Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The Atmosphere

The aurora borealis seen high in the Earth’s ionosphere (credit: NASA)

The Earth’s atmosphere is layered. From the surface traveling upward the first layer one would encounter is the troposphere. This layer rests on the surface of the planet. Above the troposphere is the calm, stable stratosphere. About 90% of the ozone in our atmosphere is contained in the stratosphere. Ozone concentrations are greatest between about 20 and 40 km. This higher concentration of ozone, called the ozone layer, is said to "absorb" most of the harmful ultraviolet light from the Sun. If all of the ozone were compressed to the pressure of the air at sea level, it would be only a few millimeters thick.

We are taught that the ozone layer exists because it is routinely created from oxygen by solar ultraviolet light. But I don't believe that singular oxygen is floating about our atmosphere. I think that the common air is water vapour. So, I'm going to suggest that the ozone layer might have something to do with the release of oxygen from the breakdown of water vapour by solar energy. I'm reminded that pure hydrogen-oxygen flames burn in the UV colour range and the only combustion product is water.

I think the ozone layer is describing an interface where common air directly confronts energy from the Sun. Obviously, the energy which arrives from the Sun contains a lot of whallop. We are taught that the Sun sends energy to Earth in every frequency of the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) spectrum. I don't think this is true. For one, the space between the Sun and the Earth should be full of light and colour - but it's not - it's black.

I'm apprehensive about describing what form the energy from the Sun takes, I'm not even sure the energy has a frequency, but I think that when it strikes the Earth's atmosphere it is transformed into something far less punchy. It's as if the atmosphere works like a step-down transformer in-which high energy from the Sun is transformed into lower energy.

I notice that when a UV picture is taken of the Sun, the Sun looks like a burning blue ball - but I don't see UV light streaming across space. The Universe is not lit up in UV light. The Universe is bathed in more-or-less uniform infrared (IR) radiation, termed the infrared background. I wanted to thank Stanford U Solar Center for their UV image of the Sun, which I've included below:

It is said that the ozone layer absorbs the high energy UVC rays, but allows the lower frequency UVB and UVA rays to pass through. But I think of it more as the ozone layer transforming high energy UVC into UVB and UVA.

"UVA wavelengths (320-400 nm) are only slightly affected by ozone levels. Most UVA radiation is able to reach the earth's surface and can contribute to tanning, skin aging, eye damage, and immune suppresion.

UVB wavelengths(280-320 nm) are strongly affected by ozone levels. Decreases in stratospheric ozone mean that more UVB radiation can reach the earth's surface, causing sunburns, snow blindness, immune suppression, and a variety of skin problems including skin cancer and premature aging.

UVC wavelengths (100-280 nm) are very strongly affected by ozone levels, so that the levels of UVC radiation reaching the earth's surface are relatively small. "

There are higher UV energies to be found which surpass those of UVC, but these do not make it as far as the ozone layer, as apparently, they are stopped in the higher layers of the atmosphere. Extreme UV (EUV) is very high energy UV, with corresponding wavelengths in vacuum extending from about 5nm to 40nm. Few substances are transparent to extreme ultraviolet, and even air stops it within a fairly short distance. At the highest frequencies of the EUV range it starts to merge with soft X-rays (SXR) at 1nm in the EMR range. At 0.1nm, we then find the hard X-rays, which are associated with dental and medical X-rays. With even smaller wavelengths, at around 0.3 to 0.003nm, the highest energies are possessed by Gamma rays.

Balloon flights can carry instruments to altitudes of 35 kilometers above sea level, where they are above the bulk of the Earth's atmosphere. However, even at such altitudes, there aren't any obvious signs of X-rays, therefore satellites are necessary to measure X-rays in the upper atmosphere.

The extended Corona of the Sun as seen in X-ray by the Yohkoh Satellite. (Image courtesy Yohkoh)

More than 99% of the total atmospheric mass is concentrated in the first 40 km from Earth's surface. The upper boundary at which gases disperse into space lies at an altitude of approximately 1000 km above sea level. If the atmosphere is working as a step-down transformer, then I think it's going to pay to keep working our way up through the layers to find the source of the ultimate energy from the Sun. I've borrowed a rather good explanation of the outer regions of the atmosphere from an article I found in I would like to thank the author Dennis Holley for sharing with us. The full article can be viewed here:

"The mesosphere (literally “middle sphere”) is separated by the stratopause from stratosphere and below and by the mesopause from the thermosphere layer above. The mesosphere is located about 50 to 85 kilometers (30 to 50 miles) above the Earth's surface.

The thermosphere (literally “heat sphere”) is the outermost layer of the Earth’s atmosphere and it is situated above the mesopause. The thermosphere begins at about 90 km (56 mi) and extends on outward from there gradually blending into space. The outermost area of the thermosphere where the last vestiges of atmosphere give way to the nearly complete vacuum of space is often referred to as the exosphere.

The most commonly held demarcation of the beginning of space is 100 km (62 mi) above the Earth’s surface. Hence, satellites, the International Space Station and the space shuttle all operate within the outer regions of the thermosphere.

Temperatures rise sharply in the lower thermosphere and then level off at around 200 to 300 km (124 to 186 mi) above the Earth’s surface and hold fairly steady with increasing altitude above that height. Temperatures in the upper thermosphere can range from about 500°C (932°F) to 2,000°C (3,632°F) or higher when the Sun is very active than at other times.

These extremely high temperatures are caused by the fact that the thermosphere absorbs most of the X-ray radiation and a great deal of the ultraviolet radiation streaming in from the Sun. However, even though the temperature is so high, one would not feel warm in the thermosphere because it is so near the vacuum of deep space due to the low density (number) of gas atoms there. Hence, there could not be enough contact with these few widely space atoms of gas to transfer much heat.

The thermosphere is constantly bombarded by solar radiation and the solar wind. This intense solar energy tears apart atoms and molecules in the thermosphere creating electrically-charged ions. Areas of ions within the thermosphere are known as the ionosphere."

Graph: The Average Temperature Profile of Earth's Atmosphere

At an altitude of 100-200 km, the major atmospheric components are nitrogen and oxygen. I'm suspicious because I think it is nitrogen and oxygen, and not hydrogen and oxygen, which ultimately compose water. It is said that the lower portion of the thermosphere is composed mainly of nitrogen (N2) and oxygen in molecular (O2) and atomic (O) forms, whereas above 200km atomic oxygen predominates over nitrogen (N2 and N).

When exposed to radiation, water undergoes a breakdown sequence into hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen radicals and assorted oxygen compounds such as ozone which when converted back into oxygen releases great amounts of energy.

Rain combines with ozone in the upper atmosphere. When water and ozone mix, the ozone loses one oxygen molecule to the water and hydrogen peroxide is formed. Hydrogen peroxide is very unstable and breaks down readily into water and a single oxygen molecule.

Radiation of frequencies above 300nm are "absorbed" by the upper atmosphere causing photochemical reactions, producing photo-ionization and generally heating up the air. Wavelengths in the solar spectrum associated with X-rays and EUV are "absorbed" by the atmosphere above 80 km with relatively high efficiency.

I don't think of the thermosphere as absorbing Gamma rays, X-rays or EUV. I think the thermosphere transforms the high energy of Gamma rays into something else, and very likely EMR with a lower energy. Do I think solar energy is made up by Gamma rays? I'm not sure, but I suspect Gamma rays are formed in the atmosphere too. That's because, while I'm looking for the ultimate source of energy from the Sun, I'm also thinking of the ultimate source of energy found inside a Crookes tube.

The unadulterated energy found inside a Crookes tube, was once deemed by the early pioneers as "radiant energy". This energy was found to move through the vacuum of the tube from the cathode, and today, this energy is referred to as "cathode rays". If the vacuum of the tube was low, then the radiant energy would act on whichever gas was present, and the discharge would thus produce light. Radiant energy acting upon matter was called "radiant matter". I mention all this because I think all these frequencies of EMR that we percieve in the atmosphere come under the umbrella of "radiant matter". What I really want to get to grips with is the source of energy which comes previous to radiant matter. Is it possible that radiant energy is emitted by the Sun?

With a high vacuum, the dark space takes over the space inside the tube, and once it reaches the sides of the tube, the glass emits an eerie green glow and X-rays. From what I understand of X-rays, they are made at the glass of a Crookes tube, and not at the electrodes. It's like the glass of the tube acts as a step-down transformer for the radiant energy inside the tube. It's as if matter gives the radiant energy a frequency.

