As the powers of the telescope were gradually developed, it was found that the finest hairs or filaments of silk, or the thinnest silver wires that could be drawn, were much too thick for the refined purposes of the astronomer, as p p they entirely obliterated the image of a star in the more powerful telescopes.
The thinnest possible spherical shell of metal, such as a sphere of insulator coated with gold-leaf, behaves as a conductor for static charge just as if it were a sphere of solid metal.
This error diminishes as the diameter of the stem is reduced, but is sensible in the case of the thinnest stem which can be employed, and is the chief source of error in the employment of Nicholson's hydrometer, which otherwise would be an instrument of extreme delicacy and precision.
A bar of zinc, for instance, as obtained by casting, is very brittle; but when heated to 100° or 150° C. it becomes sufficiently plastic to be rolled into the thinnest sheet or to be drawn into wire.
This is the case with gold, silver, copper, tin, lead and others, and especially with low carbon steel, which is first cast as an ingot, then annealed and rolled into plates as well as the thinnest sheets.
When it is considered that a parting of the clay, sufficient to allow the thinnest film of water to pass, may start the formation of a vein of porous sand in the manner above explained, it will be readily seen how great must be the attention to details, in unpleasant places below ground, and below the water level of the surrounding area, if safety is to be secured.