Vac"u*um (?), n.; pl. E. Vacuums (#), L. Vacua (#). [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.


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. -- Vacuum pan Technol., a kind of large closed metallic retort used in sugar making for boiling down sirup. It is so connected with an exhausting apparatus that a partial vacuum is formed within. This allows the evaporation and concentration to take place at a lower atmospheric pressure and hence also at a lower temperature, which largely obviates the danger of burning the sugar, and shortens the process. -- Vacuum pump. Same as Pulsometer, 1. -- Vacuum tube Phys., a glass tube provided with platinum electrodes and exhausted, for the passage of the electrical discharge; a Geissler tube.<-- any tube used in electronic devices, containing a vacuum and used to control the flow of electrons in a circuit, as a vacuum diode, triode, or pentode, or a . --> -- 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 under Torricellian.


© Webster 1913.