Another well-known source of an eerie green glow and X-rays are the Aurorae. The Aurorae form an oval centred about the magnetic poles of the Earth. During an aurora, vivid arcs, curls, waves and bands of green, red, and sometimes blue dance across the sky for minutes or hours, peaking near midnight — all between 60 and 600 miles above the ground. On occasion, however, the Aurorae may appear at heights upto 1000km.

Only after the spectral measurements of Angstrom in 1867 did it become clear that the Aurora was caused by optical emissions of the atmospheric gases themselves. The typical colours of the aurora are green (557.7 nm) and red (630 nm) from atomic oxygen (O) and blue (391.4 and 427.8 nm) from molecular nitrogen (N2)

This photograph of an aurora was taken in Alaska. (Credit: Jan Curtis of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska)

Well, where to go next I wonder? I then found a wonderful article "What Is An Aurora," by Alexander McAdie, and published by The Century Magazine (Vol. 54, No. 6, Oct 1897). I think it offers a helpful nudge in the right direction. McAdie talks about the similarities of the workings of electricity and the effects created in the Aurorae. If you like, you can get to the site from here:

"One well-nigh forgotten experiment of the Faraday of America may be recalled. Joseph Henry in 1872 concentrated by a small concave mirror a beam of auroral light, and allowed it to fall upon a paper on which were written some letters with sulphate of quinine, and these became visible just as when illuminated by a discharge of electricity. He also noticed the effect upon a galvanometer needle during an aurora, observing that the needle was deflected, and that a like deflection was always observed "when a flash of lightning took place within the visible horizon of Washington."

The aurora gives a spectrum something like that given by lightning, or rather like several lightning spectra superposed. One bright line is always present, but as many as eleven lines had been seen up to 1883. The Cape Thordsen observers ran the number up to thirty-two. Sixteen of these lines nearly coincide with air-lines, eight with the positive-pole spectrum of nitrogen, four with the nitrogen negative pole, and three with hydrogen lines. From spectroscopic evidence we should say that the aurora was a discharge of electricity in rarefied air. Lockyer has built up a spectrum almost identical with that of the aurora by taking low-temperature spectra of manganese, magnesium, lead, and thallium. It is not the auroral spectrum, however.

Very recently Berthelot succeeded in condensing the new gas argon with benzine vapor, and obtained a magnificent green-and-yellow fluorescence under the influence of a gentle electrification. The spectrum was very much like that of the aurora, and it is suggested that through some combination of argon in the upper air under electrical influences an auroral appearance might result. This brings us to the views which have been put forward by Paulsen abroad and Bigelow at home. The former thinks that the aurora may be a luminous electrification of the upper air, brought about by the absorption of radiant energy of a certain character and alteration of the wavelength.

The auroral light, then, would be a kind of fluorescence. Bigelow, independently of Paulsen, had suggested a similar explanation. He regards the aurora as a phosphorescence due to the transformation of vibrating energy by the air. In other words, certain motions of the ether, which we have no way of recognizing, are altered just enough to convert them into light."

So far, I've largely ignored argon because there's only about 1% of the stuff in the atmosphere, so I felt it probably has little to do with anything really. It doesn't help that argon is an inert gas, so I imagine it in the atmosphere like its sitting in a corner minding its own business. Maybe its about time I took a closer look at argon, and hopefully I'll get the chance in the next post.

And many thanks:
Atmosphere, weather, and climate By Roger Graham Barry, Richard J. Chorley

Monday, 26 October 2009

What Is The Formula For Bi-atomic Ozone?

Current theory is that ozone is tri-atomic; that is, it is made up by three oxygen atoms. I have been toying with the idea that ozone is a bi-atomic structure after being influenced by the Fujiwhara effect (no, that's not one too many bar-slammers!) It's named after Fujiwhara's observations of vortices in water and the interaction of two cyclones.

3 volumes of oxygen condense to produce 2 volumes of ozone. The molecular weight of ozone is given as 48, BUT the atomic weight of ozone is 24. So rather than three oxygen atoms, each with the molecular weight of 16, we are now looking for two cyclonic vortices, and each vortex with the atomic weight of 12.

I think oxygen could be a hydrocarbonic compound, that is, in weight, two parts hydrogen to six parts carbon. As a formula, oxygen can be written as H2C (C=6). It's true, the atomic weight of oxygen is given as 16, but the weight ratio of oxygen to hydrogen in composing water is 8:1, so I think it suggests that the density of oxygen is made up by two halves, each half with the value of 8.

The next step which is going to help us generate a possible bi-atomic formula, is one of reducing the value of carbon from 6 to 3 (don't worry, it's quite possible that the value of carbon can be an integral multiple of 12). The formula for oxygen is now thus, H2C2 (C=3), which adds up to the atomic weight of 8. Three half volumes of oxygen thus appears as 3(H2C2).

It takes 3 volumes of oxygen to produce 2 volumes of ozone, but we're doing this in halves, so it's actually one and a half volumes of oxygen to produce one volume of ozone. One way we could solve the bi-atomic problem is by suggesting that the one volume of ozone is also made up in two parts. With the atomic weight of ozone being 24, ozone could therefore be made up by two halves, each with the density of 12.

In the reaction, imagine we have three half volumes of oxygen before us, but let us remove one of the half volumes of oxygen away from the other two. With the oxygen we have removed, we are now going to split this down the middle, giving us two distinct halves, and each half with the formula HC (HC + HC =H2C2). Thus, one half volume of oxygen is split, and is then divided equally amongst the other two half volumes of oxygen present. The formula so far can be written as HC + 2(H2C2). Okay, if we take it from the top, the entire formula should look something like this:

3(H2C2) = HC + 2(H2C2) = 2(H3C3) = 2 (12) = 24

Therefore, one volume of ozone emerges as a possible bi-atomic structure with the formula 2(H3C3), or it could be written as H6C6. Or if we change the value of C to 6, the formula for the atomic weight of ozone could be written as H6C3.

The formula for a half volume of decomposed water, atomic weight 9, can be written as H + H2C2, or H3C2 (C=3). For composed, liquid water, atomic weight 11, the formula is H2C3. Thus, in the reaction to compose water, it appears as though one part hydrogen has been converted into one part carbon. In order for this to happen, the hydrogen - being nothing but an empty bag - would have to gain the carbon from its surroundings. I think this indicates that hydrogen can be pumped-up with carbon (phlogiston).

The difference beteen the atomic weights of composed and decomposed water is 2. This could suggest that the one part hydrogen, having gained the extra atomic weight, has been converted from having atomic weight 1, and pumped to atomic weight 3. In doing so, it is no longer hydrogen, but becomes carbon, or at least something very near to it.

The reason why I mention all this now is because I wonder if this can be applied in any way to ozone? The thing is, if ozone is a bi-atomic structure, made up by two cyclonic systems, then it appears there is no anticyclonic component in place. Dipolar vortices are constructed from a cyclone and anticyclone to generate a vortex ring. For the uninitiated, a vortex ring looks like your everyday ring donut.

In the decomposition of water under electrolysis, hydrogen gas collects at the cathode and oxygen gas at the anode. I think that phlogiston can be traced moving up the anode, where it basically follows the cable route all the way round to the cathode, then passes back through the water to the anode. If we were to trace over the route again and again it would become a continous loop.

To generate the loop, the electrodes would have to be acting as dipolar vortices. I think that the anode is cyclonic and sucking up the phlogiston from the water, and that the cathode is anticyclonic and taking the phlogiston, through conductors, from the anode. In sucking up the phlogiston from the water, the anode rejects the hydrogen, which is taken up by the cathode.

Dipolar vortices are describing a perpetual motor. The problem I have with ozone is that it's bi-atomic structure does not describe a perpetual motor. If ozone does describe a pair of cyclones, they are both sucking aether from the system. There's no obvious anticyclonic component feeding energy back into the surrounding system.

The formula for ozone is 2(H3C3)=24.
The formula for water is 2(H2C3)=22.

A very quick comparison of these two formulas might suggest that ozone is water but with extra hydrogen. Extra hydrogen? But how could ozone gain hydrogen? I think the only way a substance can gain hydrogen is by first losing carbon (phlogiston).

In the decomposition of water we see how the anode actively repels singular hydrogen. We could say that ozone has lost hydrogen to become water, but I'm not so sure that ozone contains hydrogen per se. I think carbon loses phlogiston and becomes hydrogen.

Therefore, I think a hydrogen "bag" which is full of phlogiston shall then become carbon. I think it unlikely that ozone has lost hydrogen to become water. It's more likely that ozone has lost some of its phlogiston to become water. What I've been trying to say, in my own convoluted way, is that I think ozone might be a structure which is made of pure phlogiston. I think that the formula for ozone could be written as:

ozone = 2(H3C3) = 2(C1C3) = 2(C4)=24

This of course is all supposition, but I think it's fun to explore ideas and see what emerges. The thing to do next, is to investigate how ozone is made. What exactly is ozone doing up there?

