Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/77

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A HUNDRED YEARS OF CHEMISTRY. 67

the manufacture of diamonds by Moissan, the synthesis of sugars by Fischer, the discovery of soluble forms of silver by Carey Lea — all these achievements and many more must be passed over. Some- thing, however, needs to be said upon the utilitarian aspects of chemistry, and concerning its influence upon other sciences. Por- tions of this field have been touched in the preceding pages; the interdependence of chemistry and physics is already evident; other subjects now demand our attention.

Medicine and physiology are both debtors to chemistry for much of their advancement, and in more than one way. From the chemist medicine has received a host of new remedies, some new processes, and advanced methods for the diagnosis of disease. The staining of tissues for identification under the microscope is effected by chemical agents, the analysis of urine helps to identify disorders of the kidneys; nitrous oxide, chloroform, ether, and cocaine almost abolish pain. The disinfection of the sick-room and the antiseptic methods which go far toward the creation of modern surgery all depend upon chemical products whose long list increases year by year. Crude drugs are now replaced by active principles discov- ered in the laboratory — morphine, quinine, and the like — and in- stead of the bulky, nauseous draughts of olden time, the invalid is given tasteless capsules of gelatin or compressed tablets of uniform strength and more accurately graded power. A great part of physiology consists of the study of chemical processes, the transfor- mation of compounds within the living organism, and practically all this advance is the creation of the nineteenth century. Mod- ern bacteriology, at least in its practical applications, began with a chemical discussion between Liebig and Pasteur as to the nature of fermentation: step by step the field of exploration has enlarged; as the result of the investigations we have preventive medicine, more perfect sanitation, and antiseptic surgery. The ptomaines which cause disease and the antitoxins which prevent it are alike chemical in their nature, and were discovered by chemical methods. Physiology without chemistry could not exist; even the phenomena of respiration were meaningless before the discovery of oxygen. The human body is a chemical laboratory, and without the aid of the chemist its mysteries can not be unraveled.

To agriculture also chemistry is a potent ally, whose value can hardly be overrated. It has created fertilizers and insecticides for the use of the farmer and taught their intelligent use, and in the many experiment stations of the world it is daily discovering facts or principles which are practically applicable to agriculture. The beet-sugar industry was developed by chemical researches and chem- ical methods; the arts of the dairy have been chemically improved ;

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