Page:Philosophical Transactions - Volume 096.djvu/34

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Dr. Wollaston's Lecture on the Force of Percussion.

quantity of mechanic force at command whether we have 1lb. of powder, which by its expansion could give to 1 ton weight a velocity sufficient to raise it through 40 feet, or the weight actually raised to that height and ready to be let down gradually, or the same weight possessing its original velocity to be employed in any sudden exertion.

By making use of the same measure as in the former cases, a distinct expression is likewise obtained for the quantity of mechanic force given to a steam-engine by any quantity of coals; and we are enabled to make a comparison of its effect with the quantity of work that one or more horses may have performed in a day, each being expressed by the space through which a given moving force is exerted. In the case of animal exertion however, considerable uncertainty always prevails in consequence of the unequal powers of animals of the same species, and varying vigour of the same animal. The information which I have received in reply to inquiries respecting the weights raised in one hour by horses in different situations, has varied as far as from 6 to 15 tons to the height of 100 feet. But although the rate at which mechanic force is generated may vary, any quantity of work executed is the same, in whatever time it may have been performed.

In short, whether we are considering the sources of extended exertion or of accumulated energy, whether we compare the accumulated forces themselves by their gradual or by their sudden effects, the idea of mechanic force in practice is always the same, and is proportional to the space through which any moving force is exerted or overcome, or to the square of the velocity of a body in which such force is accumulated.