|The Story Book of Science|
|by Jean Henri Fabre|
|The wonders of plant and animal life told with rare literary charm by Uncle Paul in conversations with three children. Besides such stories as the ants' subterranean city, the spider's suspension bridge, and the caterpillars' processing, he unlocks the mystery behind thunder and lightning, clouds and rain, the year and its seasons, and volcanoes and earthquakes. Ages 9-12 |
THE EXPERIMENT WITH PAPER
INCE the cat threatens to get cross, we will have recourse
to another way of producing electricity.
"You fold lengthwise a good sheet of ordinary paper; then
take hold of the double strip by each end. Next, you heat it
just to the scorching point over a stove or in front of a
hot fire. The greater the heat, the more electricity will be
developed. Finally, still holding the strip by the ends
alone, you rub it quickly, as soon as it is hot, on a piece
of woolen cloth previously warmed and stretched over the
knee. It can be rubbed on the trousers if they are woolen.
The friction must be rapid and lengthwise of the paper.
After a short rubbing the band is quickly raised with one
hand, with great care not to let the paper touch against
anything; if it did the electricity would be dissipated.
Then without delay you bring up the knuckles of your free
hand, or, better, the end of a key, near to the middle of
the strip of paper; and you will see a bright spark dart
from the paper to the key with a slight crackling. To get
another spark you must go through the same operations again,
for at the approach of the finger or key the sheet of paper
loses all its electricity.
"Instead of making a spark, you can hold the
elec-  trified sheet flat above little pieces of paper, straw, or feathers.
These light bodies are attracted and repelled in turn; they
come and go rapidly from the electrified strip to the object
which serves them as support, and from this to the strip."
Adding example to precept, Uncle Paul took a sheet of paper,
folded it in a strip to give it more resistance, warmed it,
rubbed it on his knee, and finally made a spark fly from it
on the approach of his finger-joint. The children were full
of wonder at the lightning that sprang from the paper with a
crackle. The cat's beads were more numerous, but less strong
They say that Mother Ambroisine had much trouble that
evening in getting Jules to go to bed; for, once master of
the process, he did not tire of warming and rubbing. His
uncle's intervention was necessary to put an end to the
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics