The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 1 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 227

brook
to Delaware or Schuylkill, and down one of them to their meeting,
and up the other and the other brook; the time of its doing this
may possibly be observable, and the further upwards the brooks are
chosen, the more observable it would be.

Should this be not observable, then suppose the two brooks falling
into Sasquehana and Delaware, and proceeding as before, the electric
fire may, by that means, make a circuit round the North Cape of
Virginia, and go many hundreds of miles, and in doing that, it would
seem it must take some observable time.

If still no observable time is found in that experiment, then
suppose the brooks falling the one into the Ohio, and the other into
Sasquehana, or Potomack, in that the electric fire would have a
circuit of some thousands of miles to go down Ohio to Mississippi,
to the Bay of Mexico, round Florida, and round the South Cape of
Virginia; which, I think, would give some observable time, and
discover exactly the velocity.

But if the electric fire dissipates, or weakens in the water, as I
fear it does, these experiments will not answer.


_Answer to the foregoing_.

Read at the Royal Society, Dec. 25, 1756.

Suppose a tube of any length open at both ends, and containing a
moveable wire of just the same length, that fills its bore. If I
attempt to introduce the end of another wire into the same tube, it
must be done by pushing forward the wire it already contains; and the
instant I press and move one end of that wire, the other end is also
moved; and in introducing one inch of the same wire, I extrude, at
the same time, an inch of the first, from the other end of the tube.

If the tube be filled with water, and I inject an additional inch of
water at one end, I force out an equal quantity at the other, in the
very same instant.

And the water forced out at one end of the tube is not the very same
water that was forced in at the other end at the same time, it was
only in motion at the same time.

The long wire, made use of in the experiment to discover the velocity
of the electric fluid, is itself filled with what we call its natural
quantity of that fluid, before the hook of the Leyden bottle is
applied to one end of it.

The outside of the bottle being at the time of such application
in contact with the other end of the

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

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his profession, and said no more.
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