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form. Crystals of sulphate of magnesia and of sulphate of zinc, gradually heated in alcohol till it boils, lose their transparency by degrees, and when opened are found to consist of innumerable minute crystals totally different in form from the whole crystals; and prismatic crystals of zinc (N. 165) are changed in a few seconds into octahedrons by the heat of the sun : other instances might be given of the influence of even moderate degrees of temperature on molecular attraction in the interior of substances. It must be observed that these experiments give entirely new views with regard to the constitution of solid bodies. We are led from the mobility of fluids to expect great changes in the relative positions of their molecules, which must be in perpetual motion even in the stillest water or calmest air; but we were not prepared to find motion to such an extent in the interior of solids. That their particles are brought nearer by cold and pressure, or removed farther from one another by heat, might be expected; but it could not have been anticipated that their relative positions could be so entirely changed as to alter their mode of aggregation. It follows, from the low temperature at which these changes are effected, that there is probably no portion of inorganic matter that is not in a state of relative motion.
Professor Mitscherlich's discoveries with regard to the forms of crystallised substances, as connected with their chemical character, have thrown additional light on the constitution of material bodies. There is a certain set of crystalline forms which are not susceptible of variation, as the die or cube (N. 166), which may be small or large, but is invariably a solid bounded by six square surfaces or planes. Such also is the tetrahedron (N. 167) or four-sided solid contained by four equal-sided triangles. Several other solids belong to this class, which is called the Tessular system of crystallisation. There are other crystals which, though bounded by the same number of sides, and having the same form, are yet susceptible of variation; for instance, the eight-sided figure with a square base, called an octahedron (N. 168), which is sometimes flat and low, and sometimes acute and high. It was formerly believed that identity of form in all crystals not belonging to the Tessular system indicated identity of chemical composition. Professor Mitscherlich, however, has shown that substances differing to a certain degree in chemical composition have the property of assuming the same
crystalline form. For example, the neutral phosphate of soda and the arseniate of soda crystallise in the very same form, contain the same quantities of acid, alkali, and water of crystallisation; yet they differ so far, that one contains arsenic and the other an equivalent quantity of phosphorus. Substances having such properties are said to be isomorphous, that is, equal in form. Of these there are many groups, each group having the same form, and similarity though not identity of chemical composition. For instance, one of the isomorphous groups is that consisting of certain chemical substances called the protoxides of iron, copper, zinc, nickel, and manganese, all of which are identical in form and contain the same quantity of oxygen, but differ in the respective metals they contain, which are, however, nearly in the same proportion in each. All these circumstances tend to prove that substances having the same crystalline form must consist of ultimate atoms having the same figure and arranged in the very same order; so that the form of crystals is dependent on their atomic constitution.
All crystallised bodies have joints called cleavages, at which they split more easily than in other directions; on this property the whole art of cutting diamonds depends. Each substance splits in a manner and in forms peculiar to itself. For example, all the hundreds of forms of carbonate of lime split into six-sided figures, called rhombohedrons (N. 169), whose alternate angles measure 105 55° and 75°05°, however far the division may be carried; therefore the ultimate particle of carbonate of lime is presumed to have that form. However this may be, it is certain that all the various crystals of that mineral may be formed by building up six-sided solids of the form described, in the same manner as children build houses with miniature bricks. It may be imagined that a wide difference may exist between the particles of an unformed mass and a crystal of the same substancebetween the common shapeless limestone and the pure and limpid crystal of Iceland spar; yet chemical analysis detects none; their ultimate atoms are identical, and crystallisation shows that the difference arises only from the mode of aggregation. Besides, all substances either crystallise naturally, or may be made to do so by art. Liquids crystallise in freezing, vapours by sublimation (N. 170); and hard bodies, when fused, crystallise in cooling. Hence it may be inferred that all substances are
composed of atoms, on whose magnitude, density, and form, their nature and qualities depend; and, as these qualities are unchangeable, the ultimate particles of matter must be incapable of wear-the same now as when created.
The size of the ultimate particles of matter must be small in the extreme. Organised beings, possessing life and all its functions, have been discovered so small, that a million of them would occupy less space than a grain of sand. The malleability of gold, the perfume of musk, the odour of flowers, and many other instances might be given of the excessive minuteness of the atoms of matter. Supposing the density of the air at the surface of the earth to be represented by unity, Sir John Herschel has shown that, under any hypothesis as to its atoms, it would require a fraction having at least 1370 figures in its denominator to express its tenuity in the interplanetary space; yet the definite proportions of chemical compounds afford a proof that divisibility of matter has a limit. The cohesive force, which has been the subject of the preceding considerations, only unites particles of the same kind of matter; whereas affinity, which is the cause of chemical compounds, is the mutual attraction between particles of different kinds of matter, generally producing a compound which has no sensible property in common with its component parts except that of their combined gravity, as, for example, water, which is a compound of oxygen and hydrogen gases. It is merely a result of the electrical state of the particles, chemical affinity and electricity being only forms of the same power. In most cases it produces electricity, as in the oxidation of metals and combustion, and in every case without exception heat is evolved by bodies while combining chemically; and as he at isan expansive force, chemical action is changed into mechanical expansion, but it is not known in this case why heat is produced, nor the manner in which the particles act.
