Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/384

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
370
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

which inventors have worked for this purpose: The first, which has been used in every laboratory ever since electricity has been understood, is the chemical method. When electricity passes through a salt solution, it carries metal with it. and deposits it on the plate by which the electricity leaves the liquid. The amount of metal deposited is a measure of the quantity of electricity. Mr. Sprague and Mr. Edison have adopted this method; but, as it is impossible to allow the whole of a strong current to pass through a liquid, the current is divided; a small proportion only is allowed to pass through. Provided that the proportion does not vary, and that the metal never has any motions on its own account, the increase in the weight of one of the metal plates measures the quantity of electricity.

The next method depends on the use of some sort of integrating machine, and this, being the most obvious method, has been attempted by a large number of inventors. Any machine of this kind is sure to go, and is sure to indicate something, which will be more nearly a measure of the electricity as the skill of the inventor is greater.

Meters for electricity of the third class are dynamical in their action, and I believe that what I have called the vibrating meter was the first of its class. It is well known that a current passing round iron makes it magnetic. The force which such a magnet exerts is greater when the current is greater, but it is not simply proportional; if the current is twice or three times as strong, the force is four times or nine times as great; or, generally, the force is proportional to the square of the current. Again, when a body vibrates under the influence of a controlling force, as a pendulum under the influence of gravity, four times as much force is necessary to make it vibrate twice as fast, and nine times to make it vibrate three times as fast; or, generally, the square of the number measures the force. I will illustratePSM V23 D384 Concept of measuring electricity volume.jpgFig. 5this by a model. Here are two sticks nicely balanced on points, and drawn into a middle position by pieces of tape to which weights may be hung. They are identical in every respect. I will now hang a one-pound weight to each tape, and let the pieces of wood swing. They keep time together absolutely. I will now put two pounds on one tape. It is clear that the corresponding stick is going faster, but certainly not twice as fast. I will now hang on four pounds. One stick is going at exactly twice the pace of the other. To make one go three times as fast, it is obviously useless to put on three pounds, for it takes four to make