Many thanks:

Popular Science Jun 1978

Friday, 16 October 2009

An Inquiry Into the Nature of the Simple Bodies of Chemistry

We are told the air we breathe is 79% nitrogen and 20% oxygen, with the other 1% made up with the noble gases. The classic classroom experiment which apparently proves this is one where a burning candle stands in a dish of water. A glass shade is placed over the candle and the flame is extinguished. Condensation of water vapour inside the glass pulls a vacuum (though the idea it pulls a vacuum is a controversial one). The water occupies an area that is about one-fifth of the glass, so we say the oxygen used in the combustion occupied one-fifth of the air. When the air inside the glass is tested it is found to be nitrogen, so we say that the other four-fifths of the air are nitrogen. I'm not so sure.

There are a number of reasons why I don't think the air is made up with 79% nitrogen. First off, we find 79% nitrogen after combustion has taken place. Are we really that sure that there was 79% nitrogen before the combustion?

Secondly, I think the common air is a water vapour. I think water is made up of carbon and oxygen. In this new theory, water has an atomic weight of 22 g/mol. In terms of volume, I imagine elemental water to be made up by two halves - one half carbon, and the other oxygen.

One half of water is carbon weighing in at 6 g/mol, with oxygen making up the rest at 16 g/mol. In water, I think we would see these two halves unite to become one indivisible whole - an element.

I think that the air under the glass before combustion was water vapour with an atomic weight of 22 g/mol, and after the air has been "phlogisticated" by the combustion process , we now find the air is nitrogen gas with an atomic weight of 14 g/mol. It looks like the air has lost 8 g/mol, which is a conspicuous amount because the weight ratio of water is 8:1; 8 parts oxygen to 1 part hydrogen.

I think this important because although the atomic weight of water is given to us as 18, this figure stands for a FULL volume. I think of water as being made up by half volumes with an atomic weight of 9. We may be splitting hairs here, but this could be important in helping us to understand the nature of oxygen. I don't think the density of oxygen in water should be taken simply as 16 g/mol, but rather as being two halves, each with the value of 8 g/mol.

Whether we use the atomic weight of water as 9, or 18, it is important to remember that this figure represents the atomic weight of DECOMPOSED water. According to Priestley, the atomic weight of water is 22, and I think this figure represents LIQUID water. If we apply our reasoning so far that oxygen is made up by two equal parts, then it would mean the same thing for the make up of water. The atomic weight of water is not simply 22 g/mol, but is made up by two parts, each with the atomic weight of 11 g/mol.

Nitrogen is curious in that it looks just like elemental water after it has lost half its weight in oxygen. I think that nitrogen at 14 g/mol, previously existed as elemental water at 22 g/mol, but has then been reduced by losing half its oxygen (8g/mol). In my mind, nitrogen appears as a bloated bag of black water.

This means that nitrogen (14 g/mol) is made up by 6 carbon (6 g/mol) and oxygen (8 g/mol). As a weight ratio (3:4), that's exactly the same for carbon monoxide. What similarities do carbon monoxide and nitrogen share? I wonder why it is that carbon monoxide can be ignited, and nitrogen cannot? What makes it so difficult for nitrogen to be "cracked"?

If I was to summise where we are so far, then it would be the emergence of nitrogen as a water-like compound made out of carbon and oxygen. Strangely enough, this is by no means a new idea.

I found this paper in the National Library of New Zealand. It is headed under the "Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 1868-1961", and the article is entitled "Discovery of Argon". What it says is no doubt fascinating. I'm pretty sure I've read this article before, but only now am I truly aware of its significance. You can find the full article here:

"The compound character of atmospheric nitrogen had, however, long been suggested, and even to some extent demonstrated, by the older chemists, for we find that Berzelius, a contemporary of Davy, satisfied that it was a compound body, was under, the impression that it was associated with an inflammable, base combined with oxygen, for which he proposed the name Nitricon [or possibly Nitricum]. But he is said to have distrusted or abandoned this hypothesis in consequence of experiments made by Davy, who also believed that atmospheric nitrogen was a compound body, of which oxygen formed an element, and endeavoured, but in vain, to detach the latter by means of the vapour of potassium.

Mr. David Low, of Edinburgh, who published an important treatise on the “Simple Bodies of Chemistry,” in 1856, also treated atmospheric nitrogen as a compound substance, and mentioned that, from its known characters, the same opinion had long been entertained, but that, as all attempts to decompose it had failed."

I think the article reveals some of the controversy surrounding the compound nature of nitrogen at the time of its discovery. Looking for more background, I waltzed over to our ever faithful companion Google, and punched in "Simple Bodies of Chemistry". It came up with an article in the "Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal". The article is entitled "On Isomeric Transmutation, and the Views recently published concerning the compound nature of Carbon, Silicon, and Nitrogen." It's dated 1844 and was written by George Wilson, M.D., Lecturer on Chemistry, Edinburgh. You can find it here:

"I propose, in the following Memoir, to offer some observations on the views recently published by Dr Samuel Brown, Mr Knox, and Mr Rigg, concerning the compound nature of silicon, nitrogen, and carbon.

Silicon may be a simple body, as many believe, or a modification of carbon, as Dr Brown supposes, or a compound of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, or of carbon and hydrogen, as Mr Low thinks probable.

Water, e.g. is the only body containing oxygen and hydrogen, in the proportion of eight parts by weight of the former to one of the latter ; common salt is the only substance, with thirty-five parts of chlorine to twenty-three of sodium, and so with other compounds."

So it's not just nitrogen which has been accused of being a compound - but silicon aswell! I've tried to not get too hung up on sentences, such as "elemental reduction by mutual isomeric transmutation", because, quite frankly, I don't understand the sentence. I've since learned that the existence of more than one compound with the same molecular composition is called isomerism. I wanted to try and remain focused on the compound nature of nitrogen, but this doesn't seem possible just yet without examining the relationship nitrogen has with silicon, and other elements.

"Dr Brown is the only chemist who has had faith and courage enough to test the reality of Elemental Isomerism, by endeavouring to transmute one of the elements into another. This, he believes, he has succeeded in doing in the case of carbon and silicon.

By a special process, instituted for the purpose, or as a product of a general process for transmutation, he obtained paracyanogen, a body consisting of carbon and nitrogen, in the proportion of twelve parts of the former to fourteen (by weight) of the latter ; or of two atoms of carbon to one of nitrogen. The atomic weight and exact constitution of this body are unknown, but Dr Brown, as we have already seen, supposes it to be a duplication of cyanogen, and, therefore, to contain four atoms of carbon to two of nitrogen. When this body is treated in various ways, of which the simplest, and the only one we need consider, is that of heating it out of contact with air, alone, or in contact with substances (such as platina or carbonate of potass) having a strong attraction for silicon, its two atoms of nitrogen, according to Dr Brown, pass away unchanged, and its four atoms of carbon combine together, and form silicon.

There was one chemist, however Mr G. J. Knox, who not only accepted Dr Brown's statements as true, so far, at least, as the appearance of silicon was concerned, but advocated the probability of such an occurrence ; on grounds, however, quite opposed to those Dr Brown himself built upon.

Mr Knox conceives that the nitrogen of the paracyanogen, and not its carbon, is the source of the silicon which appeared in Dr Brown's experiments.

Mr Knox seems to consider nitrogen a compound of silicon and hydrogen, and to believe that he formed it by the action of muriatic acid on siliciuret of potassium. He does not suppose, however, as some have imagined, that the nitrogen is transmuted into silicon

Dr Brown's processes have not, in my hands, yielded proof of the transmutability of carbon into silicon. I have further come to the conclusion, that they are too imperfect to establish the truth of that proposition in the hands of any one; and that there exists at present no evidence, in the way of demonstration by experiment, to satisfy a chemist, that carbon or any other element has ever suffered transmutation.

According to Dr Brown, an atom of silicon consists of 4 atoms of carbon ; but four times six is 24, not 22.22. If, therefore, transmutation by isomeric synthesis of carbon into silicon occur, it must, according to this view, be accompanied by a destruction of matter equal to the difference between 24 and 22.22."

Now I was a little surprised here because according to the periodic table, the atomic weight of silicon is given as 28 g/mol, and not 22.22 g/mol. I think 22 g/mol is an important value because it just so happens to be the atomic weight of water.

The author goes on to illustrate how it's possible that carbon can be transmuted into silicon, by explaining away a bit of math. This is actually true, the atomic weight of carbon can be an integral multiple of 12. Thus, it appears Wilson is suggesting that carbon is basically a compound structure built out of smaller carbon structures.

