneath the revolving plate (99.).
153. When the plate was in the magnetic meridian, or in any other plane _coinciding_ with the magnetic dip, then its rotation produced no effect upon the galvanometer. When inclined to the dip but a few degrees, electricity began to appear upon rotation. Thus when standing upright in a plane perpendicular to the magnetic meridian, and when consequently its own plane was inclined only about 20° to the dip, revolution of the plate evolved electricity. As the inclination was increased, the electricity became more powerful until the angle formed by the plane of the plate with the dip was 90°, when the electricity for a given velocity of the plate was a maximum.
154. It is a striking thing to observe the revolving copper plate become thus a _new electrical machine_; and curious results arise on comparing it with the common machine. In the one, the plate is of the best non-conducting substance that can be applied; in the other, it is the most perfect conductor: in the one, insulation is essential; in the other, it is fatal. In comparison of the quantities of electricity produced, the metal machine does not at all fall below the glass one; for it can produce a constant current capable of deflecting the galvanometer needle, whereas the latter cannot. It is quite true that the force of the current thus evolved has not as yet been increased so as to render it available in any of our ordinary applications of this power; but there appears every reasonable expectation that this may hereafter be effected; and probably by several arrangements. Weak as the current may seem to be, it is as strong as, if not stronger than, any thermo-electric current; for it can pass fluids (23.), agitate the animal system, and in the case of an electro-magnet has produced sparks (32.).
155. A disc of copper, one fifth of an inch thick and only one inch and a half in diameter, was amalgamated at the edge; a square piece of sheet lead (copper would have been better) of equal thickness had a circular hole cut in it, into which the disc loosely fitted; a little mercury completed the metallic communication of the disc and its surrounding ring; the latter was attached to one of the galvanometer wires, and the other wire dipped into a little metallic cup containing mercury, fixed upon the top of the copper axis of the small disc. Upon rotating the disc in a horizontal plane, the galvanometer needle could be affected, although the earth was the only magnet employed, and the radius of the disc but three quarters of an inch; in which space only the current was excited.
156. On putting the pole of a magnet under the revolving disc, the galvanometer needle could be permanently deflected.
157. On using copper wires one sixth of an inch in thickness instead of the smaller wires (86.) hitherto constantly employed, far more powerful effects were obtained. Perhaps if the galvanometer had consisted of fewer turns of thick wire instead of many convolutions of thinner, more striking effects would have been produced.
158. One form of apparatus which I purpose having arranged, is to have several discs superposed; the discs are to be metallically connected, alternately at the edges and at the centres, by means of mercury; and are then to be revolved alternately in opposite directions, i.e. the first, third, fifth, &c. to the right hand, and the second, fourth, sixth, &c. to the left hand; the whole being placed so that the discs are perpendicular to the dip, or intersect most directly the magnetic curves of powerful magnets. The electricity will be from the centre to the circumference in one set of discs, and from the circumference to the centre in those on each side of them; thus the action of the whole will conjoin to produce one combined and more powerful current.
159. I have rather, however, been desirous of discovering new facts and new relations dependent on magneto-electric induction, than of exalting the force of those already obtained; being assured that the latter would find their full development hereafter.
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160. I referred in my former paper to the probable influence of terrestrial magneto-electric induction (137.) in producing, either altogether or in part, the phenomena observed by Messrs. Christie and Barlow[A], whilst revolving ferruginous bodies; and especially those observed by the latter when rapidly rotating an iron shell, which were by that philosopher referred to a change in the ordinary disposition of the magnetism of the ball. I suggested also that the rotation of a copper globe would probably insulate the effects due to electric currents from those due to mere derangement of magnetism, and throw light upon the true nature of the phenomena.
[A] Christie, Phil. Trans. 1825, pp. 58, 347, &c. Barlow, Phil. Trans. 1825, p. 317.
