« PreviousContinue »
wheel geared with the prism P so as to revolve only once in the time of one revolution of the signal wheel. The circular prismatic piece is of a diameter many times greater than that of the pencil of light, and the latter traverses the former at its border. Around the prismatic piece is fastened a toothed ring, into which gears the driving wheel II from which the prism takes its motion. Between this wheel H and the regulator from which it derives its uniform motion, is interposed a satellite wheel arrangement, by means of which the observer, without disturbing the invariable velocity of the regulator, can set the wheel H, and the parts to which it gives motion, forward or back in their course, and then allow them to proceed at once with the same correct velocity as before. In this way the observer will have absolute control of the angle of position of the luminous arc S' D S', and it may be agreed that as this angle of position slowly changes in consequence of the want of perfect unison between the movements at the two stations, he shall, from time to time, bring the luminous arc back to near coincidence with a standard position, that for instance which is shown in Fig. 3, the exact angle of position to be measured, however, in the manner above mentioned. Provided, then, the arc be not allowed to stray far from its standard position, it will be obvious that one part of the border of the prismatic piece P will never be traversed by the light which passes the sixteen primary openings of the signal wheel and forms that arc. The part thus unused is made with parallel faces, as shown in the figure, and then any supplementary flash of light occurring midway between the primary ones, will pass through the parallel part of P unrefracted, and may be refracted by a second prism P', that moment interposed. This second prism is made to revolve once in the period of the sixteen revolutions of P, and in the best mode of construction that occurs to me is one of sixteen prismatic pieces P', P', P', &c, so cut out, and attached to the border of a wheel or disc K, made to revolve in that period, that the edges of the refracting angles of all of them shall be parallel to each other, tho whole forming the equivalent of a single prism cut into a large toothed wheel. This wheel K, like P, takes its motion from H, and is so geared that during all the intervals of time in which a passing pencil would encounter the refracting part of P, it will nave free passage through one of the spaces between the pieces P', P', P', &c, which, during the alternate intervals of time, will in their turn be interposed in the path of the pencil. Any flash of light, therefore, that escapes through any supplementary opening, as t, in the middle of one of the sixteen primary teeth of the signal wheel, will, in traversing the telescope at B, be refracted by one of the prisms P' alone, and not by P. And if it be recollected that the several prisms P' are in effect parts of one prism, as distinctly indicated in fig. 1, b, and that the action of this differs in no respect from that of P except in its longer period of revolution, and that this period of revolution is the same with that of the signal wheel, it will be obvious that if several supplementary openings be made in the signal wheel, as for instance two, t and w, in two teeth diametrically opposite to each other, and two others, v and u; in teeth adjacent to one of these on each side of it, the flashes of light through these openings will be seen by the eye at E to occur at points t', u\ v', w\ fig. 3, distributed around the circumference of a circle concentric with S'DS'G, and at angular intervals from each other identical with those between the corresponding openings in the signal wheel. It will be further obvious that the observed angle of position of the diameter u'l' will depend on the angle ot position of the wheel K relatively to that of the signal wheel. The diameter u't' becomes, then, by aid of the more exact indication of S'D S', an index by which we know the required angle of position at which the wheel K arrives simultaneously with the arrival of the signal wheel S at a given point of reference. As the most convenient mode of procedure in practice, the observer at B may operate the satellite wheel until the index diameter v! V is brought to a position, for instance the vertical one in the figure, made to denote zero, and the position micrometer for taking the angle of position of S' D S' may be graduated to thousandths aud ten thousandths of a second.
Instead of the above described arrangement there is a modification of it which I am disposed to prefer, the type of which is a pair of telescopes at station B, placed side by side so that one may contain the rapidly revolving prism and the other the more slowly revolving one, each prism being in this case uninterrnitting in its action, and the supplementary openings of the signal wheel being replaced by the filling up of a single one of the primary openings. The omission of the flash of light from this one would be observable through the slow prism and give the required indication, while it would not probably injure in any material degree the distinctness of the arc of light seen through the fast prism. Instead of a pair of complete telescopes, the equivalent of a pair of eye-pieces with a sliding object-glass to alternate between them at pleasure, would answer the same purpose. In this arrangement no rectification of the prisms by the observer would be necessary, it being always possible to observe the total deviation. This would be a great advantage on a line of very numerous stations, in which case it would, on the first described plan, be a somewhat critical matter to bring all the instruments on the line into the required correspondence for simultaneous observation.
As before intimated, it would be possible to employ but a single clock on the whole line of stations, but as this would require signal observations for every time observation at any other than the clock station, it would be more convenient to employ a clock at every astronomical station.
The question of the feasibility of the process described in this paper will depend primarily on the practicability of securing, with telescopes of moderate aperture, n sufficiency of light lor such distances as from fifty to eighty miles, and next on the attainment of sufficient precision of rate in the uniform motion employed. I do not anticipate serious difficulty in either of these things. For the uniform motion, considering especially the light work it will have to do, the Frannhofer regulator would I presume be everything that is required, or an electromagnetic regulator, similar to that described by me in a paper presented to the American Association at their meeting at Montreal, may be used if found reliable. From what a scientific friend has told me of his experience with distant lights, I think we are justified in anticipating the easy attainment of sufficiency of light.