It is a permanent and universal law in vast numbers of unorganised bodies that their composition is definite and invariable, the same compound always consisting of the same elements united together in the same proportions. Two substances may indeed be mixed; but they will not combine to form a third substance different from both, unless their component particles unite in definite proportions, that is to say, one part by weight of one of the substances will unite with one part by weight of the
other, or with two parts, or three, or four, &c., so as to form a new substance; but in any other proportions they will only be mechanically mixed. For example, one part by weight of hydrogen gas will combine with eight parts by weight of oxygen gas, and form water; or it will unite with sixteen parts by weight of oxygen, and form a substance called deutoxide of hydrogen; but, added to any other weight of oxygen, it will produce one or both of these compounds mingled with the portion of oxygen or hydrogen in excess. The law of definite proportion established by Dr. Dalton, on the principle that every compound body consists of a combination of the atoms of its constituent parts, is of universal application, and is in fact one of the most important discoveries in physical science, furnishing information previously unhoped for with regard to the most secret and minute operations of nature, in disclosing the relative weights of the ultimate atoms of matter. Thus an atom of oxygen uniting with an atom of hydrogen forms the compound water; but, as every drop of water however small consists of eight parts by weight of oxygen and one part by weight of hydrogen, it follows that an atom of oxygen is eight times heavier than an atom of hydrogen. In the same manner sulphuretted hydrogen gas consists of sixteen parts by weight of sulphur and one of hydrogen; therefore an atom of sulphur is sixteen times heavier than an atom of hydrogen. Also carbonic oxide is constituted of six parts by weight of carbon and eight of oxygen; and, as an atom of oxygen has eight times the weight of an atom of hydrogen, it follows that an atom of carbon is six times heavier than one of hydrogen. Since the same definite proportion holds in the composition of a vast number of substances that have been examined, it has been concluded that there are great differences in the weights of the ultimate particles of matter. Although Dalton's law is fully established, yet instances have occurred from which it appears that the atomic theory deduced from it is not always maintained. M. Gay Lussac discovered that gases unite together by their bulk or volumes, in such simple and definite proportions as one to one, one to two, one to three, &c. For example, one volume or measure of oxygen unites with two volumes or measures of hydrogen in the formation of water.
Dr. Faraday has proved, by experiments on bodies both in solution and fusion, that chemical affinity is merely a result of
the electrical state of the particles of matter. Now it must be observed that the composition of bodies, as well as their decomposition, may be accomplished by means of electricity; and Dr. Faraday has found that this chemical composition and decomposition, by a given current of electricity, is always accomplished according to the laws of definite proportions; and that the quantity of electricity requisite for the decomposition of a substance is exactly the quantity necessary for its composition. Thus the quantity of electricity which can decompose a grain weight of water is exactly equal to the quantity of electricity which unites the elements of that grain of water together, and is equivalent to the quantity of atmospheric electricity which is active in a very powerful flash of lightning. This law is universal, and of that high and general order which characterises all great discoveries. Chemical force is extremely powerful. A pound of the best coal gives when burnt sufficient heat to raise the temperature of 8086 pounds of water one Centigrade degree, whence Professor Helmholtz of Bonn has computed that the magnitude of the chemical force of attraction between the particles of a pound of coal and the quantity of oxygen that corresponds to it, is capable of lifting a weight of 100 pounds to the height of 20 miles.
Dr. Faraday has given a singular instance of cohesive force inducing chemical combination, by the following experiment, which seems to be nearly allied to the discovery made by M. Dæbereiner, in 1823, of the spontaneous combustion of spongy platinum (N. 171) exposed to a stream of hydrogen gas mixed with common air. A plate of platinum with extremely clean surfaces, when plunged into oxygen and hydrogen gas mixed in the proportions which are found in the constitution of water, causes the gases to combine and water to be formed, the platinum to become red-hot, and at last an explosion to take place; the only conditions necessary for this curious experiment being excessive purity in the gases and in the surface of the plate. A sufficiently pure metallic surface can only be obtained by immersing the platinum in very strong hot sulphuric acid and then washing it in distilled water, or by making it the positive pole of a galvanic pile in dilute sulphuric acid. It appears that the force of cohesion, as well as the force of affinity, exerted by particles of matter, extends to all the particles within a very minute distance. Hence the