161. Upon considering the law already referred to (114.), it appeared impossible that a metallic globe could revolve under natural circumstances, without having electric currents produced within it, circulating round the revolving globe in a plane at right angles to the plane of revolution, provided its axis of rotation did not coincide with the dip; and it appeared that the current would be most powerful when the axis of revolution was perpendicular to the dip of the needle: for then all those parts of the ball below a plane passing through its centre and perpendicular to the dip, would in moving cut the magnetic curves in one direction, whilst all those parts above that plane would intersect them in the other direction: currents therefore would exist in these moving parts, proceeding from one pole of rotation to the other; but the currents above would be in the reverse direction to those below, and in conjunction with them would produce a continued circulation of electricity.
162. As the electric currents are nowhere interrupted in the ball, powerful effects were expected, and I endeavoured to obtain them with simple apparatus. The ball I used was of brass; it had belonged to an old electrical machine, was hollow, thin (too thin), and four inches in diameter; a brass wire was screwed into it, and the ball either turned in the hand by the wire, or sometimes, to render it more steady, supported by its wire in a notched piece of wood, and motion again given by the hand. The ball gave no signs of magnetism when at rest.
163. A compound magnetic needle was used to detect the currents. It was arranged thus: a sewing-needle had the head and point broken off, and was then magnetised; being broken in halves, the two magnets thus produced were fixed on a stem of dried grass, so as to be perpendicular to it, and about four inches asunder; they were both in one plane, but their similar poles in contrary directions. The grass was attached to a piece of unspun silk about six inches long, the latter to a stick passing through a cork in the mouth of a cylindrical jar; and thus a compound arrangement was obtained, perfectly sheltered from the motion of the air, but little influenced by the magnetism of the earth, and yet highly sensible to magnetic and electric forces, when the latter were brought into the vicinity of the one or the other needle.
164. Upon adjusting the needles to the plane of the magnetic meridian; arranging the ball on the outside of the glass jar to the west of the needles, and at such a height that its centre should correspond horizontally with the upper needle, whilst its axis was in the plane of the magnetic meridian, but perpendicular to the dip; and then rotating the ball, the needle was immediately affected. Upon inverting the direction of rotation, the needle was again affected, but in the opposite direction. When the ball revolved from east over to west, the marked pole went eastward; when the ball revolved in the opposite direction, the marked pole went westward or towards the ball. Upon placing the ball to the east of the needles, still the needle was deflected in the same way; i.e. when the ball revolved from east over to west, the marked pole wont eastward (or towards the ball); when the rotation was in the opposite direction, the marked pole went westward.
165. By twisting the silk of the needles, the latter were brought into a position perpendicular to the plane of the magnetic meridian; the ball was again revolved, with its axis parallel to the needles; the upper was affected as before, and the deflection was such as to show that both here and in the former case the needle was influenced solely by currents of electricity existing in the brass globe.
166. If the upper part of the revolving ball be considered as a wire moving from east to west, over the unmarked pole of the earth, the current of electricity in it should be from north to south (99. 114. 150.); if the under part be considered as a similar wire, moving from west to east over the same pole, the electric current should be from south to north; and the circulation of electricity should therefore be from north above to south, and below back to north, in a metal ball revolving from east above to west in these latitudes. Now these currents are exactly those required to give the directions of the needle in the experiments just described; so that the coincidence of the theory from which the experiments were deduced with the experiments themselves, is perfect.
167. Upon inclining the axis of rotation considerably, the revolving ball was still found to affect the magnetic needle; and it was not until the angle which it formed with the magnetic dip was rendered small, that its effects, even upon this apparatus, were lost (153.). When revolving with its axis parallel to the dip, it is evident that the globe becomes analogous to the copper plate; electricity of one kind might be collected at its equator, and of the other kind at its poles.
168. A current in the ball, such as that described above (161.), although it ought to deflect a needle the same way whether it be to the right or the left of the ball and of the axis of rotation, ought to deflect it the contrary way when above or below the ball; for then the needle is, or ought to be, acted upon in a contrary direction by the current. This expectation was fulfilled by revolving the ball beneath the magnetic needle, the latter being still inclosed in its jar. When the ball was revolved from east over to west, the marked pole of the needle, instead of passing eastward, went westward; and when revolved from west over to east, the marked pole went eastward.
