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and the chief points to be attended to in its construction to secure delicacy, and rapidity of weighing.
The balance-beam should be as stiff as possible, and yet not very heavy. For this purpose it is generally formed either of tubes, or of a sort of lattice-framework. To avoid friction, the axle consists of a knife-edge, as it is called; that is, a wedge of hard steel, which, when the balance is in use, rests on horizontal plates of polished agate. A similar contrivance is applied in very delicate balances at the points of the beam from which the scale-pans are suspended. When not in use, and just before use, the beam with its knife-edge is lifted by a lever arrangement from the agate plates. While thus secured it is loaded with weights as nearly as possible equal (this can be attained by previous trial with a coarser instrument), and the accurate determination is then readily effected. The last fraction of the required weight is determined by a rider, a very small weight, generally formed of wire, which can be worked (by a lever) from the outside of the glass case in which the balance is enclosed, and which may be placed in different positions upon one arm of the beam. This arm is graduated to tenths, etc., and thus shows at once the value of the rider in any case as depending on its moment or leverage, § 233.
384. The most important qualities of a good balance are—
1. Sensibility.—The beam should be sensibly deflected from a horizontal position by the smallest difference between the weights in the scale-pans. The definite measure of the sensibility is the angle through which the beam is deflected by a stated percentage of difference between the loads in the pans.
2. Stability.— This means rapidity of oscillation, and consequently speed in the performance of a weighing. It depends mainly upon the depth of the centre of gravity of the whole below the knife-edge, and the length of the beam.
3. Constancy.--Successive weighings of the same body must give the same result-all necessary corrections (to be explained later) depending on temperature, height of barometer, etc., being allowed for.
In our chapter on Statics we shall give the investigation of the amounts of these qualities for any given form and dimensions of the instrument.
A fine balance should turn with about a 500,oooth of the greatest load which can safely be placed in either pan. In fact few measurements of
kind are correct to more than six significant figures. The process of Double Weighing, which consists in counterpoising a mass by shot, or sand, or pieces of fine wire, and then substituting weights for it in the same pan till equilibrium is attained, is more laborious, but more accurate, than single weighing; as it eliminates all errors arising from unequal length of the arms, etc.
385. In the Torsion-balance invented, and used with great effect, by Coulomb, a force is measured by the torsion of a fibre of silk, a glass thread, or a metallic wire. The fibre or wire is fixed at its upper end, or at both ends, according to circumstances. In general
it carries a very light horizontal rod or needle, to the extremities of which are attached the body on which is exerted the force to be measured, and a counterpoise. The upper extremity of the torsion fibre is fixed to an index passing through the centre of a divided disc, so that the angle through which that extremity moves is directly measured. If, at the same time, the angle through which the needle has turned be measured, or, more simply, if the index be always turned till the needle assumes a different position determined by marks or sights attached to the case of the instrument-we have the amount of torsion of the fibre, and it becomes a simple statical problem to determine from the latter the force to be measured; its direction, and point of application, and the dimensions of the apparatus, being known. The force of torsion as depending on the angle of torsion was found by Coulomb to follow the law of simple proportion up to the limits of perfect elasticity-as might have been expected from Hooke's Law (see Properties of Matter), and it only remains that we determine the amount for a particular angle in absolute measure. This determination is, in general, simple enough in theory; but in practice requires considerable care and nicety. The torsionbalance, however, being chiefly used for comparative, not absolute, measure, this determination is often unnecessary. More will be said about it when we come to its application.
386. The ordinary spiral spring-balances used for roughly comparing either small or large weights or forces, are, properly speaking, only a modified form of torsion-balance, as they act almost entirely by the torsion of the wire, and not by longitudinal extension or by flexure. Spring-balances we believe to be capable, if carefully constructed, of rivalling the ordinary balance in accuracy, while, for some applications, they far surpass it in sensibility and convenience. They measure directly force, not mass; and therefore if used for determining masses in different parts of the earth, a correction must be applied for the varying force of gravity. The correction for temperature must not be overlooked. These corrections may be avoided by the method of double weighing.
387. Perhaps the most delicate of all instruments for the measurement of force is the Pendulum. It is proved in Kinetics (see Div. II.) that for any pendulum, whether oscillating about a mean vertical position under the action of gravity, or in a horizontal plane, under the action of magnetic force, or force of torsion, the square of the number of small oscillations in a given time is proportional to the magnitude of the force under which these oscillations take place.
