Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/813

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791
RECENT WONDERS OF ELECTRICITY.

up in the air between the carbon points, and the arc is formed. This light is due to the passage of an infinitely rapid succession of particles of carbon which are projected across the air-space, which, in their high state of incandescence, produce light, and which in brilliancy would not compare unfavorably with that of the sun. The light from a larger arc-lamp would be far more brilliant than this, but I do not want to damage your eyes or my own. I have experimented on the electric light so much, that I have suffered great tortures from the irritating and exciting influence of its bright rays upon the retina of the eyes, and I advise all people who have an opportunity of examining the arc-light, not to look at it too much, or the eye-sight may be unfavorably affected. The arc-light is used principally for lighting large areas: for instance, Charing Cross station is lit by one form of arc-light, called the Brush; Cannon Street station is lit by what is known as the Brockie lamp; the space in front of the Royal Exchange is lit up by the Siemens arc-lamp; King's Cross station is lit up by the Crompton plan; and so on. A very brilliant arc-lamp at Paris, which attracted a great deal of attention, was called the Jasper light. But all arc-lamps play upon one string, similar to the plan I have just shown, viz., that when two pieces of carbon are maintained at a certain distance from each other, and electricity passed between them, great heat and brilliant light are the result. There are certain difficulties in arc-lamps which militate against their employment for domestic and internal use generally. The light is very intense; the effect is irritating; the ladies do not like it (and they are a powerful influence in this country), because it does not suit their complexion, nor their style of costume for evening wear: they have set their faces against it for internal illumination, and, that being so, it is all up with it. Now, the light that is going to supplant the arc light for domestic purposes is the incandescent light. The principle of the incandescent lamp is exactly the same as that I showed you in Mr. Becker's lamp, viz., that a suitable substance is inclosed in a glass bulb, from which the air has been extracted, and is brought to a high state of temperature by the passage through it of currents of electricity. The lamps illuminating this room are Mr. Edison's incandescent lamps, whose representative, Mr. Johnson, has been most indefatigable in his assistance for these lectures. The Edison lamp consists of a single curl, or loop, of a fine carbon filament (instead of platinum wire) placed in an exhausted glass bulb. The carbon is extremely thin as thin as a human hair but, in spite of its extreme tenuity, you see [knocking a lamp on the table] that concussion or shaking does not cause it to break, but it possesses great resilience, and vibrates like a steel spring; and it is so refractory that it will stand electric currents of enormous strength. As I have said, the lamps before you are worked by electric currents generated by an Edison dynamo-machine on the Thames embankment, but each lamp is self-regulating and can be turned on and off by turning