Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/662

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sows. I say that the inference that his crop is the product of the seeds that he sows is not more certain than the inference that those crops produced in the organic infusions are due to the seeds contained in them.

You know the method that we resorted to for the purpose of enabling us to get rid of this dust. The object was, to allow the air to purify itself, and it was done in this way: I have here the first chamber that was used in these experiments. You see at the bottom a series of test-tubes entering the chamber; they are air-tight, and they open into it. There are windows at the sides, and here is a pipette through which the liquids can be introduced. Behind we have a door which opens upon its hinges. Now, imagine this perfectly closed; imagine it abandoned entirely to itself, left perfectly quiet. In a few days, the floating dust of the air contained in the chamber entirely disappears—it has removed itself by its own subsidence—and then, when you send a beam of light such as we have here through these windows, you see no track of the beam within the chamber. When the air is in this condition, you pour through this pipette infusions of beef, mutton, or vegetables, into these tubes, and allow them to be acted upon by the air. Last year, between fifty and sixty of these chambers were constructed, and the invariable result was that these infusions never putrefied, never showed any change, were perfectly sweet months after they were placed there, as long as the air had this floating matter removed. You had nothing to do but to open the back-door and allow the dust-laden air to enter the chamber to cause these infusions to fall into a state of putrefaction, and swarm with microscopic life, in three days after opening the door. I have a smaller chamber here—for we use chambers of different sizes—and it will enable you to understand our exact process. (See Fig. 1.) You see here the stand on which the chamber rests. There are two bent tubes that communicate with the outer atmosphere, for I wish to have a free communication between the air outside and the air within. You see the pipette through which the tube is filled. When the infusion is poured in, you place it in an oil-bath contained in a copper vessel, such as we have here, in which you boil it for five minutes. Now, that boiling for five minutes was found capable of sterilizing every germ contained in the infusions placed in these chambers. This year our experiments began by a continuation of those that we made last year. In order to enable you to judge of the severity of the results obtained last year, I have here five cases belonging to the experiments then made. You will see that the infusions are vastly concentrated because of their slow evaporation. The quantity of liquid is reduced to one-fifth of its primitive volume, but this one-fifth is as clear as rock-crystal; whereas, the tubes exposed to the ordinary air outside fell long ago into utter putrefaction. They became turbid and covered with scum, and when you examine these