Crookes showed that the arc brought about combination; and in 1897 Lord Rayleigh went into the process more fully.
In the experiment imagined by Lord Rayleigh a porous diaphragm takes the place of the partition and trap-doors imagined by Clerk Maxwell, and the molecules sort themselves automatically on account of the difference in their average velocities for the two gases.
The synthesis of nitric acid by passing electric sparks through moist air by Cavendish is a famous piece of experimental work, for in the first place it determined the composition of this important substance, and in the second place the minute residue of air which would not combine, although ignored for about a century, was subsequently examined by Lord Rayleigh and Sir William Ramsay, who showed that it consists of a mixture of elementary substances - argon, krypton, neon and xenon (see Argon).
In the collected Scientific Papers of Lord Kelvin (3 vols., Cambridge, 1882), of James Clerk Maxwell (2 vols., Cambridge, 1890), and of Lord Rayleigh (4 vols., Cambridge, 1903), the advanced student will find the means for studying the historical development of electrical knowledge as it has been evolved from the minds of some of the master workers of the 19th century.
The process was developed by Madame Lefebre in 1859; by Meissner in 1863, who found that moist gases gave a better result; and by Prim in 1882, who sparked the gases under pressure; it was also used by Lord Rayleigh in his isolation of argon.
But the result of taking these into account is far from being in accordance with the facts, and experiments of Lord Rayleigh and Paul Drude make it probable that we ought to assume that the transition from one medium to another, though taking place in a distance amounting to about one fiftieth of a wave-length, is gradual instead of abrupt.
Soc., April 1894.) At this stage it became clear that the complication depended upon some hitherto unknown body, and probability inclined to the existence of a gas in the atmosphere heavier than nitrogen, and remaining unacted upon during the removal of the oxygen - a conclusion afterwards fully established by Lord Rayleigh and Sir William Ramsay.
And in 1909 the British government appointed a scientific committee, with Lord Rayleigh as chairman, as a consultative body for furthering the development of the science in England.
The joint operation of superficial tension and inertia in fixing the wave-length of maximum instability was first considered by Lord Rayleigh in a paper (Math.
Helmholtz and Lord Rayleigh are founded on this relation.