Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/562

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lost; and Italian astronomy, which for a time languished, is reconquering with marvelous rapidity the rank which the labors of Galileo assured to it at the beginning of the seventeenth century.


AMONG the many ways in which electricity is called in to give assistance in various physical investigations, one of the most elegant and interesting is the application of the electric spark to render momentarily visible a body that is rapidly moving or changing its form. The duration of the electric spark is so short—probably not more than 124000 of a second—that a body, such as a rotating wheel or oscillating rod, moving in a dark room with extreme rapidity, will, if illumined by an electric spark, seem stationary, since the wheel or rod has not time to change its position appreciably during the short instant for which it is visible. If the spark be bright, the impression is left on the eye long enough for the attention to be directed to it, and for a clear idea to be formed of what has been seen.

The writer of this article has recently applied this method to watching the changes of form in drops of various liquids falling vertically on a horizontal plate. As usually seen, a drop of water falling

PSM V11 D562 Electricity and liquids.jpg
Fig. 1. Fig. 2.

from a height of ten or twelve inches on a smooth solid substance, such as glass or wood, seems to make an indiscriminate splash. The whole splash takes place so quickly that the eye cannot follow the changes of form; the impression made by the last part of the splash succeeding that of the first part so quickly as to confuse it.

A little careful observation, however, shows that the drop passes through very definite symmetrical forms, and that a splash is by no means an irregular, haphazard phenomenon.

Let the reader let fall a few drops of milk, about 14 inch in diame-