Experimental Researches in Electricity, Volume 1 eBook

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1666.  But leaving these hypothetical notions respecting the nature of the lateral action out of sight, and returning to the direct effects, I think that the phenomena examined and reasoning employed in this and the two preceding papers tend to confirm the view first taken (1464.), namely, that ordinary inductive action and the effects dependent upon it are due to an action of the contiguous particles of the dielectric interposed between the charged surfaces or parts which constitute, as it were, the terminations of the effect.  The great point of distinction and power (if it have any) in the theory is, the making the dielectric of essential and specific importance, instead of leaving it as it were a mere accidental circumstance or the simple representative of space, having no more influence over the phenomena than the space occupied by it.  I have still certain other results and views respecting the nature of the electrical forces and excitation, which are connected with the present theory; and, unless upon further consideration they sink in my estimation, I shall very shortly put them into form as another series of these electrical researches.

Royal Institution.  February 14th, 1838.


S 20. Nature of the electric force or forces. S 21. Relation of the electric and magnetic forces. S 22. Note on electrical excitation.

Received June 21, 1838.—­Read June 21, 1838.

S 20. Nature of the electric force or forces.

1667.  The theory of induction set forth and illustrated in the three preceding series of experimental researches does not assume anything new as to the nature of the electric force or forces, but only as to their distribution.  The effects may depend upon the association of one electric fluid with the particles of matter, as in the theory of Franklin, Epinus, Cavendish, and Mossotti; or they may depend upon the association of two electric fluids, as in the theory of Dufay and Poisson; or they may not depend upon anything which can properly be called the electric fluid, but on vibrations or other affections of the matter in which they appear.  The theory is unaffected by such differences in the mode of viewing the nature of the forces; and though it professes to perform the important office of stating how the powers are arranged (at least in inductive phenomena), it does not, as far as I can yet perceive, supply a single experiment which can be considered as a distinguishing test of the truth of any one of these various views,

1668.  But, to ascertain how the forces are arranged, to trace them in their various relations to the particles of matter, to determine their general laws, and also the specific differences which occur under these laws, is as important as, if not more so than, to know whether the forces reside in a fluid or not; and with the hope of assisting in this research, I shall offer some further developments, theoretical and experimental, of the conditions under which I suppose the particles of matter are placed when exhibiting inductive phenomena.

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