"Let the received atomic weight of silicon, 22.22, be diminished by removal of the decimals, and made the round number 22. Such an alteration will, not improbably, be made by chemists, apart from all consideration of the question of transmutation. Then divide the received atom of carbon, 6, by 3, a liberty which would be conceded by many of my brethren, and it becomes 2 ; of which silicon is a multiple by the whole number 11. 11 atoms of carbon might, by synthetic transmutation, become 1 atom = 22 silicon, without any difficulty in the way of atomic weights."

This last bit of reducing the density of silicon by half from 22 to 11, is practically identical to what we did previously with elemental water, where the density of elemental water was reduced from 22 g/mol to two parts, each part with the atomic weight of 11 g/mol.

The next thing to do was google - "An Inquiry into the Nature of the Simple Bodies of Chemistry" - and to see where it got me. It turned up trumps on Googlebooks, with the book written by David Low, and it contains some of the most fascinating pages I have ever had the fortune to read. The pages take you back to a time and place of almost fairy-tale-like innocence, where chemistry was still roaming the garden for the rules it had to play with (though of course, older brother alchemy had been around for a long time previous to this). It gives a powerful insight into how the ideas which form our world were first panel-beaten into shape. But not least, Low is set to reveal something quite remarkable about the Universe around you.

"Not withstanding then, the extreme care which has been employed in determining the constitution of the diamond by combustion, it is just possible that a quantity of hydrogen may exist in combination with carbon, inappreciable by this mode of analysis, and that the diamond really may be classed with the hydro-carbons, which upon the present hypothesis, silicium [silicon] and alumium both are."

I thought diamond was made from pure carbon? Is he suggesting that diamond is made up by both hydrogen and carbon, or that the hydrogen is hidden by the presence of carbon? I think his statement confirms the idea that hydrogen is an empty, or at least virtually empty, form of carbon.

It was here though, that I felt the first bomb being dropped when Low says that both silicon and aluminium are both hydrocarbons. It's not simply nitrogen which is a compound, but also silicon and aluminium. For some this may be too difficult to swallow - but me? I'm all ears.

Then, Low tell us that nitrogen is a compound that resembles the oxide of carbon, and presumably he means carbon monoxide, and not carbon dioxide, because "it does not support combustion, but when ignited burns with a lambent blue flame." He confirms for us that "it is a legitimate conclusion that nitrogen consists of carbon and oxygen". If your world view has been visibly shaking so far, now see the whole thing get turned upside down aswell...

"I have proposed the hypothesis that oxygen may be resolved into two elements of a lower combining weight than itself, hydrogen and carbon... Oxygen consists of 2 parts by weight of hydrogen to 6 parts by weight of carbon."

There you go. BOOM! Oxygen is a hydrocarbon! I've been suspicious of oxygen for a little while now. If oxygen was prime suspect in a murder case, I would be a detective going through its' rubbish bin looking for discarded bloody items. I'm suspicious because hydrogen, under the modern interpretation of phlogiston theory, is supposed to be full of phlogiston. I don't think it is. In previous posts I have suggested hydrogen is empty, and that it lacks phlogiston. Hydrogen appears to me to be the complete opposite of "phlogisticated", which would pretty much make hydrogen a substance that was "dephlogisticated"

BUT dephlogisticated air is supposed to be oxygen, and is supposed to contain no phlogiston, and that is the reason why it is supposed not to burn. What is starting to emerge more and more is oxygen is actually rich in phlogiston. Has there been some kind of mix up at the taps? Is "dephlogisticated air" meant to represent hydrogen, and "inflammable air" oxygen?

"Although we cannot certainly say that oxygen has been decomposed, yet when electric sparks are passed in succession through it, a change ensues, and an odour is evolved, which indicates the formation of some principle or substance to which this odour is due. It has been termed ozone..."

Whenever I think of ozone I instantly think of Tesla. I used to associate ozone with pollution and holes over the Antartic, and people going to work on a bicycle. Now, if ozone is mentioned, I tend to imagine Tesla surrounded in mists of crackling lightning flashes and the peculiar odour of ozone. My mind always engages a link between electricity and ozone.

I was interested to know the atomic weight of ozone. Most places will tell you the weight of ozone is 48, but ozone weighs only 24 times more than hydrogen. I consulted Google once more, and came across a book entitled "Meteorology Practical And Applied", written by John William Moore. In it he writes that "a great number of experiments have given the atomic weight of ozone as 24, and consequently its molecular weight as 48". For arguments sake, I think I'll stick to the atomic weight.

In the article on the "Discovery of Argon", the authour remarks that argon "is supposed to be a tri-atomic form of nitrogen, as ozone is a bi-atomic form of oxygen; and many circumstances already known—for example, its concurrent appearance in nature with nitrogen". Bi-atomic? Text books today tell us ozone is tri-atomic, and that it is made up with three atoms of oxygen. I wonder what would happen if we played around with the idea that ozone was perhaps bi-atomic? The reason I prefer a bi-atomic structure is because of the Fujiwhara effect.

When I try to think of a bi-atomic structure in nature, I think of the Fujiwhara effect. The effect is named after Sakuhei Fujiwhara, the Japanese meteorologist who initially described it in a 1921 paper about the motion of vertices in water. The Fujiwhara effect or Fujiwhara interaction is a type of interaction between two nearby cyclonic vortices, causing them to appear to "orbit" each other. When the cyclones approach each other, their centers will begin orbiting cyclonically about a point between the two systems.

The picture below is of twin hurricanes Ione (left) and Kirsten (right) pinwheeling about the eastern Pacific during the 1974 Pacific hurricane season during a Fujiwhara interaction. This could be dramatically wrong, but at the moment, this is what I imagine a bi-atomic structure as. If the atomic weight of ozone was 24 g/mol, and it was bi-atomic, then ozone could be made up by two oxygen structures both weighing 12 g/mol.

NOAA-3 visible range VHRR image of Hurricanes Ione (left) and Kirsten (right.)

But let us return to the crux of what Low is saying. Low thinks that the oxygen captured in the decomposition of water "consists of 2 parts by weight of hydrogen to 6 parts by weight of carbon". Therefore - in the case of water - one part hydrogen in weight represents the ratio of 3 parts carbon in weight.

"If nitrogen be resolvable into carbon and oxygen, it is likewise, upon the present hypothesis resolvable into hydrogen and carbon; for oxygen upon this hypothesis is resolvable into hydrogen and carbon.

A volume of oxygen gas contains H4C2; a volume of nitrogen gas H2C2.

Nitrogen therefore appears to differ from oxygen, by containing a larger proportion of carbon, the proportion by weight of this element to hydrogen being in nitrogen as 6 to 1, and in oxygen as 3 to 1. Thus the difference between these two bodies, so widely diffused and generally associated, may be ascribed simply to the different ratio in which the constituent elements of each are combined..."

Thus, Low has transformed oxygen and nitrogen into hydrocarbons, and has changed our world forever. Low has used a constant density for carbon as 6 g/mol, even though he accepts the proportions by weight are different for nitrogen (6 to 1) and for oxygen (3 to 1).

Okay, now I want to get my grubby mitts on water and to apply these formulas to it, and see what comes up. The atomic weight of decomposed water is 9; that is, hydrogen with an atomic weight of 1 added to oxygen with an atomic weight of 8. This would give you the formula of H3C2 (the value of carbon here is 3) for a half volume of decomposed water.

If you remember at the start of this post we learned that the atomic weight of liquid water is 11 for a half volume. That is, carbon with an atomic weight of 3 added to oxygen with an atomic weight of 8. This makes the formula for liquid water H2C3 (the value for carbon being 3). Thus, water is a hydrocarbon, and a half volume has the formula H2C3, and the atomic weight of 11. Therefore, a full volume of liquid water has the atomic weight of 22 g/mol, and the formula H4C6 (C=3), or H4C3 (if C=6).

This is wonderful as we can now compare the formula for decomposed water (H3C2) with the formula for composed water (H2C3), and it becomes very apparent about what it is that differs between them. It looks like the hydrogen from decomposed water is transformed into carbon in the composition of liquid water, and if the reaction is reversed, carbon from composed water is exchanged for hydrogen in the decomposition of water.

If that wasn't enough, what Low has to say in the following two paragraphs was enough to blow my boots off:

"If carbonic acid consist of the same elements as nitrogen, namely CO + O, it is not an extravagant hypothesis that some provision exists for resolving carbonic acid into the elements of which the atmosphere consists, namely nitrogen and oxygen.

For carbonic acid is continually ascending from the Earth into the atmosphere..... and therefore it is not an extravagant supposition, that a natural provision has existed, and does exist, for converting carbonic acid into the essential constituents of the existing atmosphere."

