General Properties of Gases
We know very well that we cannot put more than a certain amount of water in a tube, but we know equally well that the amount of air which can be pumped into a bicycle or automobile tire depends largely upon our muscular energy. A gallon of water remains a gallon of water and requires a perfectly definite amount of space, but air can be compressed and compressed, and made to occupy less and less space. While it is true that air is easily compressed, it is also true that air is elastic and capable of very rapid and easy expansion. If a puncture occurs in a tire, the compressed air escapes very quickly; that is, the compressed air within the tube has taken the first opportunity offered for expansion.
The fact that air is elastic has added materially to the comfort of the world. Transportation by bicycles and automobiles has been greatly facilitated by the use of air tires. In many hospitals, air mattresses are used in place of hair, feather, or cotton mattresses, and in this way the bed is kept fresher and cleaner, and can be moved with less danger of discomfort to the patient. Every time we squeeze the bulb of an atomizer, we force compressed or condensed air through the atomizer, and the condensed air pushes the liquid out of the nozzle. Thus we see that in the necessities and conveniences of life compressed air plays an important part.
FIG. - By squeezing the bulb, air is forced out of the nozzle.