Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 82.djvu/526

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ticles. This pencil is acted on by electric forces when it passes between the plates L and M, which are connected with the terminals of a battery of storage cells, and by a magnetic force when it passes between P and Q, which are the poles of an electro-magnet. In the pencil before it passed under the influence of these forces there might be many kinds of atoms or molecules, some heavy, others light, some moving quickly, others comparatively slowly, but these would all be mixed up together. When they are acted on by the electric and magnetic forces, however, they get sorted out, and instead of traveling along the same path they branch off into different directions. No two particles will travel along the same path unless they have the same mass as well as the same velocity; so that if we know the path of the particle we can determine both its mass and its velocity. In chemical analyses we are concerned more with the mass than with the velocity, and we naturally ask what is the connection between the paths of particles which have the same mass but which move with different velocities. The answer is that all such paths lie on the surface of a cone, and that each kind of particle has its own cone; there is one cone for hydrogen, another for oxygen, and so on. Thus one cone is sacred to hydrogen, and if it exists there must be hydrogen in the vessel; so that if we can detect the different cones produced from the original pencil, we know at once the gases that are in the tube. Now, there are several ways of identifying these cones, but I shall only refer to the one I have used in the experiments I wish to bring before you this evening. These moving electrified particles, when they strike against a photographic plate, make an impression on the plate, and a record of the place where they struck the plate can be obtained. Thus, when a plate is placed in the way of the particles streaming along these cones, the sections of these cones by the plate (parabolas) are recorded on the photograph, hence we can identify these cones by the parabolic curves recorded on the photograph, and these parabolas will tell us what gases are in the vessels.

The first application of the method which I shall bring before you this evening is to detect the rare gases in the atmosphere. Sir James Dewar kindly supplied me with two samples of gases obtained from the residues of liquid air; the samples had been treated so that one might be expected to contain the heavier gases, the other the lighter ones. I will take the heavier gases first. The photograph for these is shown in Fig. 2. When the plate is measured up it shows a faint line corresponding to the atomic weight 128 (xenon); a very strong line corresponding to the atomic weight 82 (krypton), a strong argon line 40 (argon) and the neon line 20. There are no lines unaccounted for, and hence we may conclude that in the atmosphere there are no unknown gases of large atomic weight occurring in quantities comparable with those of xenon or krypton. This result gives an example