And quite right. A mechanism must exist in nature that converts carbon dioxide back into the breathable atmosphere. I don't think that the atmosphere is strictly nitrogen and oxygen though. I think the atmosphere is a water vapour which, in theory, is made up by nitrogen and oxygen. In summary, I think something in the atmosphere is converting carbon dioxide into water. Is it possible that ozone plays an important role in this conversion?

I think nitrogen (14 g/mol) is elemental water (22 g/mol) with half its volume of oxygen (8 g/mol) missing. Therefore, combining nitrogen with another half volume of oxygen should give you water. In terms of formula, nitrogen is written as H2C2 (C=6), and a full volume of water is H4C3 (C=6). A half volume of oxygen is written as H2C (C=6). If we add the nitrogen (H2C2) to the oxygen (H2C), the formula for water (H4C3) is exactly what we get!

Unfortunately, the copy I have found of Low's book has a number of chapters missing. I do however, get a real sense of the isomeric relationships which he reveals between "elements". It was Lavoisier who overthrew the phlogiston theory and established the concept of elements as substances which cannot be further decomposed. As I have come to trust the ideas of Lavoisier less and less, I also find that I lack the ability to trust the idea of indivisible elements. The entire periodic table no longer appears as a series of very distinct substances, but rather as a list of hydrocarbonic compounds which differ due to density.

What remains for me to end this post are Low's thoughts on silicium (silicon). There's no doubt he finds an intense similarity between silicon and aluminium. He writes that "the combining weight of aluminum is 14, or a multiple of that of silicium; and that accordingly, the two bodies are isomeric."

Low continues to say that "if we were to admit the equivalent of silicium to be 7, or a multiple of 7, then silicium might be represented by HC, or a multiple of HC." The atomic weight of silicon is listed as 28 - a multiple of 7. I am struck by the significance of the simplicity of the formula for silicon. If one was looking for a simple building block of creation, then I think silicon could be a possible contender. Low appears to confirm this with his next paragraph:

"If, in any former state of the globe [our planet], the aqueous portion predominated, as there is reason to believe it did, over the solid, we might perhaps believe, that one of the means of diminishing the volume of water, has the combination of its hydrogen with the molecules of carbon to form silicium, and of its oxygen with the silicium generated to form silica; for HO + C = HC + O, ex hypothesi, silica."

Silica, of course is sand. It seems quite strange to think of sand as being the direct result of a reaction between carbon and water. Low is describing the transformation of water into sand, and if I'm understanding theory so far, the possibility that sand can be turned into water. Rather poetically, the front cover of Low's book is furnished with a photograph of sand-dunes in a desert somewhere, like an oasis waiting to be discovered.

I also like that Low calls carbon "the primary element". I think carbon is another name for phlogiston, and I think phlogiston is extremely close to the very substance of the Universe itself - the aether. Thanks to David Low and his book, we now have the means to explore, in formula, exactly how the Universal substance creates the substance of the Universe.

Many thanks:

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

T.H.Huxley's Essay on Yeast

I've walked into an interesting essay on yeast (not that there's ever a dull moment with yeast) by T.H.Huxley which is dated 1871. I think he raises a good many points. Below, I've gathered some of the text which I think is worth bearing in mind. The site can be found here, thanks to:

"A short time after Cagniard de la Tour discovered the yeast plant, Liebig, struck with the similarity between this and other such processes and the fermentation of sugar, put forward the hypothesis that yeast contains a substance which acts upon sugar, as synaptase acts upon amygdalin. And as the synaptase is certainly neither organized nor alive, but a mere chemical substance, Liebig treated Cagniard de la Tour's discovery with no small contempt, and, from that time to the present, has steadily repudiated the notion that the decomposition of the sugar is, in any sense, the result of the vital activity of the Tortula. But, though the notion that the Tortula is a creature which eats sugar and excretes carbonic acid and alcohol, which is not unjustly ridiculed in the most surprising paper that ever made its appearance in a grave scientific journal, may be untenable, the fact that the Torulæ are alive, and that yeast does not excite fermentation unless it contains living Torulæ, stands fast. Moreover, of late years, the essential participation of living organisms in fermentation other than the alcoholic, has been clearly made out by Pasteur and other chemists.

However, it may be asked, is there any necessary opposition between the so-called "vital" and the strictly physico-chemical views of fermentation? It is quite possible that the living Tortula may excite fermentation in sugar, because it constantly produces, as an essential part of its vital manifestations, some substance which acts upon the sugar, just as the synaptase acts upon the amygdalin. Or it may be, that, without the formation of any such special substance, the physical condition of the living tissue of the yeast plant is sufficient to effect that small disturbance of the equilibrium of the particles of the sugar, which Lavoisier thought sufficient to effect its decomposition.

In his famous "Mikroskopische Untersuchungen" Schwann speaks of Tortula as a "cell"; and, in a remarkable note to the passage in which he refers to the yeast plant, Schwann says:–

"I have been unable to avoid mentioning fermentation, because it is the most fully and exactly known operation of cells, and represents, in the simplest fashion, the process which is repeated by every cell of the living body."

In other words, Schwann conceives that every cell of the living body exerts an influence on the matter which surrounds and permeates it, analogous to that which a Tortula exerts on the saccharine solution by which it is bathed. A wonderfully suggestive thought, opening up views of the nature of the chemical processes of the living body, which have hardly yet received all the development of which they are capable.

As we have seen, the study of yeast has led investigators face to face with problems of immense interest in pure chemistry, and in animal and vegetable morphology. Its physiology is not less rich in subjects for inquiry. Take, for example, the singular fact that yeast will increase indefinitely when grown in the dark, in water containing only tartrate of ammonia, a small percentage of mineral salts, and sugar. Out of these materials the Torulæ will manufacture nitrogenous protoplasm, cellulose, and fatty matters, in any quantity, although they are wholly deprived of those rays of the sun, the influence of which is essential to the growth of ordinary plants. There has been a great deal of speculation lately, as to how the living organisms buried beneath two or three thousand fathoms of water, and therefore in all probability almost deprived of light, live. If any of them possess the same powers as yeast (and the same capacity for living without light is exhibited by some other fungi) there would seem to be no difficulty about the matter.

Of course, it does not follow from this, that all contagious and infectious diseases are caused by organisms of as definite and independent a character as the Tortula; but I think, it does follow that it is prudent and wise to satisfy one's self in each particular case, that the "germ theory" cannot and will not explain the facts, before having recourse to hypotheses which have no equal support from analogy."

Fixed Air Part I

In 1755 Joseph Black is credited with discovering "fixed air". It was named as such because it was fixed or trapped in certain organic compounds. Black first obtained it by heating the mineral limestone (calcium carbonate) until it decomposed into a gas and left behind lime (calcium oxide). The gas given off could be made to recombine with calcium oxide to form calcium carbonate again. Today we know this gas or "fixed air" as carbon dioxide (CO2).

Black also showed that when calcium oxide was allowed to stand in air, it turned slowly to calcium carbonate. From this he deduced that there were small quantities of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Thing is, there seems to be a very small amount of carbon dioxide in the air we breathe - it's something like 0.03%. Carbon dioxide simply does not seem to exist in the air.

The following extract is taken from Joseph Priestley's treatise of 1796 ~ "Considerations on the Doctrine of Phlogiston, and the Decomposition of Water". In it, Priestley confirms the difficulty of extracting carbon dioxide from the air. He also reveals the phlogisticated nature of carbon dioxide.

"Fixed air is procured in great abundance in animal respiration. It is true that fixed air is procured by exposing lime-water to atmospherical air, but it is never procured by this means in air confined in any vessel. There must, for this purpose, be an open communication with the atmosphere, but fixed air will be procured in great abundance by breathing air contained in the smallest receiver, and especially if the air be dephlogisticated. It must therefore be formed by phlogiston, or something emitted from the lungs, uniting with the dephlogistcated air which it meets there."

I think Priestley was a little more than intrigued by fixed air. I wonder why it is that lime-water is affected by atmospherical air, and not the air "confined in any vessel". I wonder if the figure of 0.03% for carbon dioxide is taken from the atmosphere or a confined vessel?

In a series of experiments Priestley exposes something about carbon dioxide that I, as yet, have not seen noted by any other experimenters. Priestley said that he had found that fixed air "contained half its own weight in water". According to science textbooks, the atomic weight of carbon dioxide is 44 g/mol.

