Among the Forces eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 129 pages of information about Among the Forces.


The Slave of the Ring could take Aladdin into a cave of wealth, and by speaking the words, “Open Sesame,” Ali Baba was admitted into the cave that held the treasures of the forty thieves.  But that is very little.  I have just come from a cave in Virginia City, Nev., from which men took $120,000,000.

In following the veins of silver the miners went down 3,500 feet—­more than three fifths of a mile.  There it was fearfully hot, but the main trouble was water.  They had dug a deep, deep well.  How could they get the water out?  Pumps were of no use.  A column of water one foot square of that height weighs 218,242 pounds.  Who could work the other end of the pump handle?

They thought of evaporating the water and sending it up as steam.  But it was found that it would take an incredible amount of coal.  They thought of separating it into oxygen and hydrogen, and then its own lightness would carry it up very quickly.  But they had no power that would resolve even quarts into their ultimate elements, where tons would be required.

So they asked gravitation to help them.  It readily offered to do so.  It could not let go its hold of the water in the mine, nor anywhere else, for fear everything would go to pieces, but it offered to overcome force with greater force.  So it sent the men twenty miles away in the mountains to dig a ditch all the way to the mine, and then gravitation brought water to a reservoir four hundred feet above the mouth of the mine.  Now a column of this water one foot square can be taken from this higher reservoir down to the bottom of the mine and weigh 25,000 pounds more than a like column that comes from the bottom to the top.  This extra 25,000 pounds is an extra force available to lift itself and the other water out of the deep well, and they turn the greater force into a pump and work it in the cylinder as if it were steam.  It lifts not only the water that works the pump, but the other water also out of the mine by gravitation.  So man gets the water out by pouring more water in.


Since the time of David many boys have swung pebbles by a string, or sling, and felt the pull of what we call a centrifugal (center-fleeing) force.  David utilized it to one good purpose.  Goliath was greatly surprised; such a thing never entered his head before.  Whether a stone or an idea enters one’s head depends on the kind of head he has.

We utilize this force in many ways now.  Some boys swing a pail of milk over their heads, and if swung fast enough the centrifugal force overcomes the force of gravitation, and the milk does not fall.  That is not utilizing the force.  It often terrorizes the careful mother, anxious for the safety of the milk.

But in the arts of practical life we do utilize this force, which is only inertia.

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Among the Forces from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.