Page:Philosophical Transactions - Volume 095.djvu/93

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on the Cohesion of Fluids.

by half the sum of the elevation and depression on the remote sides of the substances, and as the distance increases, this maximum is only diminished by a quantity, which is initially as the square of the distance. The figures of the solids concerned modify also sometimes the law of attraction, so that, for bodies surrounded by a depression, there is sometimes a maximum, beyond which the force again diminishes: and it is hence that a light body floating on mercury, in a vessel little larger than itself, is held in a stable equilibrium without touching the sides. The reason of this will become apparent, when we examine the direction of the surface necessarily assumed by the mercury in order to preserve the appropriate angle of contact, the tension acting with less force when the surface attaches itself to the angular termination of the float in a direction less horizontal.

The apparent attraction produced between solids by the interposition of a fluid does not depend on their being partially immersed in it; on the contrary, its effects are still more powerfully exhibited in other situations; and, when the cohesion between two solids is increased and extended by the intervention of a drop of water or of oil, the superficial cohesion of these fluids is fully sufficient to explain the additional effect. When wholly immersed in water, the cohesion between two pieces of glass is little or not at all greater than when dry: but if a small portion only of a fluid be interposed, the curved surface, that it exposes to the air, will evidently be capable of resisting as great a force as it would support from the pressure of the column of fluid that it is capable of sustaining in a vertical situation; and in order to apply this force, we must employ in the separation of the plates, as great a force as is equivalent