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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/50

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

cent platinum spiral, with or without the mirror, produced musical sounds. When the battery power was reduced from ten cells to three, the sounds, though enfeebled, were still distinct.

My neglect of aqueous vapor had led me for a time astray in 1859, but before publishing my results I had discovered my error. On the present occasion this omnipresent substance had also to be reckoned with. Fourteen flasks of various sizes, with their bottoms covered with a little sulphuric acid, were closed with ordinary corks and permitted to remain in the laboratory from the 23d of December to the 4th of January. Tested on the latter day with the intermittent beam, half of them emitted feeble sounds, but half were silent. The sounds were undoubtedly due, not to dry air, but to traces of aqueous vapor.

An ordinary bottle, containing sulphuric acid for laboratory purposes, being connected with the ear and placed in the intermittent beam, emitted a faint but distinct musical sound. This bottle had been opened two or three times during the day, its dryness being thus vitiated by the mixture of a small quantity of common air. A second similar bottle, in which sulphuric acid had stood undisturbed for some days, was placed in the beam: the dry air above the liquid proved absolutely silent.

On the evening of January 7th Professor Dewar handed me four flasks treated in the following manner: Into one was poured a small quantity of strong sulphuric acid; into another a small quantity of Nordhausen sulphuric acid; in a third were placed some fragments of fused chloride of calcium; while the fourth contained a small quantity of phosphoric anhydride. They were closed with well-fitting India-rubber stoppers, and permitted to remain undisturbed throughout the night. Tested after twelve hours, each of them emitted a feeble sound, the flask last mentioned being the strongest. Tested again six hours later, the sound had disappeared from three of the flasks, that containing the phosphoric anhydride alone remaining musical.

Breathing into a flask partially filled with sulphuric acid instantly restores the sounding power, which continues for a considerable time. The wetting of the interior surface of the flask with the sulphuric acid always enfeebles and sometimes destroys the sound.

A bulb, less than a cubic inch in volume, and containing a little water, lowered to the temperature of melting ice, produces very distinct sounds. Warming the water in the flame of a spirit-lamp, the sound becomes greatly augmented in strength. At the boiling temperature the sound emitted by this small bulb[1] is of extraordinary intensity.

These results are in accord with those obtained by me nearly nineteen years ago, both in reference to air and to aqueous vapor. They

  1. In such bulbs even bisulphide-of-carbon vapor may be so nursed as to produce sounds of considerable strength.