Letter | Published:

Mercury Bubbles

Nature volume 68, pages 199200 (02 July 1903) | Download Citation



RECENTLY during the course of an experiment I had occasion to boil water in presence of mercury. After ebullition had been going on for some time, I noticed that occasionally steam forming below the surface of the mercury carried with it a pellicle of mercury as it rose through the water in the form of a bubble. When it reached the surface of the water the pellicle usually burst, and the mercury fell back as a drop. By adjusting the intensity of ebullition, it was possible to bring the two liquids into such a state that, comparatively frequently—say ten times per minute—steam bubbles covered with mercury rose through the water and floated on its surface, and, hovering there for an instant, they cooled and contracted, and sank slowly down through the water. When the bubbles are formed in rapid succession, the phenomenon is one of great beauty, as their surfaces are extremely brilliant, being formed of mercury freshly drawn out before rising into the water. The mercury used in this experiment was the ordinary commercial article, and not freshly distilled. Grease had, however, been removed from it by boiling with a solution of caustic potash. Tap water was used.

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  1. Botanical Laboratory, Trinity College, Dublin.



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