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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/330

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

ether on the one hand and the relations of electricity to matter on the other. It is in this last and more complicated phase of our suhject that the most brilliant advances have recently been made.

To state the case between electricity and ether, we must begin with Faraday and some of the mental images he formed of the connection between them, which have proved at once the most simple and useful aids to thought to be found in the whole history of physics. Faraday realized as well, perhaps, as we do to-day that electricity could no more be made outright than could matter. The utmost which could be done was to separate positive and negative electricity. If, therefore, any one exhibited a positive charge, there was somewhere in the universe an equal negative charge, to which it was drawn by invisible means across the intervening space.

Faraday maintained the forces of attraction were due to some kind of strain in the ether lying between. To picture the more vividly to himself and to others, the character of the stresses in this medium transmitting the force which one charge exerts upon another, he supposed contractile filaments called lines of force to traverse the ether between the charges. To make the case more definite he gave direction to these lines, assuming that they originated on the positive charge and terminated on an equal negative charge near-by, or far away, according to circumstances.

The motions of electric charges when free to move, and the distribution of stresses in the ether round-about, show that all happens as if each line of force were pulling like a stretched elastic thread to shorten itself and draw the charges together, and at the same time unlike any elastic thread we know, it was repelling or pushing sidewise at the other force lines near it.

If a charge of positive electricity be given to a metal sphere, and the negative charge from which it has been separated be dissipated to remote bodies or be carried so far away that its position is no longer of any immediate importance, lines of force will start from the spherical surface of the conductor in all outward directions, and will be precisely radial. As many lines will leave from any one half of the sphere as from another. This equal radial arrangement of the lines of force is produced by the sidewise shoving of each line of force upon its neighbors until the stresses in the ether at the bounding surface of the metal are equal on all sides.

If now the metal sphere with its charge be put in steady motion, it will carry its lines of force along with it, and if the motion be not too swift, all the lines of force will continue radial. But with this motion of the lines of electric force through the ether, a wholly new and additional ethereal force appears—a magnetic force which did not exist when the charge was at rest. This magnetic force is always at right angles both to the lines of electric force and to the direction of their