Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/480

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right angles to a luminous beam passing among these particles in the fluid "they discharge perfectly polarized light. . . . The optical deportment of the floating matter of the air proves it to be composed, in part, of particles of this excessively minute character," and it is among the finest of these ultra-microscopical particles that Prof. Tyndall finds the sources of bacterial life. It is almost impossible to conceive a nearer approach to certainty concerning the nature of these minute particles than this. Their minuteness, their capability of being physically demonstrated, the absolute necessity of their presence to the origination of bacteria in sterilized infusions of any and every kind, taken in connection with what we know concerning the germs of the heteromita whose life-histories have been studied, render it simply inevitable that we have at length reached, what we are justified in believing to be, a genetic product of the bacteria through which their continuation as organisms is preserved. When first I saw the simplicity and beauty of this method, it struck me that its applicability as a test in reference to germs—known to be such—would have considerable collateral weight; and a method of employing it was suggested by a fact in past experience.[1] I had in my possession a maceration of cod's head, which I had kept in use for eleven months. It had become a pulpy mass, and in the middle of January last it was comparatively free from bacteria, but swarmed with two monads—the fourth and sixth of the series described by my colleague and myself. To ascertain their exact condition, I watched them on the "continuous stage" for three consecutive days, and found that both forms were to be seen plentifully emitting spores. The maceration had become very short of moisture, which served my purpose. I subjected it to a drier air with a higher temperature, and it was not very long in becoming a moist pulpy mass, with sufficient cohesiveness to be removed from the vessel; and in this condition it was placed in a heating-chamber, which was slowly raised to a temperature of 150° Fahr., and kept at this for an hour. This was 10° Fahr. higher than Dr. Drysdale and myself had proved necessary to destroy absolutely every adult form. The baked mass now appeared cracked, porous, and flaky. In parts it was extremely friable, and with little pressure crumbled into almost impalpable powder; while by friction a very large proportion was reduced to the finest dust. To avoid all possibility of error this powder was again exposed in the heating-chamber, spread over a plate of glass, to a temperature of 140° Fahr. for ten minutes—thus rendering the plea of mere desiccation impossible.

A chamber or box was now prepared precisely like Prof. Tyndall's, except that there were no tubes to communicate with the outer air.

In the "Researches" on the life-history of monads we had proved that they could live, thrive, and multiply, almost as well in Cohn's "nutritive fluid" as in the normal animal infusion. This fluid is com-

  1. Vide Monthly Microscopical Journal, vol. xii., pp. 262, 263.