Scientific American Supplement, No. 446, July 19, 1884

Part 3 out of 3

employing empirical processes that had been established by practice. The
vats were often infested by small worms ("vinegar eals") which disputed
with the mycoderma for the oxygen, killed it through submersion, and
caused the loss of batches that had been under troublesome preparation
for months. Since Mr. Pasteur's researches, the _Mycoderma aceti_ has
been sown directly in the slightly acidified wine, and an excellent
quality of vinegar has thus been obtained, with no fear of an occurrence
of the disasters that accompanied the old process.

Another example will show us the microbes in activity in the earth. Let
us take a pinch of vegetable mould, water it with ammonia compounds, and
analyze it, and we shall find nitrates therein. Whence came these
nitrates? They came from the oxidation of the ammonia compounds brought
about by moistening, since the nitrogen of the air does not seem to
combine under normal conditions with the surrounding oxygen. This
oxidation of ammonia compounds is brought about, as has been shown by
Messrs. Schloesing and Muntz, by a special ferment, the _Micrococcus
nitrificans_, that belongs to the group of Bacteriacae. In fact, the
vapors of chloroform, which anesthetize plants, also prevent
nitrification, since they anaesthetize the nitric ferment. So, too, when
we heat vegetable humus to 100 deg., nitrification is arrested, because the
ferment is killed. Finally, we may sow the nitric ferment in calcined
earth and cause nitrification to occur therein as surely as we can bring
about a fermentation in wine by sowing _Mycoderma aceti_ in it.

The nitric ferment exists in all soils and in all latitudes, and
converts the ammoniacal matters carried along by the rain into nitrates
of a form most assimilable by plants. It therefore constitutes one of
the important elements for fertilizing the earth.

Finally, we must refer to the numerous bacteria that occasion
putrefaction in vegetable or animal organisms. These microbes, which
float in the air, fall upon dead animals or plants, develop thereon, and
convert into mineral matters the immediate principles of which the
tissues are composed, and thus continually restore to the air and soil
the elements necessary for the formation of new organic substances.
Thus, _Bacillus amylobacter_ (Fig. 2, II.), as Mr. Van Tieghem has
shown, subsists upon the hydrocarbons contained in plants, and
disorganizes vegetable tissues in disengaging hydrogen, carbonic acid,
and vegetable acids. _Bacterium roseopersicina_ forms, in pools, rosy or
red pellicles that cover vegetable debris and disengage gases of an
offensive odor. This bacterium develops in so great quantity upon low
shores covered with fragments of algae as to sometimes spread over an
extent of several kilometers. These microbes, like many others,
continuously mineralize organic substances, and thus exhibit themselves
as the indispensable agents of the movement of the matter that
incessantly circulates from the mineral to the organic world, and _vice
versa_.--_Science et Nature._

* * * * *

Palms sprouted from seeds kept warm by contact of the vessel with the
water boiler of a kitchen range are grown by a man in New York.

* * * * *


The following epitaph was written by a Dr. Godfrey, who died in Dublin
in 1755:

Here lieth, to _digest macerate_, and _amalgamate_ into clay,
_In Batneo Arenae_,
_Stratum super Stratum_
The _Residuum, Terra damnata_ and _Caput Mortuum_,
Of BOYLE GODFREY, Chymist and M.D.
A man who in this Earthly Laboratory pursued various
_Processes_ to obtain _Arcanum Vitae_,
Or the Secret to Live;
Also _Aurum Vitae_,
or the art of getting rather than making gold.
_Alchymist_-like, all his Labour and _Projection_,
as _Mercury_ in the Fire, _Evaporated_ in _Fume_ when he
_Dissolved_ to his first principles.
He _departed_ as poor
as the last drops of an _Alembic_; for Riches are not
poured on the _Adepts_ of this world.
Though fond of News, he carefully avoided the
_Fermentation, Effervescence_, and _Decrepitation_ of this
life. Full seventy years his _Exalted Essence_
was _hermetically_ sealed in its _Terrene Matrass_; but the
Radical Moisture being _exhausted_, the _Elixir Vitae_ spent,
And _exsiccate_ to a _Cuticle_, he could not _suspend_
longer in his _Vehicle_, but _precipitated Gradatim, per_
_Campanam_, to his original dust.
May that light, brighter than _Bolognian Phosphorus_,
Preserve him from the _Athanor, Empyreuma_, and _Reverberatory
Furnace_ of the other world,
Depurate him from the _Faeces_ and _Scoria_ of this,
Highly _Rectify_ and _Volatilize_, his _aethereal_ spirit,
Bring it over the _Helm_ of the _Retort_ of this Globe, place
in a proper _Recipient_ or _Crystalline_ orb,
Among the elect of the _Flowers of Benjamin_; never to
be _saturated_ till the General _Resuscitation, Deflagration,
Calcination,_ and _Sublimation_ of all things.

