Buchanan, which has an arbitrary scale and can be varied in weight by placing small metal rings on the stem so as to depress the scale to any desired depth in sea-water of any salinity, the specific gravity being calculated for each reading by dividing the total weight by the immersed volume; (3) the total immersion areometer, which has no scale and the weight of which can be adjusted so that the instrument can be brought so exactly to the specific gravity of the water sample that it remains immersed, neither floating nor sinking; this has the advantage of 'eliminating the effects of surface tension and in Fridtjof Nansen's pattern is capable of great precision.
Acting on a principle quite different from any previously discussed is the capillary hydrometer or staktometer of Brewster, which is based upon the difference in the surface tension and density of pure water, and of mixtures of alcohol and water in varying proportions.
With Sydney Young and others he investigated the critical state and properties of liquids and the relationship between their vapour pressures and temperature, and with John Shields he applied measurements of the surface tension of liquids to the determination of their molecular complexity.
If a drop of water be allowed to form at the extremity of a fine tube, it will go on increasing until its weight overcomes the surface tension by which it clings to the tube, and then it will fall.
Hence any impurity which diminishes the surface tension of the water will diminish the size of the drop (unless the density is proportionately diminished).