Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/671

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651
A COMBAT WITH AN INEFFECTIVE ATMOSPHERE.

not the slightest doubt that, if time permitted, I could heap up evidence of this fact, that the wonderful sterility of this old hay is due to the induration and desiccation of the germs associated with it. Here you have three tubes containing cucumber-infusion of crystalline clearness; they have been simply subjected to a boiling temperature for ten minutes; they have been completely sterilized, and they are as clear as when the infusions were first introduced into the tubes. On the other hand, here are tubes that have been subjected to a boiling temperature for five hours and a half, showing a swarming development of life. What is the reason of this difference? The reason depends entirely upon the method of experiment. When Dr. Roberts filled his bulbs, he simply poured in his infusion, plugged his tube, sealed it, and subjected it to a boiling temperature. Not only did the liquid contain germs, there was a quantity of air above the liquid, and the germs were diffused in the air. Germs thus diffused in the air are very differently circumstanced from germs diffused in a liquid;

PSM V10 D671 Robert experiment with microbes.jpg
Fig. 3.

they can withstand for hours a boiling temperature; whereas that selfsame temperature, brought to bear upon germs immersed in liquid, destroys them in a few minutes. And why do these tubes differ? The reason is to be sought entirely in the method of filling the tubes containing the clear infusions. Here is a diagram (Fig. 3), representing one of Dr. Roberts's bulbs. You see that the top is united to a T-piece with a collar of India-rubber. This comes down and ends in