Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/670

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ginning of things, turned out to be an artificial product of gypsum precipitated by alcohol from sea-water, in which it is held in the state of solution. Wherever fresh specimens of the ooze have been examined on shipboard, no traces of 'Bathybius' have been found. The audience were fairly startled when Prof. Möbius, by simply mixing alcohol with a glass of sea-water, caused Bathybius to appear before their eyes."

Verily, this is a remarkable kind of logic. Because spirits of wine mixed with sea-water precipitates gypsum, therefore Bathybius-ooze kept in spirits of wine is precipitated gypsum! And this demonstration "fairly startled" the members of a German Association of Naturalists! That strong spirits of wine mixed with sea-water produces a light, flocculent gypsum precipitate is known to every one that has preserved marine animals in spirits of wine. But so, too, is it known to every man who, like Huxley and myself, has closely examined the Bathybius-ooze collected by the Porcupine Expedition, that the Moneres-like, albuminous bodies found therein consist actually of albuminous substance and not of gypsum. Carmine stains them red, nitric acid and iodine yellow; sulphuric acid decomposes them, and they give all the other reactions of protoplasm, which is not the case with gypsum, as every one knows.

If we finely pulverize certain kinds of chalk, or chalky marl, we obtain a fine white flour, that might easily be mistaken for the remarkable Radiolarian ooze found by the Challenger Expedition in a limited area of the Pacific (and there only), at a depths ranging from 12,000 to 26,000 feet. This Radiolarian ooze, which I am at present engaged in studying, consists almost exclusively of the most beautiful and varied forms of siliceous Radiolarian shells. But with the naked eye we cannot distinguish this dried ooze—a wonderful microscopic museum of Radiolaria—from pulverized chalk-marl containing not a single Radiolarian shell. I now propose that at their meeting in Munich next September (1877) the Naturalists' Association experimentally demonstrate that these enormous Radiolarian deposits, discovered by the Challenger Expedition at the bottom of the Pacific, have no real existence. "The experiment is a very simple one." Let the lecturer bray in a mortar, in sight of the assembled naturalists, a bit of chalk-marl containing no Radiolaria. The white powder so obtained does not contain a single Radiolarian; therefore the Pacific ooze (consisting exclusively of Radiolarians) does not exist, since these two substances cannot be distinguished from each other by the naked eye—quod erat demonstrandum. We are confident that this striking experiment will "fairly startle" the beholders, and make an end of Radiolarian ooze.

IV. A Critique of the Moneres.—From the foregoing, we think it clearly appears that the non-existence of Bathybius is not proved. Nay, it is highly probable that the observations of Wyville Thomson and Carpenter and Bessels on the movements of living Bathybius