BAROMETRIC LIGHT, the luminous glow emitted by mercury in a barometer tube when shaken. It was first observed by Jean Picard, and formed the subject of many experiments at the hands of Francis Hawksbee. The latter showed that the Torricellian vacuum was not essential to the phenomenon, for the same glow was apparent when mercury was shaken with air only partially rarefied. The glow is an effect of the electricity generated by the friction of the mercury and the air in the barometer tube.
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