For the estimation of the relative amounts of gravity at different places, this is by far the most perfect instrument. The method of coincidences by which this process has been rendered so excessively delicate will be described later.
In fact, the kinetic measurement of force, as it is the first and
J. Thomson. Cambridge and Dublin Matb. Journal, 1848.
most truly elementary, is also far the most easy as well as perfect method in many practical cases. It admits of an easy reduction to gravitation measure.
388. Weber and Gauss, in constructing apparatus for observations of terrestrial magnetism, endeavoured so to modify them as to admit of their being read from some distance. For this purpose each bar, made at that time too ponderous, carried a plane mirror. By means of a scale, seen after reflection in the mirror and carefully read with a telescope, it was of course easy to compute the deviations which the mirror had experienced. But, for many reasons, it was deemed necessary that the deflections, even under considerable force, should be very small. With this view the Bifilar suspension was introduced. The bar-magnet is suspended horizontally by two vertical wires or fibres of equal length so adjusted as to share its weight equally between them. When the bar turns, the suspension-fibres become inclined to the vertical, and therefore the bar must rise. Hence, if we neglect the torsion of the fibres, the bifilar actually measures a force by comparing it with the weight of the suspended magnet.
Let a be the half length of the bar between the points of attachment of the wires, 0 the angle through which the bar has been turned (in a horizontal plane) from its position of equilibrium, l the length of one of the wires. Then if Q be the couple tending to turn the bar, and W its weight,
Wa? sin o we have
12 2 which gives the couple in terms of the deflection 0.
If the torsion of the fibres be taken into account, it will be sensibly equal to 0 (since the greatest inclination to the vertical is small), and therefore the couple resulting from it will be Ed, where E is some constant. This must be added to the value of Q just found in order to get the whole deflecting couple.
389. Dynamometers are instruments for measuring energy. White's friction brake measures the amount of work actually performed in any time by an engine or other ‘prime mover,' by allowing it during the time of trial to waste all its work on friction. Morin's dynamometer measures work without wasting any of it, in the course of its transmission from the prime mover to machines in which it is usefully employed. It consists of a simple arrangement of springs, measuring at every instant the couple with which the prime mover turns the shaft that transmits its work, and an integrating machine from which the work done by this couple during any time can be read off.
390. White's friction brake consists of a lever clamped to the shaft, but not allowed to turn with it. The moment of the force required to prevent the lever from going round with the shaft,
multiplied by the whole angle through which the shaft turns, measures the whole work done against the friction of the clamp. The same result is much more easily obtained by wrapping a rope or chain several times round the shaft, or round a cylinder or drum carried round by the shaft, and applying measured forces to its two ends in proper directions to keep it nearly steady while the shaft turns round without it. The difference of the moments of these two forces round the axis, multiplied by the angle through which the shaft turns, measures the whole work spent on friction against the rope. remove all other resistance to the shaft, and apply the proper amount of force at each end of the dynamometric rope or chain (which is very easily done in practice), the prime mover is kept running at the proper speed for the test, and having its whole work thus wasted for the time and measured.
391. Until we know thoroughly the nature of matter and the forces which produce its motions, it will be utterly impossible to submit to mathematical reasoning the exact conditions of any physical question. It has been long understood, however, that an approximate solution of almost any problem in the ordinary branches of Natural Philosophy may be easily obtained by a species of abstraction, or rather limitation of the data, such as enables us easily to solve the modified form of the question, while we are well assured that the circumstances (so modified) affect the result only in a superficial manner.
392. Take, for instance, the very simple case of a crowbar employed to move a heavy mass. The accurate mathematical investigation of the action would involve the simultaneous treatment of the motions of every part of bar, fulcrum, and mass raised; and from our almost complete ignorance of the nature of matter and molecular forces, it is clear that such a treatment of the problem is impossible.
It is a result of observation that the particles of the bar, fulcrum, and mass, separately, retain throughout the process nearly the same relative positions. Hence the idea of solving, instead of the above impossible question, another, in reality quite different, but, while infinitely simpler, obviously leading to nearly the same results as the former.
393. The new form is given at once by the experimental result of the trial. Imagine the masses involved to be perfectly rigid (i.e. incapable of changing their forms or dimensions), and the infinite multiplicity of the forces, really acting, may be left out of consideration; so that the mathematical investigation deals with a finite (and generally small) number of forces instead of a practically infinite number. Our warrant for such a substitution is established thus.