Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/702

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the trituration. Sulphuric acid, cortibined with distilled water, disengages a pungent odor resembling that of musk. The odor of musk is brought out in a great many reactions. The nitrate derivatives of aromatic substances smell of it; artificial musk and natural musk have no chemical resemblance. So alcohols chemically identical, but of different derivation, do not behave alike with essential oils. As odor is thus in a great measure independent of the chemical constitution, it must depend upon the disposition of the particles, a property which it is evidently impossible to discover by any known chemical processes.

A few eminent chemists, following Dalton, Avogadro, and Ampère, have tried to make up for this impossibility by hypothesis, and have taken up the great problem of predicting and explaining chemical combinations and isomerics. Their theories, called atomic, have been adopted in most of the original memoirs and taught in most of the text-books. Whatever may be their scientific value, the aids they give him in retaining and recollecting the formulas present incontestable advantages to the student. The applications of them to the study of the aromatic series are famous.

The radical of the hydrocarbons of this series and of all the other compounds is benzene, a body composed of six atoms of carbon and six atoms of hydrogen; when it is attacked by a reagent, and we substitute for an atom of hydrogen another simple body or a group of atoms, whichever of the atoms of hydrogen the substitution may bear upon, we obtain a single product; whence it is concluded that each atom of carbon is united to an atom of hydrogen, and that a symmetrical exchange can take place of the atoms of carbon among their valencies. A German chemist, Herr Kekulé, has tried to express these peculiarities by a hexagonal scheme which has still some lack of symmetry, and M. Ladenbourg has substituted a prismatic scheme for it. In this figure the six atoms of carbon of the benzene occupy the summits of a triangular prism, each one being united with an atom of hydrogen and exchanging the three valencies that are left it with the three next atoms of carbon by the three edges which meet at the summit. The perfect symmetry of this scheme is well expressed in the simple construction of the figure. But usually, for greater convenience, the hexagonal construction is adopted, and the reciprocal relations of the atoms of carbon and hydrogen are represented by figures in which the more or less complex lateral chains are joined, and which offer the remarkable characteristic of being closed chains—that is, of always returning to their starting-point. What the atomic theories have taught us concerning odor is limited to this singular and so far unfruitful representation; it is evident that they are still mute concerning the real structure of