538 ON THE LUBRICATING AND OTHER [429
the former always contracts at the expense of the latter. As to this, it may be worth notice that the tension T of the contaminated surface could not be expressed as a function merely of the volume of the drop and of the two other tensions, viz. T^ the tension of an air-oil surface and T2 that of a water-oil surface. It would be necessary to introduce other quantities, such as gravity, or molecular dimensions. I am still of the opinion formerly expressed that these complications are the result of impurity in the oil. If the oil were really homogeneous, Devaux' views would lead one to regard the continued existence of two sizes of globules on the same surface as impossible. What would there be to hinder the rapid growth of the smaller at the expense of the greater until equality was established ? On the other hand, an impurity, present only in small proportion, would naturally experience more difficulty in finding its way about.
The importance of impurities in influencing the transformations of oil-films was insisted on long ago by Tomlinson*; and as regards olive oil, Miss Pockels showed that the behaviour of purified oil is quite different from that of the common oil. She quotes Eichter (Nature, Vol. XLIX. p. 488) as expressing the opinion that the tendency of oil to spread itself on water is only due to the free oleic acid contained in it, and that if it were possible to completely purify the oil from oleic acid, it would not spread at allf. Some confusion arises from the different meanings attached to the word "spreading." I suppose no one disputes the rapid spreading upon a clean surface which results in the formation of the invisible mono-molecular layer. Miss Pockels calls this a solution current—a rather misleading term, which had tended to obscure the meaning of her really valuable work. It is the second kind of spreading in a thicker layer, resulting in more or less rapid subsequent transformations, which is attributed to the presence of oleic acid. Miss Pockels says : " The Provence oil used in my experiment was shaken up twice with pure alcohol, and the rest (residue) of the latter being carefully removed, a drop of the oil was placed upon the freshly formed water-surface in a small dish by means of a brass wire previously cleaned by ignition. The oil did not really spread, but after a momentary centrifugal movement, during which several small drops were separated from it, it contracted itself in the middle of the surface, and a second drop deposited on the same vessel remained absolutely motionless." I have repeated this experiment, using oil which is believed to have come direct from Italy. A drop of this placed upon a clean water-surface at once drives dust to the boundary in forming the mono-molecular layer, and in addition flattens itself out into a disk of considerable size, which rapidly undergoes the transformations well described and figured by Devaux. The same oil, purified by means of alcohol on Miss Pockels' plan, behaves quite differently. The first spreading, driving dust to the boundary,
* Phil. Mai/. Vol. xxvi. p. 187 (1863). t Nature, Vol. L. p. 223 (1894).918).stadt's.