169. The deflections of the magnetic needle thus obtained with a brass ball are exactly in the same direction as those observed by Mr. Barlow in the revolution of the iron shell; and from the manner in which iron exhibits the phenomena of magneto-electric induction like any other metal, and distinct from its peculiar magnetic phenomena (132.), it is impossible but that electric currents must have been excited, and become active in those experiments. What proportion of the whole effect obtained is due to this cause, must be decided by a more elaborate investigation of all the phenomena.
170. These results, in conjunction with the general law before stated (114.), suggested an experiment of extreme simplicity, which yet, on trial, was found to answer perfectly. The exclusion of all extraneous circumstances and complexity of arrangement, and the distinct character of the indications afforded, render this single experiment an epitome of nearly all the facts of magneto-electric induction.
171. A piece of common copper wire, about eight feet long and one twentieth of an inch in thickness, had one of its ends fastened to one of the terminations of the galvanometer wire, and the other end to the other termination; thus it formed an endless continuation of the galvanometer wire: it was then roughly adjusted into the shape of a rectangle, or rather of a loop, the upper part of which could be carried to and fro over the galvanometer, whilst the lower part, and the galvanometer attached to it, remained steady (Plate II. fig. 30.). Upon moving this loop over the galvanometer from right to left, the magnetic needle was immediately deflected; upon passing the loop back again, the needle passed in the contrary direction to what it did before; upon repeating these motions of the loop in accordance with the vibrations of the needle (39.), the latter soon swung through 90° or more.
172. The relation of the current of electricity produced in the wire, to its motion, may be understood by supposing the convolutions at the galvanometer away, and the wire arranged as a rectangle, with its lower edge horizontal and in the plane of the magnetic meridian, and a magnetic needle suspended above and over the middle part of this edge, and directed by the earth (fig. 30.). On passing the upper part of the rectangle from west to east into the position represented by the dotted line, the marked pole of the magnetic needle went west; the electric current was therefore from north to south in the part of the wire passing under the needle, and from south to north in the moving or upper part of the parallelogram. On passing the upper part of the rectangle from east to west over the galvanometer, the marked pole of the needle went east, and the current of electricity was therefore the reverse of the former.
173. When the rectangle was arranged in a plane east and west, and the magnetic needle made parallel to it, either by the torsion of its suspension thread or the action of a magnet, still the general effects were the same. On moving the upper part of the rectangle from north to south, the marked pole of the needle went north; when the wire was moved in the opposite direction, the marked pole went south. The same effect took place when the motion of the wire was in any other azimuth of the line of dip; the direction of the current always being conformable to the law formerly expressed (114.), and also to the directions obtained with the rotating ball (101.).
174. In these experiments it is not necessary to move the galvanometer or needle from its first position. It is quite sufficient if the wire of the rectangle is distorted where it leaves the instrument, and bent so as to allow the moving upper part to travel in the desired direction.
175. The moveable part of the wire was then arranged _below_ the galvanometer, but so as to be carried across the dip. It affected the instrument as before, and in the same direction; i.e. when carried from west to east under the instrument, the marked end of the needle went west, as before. This should, of course, be the case; for when the wire is cutting the magnetic dip in a certain direction, an electric current also in a certain direction should be induced in it.
176. If in fig. 31 _dp_ be parallel to the dip, and BA be considered as the upper part of the rectangle (171.), with an arrow _c_ attached to it, both these being retained in a plane perpendicular to the dip,--then, however BA with its attached arrow is moved upon _dp_ as an axis, if it afterwards proceed in the direction of the arrow, a current of electricity will move along it from B towards A.
177. When the moving part of the wire was carried up or down parallel to the dip, no effect was produced on the galvanometer. When the direction of motion was a little inclined to the dip, electricity manifested itself; and was at a maximum when the motion was perpendicular to the magnetic direction.
178. When the wire was bent into other forms and moved, equally strong effects were obtained, especially when instead of a rectangle a double catenarian curve was formed of it on one side of the galvanometer, and the two single curves or halves were swung in opposite directions at the same time; their action then combined to affect the galvanometer: but all the results were reducible to those above described.
179. The longer the extent of the moving wire, and the greater the space through which it moves, the greater is the effect upon the galvanometer.
