Experiments and Observations on Electricity Made at Philadelphia in America

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 31

(generally) more than it
can contain, otherwise all loose portions of it would repel each other, as
they constantly do when they have electric atmospheres.

10. The beneficial uses of this electrical fluid in the creation, we are
not yet well acquainted with, though doubtless such there are, and those
very considerable; but we may see some pernicious consequences, that would
attend a much greater proportion of it. For had this globe we live on as
much of it in proportion, as we can give to a globe of iron, wood, or the
like, the particles of dust and other light matters that get loose from it,
would, by virtue of their separate electrical atmospheres, not only repel
each other, but be repelled from the earth, and not easily be brought to
unite with it again; whence our air would continually be more and more
clogged with foreign matter, and grow unfit for respiration. This affords
another occasion of adoring that wisdom which has made all things by weight
and measure!

11. If a piece of common matter be supposed intirely free from electrical
matter, and a single particle of the latter be brought nigh, 'twill be
attracted and enter the body, and take place in the center, or where the
attraction is every way equal. If more particles enter, they take their
places where the balance is equal between the attraction of the common
matter and their own mutual repulsion. 'Tis supposed they form triangles,
whose sides shorten as their number increases; 'till the common matter has
drawn in so many, that its whole power of compressing those triangles by
attraction, is equal to their whole power of expanding themselves by
repulsion; and then will such piece of matter receive no more.

12. When part of this natural proportion of electrical fluid, is taken out
of a piece of common matter, the triangles formed by the remainder, are
supposed to widen by the mutual repulsion of the parts, until they occupy
the whole piece.

13. When the quantity of electrical fluid taken from a piece of common
matter is restored again, it enters, the expanded triangles being again
compressed till there is room for the whole.

14. To explain this: take two apples, or two balls of wood or other matter,
each having its own natural quantity of the electrical fluid. Suspend them
by silk lines from the ceiling. Apply the wire of a well-charged vial, held
in your hand, to one of them (A) Fig. 7. and it will receive from the wire
a quantity of the electrical fluid; but will not imbibe it,

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

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4} 5} EVENING.
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"] [Footnote 112: It is dated July 1, 1733.
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6.
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