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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/245

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THE CHEMISTRY OF COOKERY.

upon it. This is better shown if the water be colored by a blue tincture of litmus, which is reddened by the acid. A red stratum indicates the boundaries of the two liquids. Gradually the reddening proceeds upward and downward, the whole of the water changes from blue to red, and the acid becomes tinged.

Graham worked for many years upon the determination of the laws of this diffusion and the rates at which different liquids diffused into each other. His method was to fill small jars of uniform size and shape (about four ounces capacity) with the saline or other dense solution, place upon the ground mouth of the jar a plate-glass cover, then immerse it, when filled, in a cylindrical glass vessel containing about twenty ounces of distilled water. The cover being very carefully removed, diffusion was allowed to proceed for a given time, and then by analysis the amount of transfer into the distilled water was determined.

I must resist the temptation to expound the very interesting results of these researches, merely stating that they prove this diffusion to be no mere accidental mixing, but an action that proceeds with a regularity reducible to simple mathematical laws. One curious fact I must mention, viz., that, on comparing the solutions of a number of different salts, those which crystallize in the same forms have similar rates of diffusion. The law that bears the most directly upon cookery is that "the quantity of any substance diffused from a solution of uniform strength increases as the temperature rises." The application of this will be seen presently.

It may be supposed that, if the jar used in Graham's diffusion experiments were tied over with a mechanically air-tight and water-tight membrane, brine or other saline solution thus confined in the jar could not diffuse itself into the pure water above and around it; people who are satisfied with anything that "stands to reason" would be quite sure that a bladder which resists the passage of water, even when the water is pressed up to the bursting-point, can not be permeable to a most gentle and spontaneous flow of the same water. The true philosopher, however, never trusts to any reasoning, not even mathematical demonstration, until its conclusions are verified by observations and experiment. In this case all rational preconceptions or mathematical calculations based upon the amount of attractive force exerted between the particles of the different liquids are outraged by the facts.

If a stout, well-tied bladder that would burst rather than allow a drop of water to be squeezed mechanically through it be partially filled with a solution of common washing-soda, and then immersed in distilled water, the soda will make its way out of the bladder by passing through its walls, and the pure water will go in at the same time; for if, after some time is allowed, the outer water be tested by dipping into it a strip of red litmus-paper, it will be turned blue, showing the presence of the alkali therein, and, if the contents of the bladder be weighed or measured, they will be found to have increased by the in-