A similar optical means can also be used for comparing a mean time clock at one station with a sidereal clock at another, by the method of coincidences, without other mechanism than the clocks themselves, though with diminished power of precision on a long line of stations. The pendulum of the one clock is made to carry in the focus of the telescope at its station, an opaque disc with a narrow slit, through which, at each oscillation, a flash of light is allowed to escape to the other station, and through the locus of the telescope at that station oscillates a wire carried by the pendulum of the other clock, which eclipses the. flash of light at each coincidence of the two pendulums. Or the pendulum at the observing station may carry a mirror, in which either a flash or an interruption of light from the other station may be observed by reflection, and the coincidence noted when the flash or the break is seen at the same point of the field of view where it is observed with the pendulum at rest.
I have already observed that the visual method proposed in this paper might prove useful as a check, at least, upon the indications of submarine or subterranean lines of electric telegraph. But it seems less liable to uncertainty in its indications than even the air lines, the signals of which occupy a very appreciable and more or less ambiguous time in passing, and therefore on very extensive surveys it would be very instructive at least, and might be found to give increased accuracy, to add to the comparisons made by the telegraph wires, further comparisons by means of a sufficient number of the visual instruments to reach across the whole extent of the survey. In case it should ever be undertaken, as has been proposed, to measure an extensive arc of the equator, the idea of such a visual method for the accurate determination of the differences of longitude, would be well worth considering.
I will close by suggesting one more obvious application of the method, and that is, the determination of the velocity of light, which, with a sufficiently high velocity of revolution of the prism and signal wheel, might be done with considerable accuracy by transmitting, in the same manner as before described from a second station to a third, a return signal from the second station to the first.
Art. VI.— On Osmious Acid, and Hie position of Osmium in the list of Elements; by J. W. Mallet, Prof, of Chemistry, &c., Univ. of Alabama.
In most chemical text-books it is stated, on the authority of Berzelius, that there are five oxyds of osmium—OsO, Osa03, OsOa, OsO 3, and Os05—of which however the second and fourth have not been isolated, although compounds containing them are known. To these may be added a blue substance, first obtained by Vauquelin and supposed by Berzelius to consist of OsO united to either Osa03 or OsO,, and the highest oxyd, probably OsOs, the existence of which was announced by Fremy in 1854.
While preparing osmium from some black platinum residues I have accidentally obtained, a substance which there is some reason to believe may be osmious acid—the hitherto unisolated teroxyd—mixed indeed with osmic acid, but still permitting certain of its properties to be observed.
Three or four ounces of the platinum residue were treated by a modification of the original process of Wollaston, now seldom adopted. The powder was mixed with three times its weight of nitre, the mixture was fused for some time in an iron crucible, and then poured out upon an iron plate. While still warm the fused cake was broken into fragments and put into a flask fitted with a cork, through which passed a tube two feet long, bent at right angles, and a funnel-tube, the latter drawn out to a very small bore at the lower end, and reaching to the bottom of the flask. The bent tube was well cooled, and undiluted oil of vitriol was very cautiously poured, by a few drops at a time, into the funnel.
The acid produced intense heat on coming in contact with the cake of potash salt, and oily drops of a bright yellow color began to make their appearance in the cooled tube. These drops very
unbleached bees-wax, By the time the sulphuric acid had been added in slight excess a considerable quantity of this yellow substance had collected in the tube and in a receiver attached. By gentle heating the whole was obtained in the receiver, and united under a little water to a single mass. Towards the end of the distillation colorless needles and fused drops of the well known osmic acid came over, and doubtless a considerable portion of the yellow mass in the receiver consisted of the same.
At first it seemed probable that the yellow color of the latter was due merely to some impurity, and it was therefore cautiously resublimed, but it ngain collected of the same tint as before. It appeared to be even more fusible and volatile than osmic acid; it took a long time to congeal under a stream of cold water flowing over the outside of a tube in which it had been melted.
The water in which it was fused acquired a bright yellow color, and gave off fumes, the odor of which seemed to me somewhat different from that of osmic acid, and which irritated the eyes so insufferably that it was scarcely possible to finish work with the acid and put it up for preservation. It was removed as a single cake from the water, and sealed up hermetically in a glass tube which had been previously cleansed with care from all traces of dust or other organic matter. The water in which it had been fused was mixed with caustic potash, and gave a solution of very dark brown-red color, such a tint as would probably result from a mixture of the red* osmile of potash discovered by Fremy with the orange-brown osmiate of potash.
The sealed tube containing the fused cake or stick of yellow acid was allowed to remain upon a table exposed to the direct rays of the sun. The acid immediately began to sublime upon the sides of the tube, not in long needles and prismatic crystals like osmic acid (which seems to be monoclinic), but in feathery crusts like sal-ammoniac, which under a lens had somewhat the appearance of minute octahedrons grouped together. The color was still bright yellow, but in a short time the sublimed acid began to turn black, and in twenty-four hours the whole inner surface of the tube was perfectly black and opaque. A tube containing pure colorless osmic acid has been exposed in a similar way to the sun for three weeks without any such blackening taking place. A tube closed by a cork, or one from which dust has not been carefully removed will often cause osmic acid to turn dark, but never exhibits anything like the absolute blackness and opacity of the whole tube noticed in the present instance.
* A rasa-red oolor is also characteristic of the salt supposed by Berzelius to be the ammoajo-terchlorid of osmium, corresponding in the chlorine series to otnitc of ammonia.