CHAPTER IV - INDUCTION OF A CURRENT ON ITSELF  pp. 180-183

INDUCTION OF A CURRENT ON ITSELF

By James Clerk Maxwell

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546.] Faraday has devoted the ninth series of his Researches to the investigation of a class of phenomena exhibited by the current in a wire which forms the coil of an electromagnet.

Mr. Jenkin had observed that, although it is impossible to produce a sensible shock by the direct action of a voltaic system consisting of only one pair of plates, yet, if the current is made to pass through the coil of an electromagnet, and if contact is then broken between the extremities of two wires held one in each hand, a smart shock will be felt. No such shock is felt on making contact.

Faraday shewed that this and other phenomena, which he describes, are due to the same inductive action which he had already observed the current to exert on neighbouring conductors. In this case, however, the inductive action is exerted on the same conductor which carries the current, and it is so much the more powerful as the wire itself is nearer to the different elements of the current than any other wire can be.

547.] He observes, however, that ‘the first thought that arises in the mind is that the electricity circulates with something like momentum or inertia in the wire.’ Indeed, when we consider one particular wire only, the phenomena are exactly analogous to those of a pipe full of water flowing in a continued stream.

A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism Volume 1

James Clerk Maxwell

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Book DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511709333