The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 40

difference. But as this is
the whole strength, so much water could not rise; therefore to allow
it due motion upwards, we must abate, at least, one-fourth part,
perhaps more, to give it such a swift ascension as some think usual.
But here several difficulties occur, at least they are so to me. As,
whether this quantity would render the spout opaque? since it is
plain that in drops it could not do so. How, or by what means it may
be reduced small enough? or, if the water be not reduced into vapour,
what will suspend it in the region of the clouds when exonerated
there? And, if vapourized while ascending, how can it be dangerous by
what they call the breaking? For it is difficult to conceive how a
condensative power should instantaneously take place of a rarefying
and disseminating one.

The sudden fall of the spout, or rather, the sudden ceasing of it, I
accounted for, in my way, before. But it seems necessary to mention
something I then forgot. Should it be said to do so (_i. e._) to
fall, because all the lower rarefied air is ascended, whence the
whirlwind must cease, and its burden drop; I cannot agree to this,
unless the air be observed on a sudden to have grown much colder,
which I cannot learn has been the case. Or should it be supposed that
the spout was, on a sudden, obstructed at the top, and this the cause
of the fall, however plausible this might appear, yet no more water
would fall than what was at the same time contained in the column,
which is often, by many and satisfactory accounts to me, again far
from being the case.

We are, I think, sufficiently assured, that not only tons, but scores
or hundreds of tons descend in one spout. Scores of tons more than
can be contained in the trunk of it, should we suppose water to
ascend.

But, after all, it does not appear that the above-mentioned different
degrees of heat and cold concur in any region where spouts usually
happen, nor, indeed, in any other.




_Observations on the Meteorological Paper; by a Gentleman in
Connecticut._

Read at the Royal Society, Nov. 4, 1756.


"Air and water mutually attract each other, (saith Mr. F.) hence
water will dissolve in air, as salt in water." I think that he hath
demonstrated, that the supporting of salt in water is not owing to
its superficies being increased, because "the specific gravity of
salt is not altered by dividing of it, any more than that of

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Text Comparison with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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