180. The facility with which electric currents are produced in metals when moving under the influence of magnets, suggests that henceforth precautions should always be taken, in experiments upon metals and magnets, to guard against such effects. Considering the universality of the magnetic influence of the earth, it is a consequence which appears very extraordinary to the mind, that scarcely any piece of metal can be moved in contact with others, either at rest, or in motion with different velocities or in varying directions, without an electric current existing within them. It is probable that amongst arrangements of steam-engines and metal machinery, some curious accidental magneto-electric combinations may be found, producing effects which have never been observed, or, if noticed, have never as yet been understood.
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181. Upon considering the effects of terrestrial magneto-electric induction which have now been described, it is almost impossible to resist the impression that similar effects, but infinitely greater in force, may be produced by the action of the globe, as a magnet, upon its own mass, in consequence of its diurnal rotation. It would seem that if a bar of metal be laid in these latitudes on the surface of the earth parallel to the magnetic meridian, a current of electricity tends to pass through it from south to north, in consequence of the travelling of the bar from west to east (172.), by the rotation of the earth; that if another bar in the same direction be connected with the first by wires, it cannot discharge the current of the first, because it has an equal tendency to have a current in the same direction induced within itself: but that if the latter be carried from east to west, which is equivalent to a diminution of the motion communicated to it from the earth (172.), then the electric current from south to north is rendered evident in the first bar, in consequence of its discharge, at the same time, by means of the second.
182. Upon the supposition that the rotation of the earth tended, by magneto-electric induction, to cause currents in its own mass, these would, according to the law (114.) and the experiments, be, upon the surface at least, from the parts in the neighbourhood of or towards the plane of the equator, in opposite directions to the poles; and if collectors could be applied at the equator and at the poles of the globe, as has been done with the revolving copper plate (150.), and also with magnets (220.), then negative electricity would be collected at the equator, and positive electricity at both poles (222.). But without the conductors, or something equivalent to them, it is evident these currents could not exist, as they could not be discharged.
183. I did not think it impossible that some natural difference might occur between bodies, relative to the intensity of the current produced or tending to be produced in them by magneto-electric induction, which might be shown by opposing them to each other; especially as Messrs. Arago, Babbage, Herschel, and Harris, have all found great differences, not only between the metals and other substances, but between the metals themselves, in their power of receiving motion from or giving it to a magnet in trials by revolution (130.). I therefore took two wires, each one hundred and twenty feet long, one of iron and the other of copper. These were connected with each other at their ends, and then extended in the direction of the magnetic meridian, so as to form two nearly parallel lines, nowhere in contact except at the extremities. The copper wire was then divided in the middle, and examined by a delicate galvanometer, but no evidence of an electrical current was obtained.
184. By favour of His Royal Highness the President of the Society, I obtained the permission of His Majesty to make experiments at the lake in the gardens of Kensington-palace, for the purpose of comparing, in a similar manner, water and metal. The basin of this lake is artificial; the water is supplied by the Chelsea Company; no springs run into it, and it presented what I required, namely, a uniform mass of still pure water, with banks ranging nearly from east to west, and from north to south.
185. Two perfectly clean bright copper plates, each exposing four square feet of surface, were soldered to the extremities of a copper wire; the plates were immersed in the water, north and south of each other, the wire which connected them being arranged upon the grass of the bank. The plates were about four hundred and eighty feet from each other, in a right line; the wire was probably six hundred feet long. This wire was then divided in the middle, and connected by two cups of mercury with a delicate galvanometer.
186. At first, indications of electric currents were obtained; but when these were tested by inverting the direction of contact, and in other ways, they were found to be due to other causes than the one sought for. A little difference in temperature; a minute portion of the nitrate of mercury used to amalgamate the wires, entering into the water employed to reduce the two cups of mercury to the same temperature; was sufficient to produce currents of electricity, which affected the galvanometer, notwithstanding they had to pass through nearly five hundred feet of water. When these and other interfering causes were guarded against, no effect was obtained; and it appeared that even such dissimilar substances as water and copper, when cutting the magnetic curves of the earth with equal velocity, perfectly neutralized each other's action.
