simple science

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Simple Science

141. Methods of illumination
Artificial Lighting:
We seldom consider what life would be without our wonderful methods of illumination which turn night into day, and prolong the hours of work and pleasure. Yet it was not until the nineteenth century that the marvelous change was made from the short-lived candle to the more enduring oil lamp. Before the coming of the lamp, even in large cities like Paris, the only artificial light to guide the belated traveler at night was the candle required to be kept burning in an occasional window.

With the invention of the kerosene lamp came more efficient lighting of home and street, and with the advent of gas and electricity came a light so effective that the hours of business, manufacture, and pleasure could be extended far beyond the setting of the sun.

The production of light by candle, oil, and gas will be considered in the following paragraphs, while illumination by electricity will be reserved for a later Chapter.
142. Artificial Candle Lighting
Artificial Lighting:
Candles were originally made by dipping a wick into melting tallow, withdrawing it, allowing the adhered tallow to harden, and repeating the dipping until a satisfactory thickness was obtained. The more modern method consists in pouring a fatty preparation into a mold, at the center of which a wick has been placed.

The wick, when lighted, burns for a brief interval with a faint, uncertain light; almost immediately, however, the intensity of the light increases and the illumination remains good as long as the candle lasts. The heat of the burning tallow melts more of the tallow near it, and this liquid fat is quickly sucked up into the burning wick. The heat of the flame is sufficient to change most of this liquid into a gas, that is, to vaporize the liquid, and furthermore to set fire to the gas thus formed. These heated gases burn with a bright yellow flame.
143. The Oil Lamp
Artificial Lighting:
The simple candle of our ancestors was now replaced by the oil lamp, which gave a brighter, steadier, and more permanent illumination. The principle of the lamp is similar to that of the candle, except that the wick is saturated with kerosene or oil rather than with fat. The heat from the burning wick is sufficient to change the oil into a gas and then to set fire to the gas. By placing a chimney over the burning wick, a constant and uniform draught of air is maintained around the blazing gases, and hence a steady, unflickering light is obtained. Gases and carbon particles are set free by the burning wick. In order that the gases may burn and the solid particle glow, a plentiful supply of oxygen is necessary. If the quantity of air is insufficient, the carbon particles remain unburned and form soot. A lamp "smokes" when the air which reaches the wick is insufficient to burn the rapidly formed carbon particles; this explains the danger of turning a lamp wick too high and producing more carbon particles than can be oxidized by the air admitted through the lamp chimney.

One great disadvantage of oil lamps and oil stoves is that they cannot be carried safely from place to place. It is almost impossible to carry a lamp without spilling the oil. The flame soon spreads from the wick to the overflowing oil and in consequence the lamp blazes and an explosion may result. Candles, on the other hand, are safe from explosion; the dripping grease is unpleasant but not dangerous.

