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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/78

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

or oscillations—is a bar to the efforts to make wireless telegraphy secret. We can see from the photograph how much greater its strength is than that of the subsequent discharges shown by the mere brightening of the terminals. A delicate coherer will immediately respond to the influence of this pilot spark, and the subsequent oscillations of this discharge will have little effect. How, then, can we effectively time a receiving circuit so that it will respond to only one sending station? We can not depend upon the oscillatory nature of the spark, or adopt, in other words, its rate of vibration and form a coherer with the same rate.

It seems as if it would be necessary to invent some method of sending pilot sparks at a high and definite rate of vibration, and of employing coherers which will only respond to definite powerful rates of magnetic pulsation. Various attempts have been made to produce by mechanical means powerful electric surgings, but they have been unsuccessful. Both high electro-motive force and strength of current are needed. These can be obtained by the employment of a great number of storage cells. The discharge from a large number of these cells, however, is not suitable for the purpose of wireless telegraphy, although it may possess the qualifications of both high electrical pressure and strength of current.

The only apparatus we have at command to produce quick blows on the ether is the Ruhmkorf coil. This coil, I have said, has been in all our physical cabinets for fifty years. It contained within itself the germ of the telephone transmitter and the method of wire-less telegraphy, unrecognized until the present. In its elements it consists, as we have seen, of two electrical circuits, placed near each other, entirely unconnected, A battery is connected with one of these circuits, and any change in the strength of the electrical current gives a blow to the ether or medium between the two circuits. A quick stopping of the electrical current gives the strongest impulse to the ether, which is taken up by the neighboring circuit. For the past fifty years very little advance has been made in the method of giving strong electrical impulses to the medium of space. It is accomplished simply by a mechanical breaking of the connection to the battery, either by a revolving wheel with suitable projections, or by a vibrating point. All the various forms of mechanical breaks are inefficient. They do not give quick and uniform breaks. Latterly, hopes have been excited by the discovery of a chemical break, called the Weynelt interrupter, shown in Fig. 1. The electrical current in passing through a vessel of diluted sulphuric acid from a point of platinum to a disk of lead causes bubbles of gas which form a barrier to its passage which is