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Francis Hauksbee's Experiments

June 26th Fact-of-the-Day

You may have never heard of Francis Hauksbee, but he conducted a series of brilliant experiments in the early 1700's that significantly influenced scientific thinking related to electricity, light, sound and other things. He is best known for his electroluminescence (using electricity to make something glow) experiments. In 1705 he demonstrated to the Royal Society that sound cannot propagate without a medium to propagate through by showing that a bell ringing in a vacuum produces no sound. That may seem obvious today, but it wasn't known prior to that demonstration that sound doesn't propagate without a medium to propagate through, so it was surprising to discover that a bell ringing in a vacuum cannot be heard. The next year he demonstrated an improved electrostatic generator he called an 'Influence Machine.' He experimented with and demonstrated many other things. He described experiments he had performed over a period of several years in a book entitled 'Physico-Mechanical Experiments on Various Subjects' that was published in 1709. ©2005 Martek International All rights reserved.


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