Expériences et observations sur l'électricité faites à Philadelphie en Amérique

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 74

bord de la lèvre est rasé
de près, & si l'on ne respire pas sur la liqueur.]


_Des opinions & des conjectures sur les propriétés & sur les effets de
la matière électrique._

64. Il est dit dans le §. 8. que toutes les espèces de matière commune
sont supposées ne pas attirer le fluide électrique avec une égale
activité, & que les corps appellés originairement électriques comme le
verre, &c. l'attirent & le retiennent avec plus de force, & en
contiennent la plus grande quantité.

Cette dernière thèse pourroit avoir l'air d'un paradoxe pour quelques
personnes étant contraire à l'opinion dominante; c'est pourquoi je vais
faire ensorte de l'expliquer.

65. Pour le faire avec ordre, il faut d'abord considérer que nous ne
pouvons par aucun moyen connu jusqu'à présent faire passer le fluide
électrique au travers du verre. Je n'ignore pas que le sentiment commun
est qu'il traverse aisément le verre, & qu'on allégue en preuve
l'expérience d'une plume suspenduë par un fil dans une bouteille scellée
hermétiquement, & qu'on la met en mouvement en approchant un tube frotté
de la surface extérieure de la bouteille; mais si le fluide électrique
traverse si aisément le verre, comment la fiole devient-elle chargée
(pour me servir de l'expression usitée,) lorsque nous la tenons dans nos
mains? Le feu poussé dans la bouteille par le fil-d'archal ne la
traverseroit-il pas pour venir jusqu'à nos mains, & pour s'échapper
ainsi sur le plancher? En ce cas la bouteille ne demeureroit-elle pas
toujours dans le même état, c'est-à-dire sans être chargée, comme nous
sçavons que demeureroit une bouteille de métal qu'on essayeroit de
charger de la sorte? Assurément s'il y a la moindre fêlure, la plus
petite solution de continuité dans le verre, quoiqu'il reste si serré
que rien autre chose que nous sçachions n'y puisse passer; cependant le
fluide électrique, à cause de son extrême subtilité, volera à travers
cette fêlure avec la plus grande liberté; & nous sommes sûrs qu'une
telle bouteille ne peut jamais être chargée. Quelle est donc la
différence entre cette bouteille & une autre bien saine, si ce n'est que
le fluide peut traverser l'une, & ne sçauroit traverser l'autre?[31]

[Note 31: Voyez les §. 35-50.]

66. Il est vrai qu'il y a une expérience, qui à la première vûe, seroit
capable de persuader à un observateur superficiel que le feu poussé dans
la bouteille par le fil-d'archal, passe réellement à travers la
substance du verre. La voici: placez la bouteille sur un verre sous le
premier conducteur: suspendez un boulet par une chaîne depuis le premier
conducteur jusqu'à ce qu'il soit à un quart ou à un

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