[Footnote: Abstract of paper read before Section C (Chemical Science), British Association meeting, York.]


The authors described their experiments on the fluid density of metals made in continuation of those submitted to Section B at the Swansea meeting of the Association. Some time since one of the authors gave an account of the results of experiments made to determine the density of metallic silver, and of certain alloys of silver and copper when in a molten state. The method adopted was that devised by Mr. R. Mallet, and the details were as follows: A conical vessel of best thin Lowmoor plate (1 millimeter thick), about 16 centimeters in height, and having an internal volume of about 540 cubic centimeters, was weighed, first empty, and subsequently when filled with distilled water at a known temperature. The necessary data were thus afforded for accurately determining its capacity at the temperature of the air. Molten silver was then poured into it, the temperature at the time of pouring being ascertained by the calorimetric method. The precautions, as regards filling, pointed out by Mr. Mallet, were adopted; and as soon as the metal was quite cold, the cone with its contents was again weighed. Experiments were also made on the density of fluid bismuth; and two distinctive determinations gave the following results:

 10.005 )

) mean 10.039.

10.072 ) 

The invention of the oncosimeter, which was described by one of the authors in the "Journal of the Iron and Steel Institute" (No. II., 1879, p. 418), appeared to afford an opportunity for resuming the investigation on a new basis, more especially as the delicacy of the instrument had already been proved by experiments on a considerable scale for determining the density of fluid cast iron. The following is the principle on which this instrument acts:

If a spherical ball of any metal be plunged below the surface of a molten bath of the same or another metal, the cold ball will displace its own volume of molten metal. If the densities of the cold and molten metal be the same, there will be equilibrium, and no floating or sinking effect will be exhibited. If the density of the cold be greater than that of the molten metal, there will be a sinking effect, and if less a floating effect when first immersed. As the temperature of the submerged ball rises, the volume of the displaced liquid will increase or decrease according as the ball expands or contracts. In order to register these changes the ball is hung on a spiral spring, and the slightest change in buoyancy causes an elongation or contraction of this spring which can be read off on a scale of ounces, and is recorded by a pencil on a revolving drum. A diagram is thus traced out, the ordinates of which represent increments of volume, or, in other words, of weight of fluid displaced--the zero line, or line corresponding to a ball in a liquid of equal density, being previously traced out by revolving the drum without attaching the ball of metal itself to the spring, but with all other auxiliary attachments. By means of a simple adjustment the ball is kept constantly depressed to the same extent below the surface of the liquid; and the ordinate of this pencil line, measuring from the line of equilibrium, thus gives an exact measure of the floating or sinking effect at every stage of temperature, from the cold solid to the state when the ball begins to melt.

If the weight and specific gravity of the ball be taken when cold, there are obtained, with the ordinate on the diagram at the moment of immersion, sufficient data for determining the density of the fluid metal; for

W / W = D / D

the volumes being equal. And remembering that

W (weight of liquid) = W (weight of ball) + x

(where x is always measured as +ve or -ve floating effect), there is obtained the equation: D = \frac{D_1 \times (W_1 +x)}{W_1}

The results obtained with metallic silver are perhaps the most interesting, mainly from the fact that the metal melts at a higher temperature, which was determined with great care by the illustrious physicist and metallurgist, the late Henri St. Claire Deville, whose latest experiments led him to fix the melting point at 940° Cent. The authors of the paper showed that the density of the fluid metal was 9.51 as compared with 10.57, the density of the solid metal. Taking their results generally, it is found that the change of volume of the following metals in passing from the solid to the liquid state may be thus stated:

 Specific Specific

Metal. Gravity, Gravity, Percentage of

Solid. Liquid. Change. 
Bismuth 9.82 10.055 Decrease of volume 2.3 Copper 8.8 8.217 Increase " 7.1 Lead 11.4 10.37 " " 9.93 Tin. 7.5 7.025 " " 6.76 Zinc 7.2 6.48 " " 11.10 Silver 10.57 9.51 " " 11.20 Iron 6.95 6.88 " " 1.02