Physical Properties of Matter in the Liquid and Gaseous States *


    THE investigation to which this note refers has occupied me, with little intermission, since my former communication in 1869 to the Society, “On the Continuity of the Liquid and Gaseous States of Matter.” It was undertaken chiefly to ascertain the modifications which the three great laws discovered respectively by Boyle, Gay-Lussac, and Dalton undergo when matter in the gaseous state is placed under physical conditions differing greatly from any hitherto within the reach of observation. It embraces a large number of experiments of precision, performed at different temperatures and at pressures ranging from twelve to nearly three hundred atmospheres. The apparatus employed is, in all its essential parts, similar to that described in the paper referred to; and so perfectly did it act that the readings of the cathetometer, at the highest pressures and temperatures employed, were made with the same ease and accuracy as if the object of the experiment had been merely to determine the tension of aqueous vapour in a barometertube. In using it the chief improvement I have made is in the method of ascertaining the original volumes of the gases before compression, which can now be know with much less labour and greater accuracy than by the method I formerly described. The lower ends of the glass tubes containing the gases dip into small mercurial reservoirs formed of thin glass tubes, which rest on ledges within the apparatus. This arrangement has prevented many failures in screwing up the apparatus, and has given more precision to the measurements. A great improvement has also been made in the method of preparing the leather-washers used in the packing for the fine screws, by means of which the pressure is obtained. It consists in saturating the leather with grease by heating it in vacuo under melted lard. In this way the air enclosed within the pores of the leather is removed without the use of water and a packing is obtained so perfect that it appears, as far as my experience goes, never to fail, provided it is used in a vessel filled with water. It is remarkable, however, that the same packing, when an apparatus specially constructed for the purpose of forged iron was filled with mercury, always yielded, even at a pressure of forty atmospheres, in the course of a few days.

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    Physical Properties of Matter in the Liquid and Gaseous States * . Nature 12, 300–301 (1875).

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