Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/45

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35
LIQUID AIR.

one another in the least. Each science is fully justified in its own deductions, but must be content to leave the results of others in peace. Such is the ultimate conclusion to which all the latest authority is tending. Only by a careful comparison of data from each sphere of investigation may we finally hope to combine them all in a composite whole, as many-sided and complex as the life and nature of man itself.

 
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LIQUID AIR.
By IRA REMSEN,
PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY IN THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY.

WATER, the substance most familiar to us, is known in the liquid, in the solid, and in the gaseous state. Everybody knows that by heating the solid it passes into the liquid state, and that by heating the liquid it passes into the form of gas or vapor. So also everybody knows that when the vapor of water is cooled it is liquefied, and that by cooling liquid water sufficiently it becomes solid or turns to ice. In the same way many of the substances that are known to us as liquids, such as alcohol and ether, can be converted into the form of gas or vapor by heat. In fact, this is true of most liquids. The temperature at which a solid passes into the liquid state is called its melting point, and the temperature at which a liquid passes into the gaseous state is called its boiling point. The boiling point of water, for example, is 100° C. (212° F.) in the open air. But the boiling point varies with the pressure exerted upon the surface. The pressure that we ordinarily have' to deal with is that of the atmosphere. If the pressure is increased the boiling point is raised, and if the pressure is decreased the boiling point is lowered. In dealing, then, with the conversion of a gas into a liquid, or that of a liquid into a gas, both the temperature and the pressure have to be considered.

Just as water is most familiar to us in the liquid form, so there are substances that are most familiar to us in the gaseous form. In fact, the only gaseous substances that can be said to be familiar to everybody are the gases contained in the air. The principal constituents of the air are nitrogen and oxygen, which form respectively about four fifths and one fifth of its bulk. Besides these gases, however, the air contains water vapor, carbonic-acid gas, ammonia, argon in small quantities, and many other substances in still smaller quantities. For the purposes of this article it is only necessary to have in mind the nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, and carbonic acid. Of these, the water vapor is easily converted into liquid, as, for ex-