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Page:Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Vol 59.djvu/177

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1895.]
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of various Substances for the Electric Ray.

a radius of 8 cm. only. But when the cost of the material is not prohibitive, it is advisable to use fairly large cylinders. The cylinders used in the following experiments were 27·4 cm. in diameter, and 10 cm. or more in height. For liquids, the cylindrical glass trough used has a diameter of 25 cm.

The tube of the radiator is fixed and points to the centre of the graduated circle. The vertical central line of the cylinder passes through the centre of the circular platform.

The Receiver.—The receiver is a modified form of the coherer. In a rectangular piece of ebonite a narrow groove is cut out. In this groove bits of coiled steel springs are arranged side by side, only one layer deep. In this way a linear receiver is constructed with a sensitive surface 2 cm. in length and 4 mm. in breadth. By means of a screw, the springs may be gradually compressed, reducing the resistance. The coherer is in a circuit with an aperiodic D'Arsonval galvanometer and a copper-iron cell. The galvanometer has a resistance of 300 ohms, and the voltaic cell has an E.M.F. of about 0·45 volt. A Daniell cell is sometimes used, with a resistance box as a shunt; the E.M.F. may thus be adjusted to suit the sensitiveness of the receiver. When the spiral spring coherer is freshly made, it is over sensitive. On the second day it settles down to a fair condition, though at first for about half an hour its action is rather unsteady. But afterwards the sensitiveness becomes fairly uniform. It will maintain this state under favourable conditions for nearly an hour; after which it begins to lose its sensitiveness. It must also be borne in mind that the sparking balls are also undergoing deterioration. The sensitiveness of the coherer may be partially restored by subjecting it to electric radiation at close quarters, and slightly raising the E.M.F. of the circuit. In this way it is sometimes possible to work continuously for about two hours; but greater weight should of course be given to the first sets of observations, which are taken at a time when the receiver is most sensitive.

It is superfluous to add that special precautions should be taken to guard against the disturbance due to stray radiations. The walls of the room, the table, even the person of the experimenter himself may act as reflectors, scattering the rays in all directions. I spent a considerable time in trying to find a substance that will act as a good absorber. Lamp black is useless, as it reflects copiously. Blotting paper soaked in water or copper sulphate solution does produce a certain amount of absorption; but even with these a certain amount of reflection is found to take place.

By proper screening, the disturbance due to stray radiations may, however, be got rid of. The radiating apparatus, with the exception of a tubular opening, is completely enclosed in a metallic box. The radiator tube extends right up to the refracting cylinder. The