187. Mr. Fox of Falmouth has obtained some highly important results respecting the electricity of metalliferous veins in the mines of Cornwall, which have been published in the Philosophical Transactions[A]. I have examined the paper with a view to ascertain whether any of the effects were probably referable to magneto-electric induction; but, though unable to form a very strong opinion, believe they are not. When parallel veins running east and west were compared, the general tendency of the electricity _in the wires_ was from north to south; when the comparison was made between parts towards the surface and at some depth, the current of electricity in the wires was from above downwards. If there should be any natural difference in the force of the electric currents produced by magneto-electric induction in different substances, or substances in different positions moving with the earth, and which might be rendered evident by increasing the masses acted upon, then the wires and veins experimented with by Mr. Fox might perhaps have acted as dischargers to the electricity of the mass of strata included between them, and the directions of the currents would agree with those observed as above.
[A] 1830. p. 399.
188. Although the electricity obtained by magneto-electric induction in a few feet of wire is of but small intensity, and has not yet been observed except in metals, and carbon in a particular state, still it has power to pass through brine (23.); and, as increased length in the substance acted upon produces increase of intensity, I hoped to obtain effects from extensive moving masses of water, though quiescent water gave none. I made experiments therefore (by favour) at Waterloo Bridge, extending a copper wire nine hundred and sixty feet in length upon the parapet of the bridge, and dropping from its extremities other wires with extensive plates of metal attached to them to complete contact with the water. Thus the wire and the water made one conducting circuit; and as the water ebbed or flowed with the tide, I hoped to obtain currents analogous to those of the brass ball (161.).
189. I constantly obtained deflections at the galvanometer, but they were very irregular, and were, in succession, referred to other causes than that sought for. The different condition of the water as to purity on the two sides of the river; the difference in temperature; slight differences in the plates, in the solder used, in the more or less perfect contact made by twisting or otherwise; all produced effects in turn: and though I experimented on the water passing through the middle arches only; used platina plates instead of copper; and took every other precaution, I could not after three days obtain any satisfactory results.
190. Theoretically, it seems a necessary consequence, that where water is flowing, there electric currents should be formed; thus, if a line be imagined passing from Dover to Calais through the sea, and returning through the land beneath the water to Dover, it traces out a circuit of conducting matter, one part of which, when the water moves up or down the channel, is cutting the magnetic curves of the earth, whilst the other is relatively at rest. This is a repetition of the wire experiment (171.), but with worse conductors. Still there is every reason to believe that electric currents do run in the general direction of the circuit described, either one way or the other, according as the passage of the waters is up or down the channel. Where the lateral extent of the moving water is enormously increased, it does not seem improbable that the effect should become sensible; and the gulf stream may thus, perhaps, from electric currents moving across it, by magneto-electric induction from the earth, exert a sensible influence upon the forms of the lines of magnetic variation[A].
[A] Theoretically, even a ship or a boat when passing on the surface of the water, in northern or southern latitudes, should have currents of electricity running through it directly across the line of her motion; or if the water is flowing past the ship at anchor, similar currents should occur.
191. Though positive results have not yet been obtained by the action of the earth upon water and aqueous fluids, yet, as the experiments are very limited in their extent, and as such fluids do yield the current by artificial magnets (23.), (for transference of the current is proof that it may be produced (213.),) the supposition made, that the earth produces these induced currents within itself (181.) in consequence of its diurnal rotation, is still highly probable (222, 223.); and when it is considered that the moving masses extend for thousands of miles across the magnetic curves, cutting them in various directions within its mass, as well as at the surface, it is possible the electricity may rise to considerable intensity.
192. I hardly dare venture, even in the most hypothetical form, to ask whether the Aurora Borealis and Australia may not be the discharge of electricity, thus urged towards the poles of the earth, from whence it is endeavouring to return by natural and appointed means above the earth to the equatorial regions. The non-occurrence of it in very high latitudes is not at all against the supposition; and it is remarkable that Mr. Fox, who observed the deflections of the magnetic needle at Falmouth, by the Aurora Borealis, gives that direction of it which perfectly agrees with the present view. He states that all the variations at night were towards the east[A], and this is what would happen if electric currents were setting from south to north in the earth under the needle, or from north to south in space above it.
[A] Philosophical Transactions, 1831, p. 202.