Origin: L, fr. Vacuus empty. See Vacuous.

1. <physics> A space entirely devoid of matter (called also, by way of distinction, absolute vacuum); hence, in a more general sense, a space, as the interior of a closed vessel, which has been exhausted to a high or the highest degree by an air pump or other artificial means; as, water boils at a reduced temperature in a vacuum.

2. The condition of rarefaction, or reduction of pressure below that of the atmosphere, in a vessel, as the condenser of a steam engine, which is nearly exhausted of air or steam, etc.; as, a vacuum of 26 inches of mercury, or 13 pounds per square inch. Vacuum brake, a kind of continuous brake operated by exhausting the air from some appliance under each car, and so causing the pressure of the atmosphere to apply the brakes.

<medicine> Vacuum pan, a glass tube provided with platinum electrodes and exhausted, for the passage of the electrical discharge; a Geissler tube. Vacuum valve, a safety valve opening inward to admit air to a vessel in which the pressure is less than that of the atmosphere, in order to prevent collapse. Torricellian vacuum. See Torricellian.

(01 Mar 1998)

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