Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/811

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789
RECENT WONDERS OF ELECTRICITY.

an Apps's induction coil, to which can be joined up vacuum tubes of various kinds, and through which the currents produced by the hand dynamo-machine will be passed. [A beautiful collection of vacuum tubes, fitted with various rarefied gases, was then shown, while the lights were turned down.] In those effects we have the result of electricity passing through air, and gases of extreme tenuity, and also an indication of the way in which electricity produces heat—and, therefore, light—in gaseous matter. All instances of artificial lighting or heating are simply due to the fact that we are able to produce heat, and heat of a very high temperature. It is a curious fact that all matter, whether metal or porcelain, carbon or lime, begins to emit light at precisely the same temperature, which closely approaches 1,000° Fahr., or, to be accurate, I believe it is 980° Fahr., so that, whenever it is possible by any means to raise any material to that temperature, light is emitted, and the intensity of light increases, until, in the case of carbon, when about 4,000° Fahr. is reached, the material is destroyed. In platinum, a lower figure (3,082°) represents the point of fusion. To obtain this very high temperature by electric currents, we must utilize higher means of producing the electricity than I have hitherto shown you. In the battery I have just used, the electric current was produced by the combustion of zinc; but now I want to explain to you how, as I said, muscular power was converted into electric energy. The reason is simply due to the fact discovered by Faraday, that whenever a wire or conductor moved through the sphere or field of a magnet, it became electrified. I take up the brass rod before me and move it rapidly, and by doing so have, to a certain extent, electrified it by causing it to pass through the magnetic field of the earth. The earth is an enormous magnet—a fact which we know, because our compasses guide the mariners across the deep. The air in this room is under the influence of the earth's magnetism; and if I move a wire or rod within that influence, at right angles to the lines of magnetic force, I cause it to be electrified, but only to an excessively small extent. The strength of the current produced depends upon the strength of the magnetic field, and upon the velocity with which the conductor moves across the field. Instead of having only one rod, or one wire, we have in this hand-machine an arrangement of a thousand turns of wire; instead of having the weak magnetism of the earth, we have the powerful field of permanent magnet; and, instead of causing it to move through the air by the velocity of my arm, we apply multiplying gear, which, as you see, imparts velocity to it of great rapidity. Thus motion, through a magnetic field, produces an electro-motive force. There never can be a continuous electro-motive force without some source of energy. Here we have mechanical energy expended, and all the conditions for the production and maintenance of a current. Energy expended in one point must be found in some form in another point. If it is not utilized, it is wasted.