Page:Philosophical Transactions - Volume 095.djvu/80

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Dr. Young's Essay

of this theory with the phenomena, and to inquire afterwards for its foundation in the ultimate properties of matter. But it is, necessary to premise one observation, which appears to be new, and which is equally consistent with theory and with experiment; that is, that for each combination of a solid and a fluid, there is an appropriate angle of contact between the surfaces of the fluid, exposed to the air, and to the solid. This angle, for glass and water, and in all cases where a solid is perfectly wetted by a fluid, is evanescent: for glass and mercury, it is about 140°, in common temperatures, and when the mercury is moderately clean.

II. Form of the Surface of a Fluid.

It is well known, and it results immediately from the composition of forces, that where a line is equably distended, the force that it exerts, in a direction perpendicular to its own, is directly as its curvature; and the same is true of a surface of simple curvature; but where the curvature is double, each curvature has its appropriate effect, and the joint force must be as the sum of the curvatures in any two perpendicular directions. For this sum is equal, whatever pair of perpendicular directions may be employed, as is easily shown by calculating the versed sines of two equal arcs taken at right angles in the surface. Now when the surface of a fluid is convex externally, its tension is produced by the pressure of the particles of the fluid within it, arising from their own weight, or from that of the surrounding fluid; but when the surface is concave, the tension is employed in counteracting the pressure of the atmosphere, or, where the atmosphere is excluded, the equivalent pressure arising from the weight of the particles suspended