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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/392

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388
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

can take place. This represents the Grotthuss scheme, that supposes continuous decompositions and recombinations of the salt molecules.

As such exchanges of ions between the molecules take place even under the influence of the weakest electromotive forces, Clausius concluded that they must also take PSM V65 D392 Molecule rearrangement according to changing polarity.pngFig. 2. place if there is no electric force, i. e., no current at all. In favor of his hypothesis he pointed to the fact that Williamson, as far back as 1852, in his epoch making theory of the formation of ethers, assumed an analogous exchange of the constituents of the molecules. At this exchange of ions it might sometimes, though extremely rarely, happen that an ion becomes free in the solution for a short time; at least such a conception would be in good agreement with the mechanical theory of heat, as it was developed by Krönig, Maxwell, Clausius and others at that time.

In the meantime, Bouty, and particularly Kohlrausch, worked out the methods of determining the electric conductivity of salt solutions. In 1884 I published a memoir on this subject. I had found that if one dilutes a solution—e. g., of zinc sulphate—its conductivity per molecule, or what is called its molecular conductivity, increases not infinitely, but only to a certain limit.

PSM V65 D392 Increased conductivity experiment.png

Fig. 3.

We may figure to ourselves an experiment performed in the following manner (Fig. 3): In a trough with parallel walls there are placed close to two opposite sides two plates of amalgamated zinc, E E1. On the horizontal bottom of the vessel there is placed a layer of solution of zinc-sulphate that reaches the level 1. The conductivity may be k1. After this has been measured we pour in so much water, that after stirring the solution the level reaches 2, which lies as much above 1 as this lies above the bottom. The conductivity is then found to be increased, and to have the value k2. Increasing in the same manner the volume by addition of pure water until it is doubled, the level 4 is reached and the