Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.
354
MAGNETISM, TERRESTRIAL


It was not until midsummer 1634 that Gellibrand felt sure of his facts, and yet the change of declination since 1580 exceeded 7°. The delay probably arose from the strength of the preconceived idea, apparently universally held, that the declination was absolutely fixed. This idea, it would appear, derived some of its strength from the positive assertion made on the point by Gilbert of Colchester in his De magnete (1600).

A third fundamental discovery, that of the diurnal change in the declination, is usually credited to George Graham (1675-I7 51), a London instrument maker. Previous observers, e.g. Gellibrand, had obtained slightly different values for the declination at different hours of the day, but it was natural to assign them to instrumental uncertainties. In those days the usual declination instrument was the compass with pivoted needles, and Graham himself at first assigned the differences he observed to friction. The observations on which he based his conclusions were made in 1722; an account of them was communicated to the Royal Society and published in the

Philosophical Transactions for 1724.

The movements of the compass needle throughout the average day represent partly a regular diurnal variation, and partly irregular changes in the declination. The distinction, however, was not at first very clearly realized. Between 17 56 and 1759 J. Canton observed the declination-changes on some 600 days, and was thus able to deduce their general character. He found that the most prominent part of the regular diurnal change in England consisted of a westerly movement of the north pointing pole from 8 or 9 a.m. to 1 or 2 p.m., followed by a more leisurely return movement to the east. He also found that the amplitude of the movement was considerably larger in summer than in winter. Canton further observed that in a few days the movements were conspicuously irregular, and that aurora was then visible. This association of magnetic disturbance and aurora had, however, been observed somewhat before this time, a description of one conspicuous instance being contributed to the Royal Society in 1750 by Pehr Vilhelm Wargentin (1717-1783), a Swede.

Another landmark in the history of terrestrial magnetism was the discovery towards the end of the 18th century that the intensity of the resultant magnetic force varies at different parts of the earth. The first observations clearly showing this seem to be those of a Frenchman, Paul de Lamanon, who observed in 1785-1787 at Teneriffe and Macao, but his results were not published at the time. The first published observations seem to be those made by the great traveller Humboldt in tropical America between 1798 and ISO5. The delay in this discovery may again be attributed to instrumental imperfections. The method first devised for comparing the force at different places consisted in taking the time of oscillation of the dipping needle, and even with modern circles this is hardly a method of high precision. Another discovery worth chronicling was made by Arago in 1827. From observations made at Paris he found that the inclination of the dipping needle and the intensity of the horizontal component of the magnetic force both possessed a diurnal variation. § 2. Whilst Italy, England and France claim most of the early observational discoveries, Germany deserves a large share of credit for the great improvement in instruments and methods during the first half of the 19th century. Measurements of the intensity of the magnetic force were somewhat crude until Gauss showed how absolute results could be obtained, and not merely relative data based on observations with some particular needle. Gauss also devised the bifilar magnetometer, which is still largely represented in instruments measuring changes of the horizontal force; but much of the practical success attending the application of his ideas to instruments seems due to Johann von Lamont (1805-1879), a Jesuit of Scottish origin resident in Germany.

The institution of special observatories for magnetic work is largely due to Humboldt and Gauss. The latter's observatory at Gottingen, where regular observations began in 1834, was the centre of the Magnetic Union founded by Gauss and Weber for the carrying out of simultaneous magnetic observations and it was long customary to employ Gottingen time in schemes of international co-operation.

In the next decade, mainly through the influence of Sir Edward Sabine (17S8~1883), afterwards president of the Royal Society, several magnetic observatories were established in the British colonies, at St Helena, Cape of Good Hope, Hobarton (now Hobart) and Toronto. These, with the exception of Toronto, continued in full action for only a few years; but their records from their widely distributed positions-threw much fresh light on the differences between magnetic phenomena in different regions of the globe. The introduction of regular magnetic observatories led ere long to the discovery that there are notable differences between the amplitudes of the regular daily changes and the frequency of magnetic disturbances in different years. The discovery that magnetic phenomena have a period closely similar to, if not absolutely identical with, -the “ eleven year ” period in sunspots, was made independently and nearly simultaneously about the middle of 'the 19th century by Lamont, Sabine and R. Wolf.

The last half of the 19th century showed a large increase in the number of observatories taking magnetic observations. After 1890 there was an increased interest in magnetic work. One of the contributory causes was the magnetic survey of the British Isles made by Sir A. Rticker and Sir T. E. Thorpe, which served as a stimulus to similar work elsewhere; another was the institution by L. A. Bauer of a magazine, Terrestrial M agnetism, specially devoted to the subject. This increased activity added largely to the stock of information, sometimes in forms of marked practical utility; it was also manifested in the publication of a number of papers of a speculative character. For historical details the writer is largely indebted to the works of E. Walkerl and L. A. Bauer?

§ 3.' All the more important magnetic observatories are provided with instruments of two kinds. Those of the first kind give the absolute value of the magnetic elements at the time of Observa. observation. The unifilar magnetometer (q.v.), for tional instance, givesthe absolute values of the declination and Methods and horizontal (force, whilst the inclinometer (g.o.) or dip Records. circle gives the inclination of the dipping needle. Instruments of the second kind, termed magneto graphs (q.v.), are differential and self-recording, and show the changes constantly taking place in the magnetic elements. The ordinary form of magneto graph records photographically. Light reflected from a fixed mirror gives a base line answering to a constant value of the element in question; the light is cut off every hour or second hour so that the base line also serves to make the time. Light reflected from a mirror carried by a magnet gives a curved line answering to the changes in position of the magnet. The length of the ordinate or perpendicular drawn from any point of the curved line on to the base line is proportional to the extent of departure of the magnet from a standard position. If then we know the absolute value of the element which corresponds to the base line, and the equivalent of 1 cm. of ordinate, we can deduce the absolute value of the element answering to any given instant of time. In the case of the declination the value of I cm. of ordinate is usually dependent almost entirely on the distance of the mirror carried by the magnet from the photographic paper, and so remains invariable or very nearly so. In the case of the horizontal force and vertical force magneto graphs-these being the two force components usuall recorded-the value of I cm. of ordinate alters with the strengtli of the magnet. It has thus to be determined from time to time by observing the deflection shown on the photographic paper when an auxiliary magnet of known moment, at a measured distance, deflects the magneto graph magnet. Means are provided for altering the sensitiveness, for instance, by changing the effective distance in the bifilar suspension of the horizontal force magnet, and by altering the height of a small weight carried by the vertical force magnet. It is customary to aim at keeping the sensitiveness as constant as possible. A very common standard is to have I cm. of ordinate corresponding to 10' of arc in the declination and to 5o'y (ryzio-ooool C.G.S.) in the horizontal and vertical force magnetograp s.

As an example of how the curves are standardized, suppose that absolute observations of declination are taken four times a month, and that in a given month the mean of the observed values is 16° 34'-6 W. The curves are measured at the places which correspond to the times of the four observations, and the mean length of the four ordinates is, let us say, 2-52 cms. If I cm. answers to IO', then 2~52 cms. represents 25'-2, and thus the value of the base line-Le. the value which the declination would have if the curve came down to the base line-is for the month in question 16° 34'-6 less 25'-2 or