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produced without apparent action, and forms an oily layer on the surface of the acids. This is separated, washed with warm water, and rectified over chloride of calcium. The nitrate of amyl thus obtained is a colourless liquid, which boils at 147°-148° C., and at 7° or 8° C. has the same density as water. The inhalation of its vapour produces severe headache and other distressing symptoms.
Mr. Robert Warington then gave a short account of a long series of experiments, undertaken to determine the part taken by Oxide of Iron and Alumina in the Absorptive Action of Soils. The results may be summed up in a few words. Ferric oxide and alumina were found to withdraw nearly all the phosphoric acid from a carbonic aqueous solution of tricalcic phosphate. Hence the author believes that all the phosphoric acid applied to land in the shape of manure must ultimately become converted into phosphates of these bases; and, if sufficient iron is present, by preference into phosphate of iron. The absorptive action of the soil is thus seen to be dependent upon chemical affinity, and not upon physical attraction. As regards potassium and corresponding ammonium salts, it was found that the absorption was much greater in the cases of the phosphates, sulphates, and carbonates than with the chlorides and nitrates.
A discussion followed, in which Professor Way and Drs. Voelcker and Gilbert joined. The accuracy of Mr. Warington's results was not contested; but it seemed to be a general opinion that laboratory experiments of the kind described threw but little light on what happens in soils as they exist. Dr. Voelcker remarked that there was a remarkable tendency in nature for the soil to take care of itself; and if there should happen to be a deficiency of any one ingredient, it was quickly remedied by prior selection from a mixture of materials presented in the shape of manure. Dr. Gilbert agreed in believing that soils have almost an instinct to guide them as to what they should do.
The next communication was “ An Analysis of the Water of the Holy Well, a Medicinal Spring at Humphrey Head, North Lancashire,” by Mr. T. E. Thorpe. The water in question contains 508-5 grains of salts in a gallon, of which 331.75 grains is chloride of sodium, 88:49 grains calcium sulphate, 9:17 potassium sulphate, 24:39 grains sodium sulphate, and 43:48 grains magnesium chloride. The other ingredients need not be quoted.
An abstract of a paper by Dr. Wanklyn and Mr. A. Gamgee was next read. It was “On the Action of Permanganate of Potash on Urea, Ammonia, and Acetamide in strongly Alkaline Solutions." From the results obtained by the authors, it would seem that when artificial urea is heated in a pressure tube with a liberal amount of potash and permanganate, little or no oxidation takes place, and
light that there was and if there,
nearly all the nitrogen is liberated in the form of gas. Ammonia under the same circumstances is completely changed to nitrate, and acetamide to nitrate or nitrite.
The last paper of the evening was also by Professor Wanklyn, and entitled “Ā Verification of Wanklyn, Chapman, and Smith's Water Analysis on a Series of Artificial Waters." A short account of the method of analysis pursued by these gentlemen will be found at page 532 of our last volume. The verification consisted in submitting pure water containing known amounts of albumen and urea to the treatment there described. In the case of albumen, mere traces of ammonia were obtained on the distillation with carbonate of soda, and only an amount corresponding to two-thirds of the nitrogen in the final distillation with caustic potash and permanganate. In the case of pure urea, little or no ammonia was procured on distillation with carbonate of soda, and the addition of alkaline permanganate did not induce the evolution of more than one-fourth the nitrogen in the form of ammonia. The author stated, however, that when urea is present with albumenoid matter, as in a natural water, the surrounding impurities start the reaction, and much of the ammonia ( 37 out of: 46) can be obtained by long boiling with carbonate of soda.
At the meeting held on November 21st, Mr. E. T. Chapman made a verbal communication “On the Relation between the Results of Water Analysis and the Sanitary Value of Water.” He said that a drinking water should contain no ammonia. Limesalts he did not consider injurious; and water with nitrates in solution, but otherwise pure, he believed to be harmless. But when these ingredients were found in a water together, such water favoured the development of the lower forms of animal and vegetable life, and if kept in a cistern quickly acquired purgative properties. He had verified the latter statement by experiments on pigeons, and confirmed the results by experiments on the human system. He argued the necessity of observing the relations between the several ingredients in a water before pronouncing an opinion upon its sanitary value. He also recommended the extended use of Clark's softening process as a means of removing the most objectionable forms of organic matter in waters containing carbonate of lime; fully six-sevenths of the nitrogenous matter would be carried down with the precipitated carbonate of lime.
In the course of the discussion Mr. Dugald Campbell stated that water containing much nitrate and carbonate of lime was astringent rather than purgative; and Dr. Stevenson said he had examined water of which cholera patients had partaken, and found no organic matter,
Mr. Spiller mentioned that water softened by Dr. Clark's process did not permit the growth of vegetable organisms; and
Mr. Abel explained that this resulted from the entire absence of free carbonic acid.
Dr. Gladstone afterwards read a paper “On the Pyrophosphoric Amides.”
. At the meeting of December 5th, Mr. W. H. Perkin read a paper “On the Artificial Production of Coumarine,” which was a detailed account of the researches briefly referred to at page 400 of our last volume. It was there stated that by the action of acetic anhydride on the hydride of sodium salicyl, the author had obtained a product completely identical with the natural coumarine extracted from the Tonquin bean. A most remarkable fact established by the extended researches of the author is, that by acting on the hydride of sodium salicyl with homologous anhydrides, such as butyric and valeric, other coumarines are obtained, which differ in composition exactly as the anhydrides, but agree in possessing in a greater or less degree the same odour, and behave, chemically, precisely the same as the natural coumarine. For the theoretical considerations we must refer our readers to the chemical journals.
