Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/501

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SPONTANEOUS GENERATION.

five hours we pour off the liquid, boil it, filter it, and obtain an infusion as clear as filtered drinking-water. We cool the infusion, test its specific gravity, and find it to be 1006 or higher—water being 1000. A number of small, clean, empty flasks, of the shape here PSM V12 D501 Laboratory distillation apparatus.png shown, are before us. One of them is slightly warmed with a spirit-lamp, and its open end is then dipped into the turnip-infusion. The warmed glass is afterward chilled, the air within the flask cools, contracts, and is followed in its contraction by the infusion. Thus we get a small quantity of liquid into the flask. We now heat this liquid carefully. Steam is produced, which issues from the open neck, carrying the air of the flask along with it. After a few seconds' ebullition, the open neck is again plunged into the infusion. The steam within the flask condenses, the liquid enters to supply its place, and in this way we fill our little flask to about four-fifths of its volume. This description is typical; we may thus fill a thousand flasks with a thousand different infusions.

I now ask my friend to notice a trough made of sheet-copper, with two rows of handy little Bunsen burners underneath it. This trough, or bath, is nearly filled with oil; a piece of thin plank constitutes a kind of lid for the oil-bath. The wood is perforated with circular apertures wide enough to allow our small flask to pass through and plunge itself in the oil, which has been heated, say, to 250° Fahr. Clasped all round by the hot liquid, the infusion in the flask rises to its boiling-point, which is not sensibly over 212° Fahr. Steam issues from the open neck of the flask, and the boiling is continued for five minutes. With a pair of small brass tongs an assistant now seizes the neck near its junction with the flask, and partially lifts the latter out of the oil. The steam does not cease to issue, but its violence is abated. With a second pair of tongs held in one hand, the neck of the flask is seized close to its open end, while with the other hand a Bunsen's flame or an ordinary spirit-flame is brought under the middle of the neck. The glass reddens, whitens, softens, and as it is gently drawn out the neck diminishes in diameter, until the canal is completely blocked up. The tongs with the fragment of severed neck being withdrawn, the flask, with its contents diminished by evaporation, is lifted from the oil-bath perfectly sealed hermetically.

Sixty such flasks filled, boiled, and sealed, in the manner described, and containing strong infusions of beef, mutton, turnip, and cucumber, are carefully packed in saw-dust and transported to the Alps. Thither, to an elevation of about 7,000 feet above the sea, I invite my co-inquirer to accompany me. It is the month of July, and the