Excerpt from The Princeton Review: January-December, 1881
We propose in the present article to discuss the subject in a general and, so far as may be, untechnical manner, for the pur pose of giving our readers an idea Of the extent and variety Of the existing applications of electricity to the arts Of life, and the reasons for expecting their rapid multiplication in the near future. We do not aim at scientific completeness, and we shall not scruple to treat with disproportionate brevity those matters with which intelligent people are already familiar, in order to gain space for other topics at present less generally understood.
And first, by way of introduction, a few words as to the nature Of electricity - a confession of ignorance. All that science can do at present is to define it as the unknown cause of certain effects which are Observed when a piece of amber (electron) is rubbed - ah Observation dating back two thousand years. It is now known, of course, that not only those phenomena, but a whole multitude of others, depend upon the same cause. As to the real nature of the cause we have no certain light as yet: we cannot tell whether electricity is some peculiar kind of sub stance, or some modification or motion Of ordinary matter. In the case Of heat, which for a long time was thought to be a sub stance and called caloric, experiment has settled the question, and proved it to be merely a mode of motion. In reference to electricity no such decision has yet been reached. No phenom ena have thus far been discovered which absolutely negative the notion that it may be a subtle, imponderable ﬂuid or ﬂuids, endowed with certain peculiar faculties of attraction and repul sion, and more or less freely circulating among the particles of bodies. According to this view an electrical charge consists in the collection Of some abnormal quantity of this substance in the charged body; an electrical discharge is, then, the actual trans ferrence of a quantity of the ﬂuid from one body to another, and an electric current is such a transfer continuously pro gressing.
About the Publisher
Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at www.forgottenbooks.com
This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.show more