Scientific American Supplement, No. 443, June 28, 1884 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 87 pages of information about Scientific American Supplement, No. 443, June 28, 1884.

C_{n}H_{2n2+}, C_{n}H_{2n-6},

also hydrocarbons of the C_{n}H_{2n} series in the petroleum of Baku, American petroleum containing similar hydrocarbons.

I think all these facts give very great weight to the theory that petroleum is of organic origin.

On the other hand, Berthelot, from his synthetic production of hydrocarbons, believes that the interior of the globe contains alkaline metals in the free state, which yield acetylides in the presence of carbonic anhydride, which are decomposed into acetylene by aqueous vapor.  But it has been already proved that acetylene may be polymerized, so as to produce aromatic carbides, or the derivatives of marsh gas, by the absorption of hydrogen.  Berthelot’s view, therefore, is too imaginative; for the presence of free alkaline metals in the earth’s interior is an unproved and very improbable hypothesis.  Byasson states that petroleum is formed by the action of water, carbonic anhydride, and sulphureted hydrogen upon incandescent iron.  Mendelejeff thinks it is formed by the action of aqueous vapor upon carbides of iron; and in his article, “Petroleum, the Light of the Poor” (in this month’s—­February—­number of Good Words), Sir Lyon Playfair, K.C.B., F.R.S., etc., holds opinions similar to those of Mendelejeff.

Taking in consideration the facts that solid paraffin is found in petroleum and is also found in coal, and from my own work that phenol exists in Pinus sylvestris, and has been found by others in coal which is produced from the decomposition of a flora containing numerous gigantic coniferae allied to Pinus, and that petroleum contains phenol, and each (i.e., petroleum and coal) contains a number of hydrocarbons common to both, I am inclined to think that the balance of evidence is in favor of the hypothesis that petroleum has been produced in nature from a vegetable source in the interior of the globe.  Of course, there can be no practical or direct evidence as to the origin of petroleum; therefore “theories are the only lights with which we can penetrate the obscurity of the unknown, and they are to be valued just as far as they illuminate our path.”

In conclusion, I think that there is a connecting link between the old pine and fir forest of bygone ages and the origin of petroleum in nature.—­Chemical News.

* * * * *

THE SCHOOL OF PHYSICS AND CHEMISTRY OF PARIS.

Recently we paid a visit to the New Municipal School of Physics and Chemistry that the city of Paris founded in 1882, and that is now in operation in the large building of the old Rollin College.  This establishment is one of those that supply a long-felt want of our time, and we are happy to make it known to our readers.  The object for which it was designed was, in the intention of its founders, to give young people who have just

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Scientific American Supplement, No. 443, June 28, 1884 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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