The Last Stoic

The Disinfection Of The Atmosphere

Posted in Uncategorized by munty13 on September 1, 2009

I found this great little article. It comes from the “Scientific American Supplement”, and is entitled “The Disinfection Of The Atmosphere”. It drops some very helpful insights. Not least because it refers to the air as a vapour, whereas today we tend to think of the air as being something more like a gas. In the article they are running experiments where carbolic acid (carbon dioxide) is boiled with water and the vapour is used as a disinfectant in the air.

I can show why a fire from which there is much smoke is better than one which burns with a clear flame, by a simple experiment. Here is a piece of gum benzoin, the substance from which Friar’s balsam is made. This will burn, if we light it, just as tar burns, and without much smoke or smell. If, instead of burning it, we put some on a spoon and heat it gently, much more smoke is produced, and a fragrant scent is given off. In the same way we can burn spirit of lavender or eau de Cologne, but we get no scent from them in this way, for the burning destroys the scent. This is a very important fact in the disinfection of the air. The less the flame and the larger the quantity of smoke, the greater the effect produced, so far as disinfection is concerned. As air is a vapor, we must use our disinfectants in the form of vapor, so that the one may mix with the other, just as when we are dealing with fluids we must use a fluid disinfectant.

The question that presents itself is this: Can we so diffuse the vapor of an antiseptic like carbolic acid through the air as to destroy the germs which are floating in it, and thus purify it, making it like air which has been filtered through wool, or like that on the top of a lofty mountain? If the smoke of a wood fire seems to act as an antiseptic, and putrefaction is prevented, it seems reasonable to conclude that air could be purified and made antiseptic by some proper and convenient arrangement.

I have here a boiler of copper into which we can put a mixture, and can get from it a small jet of steam for some hours. A simple experiment will show that no bacteria will exist in that vapor. If I take a test tube containing meat, and boil it while holding the mouth of it in this vapor, after it has cooled we close the mouth with cotton wool, and set it aside in a warm place; after some days we shall find no trace of decomposition, but if the experiment is repeated with water, decomposition will soon show itself. Of course, any strength of carbolic acid can be used at will, and will afford a series of tests.

They’ve also made mention of gum benzoin. An acidic material was derived from benzoin by sublimation, and named “flowers of benzoin,” or benzoic acid. The hydrocarbon derived from benzoic acid thus acquired the name benzin, benzol, or benzene. Trace amounts of benzene may result whenever carbon-rich materials undergo incomplete combustion. It is produced in volcanoes and forest fires, and is also a component of cigarette smoke. Benzene is a principal component of combustion products produced by the burning of PVC (polyvinyl chloride).

In 1865, the German chemist Friedrich August Kekulé was the first to suggest a ring structure for the benzene molecule. It is best explained as a ring of six carbon atoms, and on the outside of the ring one hydrogen atom is then attached to each carbon atom. In 1890 the German Chemical Society organized an elaborate appreciation in Kekulé’s honor, celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of his first benzene paper. He revealed that the benzene ring had been inspired by a dream in which he saw a snake eating its own tail – the Ouroboros.

The Ouroboros is represented by many ancient civilisations all over the world. It is said to represent many things. I once felt that it represented human suffering, in that we consume the problems we create and create the problems we consume, in a cycle that becomes endless and never-ending. For me now though, the Ouroboros has come more to represent the Universe and ultimately God.

The famous Ouroboros drawing from the early alchemical text The Chrysopoeia of Cleopatra dating to 2nd century Alexandria encloses the words hen to pan, “one is the all”. It’s saying that everything is God. I’ll show you some of my working out – if one is the all, then everything is One – one consciousness – one God – God is one consciousness – everything is consciousness – consciousness is Universe – Universe is God – God is love – love is consciousness – everything is love – love is God.

I just thought it a happy little coincidence that carbon sits at the centre of the benzene ring, and also stands at the horizon in this new understanding of the Universe, and dare I say it without sounding too presumptious, but this new understanding of God.

Many thanks:


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