* * * * *


(_Ipomaea thomsoniana_.)

The first time we saw flowers of this beautiful new climbing plant
(about a year ago) we thought that it was a white-flowered variety of
the favorite old Ipomaea Horsfalliae, as it so nearly resembles it. It
has, however, been proved to be a distinct new species, and Dr. Masters
has named it in compliment to Mr. Thomson of Edinburgh. It differs from
I. Horsfalliae in having the leaflets in sets of threes instead of fives,
and, moreover, they are quite entire. The flowers, too, are quite double
the size of those of Horsfalliae, but are produced in clusters in much
the same way; they are snow-white. This Ipomaea is indeed a welcome
addition to the list of stove-climbing plants, and will undoubtedly
become as popular as I. Horsfalliae, which may be found in almost every
stove. It is of easy culture and of rapid growth, and it is to be hoped
that it is as continuous in flowering as Horsfalliae. It is among the new
plants of the year now being distributed by Mr. B.S. Williams, of the
Victoria Nurseries, Upper Holloway.--_The Garden_.


* * * * *


Isis was supposed to have introduced wheat into Egypt, Demeter into
Greece, and the Emperor Chin-Wong into China, about 3000 B.C. In Europe
it was cultivated before the period of history, as samples have been
recovered from the lacustrine dwellings of Switzerland.

The first wheat raised in the "New World" was sown by the Spaniards on
the island of Isabella, in January, 1494, and on March the 30th the ears
were gathered. The foundation of the wheat harvest of Mexico is said to
have been three or four grains carefully cultivated in 1530, and
preserved by a slave of Cortez. The first crop of Quito was raised by a
Franciscan monk in front of the convent. Garcilasso de la Vega affirms
that in Peru, up to 1658, wheaten bread had not been sold in Cusco.
Wheat was first sown by Goshnold Cuttyhunk, on one of the Elizabeth
Islands in Buzzard's Bay, off Massachusetts, in 1602, when he first
explored the coast. In 1604, on the island of St. Croix, near Calais,
Me., the Sieur de Monts had some wheat sown which flourished finely. In
1611 the first wheat appears to have been sown in Virginia. In 1626,
samples of wheat grown in the Dutch Colony at New Netherlands were shown
in Holland. It is probable that wheat was sown in the Plymouth Colony
prior to 1629, though we find no record of it, and in 1629 wheat was
ordered from England to be used as seed. In 1718 wheat was introduced
into the valley of the Mississippi by the "Western Company." In 1799 it
was among the cultivated crops of the Pimos Indians of the Gila River,
New Mexico.

* * * * *


According to Bunzener and Fries _(Zeitschrift fur das gesammte
Brauwesen_), a thick, sirupy starch paste prepared with a boiling one
per cent solution of salicylic acid is only very slowly saccharified,
and on cooling deposits crystalline plates of starch. For the
determination of starch in barley the finely-ground sample is boiled for
three-quarters of an hour with about thirty times its weight of a one
per cent solution of salicylic acid, the resulting colorless opalescent
liquid filtered with the aid of suction, and the starch therein inverted
by means of hydrochloric acid. The dextrose formed is estimated by
Fehling's solution. The results are one to two per cent higher than when
the starch is brought into solution by water at 135 deg. C.

* * * * *

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* * * * *




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