Professor Church then made a preliminary communication on a Singular Colouring Matter obtained from some Feathers of a Bird of the Touraco family. This bird has crimson feathers in its wings, and it has been observed by ornithologists that rain washes the red colour out. This statement has been confirmed by the experiments of Mr. Church, which show that the colouring matter of the barbioles is really soluble in water, and particularly in water rendered slightly alkaline. An acid precipitates the colouring matter from the alkaline solution, and when separated it is found to be insoluble in alcohol and ether, and to resist the action of acids, short of completely destructive agents. On incinerating some of this colouring matter, Mr. Church made the still more extraordinary discovery that it contains a large proportion of copper. The absorption spectrum of the coloured solution differs but little from that of arterial blood. Mr. Church is continuing his investigations, and will give a further account of the substance at a future meeting.
A short paper, by Mr. J. Williams, on the Preparation of Artificial Urea, was then read. The author finds that cyanate of lead digested at a gentle heat with sulphate of ammonia is the most convenient means to employ. The urea or cyanate of ammonia is of course easily separated from the sulphate of lead.
Dr. A. W. Holmann, whose appearance was welcomed with acclamations, then showed some Lecture Experiments to the meeting. The first illustrated the formation of methylic aldehyde.* This body has only been recently obtained. Former attempts to procure it from methylic alcohol have only resulted in complete
* See • Chemical News, Dec. 6, 1867, p. 285.
oxidation, and the production of formic and acetic acids. Dr. Hofmann showed, however, that by suspending a heated platinum spiral over warmed methylic alcohol and sending a current of air through the bottle, a limited oxidation of the vapour of the wood-spirit took place with the production of a body, the chemical behaviour of which left little doubt of its being true methylic aldehyde.
The next experiment illustrated the fact discovered by Cloez, that ammonia is transformed into prussic acid by the action of chloroform. The speaker showed that when chloroform is heated with alcoholic ammonia and caustic potash, chloride and cyanide of potassium are produced. It was also shown that all the primary monamines lend themselves to a similar reaction. The experiment was made with aniline, by means of which a body isomeric with benzonitrile is produced. It possesses an intensely disagreeable odour, which is common, it seems, to all bodies of its class.*
It would not be right to conclude the Proceedings of the Chemical Society for the past year without noticing the decease of Mr. R. Warington, F.R.S., F.C.S. He was one of the founders, and we believe it may be said with truth, the projector of the Chemical Society; and in the early days of the Society one of its most active members. Mr. Warington was well known as one of the most able practical chemists of the day. He died on November 12th, 1867, aged sixty.
6. ENGINEERING-CIVIL AND MECHANICAL. THE depression in all matters of private enterprise, to which we have on former occasions referred, still continues, and the Engineering profession will for many a long year remember the financial crisis of 1866-67. The price of all railway stocks continues to be quoted at a very considerable discount, but we think we see at last a slight glimmer on the horizon, the forerunner of more prosperous days. New railway companies in this country would scarcely meet with a shadow of support, and, consequently, the Bills before Parliament include but very few relating to such works. Two Metropolitan Extensions in London and a revival of the attempt to construct tramways, to be worked by animal power, through the principal thoroughfares north and south of the Thames, constitute, we believe, the most important part of that class of Bill. But although few new works of any importance have actually been commenced during the past quarter, several have been successfully completed, others are still in active progress, and many new projects have been determined on. * Proceedings of the Royal Society,' vol. xvi., p. 144.
truclidish-level like them as connected
be done to com present year was 1866. If the completed in the con
Amongst the most important events connected with railway construction we may mention that the last connecting link of the extensive system of high-level lines at Battersea, which has been in course of construction since 1864, to improve the access to the Victoria Station, London, was opened for traffic in October last. The works on the Metropolitan Extension Railway are making good progress. The East London Railway from Liverpool Street, including the junction on the south side of the Thames, will be seven and a half miles long, and is to cost 1,866,0001.
In Scotland, the Denburn Junction Railway, connecting the Caledonian line with the Great North of Scotland system at Aberdeen, has been opened for public traffic. This line is only a mile and a half in length, but by its means there is now an unbroken communication between the extreme north and south of the kingdom.
In October last the Mont Cenis Tunnel was advanced 131.85 metres, or upwards of 140 yards; and up to the 31st of that month 7,664 metres had been excavated, leaving 4,555 metres to be done to complete the work. The progress during the first ten months of the present year was 1,329 metres against 1,094 metres excavated during the whole of 1866. If the rate attained during October can be kept up, this tunnel would be completed in 1870.
The Italian Government has been pushing forward the construction of a line to unite Marseilles, Genoa, and Leghorn, via the littoral of the Mediterranean, and it was expected that a section, from Genoa to Chiavari, would be opened for traffic in the course of last November. The works of the Foggia line and the port of Brindisi have been recently inspected by the Italian Minister of Public Works; a considerable portion of the Foggia line, it is said, might be opened in December, but obstacles are feared.
The Baden Government has recently brought out a loan of 12,000,000 thalers, or nearly 2,000,0001. for railway purposes.
Great activity continues to be displayed in connection with the development of railways in Russia. Three important sections have been opened of late, viz. from Odessa to Tiraspol, from Warsaw to Tiraspol, and from Balta to Obriopol. The concession has been granted of a line from Poti to Tiflis, while surveys have been commenced for another line from Rostow, on the Don, to the Black Sea. And a line is to be constructed, at the cost of the State, from Koursk to Karkhow and the Sea of Azoff.
An extension of privileges has recently been granted by the Government of New Granada to the New York Panama Railroad Company. This company, it is said, will now extend the road two or three miles out into the Bay of Panama, so that the largest ships and steamers may load and discharge alongside the track.
There has been a good deal of talk of late about public works