The illumination from a shaded oil lamp is soft and agreeable, but the trimming of the wicks, the refilling of bowls, and the cleaning of chimneys require time and labor. For this reason, the introduction of gas met with widespread success. The illumination from an ordinary gas jet is stronger than that from an ordinary lamp, and the stronger illumination added to the greater convenience has made gas a very popular source of light.
144. Gas Burners and Gas Mantles
Artificial Lighting:
For a long time, the only gas flame used was that in which the luminosity resulted in heating particles of carbon to incandescence. Recently, however, that has been widely replaced by use of a Bunsen flame upon an incandescent mantle, such as the Welsbach. The principle of the incandescent mantle is very simple. When certain substances, such as thorium and cerium, are heated, they do not melt or vaporize, but glow with an intense bright light. Welsbach made use of this fact to secure a burner in which the illumination depends upon the glowing of an incandescent, solid mantle, rather than upon the blazing of a burning gas. He made a cylindrical mantle of thin fabric, and then soaked it in a solution of thorium and cerium until it became saturated with the chemical. The mantle thus impregnated with thorium and cerium is placed on the gas jet, but before the gas is turned on, a lighted match is held to the mantle in order to burn away the thin fabric. After the fabric has been burned away, there remains a coarse gauze mantle of the desired chemicals. If now the gas cock is opened, the escaping gas is ignited, the heat of the flame will raise the mantle to incandescence and will produce a brilliant light. A very small amount of burning gas is sufficient to raise the mantle to incandescence, and hence, by the use of a mantle, intense light is secured at little cost. The mantle saves us gas, because the cock is usually "turned on full" whether we use a plain burner or a mantle burner. But, nevertheless, gas is saved, because when the mantle is adjusted to the gas jet, the pressure of the gas is lessened by a mechanical device and hence less gas escapes and burns. By actual experiment, it has been found that an ordinary burner consumes about five times as much gas per candle power as the best incandescent burner, and hence is about five times as expensive. One objection to the mantles is their tendency to break. But if the mantles are carefully adjusted on the burner and are not roughly jarred in use, they last many months; and since the best quality cost only twenty-five cents, the expense of renewing the mantles is slight.
145. Gas for Cooking
Artificial Lighting:
If a cold object is held in the bright flame of an ordinary gas jet, it becomes covered with soot, or particles of unburned carbon. Although the flame is surrounded by air, the central portion of it does not receive sufficient oxygen to burn up the numerous carbon particles constantly thrown off by the burning gas, and hence many carbon particles remain in the flame as glowing, incandescent masses. That some unburned carbon is present in a flame is shown by the fact that whenever a cold object is held in the flame, it becomes "smoked" or covered with soot. If enough air were supplied to the flame to burn up the carbon as fast as it was set free, there would be no deposition of soot on objects held over the flame or in it, because the carbon would be transformed into gaseous matter.

Unburned carbon would be objectionable in cooking stoves where utensils are constantly in contact with the flame, and for this reason cooking stoves are provided with an arrangement by means of which additional air is supplied to the burning gas in quantities adequate to insure complete combustion of the rapidly formed carbon particles. An opening is made in the tube through which gas passes to the burner, and as the gas moves past this opening, it carries with it a draft of air. These openings are visible on all gas stoves, and should be kept clean and free of clogging, in order to insure complete combustion. So long as the supply of air is sufficient, the flame burns with a dull blue color, but when the supply falls below that needed for complete burning of the carbon, the blue color disappears, and a yellow flame takes its place, and with the yellow flame the deposition of soot is inevitable.
146. By products of Coal Gas
Artificial Lighting:
Many important products besides illuminating gas are obtained from the distillation of soft coal. Ammonia is made from the liquids which collect in the condensers; anilin, the source of exquisite dyes, is made from the thick, tarry distillate, and coke is the residue left in the clay retorts. The coal tar yields not only anilin, but also carbolic acid and naphthalene, both of which are commercially valuable, the former as a widely used disinfectant, and the latter as a popular moth preventive.

From a ton of good gas-producing coal can be obtained about 10,000 cubic feet of illuminating gas, and as by-products 6 pounds of ammonia, 12 gallons of coal tar, and 1300 pounds of coke.
147. Natural Gas
Artificial Lighting:
Animal and vegetable matter buried in the depth of the earth sometimes undergoes natural distillation, and as a result gas is formed. The gas produced in this way is called natural gas. It is a cheap source of illumination, but is found in relatively few localities and only in limited quantity.
148. Acetylene
Artificial Lighting:
In 1892 it was discovered that lime and coal fused together in the intense heat of the electric furnace formed a crystalline, metallic-looking substance called calcium carbide. As a result of that discovery, this substance was soon made on a large scale and sold at a moderate price. The cheapness of calcium carbide has made it possible for the isolated farmhouse to discard oil lamps and to have a private gas system. When the hard, gray crystals of calcium carbide are put in water, they give off acetylene, a colorless gas which burns with a brilliant white flame. If bits of calcium carbide are dropped into a test tube containing water, bubbles of gas will be seen to form and escape into the air, and the escaping gas may be ignited by a burning match held near the mouth of the test tube. When chemical action between the water and carbide has ceased, and gas bubbles have stopped forming, slaked lime is all that is left of the dark gray crystals which were put into the water.

