Page:1860 Fizeau en.djvu/12

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

tube was 1 centimetre, and its effective length 1.495 metre; the direction of the motion in one tube was opposite to that in the other, and the pressure under which this motion took place was measured by a manometer placed at the entrance of the tubes it could be raised to 3 centimetres of mercury.

The velocity of the air was deduced from the pressure and from the dimensions of the tubes, according to the known laws of the efflux of gases. The value thus found was checked by means of the known volume of the bellows, and the number of strokes necessary to produce a practically constant pressure at the entrance of the tubes. A velocity of 25 metres per second could easily be imparted to the air; occasionally greater velocities were reached, but their values remained uncertain.

In no experiment could a perceptible displacement of the bands be produced: they always occupied the same positions, no matter whether the air remained at rest, or moved with a velocity equal or even superior to 25 metres per second.

When this experiment was made, the possibility of doubling, by means of a reflecting telescope, the value of the displacement, and at the same time of completely compensating any effects due to accidental differences of temperature or pressure in the two tubes, had not suggested itself; but I employed a sure method of distinguishing between the effects due to motion, and those resulting from accidental circumstances.

This method consisted in making two successive observations, by causing the rays to traverse the apparatus in opposite directions. For this purpose the source of light was placed at the point where the central band had previously been, when the new bands formed themselves where the source of light had previously been placed.

The direction of the motion of the air in the tubes remaining the same in both cases, it is easy to see that the accidental effects would in both observations give rise to a displacement towards the same tube, whilst the displacement due solely to motion would first be on the side of one tube and then on the side of the other. In this manner a displacement due to motion would have been detected with certainty, even if it had been accompanied by an accidental displacement due, for instance, to some defect of symmetry in the diameters or orifices of the tubes, whence would result an unequal resistance to the passage of air, and consequently a difference of density.

But the symmetry given to the apparatus was so perfect that no sensible difference of density existed in the two tubes during the motion of the air. The double observation was consequently unnecessary; nevertheless it was made for the sake of greater security, and in order to be sure that the sought displacement