Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/812

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Some of it must always be wasted, and the true economist will try and waste the least possible quantity. If I place a piece of platinum wire between the two wires connected with the hand dynamo-machine, you see that the muscular energy of my assistant, by turning the handle, generates currents of electricity, which give a red heat to the platinum wire. The energy of the body is thrown into the machine, the machine converts it into electricity, the electricity passes through the wire, which, by having work done upon it, is rendered incandescent, and, in consequence, becomes luminous. I have here a lamp containing a piece of platinum wire, and, if I connect it to the wires of the dynamo-machine [this was done], the platinum glows and gives us light. It is a machine precisely similar in principle to the one now before you, fixed under the arches on the Thames embankment, and worked by a steam-engine (lent for the purpose by Messrs. Robey) that is supplying currents of electricity to the lamps now lighting this room. There is an occasional throb in the light; this is produced by the unsteadiness of the engine, which was not specially prepared for the purpose, but was the best available. It is, in fact, an agricultural machine. There are two kinds of electric machines of this class. One is called the magneto-machine, like the one before you, because the magnetic field is produced by the presence of a powerful permanent magnet, which, I think, is visible to most of you, and which consists of several pieces of steel that have been magnetized. The other kind of machine is called the dynamo-machine, in which the magnetic field is produced by an electro-magnet, which is itself excited by the currents it generates, so that there is a kind of accumulative action; one current piles up the agony on the other current, and all of them together, acting on the electro-magnet, increase the total effects, until the iron is saturated with magnetism. So much as regards the production of currents for electric-lighting purposes. The motion of the conductor through the magnetic field may be caused by the energy of coal, which is consumed to generate heat and steam for working a steam-engine; or, as at Godalming, by the energy of water on a water-wheel; and it is very probable that, where water is available, it will be the most economical source of energy for electric-lighting purposes. Sir William Armstrong, at his seat at Craigside, near Newcastle-on-Tyne, has illuminated his house for some time by currents of electricity, produced by a water-fall in his grounds, so that, he says, his library and his drawing-room are lit by the river flowing through his grounds. As regards the light itself, there are two kinds of lamps. I have already explained and illustrated to you the fact that electricity in its passage through air produces sparks. I have here what is called an arc-lamp; in it two rods of carbon are held by two brass clips (not in metallic connection with each other), and the ends of the carbon are, when in action, a short distance apart. On joining up the wires to the brass clips the current flows, a bright light is instantly set