When calcium carbide is used as a source of illumination, the crystals are mechanically dropped into a tank containing water, and the gas generated is automatically collected in a small sliding tank, whence it passes through pipes to the various rooms. The slaked lime, formed while the gas was generated, collects at the bottom of the tanks and is removed from time to time.

The cost of an acetylene generator is about $50 for a small house, and the cost of maintenance is not more than that of lamps. The generator does not require filling oftener than once a week, and the labor is less than that required for oil lamps. In a house in which there were twenty burners, the tanks were filled with water and carbide but once a fortnight. Acetylene is seldom used in large cities, but it is very widely used in small communities and is particularly convenient in more or less remote summer residences.

Electric Lights.
The most recent and the most convenient lighting is that obtained by electricity. A fine, hairlike filament within a glass bulb is raised to incandescence by the heat of an electric current. This form of illumination will be considered in connection with electricity.
149. Labor saving Devices
Man's Way of Helping Himself:
To primitive man belonged more especially the arduous tasks of the out-of-door life: the clearing of paths through the wilderness; the hauling of material; the breaking up of the hard soil of barren fields into soft loam ready to receive the seed; the harvesting of the ripe grain, etc.

The more intelligent races among men soon learned to help themselves in these tasks. For example, our ancestors in the field soon learned to pry stones out of the ground rather than to undertake the almost impossible task of lifting them out of the earth in which they were embedded; to swing fallen trees away from a path by means of rope attached to one end rather than to attempt to remove them single-handed; to pitch hay rather than to lift it; to clear a field with a rake rather than with the hands; to carry heavy loads in wheelbarrows rather than on the shoulders; to roll barrels up a plank and to raise weights by ropes. In every case, whether in the lifting of stones, or the felling of trees, or the transportation of heavy weights, or the digging of the ground, man used his brain in the invention of mechanical devices which would relieve muscular strain and lighten physical labor.

If all mankind had depended upon physical strength only, the world to-day would be in the condition prevalent in parts of Africa, Asia, and South America, where the natives loosen the soil with their hands or with crude implements, and transport huge weights on their shoulders and heads.

Any mechanical device, whereby man's work can be more conveniently done, is called a machine; the machine itself never does any work - it merely enables man to use his own efforts to better advantage.

FIG. - Prying a stone out of the ground.

FIG. - The wheelbarrow lightens labor.

FIG. - Rolling barrels up a plank.

FIG. - Crude method of farming.

FIG. - Primitive method of grinding corn.

FIG. - Separating rice grains by flailing.
150. When do we Work
Man's Way of Helping Himself:
Whenever, as a result of effort or force, an object is moved, work is done. If you lift a knapsack from the floor to the table, you do work because you use force and move the knapsack through a distance equal to the height of the table. If the knapsack were twice as heavy, you would exert twice as much force to raise it to the same height, and hence you would do double the work. If you raised the knapsack twice the distance, - say to your shoulders instead of to the level of the table, - you would do twice the work, because while you would exert the same force you would continue it through double the distance.

Lifting heavy weights through great distances is not the only way in which work is done. Painting, chopping wood, hammering, plowing, washing, scrubbing, sewing, are all forms of work. In painting, the moving brush spreads paint over a surface; in chopping wood, the descending ax cleaves the wood asunder; in scrubbing, the wet mop rubbed over the floor carries dirt away; in every conceivable form of work, force and motion occur.

A man does work when he walks, a woman does work when she rocks in a chair - although here the work is less than in walking. On a windy day the work done in walking is greater than normal. The wind resists our progress, and we must exert more force in order to cover the same distance. Walking through a plowed or rough field is much more tiring than to walk on a smooth road, because, while the distance covered may be the same, the effort put forth is greater, and hence more work is done. Always the greater the resistance encountered, the greater the force required, and hence the greater the work done.

The work done by a boy who raises a 5-pound knapsack to his shoulder would be 5 4, or 20, providing his shoulders were 4 feet from the ground.

The amount of work done depends upon the force used and the distance covered (sometimes called displacement), and hence we can say that

Work = force multiplied by distance,
or      W = f d.


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