Now I find this fascinating as Priestley appears to be telling us the atomic weight of water. I don't think the atomic weight of water is 9, as defined by adding the atomic weight of hydrogen (1) to oxygen (8), because I suspect the hydrogen we find outside water is empty of phlogiston and is not directly the same stuff that exists in water. I think water is rich in phlogiston. I think phlogiston has something to do with carbon.

Half the weight of carbon dioxide is 22 g/mol. Is the atomic weight of elemental water 22 g/mol? If we know that water consists of oxygen at 16 g/mol, then the missing half of water weighs 6 g/mol. On the periodic table, it is lithium with an atomic weight of 6.94 g/mol. I'll be honest, I was hoping to see something of carbon here, and not lithium. Ooh, erm... this is awkward.

Not to fear though. It's true, the atomic weight of carbon is given as 12 g/mol, but it's not necessarily always the case. When carbon is measured in compounds where it is present in greater amounts than 12, it is hence always found in multiples of 12. For example, ethane (C2H6) contains 2 carbon atoms at 24 g/mol, and benzene (C6H6) contains 6 carbon atoms at 72 g/mol. The atomic weight of carbon cannot be greater than 12, BUT it is possible that it could be an integral submultiple of 12, such as 6, 4, or 3.

In trying to understand how this is possible, I came across Wikibooks and I chanced upon a really helpful page entitled ~ "Chemical Principles/Are Atoms Real? From Democritus to Dulong and Petit". It's a brief outline of the difficulties faced by pioneering chemists in trying to quantify compounds, to deduce the atomic weight of the periodic table. They did not have an enviable task as the elements they unearthed from compounds are swimming in awkward soups of weight ratios.

I think it gives me a bit of scope in realising the potential for mistakes in working with these ratios. We are, after all, only human. It also gives me a little faith in being able to play around with my own ideas, and to insert some of these ideas into a field as well established as physics, without being overwhelmed by the feeling that I am too small, too inadequate, and too ridiculous. You can find the site here, thanks to:

The site also features a wonderful quote from the German chemist Friedrich Wöhler, whom in 1835 said that "organic chemistry just now is enough to drive one mad. It gives me the impression of a primeval tropical forest, full of the most remarkable things, a monstrous and boundless thicket, with no way to escape, into which one may well dread to enter." After only a little thought so far regarding weight ratios, and the way they richochet and rattle around my brain, I find it easy to sympathise with him. Weight ratios seem to have the ability of swerving any of the applied mathematics you throw at them.

It is possible then that water is made up of carbon and oxygen. I think the reason we don't see carbon when we decompose water is because it is consumed in the reaction. The carbon is used up and leaves nothing but an empty shell in the form of hydrogen.

What happens then to the other half of the carbon dioxide compound? If one half is water - what is the other substance which weighs 22? Well, that could be another water atom. Or, if we refer to the periodic table, that substance might even be sodium. Could carbon dioxide be a compound made up of oxygen, carbon and sodium?

Carbon monoxide (CO) has an atomic weight of 28 g/mol. If we then deduct this new atomic weight of water (22 g/mol), we are left with 6 g/mol. Carbon monoxide could well be made up with water plus an extra dollop of carbon. This would mean that carbon monoxide contained 16 g/mol of oxygen, with a total of 12 g/mol of carbon. In text books, the weight ratio of carbon to oxygen in carbon monoxide is given as 3 to 4, which so far, coincides nicely.

In terms of volume though, 2 mol of carbon are burned in one mol of oxygen to give 2 mol of carbon monoxide. This means carbon monoxide is made up two-thirds carbon and one-third oxygen. If you burn 2 mol of carbon in 2 mol of oxygen you obtain 2 mol of carbon dioxide. The mixture for carbon dioxide is 50/50 oxygen and carbon. Based on this, I think carbon monoxide is more phlogisticated than carbon dioxide.

Science had to explain the weight of carbon dioxide (44 g/mol). They did this by adding an oxygen atom (16 g/mol) to a carbon monoxide molecule (28 g/mol). I think they may have painted over something.

If you decompose 2 mol of carbon dioxide you get 2 mol of carbon monoxide and 1 mol of oxygen. For the oxygen to have become available, I think it may have been part of a water atom. This would suggest that carbon dioxide is a compound made up with 2 water "atoms". In the process of decomposition, one of the atoms is broken down into its two components - oxygen and carbon. The oxygen is given off, but the carbon is absorbed by the other water atom and it becomes carbon monoxide.

I think that the reason that hydrogen is so light is because it contains none, or hardly any, phlogiston. BUT, carbon monoxide (28 g/mol) appears to be lighter than carbon dioxide (44 g/mol) even though it contains a higher volume of carbon. I wonder why carbon dioxide is more dense than carbon monoxide?

I wanted to know the atomic weight of the air. From what I've seen on the web, it appears that most of the time science books only calculate the weight of the air. They use the figures of 79% nitrogen and 20% oxygen which work out to make the atomic weight of air something like 28g/mol. This site illustrates the method for calculating the atomic weight of air beautifully:

I then found a site which carries out an experiment which physically measures the weight of the air. They found that the mass of a litre of air is about 1 g. By volume, one mol of gas represents 22.4 litres at standard conditions. That means that according to this experiment, the atomic weight of air is 22.4 g/mol! That's practically the atomic weight of water - and more specifically - water vapour. You can find this experiment here, thanks to :

The atomic weight of oxygen is nearly 3 times that of the carbon found in water, but in terms of volume, I suspect it is 50/50. Surely the two working together as elemental water thus become indivisible?

How can carbon dioxide at 44 g/mol exist in air that weighs 22.4 g/mol? I'd say that carbon dioxide weighs twice as much as air. Carbon dioxide ain't going anywhere but down and hitting the ground! The following site gives many examples, some catastrophic, of where carbon dioxide has proved heavier than air:

“One of the most serious hazards occurs when volcanoes emit large quantities of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is heavier than air and collects in low spots, displacing air in these locations. Hundreds of people have died of carbon dioxide asphyxiation near volcanoes in the past two decades, most of them in Cameroon, Africa, and in Indonesia.”

Mind, we've all seen how carbon dioxide is collected from a candle as it rises from the flame. How exactly does it get up there if it's twice the weight of air? Carbon dioxide gets a lot of bad press for its ability to climb up high into the atmosphere and mess about as a greenhouse gas. How does it get up there? How does it stay up there?

According to this new theory, the atomic weight of water is almost exactly the same as the air. I think this illustrates that air IS vaporous water. The obvious difference between liquid water and water vapour is density. Liquid water is around 1700 times more dense than water vapour. In other words, liquid water expands some 1700 times to become water vapour.

This suggests that the reason warm air rises is because it has a lower density than the colder air. The reason for this low density could be that the warm air has expanded. Right now, I'm thinking dreamily about bubbles rising in a fizzy carbonated drink. According to atomic weight the carbon dioxide should just sit at the bottom - but it doesn't. The carbon dioxide gas can be quite plainly seen as bubbles which rise up and tickle my nose.

Carbon dioxide is also behind the science of how yeast helps bread to rise. Carbon dioxide expands in the dough to produce gaseous bubbles. So yeast produces carbon dioxide? I would like to thank the following site whose explanation I have borrowed:

"A scoop of packaged yeast with a scoop of sugar are mixed in a tube and placed in some warm water. After 2 minutes, bubbles rise from the bottom of the tube as the yeast metabolizes the sugar into carbon dioxide and ethanol. When bread is made the yeast metabolizes the sugars from the flour, and makes carbon dioxide bubbles. These bubbles make the dough rise, and are later seen as the holes in bread.

Cakes rises differently. The chemical reaction between the acid and the base in baking powder, or the reaction between baking soda and an acid, also generates carbon dioxide gas."

Now my mind is thinking about some school experiment, where a raisin is in a glass of coke. The raisin rises to the surface of the drink as it floats on bubbles beneath it. Once it reaches the surface, the bubbles burst, the raisin loses its support, and it falls to the bottom of the glass. The raisin then collects more bubbles which send it floating back up to the surface. My thanks to Steve Spangler Science who have kindly put on a show of the dancing raisins:

I get the feeling this is saying something about how warm air rises and how cold air falls. Warm air expands and rises, and then once it reaches the top, the bubble bursts, it condenses, and it comes back down to earth. What are we describing then - some kind of motor? Are we living in a fizzy drink? Can this in any way be applied to the forces moving through the tubular ring of the atomic torus?

This comes as nothing more than a quirky aside, but for me, the thing that is conspicious about the number 22 is the fact it is not divisible by the numbers 12, 6, 4 or 3. What does this mean? I don't know. Probably nothing. Or it could be important.

There's also a bit of mysticism surrounding the number 22. In numerology, the number 22 is known as the "master builder" and is usually symbolized by a mason or some craftsman working hard and diligently on a large scale project. The Hebrew Aleph-Beit has 22 letters. The Jews believe the letters of the alphabet are the "building blocks" of creation.

