Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/683

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653
WATER AS FUEL.

finements of chemistry, anatomy, and physiology, which stupefy and then pass away like chaff before the wind, but the essential fundamental facts and principle, welded together, and so woven into the student's mind that he can hold them firmly and wield them effectually; and that he is conscious of them, not as the goods of other men, or as dogmas which he has because they were imposed upon him, but as his own possession, of which he appreciates the value because he knows how to use them."

In conclusion, I would express the hope that the expression of opinion in the Psychological Section of this Association will strengthen the hands of the Metropolitan branch, which has taken up this question with much earnestness, and, although starting from a different stand-point from my own, has been equally impressed with the evils attending the present system of medical education. I am moved by the conviction that its influence upon the mind is injurious; they by the fear that it fails to produce the best men, and the belief that it is altogether unreasonable.—Journal of Mental Science.

 
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WATER AS FUEL.
By WM. C. CONANT.

THE satyr in the fable was not more scandalized at the man who blew hot and cold with the same breath, to warm his fingers and to cool his porridge, than the old acquaintances of water as the natural cooler and refresher of the world have been to find it artificially asserted as supreme in the opposite office of heating. It may well seem the extreme of paradox that the same element which tempers the excess of both solar and animal heat should also become the great source of supply for their deficiency. And yet why should not the universal absorbent of this power be made to restore it? We have long known that water is but the fuel of the universe as transformed by combustion—a cold residual of a cosmic conflagration that still rages in the central mass of our system, and has hardly subsided as yet in its principal fragments.

Hydrogen—the "water-parent," or distinctive element of water, as its name imports—may be regarded, metaphorically at least, as a metal, which no degree of cold in nature, or where life exists, can reduce to the density of a liquid. It oxidizes so eagerly, and in such infinite abundance, as to be the only combustible comparatively worth mentioning: nowhere to be found, in fact, but in vehement combustion or in its cold result as water, unless where locked in the embrace of its secondary affinity, carbon, in the various oily products of organic life. In the latter condition—the hydrocarbons—hydrogen is protected