Page:EB1911 - Volume 05.djvu/269

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256
CAP HAITIEN—CAPILLARY ACTION

other English Henries are transferred from various well-known chroniclers. The Chronicle was edited for the “Rolls” Series by Francis Charles Hingeston (London, 1858); the Liber de illustrious Henricis was edited (London, 1858) for the same series by F. C. Hingeston, who published an English translation the same year. The editing of both the works is very uncritical and bad.

See Potthast, Bibliotheka Med. Aev.; and U. Chevalier, Répertoire des sources hist. Bio-bibliographie, s.v.


CAP HAITIEN, Cape Haïtien or Haytien, a seaport of Haiti West Indies. Pop. about 15,000. It is situated on the north coast, 90 m. N. of Port au Prince, in 19° 46′ N. and 72° 14′ W. Its original Indian name was Guarico, and it has been known, at various times, as Cabo Santo, Cap Français and Cape Henri, while throughout Haiti it is always called Le Cap. It is the most picturesque town in the republic, and the second in importance. On three sides it is hemmed in by lofty mountains, while on the fourth it overlooks a safe and commodious harbour. Under the French rule it was the capital of the colony, and its splendour, wealth and luxury earned for it the title of the “Paris of Haiti.” It was then the see of an archbishop and possessed a large and flourishing university. The last remains of its former glory were destroyed by the earthquake of 1842 and the British bombardment of 1865. Although now but a collection of squalid wooden huts, with here and there a well-built warehouse, it is the centre of a thriving district and does a large export trade. It was founded by the Spaniards about the middle of the 17th century, and in 1687 received a large French colony. In 1695 it was taken and burned by the British, and in 1791 it suffered the same fate at the hands of Toussaint L’Ouverture. It then became the capital of King Henri Christophe’s dominions, but since his fall has suffered severely in numerous revolutions.


CAPILLARY ACTION.[1] A tube, the bore of which is so small that it will only admit a hair (Lat. capilla), is called a capillary tube. When such a tube of glass, open at both ends, is placed vertically with its lower end immersed in water, the water is observed to rise in the tube, and to stand within the tube at a higher level than the water outside. The action between the capillary tube and the water has been called capillary action, and the name has been extended to many other phenomena which have been found to depend on properties of liquids and solids similar to those which cause water to rise in capillary tubes.

The forces which are concerned in these phenomena are those which act between neighbouring parts of the same substance, and which are called forces of cohesion, and those which act between portions of matter of different kinds, which are called forces of adhesion. These forces are quite insensible between two portions of matter separated by any distance which we can directly measure. It is only when the distance becomes exceedingly small that these forces become perceptible. G. H. Quincke (Pogg. Ann. cxxxvii. p. 402) made experiments to determine the greatest distance at which the effect of these forces is sensible, and he found for various substances distances about the twenty-thousandth part of a millimetre.

Historical.—According to J. C. Poggendorff (Pogg. Ann. ci. p. 551), Leonardo da Vinci must be considered as the discoverer of capillary phenomena, but the first accurate observations of the capillary action of tubes and glass plates were made by Francis Hawksbee (Physico-Mechanical Experiments, London, 1709, pp. 139-169; and Phil. Trans., 1711 and 1712), who ascribed the action to an attraction between the glass and the liquid. He observed that the effect was the same in thick tubes as in thin, and concluded that only those particles of the glass which are very near the surface have any influence on the phenomenon. Dr James Jurin (Phil. Trans., 1718, p. 739, and 1719, p. 1083) showed that the height at which the liquid is suspended depends on the section of the tube at the surface of the liquid, and is independent of the form of the lower part of the tube. He considered that the suspension of the liquid is due to “the attraction of the periphery or section of the surface of the tube to which the upper surface of the water is contiguous and coheres.” From this he showed that the rise of the liquid in tubes of the same substance is inversely proportional to their radii. Sir Isaac Newton devoted the 31st query in the last edition of his Opticks to molecular forces, and instanced several examples of the cohesion of liquids, such as the suspension of mercury in a barometer tube at more than double the height at which it usually stands. This arises from its adhesion to the tube, and the upper part of the mercury sustains a considerable tension, or negative pressure, without the separation of its parts. He considered the capillary phenomena to be of the same kind, but his explanation is not sufficiently explicit with respect to the nature and the limits of the action of the attractive force.

It is to be observed that, while these early speculators ascribe the phenomena to attraction, they do not distinctly assert that this attraction is sensible only at insensible distances, and that for all distances which we can directly measure the force is altogether insensible. The idea of such forces, however, had been distinctly formed by Newton, who gave the first example of the calculation of the effect of such forces in his theorem on the alteration of the path of a light-corpuscle when it enters or leaves a dense body.

Alexis Claude Clairault (Théorie de la figure de la terre, Paris, 1808, pp. 105, 128) appears to have been the first to show the necessity of taking account of the attraction between the parts of the fluid itself in order to explain the phenomena. He did not, however, recognize the fact that the distance at which the attraction is sensible is not only small but altogether insensible. J. A. von Segner (Comment. Soc. Reg. Götting. i. (1751) p. 301) introduced the very important idea of the surface-tension of liquids, which he ascribed to attractive forces, the sphere of whose action is so small “ut nullo adhuc sensu percipi potuerit.” In attempting to calculate the effect of this surface-tension in determining the form of a drop of the liquid, Segner took account of the curvature of a meridian section of the drop, but neglected the effect of the curvature in a plane at right angles to this section.

The idea of surface-tension introduced by Segner had a most important effect on the subsequent development of the theory. We may regard it as a physical fact established by experiment in the same way as the laws of the elasticity of solid bodies. We may investigate the forces which act between finite portions of a liquid in the same way as we investigate the forces which act between finite portions of a solid. The experiments on solids lead to certain laws of elasticity expressed in terms of coefficients, the values of which can be determined only by experiments on each particular substance. Various attempts have also been made to deduce these laws from particular hypotheses as to the action between the molecules of the elastic substance. We may therefore regard the theory of elasticity as consisting of two parts. The first part establishes the laws of the elasticity of a finite portion of the solid subjected to a homogeneous strain, and deduces from these laws the equations of the equilibrium and motion of a body subjected to any forces and displacements. The second part endeavours to deduce the facts of the elasticity of a finite portion of the substance from hypotheses as to the motion of its constituent molecules and the forces acting between them. In like manner we may by experiment ascertain the general fact that the surface of a liquid is in a state of tension similar to that of a membrane stretched equally in all directions, and prove that this tension depends only on the nature and temperature of the liquid and not on its form, and from this as a secondary physical principle we may deduce all the phenomena of capillary action. This is one step of the investigation. The next step is to deduce this surface-tension from a hypothesis as to the molecular constitution of the liquid and of the bodies that surround it. The scientific importance of this step is to be measured by the degree of insight which it affords or promises into the molecular constitution of real bodies by the suggestion of experiments by which we may discriminate between rival molecular theories.

  1. In this revision of James Clerk Maxwell’s classical article in the ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, additions are marked by square brackets.