Part II to follow.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Theories Of Radio-Active Phenomenon

Their Application Especially to Medicine -
Professor of Chemistry and Diredlor of the Laboratory, College
of the City of New York, formerly of the University
of North Carolina.
Published by
Williams, Brown & Earle

Richartz has shown that ozone belongs to the group of
radio-active substances and on being dissociated will become
a conductor of electricity. In short, it would be converted
into oxygen while giving off gaseous ions. On the other hand,
its formation takes place whenever in certain electric phenom-
ena gaseous ions are present and a reversible process analo-
gous to the dissociation phenomenon occurs. If gaseous ions
be considered as material particles, the ozone may be regarded
as a chemical compound of electrons and oxygen, or an "elec-
tronide" of oxygen. Both electrons of atomical ions would be
controlled by the mass law in the same way as electrolytic ions
and electrical and neutral molecules. The hypothesis is sug-
gested that radium and analogous substances might also be
"electronides." The process might be analogous to the dis-
sociation of calcium carbonate into calcium oxide and carbon
dioxide. Probably radio-active substances should be produced
by volcanic phenomena, as they are attended by violent evolu-
tion of electricity. In many slow reactions giving rise to the
formation of ozone, the presence of gaseous ions has lately
been ascertained. It is probable that many, if not all, reac-
tions are attended with the presence of such gaseous ions in
variable quantities. On the other hand, hydrogen dioxide is
analogous to ozone, giving off so-called emanations which
do not influence photographic plates through a sheet of alumi-
num. It should equally be considered as an electronide. In
order to produce a luminous sensation on the eye, the concen-
tration of ions should apparently exceed a certain limit.
Schenck enunciates the hypothesis that emanations of radio-
active substances are nothing else than ozone. An attempt was
made to account for excited radio-activity by the action of

Winkler 1 took a rather radical position, insisting that all
of the reported radio-active elements simply contain a varia-
ble amount of radium, and furthermore he intimated that
radium itself is not an element but that it may be impure stron-
tium with an excessive electrical charg

J. A. Alexander 1 insists that radio-activity is due to exter-
nal energy. He says :

"All matter, as we know, is continually receiving and
giving out energy but the total sum of the plus and the minus
in the universe equals zero.

Radio-activity and magnetism are in some respects anal-
ogous. Each is exhibited most strongly by one element, and
to a lesser degree by several closely allied elements. Each can
be communicated to some other bodies without apparent loss
to the original active substance. Both are impaired by heat,
fusion or solution, which seem to alter the conditions of the
molecular complexes. We believe magnetism to be consequent
upon the localization of ever-existent cosmic forces ; and it
seems to be probable that radio-activity can be traced to the
same origin."

The effect upon the eyes produced by radium is a diffuse
brightness, somewhat like that one experiences when he steps
from a dark to a brilliantly lighted room, with the eyes slightly
closed, that is, the interior of the eye begins to fluoresce. The
cornea, the lens, especially the vitreous humor, and perhaps
the retina are involved. This is quite different from the
effect of Rontgen rays, which act upon the retina alone. A
pure radium salt acts with such intensity that the effect may
be obtained by placing the chemical back of the head, and
without the intervention of the optical apparatus at all. The
Becquerel rays may produce an apparition, but it is not pos-
sible to secure a picture as they are deficient in a characteristic
property of visible light, namely, refraction.*

From what we have learned there appears to be little in
the suggestion that radio-activity may supplant chemicals used
for the preservation of food.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Chemical Treatise on Air and Fire

Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-86) excerpts from Chemical Treatise on Air and Fire:

Phlogiston, which makes most substances with which it unites liquid as well as mobile and elastic, must have the same effect upon blood. The globules of blood must attract it from the air through the small pores of the lungs. By this union they become separated from one another, and are consequently made more liquid. They then appear bright red (#89). They must, however, give this attracted phlogiston up again during the circulation, and in consequence, be placed in a condition to absorb the inflammable substance anew from the air at that place where they are in the most intimate contact with it, that is, in the lungs.

Where this phlogiston has gone to during the circulation of the blood, I leave to others to ascertain. The attraction which the blood has for phlogiston cannot be so strong as that with which plants and insects attract it from the air, and then the blood cannot convert air into aerial acid; still it becomes converted into an air which lies midway between fire-air and aerial acid, that is, a vitiated air; for it unites neither with lime nor with water after the manner of fire-air, and it extinguishes fire, after that of aerial acid. But that the blood really attracts the inflammable substance I have an additional experiment to prove, since I have removed phlogiston by help of my lungs from inflammable air, and have converted this into vitiated air.

Thursday, 8 October 2009


I've fallen asleep on my horse. When I wake up and look around me, I suddenly realise we have entered the dusty plains belonging to old alchemist country. I can't simply say that water is an element, without being forced to draw conclusions about the other ancient elements - fire, air and earth. What did the ancients understand about the Universe which we don't?

My thanks for the photo:

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


Just as hydrogen burns in oxygen, it also burns in chlorine. Hydrogen burns in chlorine to give hydrogen chloride, a colourless gas. It fumes, or "smokes" when exposed to moist air and forms a dense fog when you blow your breath over it. Hydrogen chloride is very soluble in water; the solution is hydrochloric acid. An old name for it is muriatic acid.

The theory so far is that water is an element, and that oxygen and hydrogen are actually two halves of a "water atom". I think that hydrogen and oxygen are dipolar vortices, and that oxygen performs a cyclonic action in relation to the anticyclonic action of hydrogen. I'm curious as to the nature of chlorine and if it too has a cyclonic action.

The atomic weight of chlorine is 35.5 g/mol. That's over two times the weight of oxygen (16 g/mol). Chlorine is a green gas which has the power of bleaching and disenfecting. Ordinary combustibles do not burn it. Pure chlorine gas does, however, support combustion of organic compounds such as hydrocarbons, although the carbon component tends to burn incompletely, with much of it remaining as soot.

Chlorine was first prepared and studied in 1774 by Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, and therefore he is credited for its discovery. He called it "dephlogisticated muriatic acid air". It might be worth noting that around this time that oxygen was referred to as "dephlogisticated air".

In a previous post I wondered if acids are formed due to a lack of phlogiston. Basically, I think nitric acid is formed because hardly any phlogiston (in the form of nitrogen) is available in the solution. It could be that the cyclonic action of oxygen, in its' hunger for phlogiston, makes the solution acidic.

If I follow this train of thought, then it's possible that hydrogen chloride gas is acidic for the same reasons. The chlorine hungers for phlogiston, which hydrogen alone is unable to supply because it is nothing but an empty bag. When hydrogen chloride is dissolved in water it forms hydrochloric acid. According to this theory hydrochloric acid should be neutralized by the addition of more phlogiston.

A salt is any compound which can be derived from the neutralization of an acid and a base. When acid reacts with a base it forms a salt and water. For example, reacting hydrochloric acid with sodium hydroxide produces the salt sodium chloride and water. Both sodium chloride and pure water are considered "neutral". The sea water in our oceans have a pH of 7.2 and being very well buffered, there is little variation from ocean to ocean. Sea water, though a little basic, could also be considered as neutral.

Common table salt is sodium chloride. It is broken up by electrolysis into sodium and chlorine. Does this mean that salt is somekind of element? I find it suggestive that the suffix "-lysis" comes from the Greek stem meaning to loosen or split up. I imagine sodium as being a form of hydrogen which has been fattened on carbon. In other words, I think sodium is a hydrogen "bag" that is full of phlogiston. It appears then that in sodium chloride, the sodium and the chlorine balance one another.

Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) also known as lye and caustic soda, is a caustic metallic base. It is used in many industries, mostly as a strong chemical base in the manufacture of pulp and paper, textiles, drinking water, soaps and detergents and as a drain cleaner. Pure sodium hydroxide is a white solid. I envision the sodium contained in sodium hydroxide as being so rich in phlogiston that it overpowers oxygen's cyclonic exertions.

A chloralkali process always implies the electrolysis of common salt or sodium chloride. Depending on the method, the chloralkali process can be used to produce hydrogen, chlorine and sodium hydroxide. The term chloralkali refers to the two chemicals (chlorine and an alkali) which are simultaneously produced as a result of the electrolysis of a salt water. The most common chloralkali process involves the electrolysis of aqueous sodium chloride (a brine) in a membrane cell. There follows a more text book explanation of what happens in the chloralkali process:

"In the membrane cell, the anode and cathode are separated by an ion-permeable membrane. Saturated brine is fed to the compartment with the anode (the anolyte). A DC current is passed through the cell and the NaCl splits into its constituent components. The membrane passes Na+ ions to the cathode compartment (catholyte), where it forms sodium hydroxide in solution. The chloride ions are oxidised to chlorine gas at the anode, which is collected, purified and stored. Hydrogen gas and Hydroxide ions are formed at the cathode."

