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The Power Of Water When Reduced To Vapour By Heat

Whatever force water may have while its parts remain together, is

nothing, if compared to the almost incredible power with which its

parts are endued, when they are reduced to vapour by heat. Those

steams which we see rising from the surface of boiling water, and

which to us appear feeble, yet, if properly conducted, acquire immense

force. In the same manner as gunpowder has but small effect, if

suffered to expand at l
rge, so the steam issuing from water is

impotent, where it is permitted to evaporate into the air; but where

confined in a narrow compass, as, for instance, where it rises in an

iron tube shut up on every side, it there exerts all the wonders of

its strength. Muschenbrook has proved by experiment, that the force

of gunpowder is feeble when compared to that of rising steam. A

hundred and forty pounds of gunpowder blew up a weight of thirty

thousand pounds: but, on the other hand, a hundred and forty pounds of

water, converted by heat into steam, lifted a weight of seventy-seven

thousand pounds; and would lift a much greater, if there were means of

giving the steam more heat with safety; for the hotter the steam the

greater is its force.