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When an electric current is set up by bringing two contacts together, they necessarily discharge a capacity. If the discharge takes place through an arc before the metallic circuit is established, erosion of the electrodes results. In a low voltage circuit the occurrence of an arc is dependent upon the condition of the electrode surfaces and upon the circuit inductance. For ``inactive'' surfaces, and a voltage of the order of 50, an arc does not occur if the inductance is greater than about 3 microhenries. Surfaces of various metals can be ``activated'' by vapors of certain unsaturated organic compounds, and in the active condition they give arcs even when the circuit inductance is greater than this limiting value by a factor of more than 103. The study of arcs between active metal surfaces is not yet complete, and most of this paper and all of the remainder of this abstract have to do with surfaces which are inactive. When an arc occurs at the make of inactive metal surfaces, its energy, which in low voltage circuits of practical interest is drawn entirely from a charged condenser, is dissipated almost entirely upon the positive electrode, and melts out a crater intermediate in volume between the volume of metal which can be melted by the energy and that which can be vaporized. Some of the melted metal lands on the negative electrode and, with repeated operation, results in a mound of metal transferred from anode to cathode. This transfer is about 4×10-14 cc of metal per erg. The arc voltage is of the order of 15. If the initial circuit potential is more than about 50 volts there may be more than one arc discharge, successive discharges being in opposite directions and resulting in the transfer of metal in opposite directions— always to the electrode which is negative.