I think hydrogen is a waste product after the release of phlogiston. I think that the chloralkali process is removing chlorine from the salt water and leaving more phlogiston in the solution. It would appear that sodium is thus able to form a compound with the weaker oxygen to form sodium hydroxide. In sodium hydroxide, I think sodium could be a strong anticyclone in union with the weak cyclonic oxygen. If this is the case, then they could be dipolar vortices but of different sizes.

If you tried to get electric current to pass through pure water it simply would not happen. Electricity will not pass through water unless it contains an electrolyte. The most familiar electrolytes are acids, bases, and salts, which ionize when dissolved in such solvents as water. Many salts, such as sodium chloride, behave as electrolytes when dissolved in water.

We are told that water does not burn because water is considered to be the burnt ashes of hydrogen. Phlogiston theory maintains that things do not burn because they have no phlogiston. Phlogiston theory - or at least as I understand it - maintains that water is rich in phlogiston. I consider hydrogen as the true ashes of water, and indeed, as the true ashes of combustion.

If water is rich in phlogiston, then phlogiston theory dictates that water can actually burn. Or at least not so much the water, but the phlogiston it contains is combustible. The phlogiston in elemental water is not easily accessible because it is locked away inside a "water atom", but once that atom is cracked open - then the phlogiston is released and available for combustion.

I don't believe water is made up with oxygen and hydrogen. I think it's made up with oxygen and something that is a little more phlogisticated than empty hydrogen. I'm dying to find out what exactly it is which makes up water so that I can find out its true atomic weight.

Many thanks:
The First Year of Science By John C. Hessler
The Encyclopaedia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, and ..., Volume 5 By Thomas Spencer Baynes
Chlorine and hydrogen chloride By Assembly of Life Sciences (U.S.). Committee on Medical and Biologic Effects of Environmental Pollutants

Friday, 2 October 2009

Hippy Crack

"...Some Chinese scholars, as early as the eighth century A.D., thought of air as having two parts. They called these parts the yin and yang of air. The properties of the Chinese yin and yang can be compared to the properties of oxygen and nitrogen.

The first person in Western Europe to describe the "parts" of air was Italian artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). Leonardo pointed out that air is not entirely used up when something is burned in it. He said that air must consist, therefore, of two parts: one part that is consumed in burning and one part that is not."

I don't think hydrogen and oxygen make up water. I think that it is something more like nitrogen and oxygen which make-up water. On top of that, I think that common air is actually vapourous water. I think that we breathe and survive on water vapour enriched with something akin to nitrogen.

In respiration we are taught that we take-in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. It is said that the primary function of the respiratory system is to supply the blood with oxygen in order for the blood to deliver oxygen to all parts of the body. But the thing is - if we survive only on breathing oxygen, and it is something which is supposedly good for us - why is it that breathing pure oxygen over a prolonged period is actually toxic?

We are told that 79% of common air is nitrogen. I'm not sure if this is true. I wonder if the true figure is perhaps a little less. I think nitrogen is basically a bag of vapourized carbon that inhibits combustion, and respiration. But if nitrogen can be "watered-down" by oxygen then you have something very combustible, and respirable - which brings me on to nitrous oxide or "laughing gas".

Nitrous oxide contains two parts nitrogen and one part oxygen. In the 19th C, there was a lot of "high" hopes for nitrous oxide, not just as an anaesthetic, but as somekind of wonderdrug. Sir Humphrey Davy, one of the first experimenters to describe the effects of nitrous oxide, once wrote that he "danced about the laboratory like a madman". Here's a charming little article I found in the New York Times expounding the benefits of nitrous oxide as a "powerful supporter of combustion and of life!". It's dated May 28th 1864:

I've also found a book that goes into much greater detail on some pretty remarkable aspects of nitrous oxide. It is called "Researches on the medical properties and applications of nitrous oxide ... ", and is written by George Jacob Ziegler, around 1865. Zeigler has a desire to "extend its sphere of usefulness in the preservation of life, promotion of health, and the relief of disease." Judging the contents of the book, one almost certainly feels like Zeigler is describing nitrous oxide as an elixir. He even thinks that nitrous oxide will replace good old fashioned booze. A little further in the book and there was a paragraph that really tickled me:

"The effects of protoxide of nitrogen [nitrous oxide] upon the human system vary inproportion to the quantity appropriated and the particular susceptibilities or conditions of indivual organisms, passing from a gentle acceleration of all the functions of the body to a high degree of physical excitement and mental exhilaration amounting in the extreme to an intensely pleasurable delirium or ectasy which may indeed become so pure and exquisite as to absorb the consciousness of existence itself."

If that last line did not capture your imagination, then you must have left the room (and now it's your chair that's reading this!). I think Zeigler was on to something. In the past I have dabbled with drugs in search of something to make me feel "numb". I wanted delirium or ectasy but it never lasted long, and afterwards there was always a price to pay. I know from bitter experience that with every high there has to be a low. The great thing about nitrous oxide is - there is no low!! From what I understand of a users' typical experience with nitrous oxide, there is a high, but once you stop, there's no crashing low.

I'm glad Zeigler has mentioned consciousness. I don't think that the mind manufactures consciousness. I think that the Universe itself is consciousness. I think consciousness is an empty awareness which I fill with all my thoughts. I'm intrigued as to how phlogiston fits into this picture. I wanted to leave Zeigler with the last paragraph from his book - with all its hopes for the future:

"In consequence, therefore, of its pre-eminent importance to the medical profession and humanity at large, it is hoped these general observations will attract the favorable attention of scientists to the transcendant merits of this remarkable agent, and thereby aid in extending its application for the preservation of life, diminution of suffering, and the promotion of health and happiness."

I've then stumbled upon a section on nitric acid in "A dictionary of practical surgery: comprehending all the most interesting ..." by Samuel Cooper and David Meredith Reese, and was published around 1836. We are told the case of one Mr. Wm Scott, a surgeon at Bombay, whom is inflicted with chronic hepatitis. It states that on "September 11th he took at different times about a drachm of the strong nitric acid diluted with water."

Nitric acid is highly corrosive. Drinking diluted nitric acid does not sound too delightful, but it's interesting that after a week, Mr. Scott "found his health considerably improved". Other cases are revealed where gonorrhoea, veneral sores, and syphilis are cured using the nitric acid.

Nitric acid contains five times more oxygen than nitrous acid. In other words, nitrous oxide is a compound which is richer in phlogiston than nitric acid. Today, nitrous oxide is considered as an anaesthetic but with toxic properties. All those great expectations Zeigler heaped upon nitrous oxide have simply not materialised. Here's a paragraph I found on the forum "Mad About Kitcars" which describes the toxicity of nitrous oxide:

"Use of nitrous oxide for prolonged periods results in inhibition of the enzyme methionine synthase which is involved in protein synthesis, causing changes in bone marrow after as short a time as 3-4 hours. The enzyme is very important, as methionine, an amino acid, it helps produce is the starting amino acid for all proteins synthesised. This is a direct result of irreversibly oxidising the Cobalt II up to the III state in the Vitamin B12, a cofactor in the methionine synthase. Furthermore the enzyme cannot displace the oxidised B12, so the only regeneration possible is de-novo synthesis of new enzyme, in the presence of fresh, intact B12. Prolonged exposure to nitrous oxide may cause agranulocytosis, as well as leading to increased plasma concentrations of Homocysteine which has been implicated as a risk factor for peri-operative myocardial ischemia."

A 50/50 mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen, more commonly known as "gas and air" (supplied under the trade name Entonox) is used during childbirth, for dental procedures, and in emergency medicine. Surely though by adding oxygen - are they, or are they not making the mixture more acidic as it enters the body? Whereas today we think it's best to dilute nitrous oxide with oxygen, Zeigler appears to have set about diluting the nitrous oxide with water, and achieved more satisfactory results.

If the atmosphere is made up with 20% oxygen, and 79% nitrogen - then where on Earth is the carbon dioxide? We hear of all these problems with CO2 in the atmosphere - but hardly ever is it mentioned in the air we breathe. But it must be there right? Because plants use CO2 in photosynthesis. I'm told that CO2 is a trace gas being only 0.0383% of the atmosphere. And you know what? I'm not so sure.

Many thanks:

Elements of chemistry: including the recent discoveries and doctrines of the ... By Edward Turner
Popular Science May 1935