Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Drop of Ether


In Chemistry a Small Element Counts For Much In Results.

Among condiments alcohol must be reckoned. It is a pluralist condiment, however, and — it goes without saying — is a dangerous condiment in more senses than one. A good deal that has been said about alcohol might be urged against other condiments. Mustard, for example, if largely mixed with water and freely taken, produces vomiting and occasionally inflammation of the intestinal mucous membrane. Salt, even under circumstances when not counterbalanced by vegetable juices, induces a disease of hideous type. In respect of alcoholics, the result of their employment depends on the quantity and quality taken. Alcohol given quickly in large doses is a deadly poison. Diluted alcohol taken slowly and repeatedly during the day irritates the mucous membrane of the stomach and secondarily the neighboring organs and does violence to the delicate tissues. The nearer the fluid is to "absolute" alcohol the more injurious it is likely to prove.

But the combinations of alcohol with other substances besides water modifies its effect in some instances for the better, in others for the worse. In looking through a pair of spectacles, the glasses of which are tinted with one metal, the world seems of a fire tint; with another metal the world seems cold and ghastly, frozen and dead. Infinitesimal quantities of added matter, so to speak, entirely alter the properties of the man. The domain of the infinitely minute is a broad one. It was lately stated at a scientific meeting that a single drop of ether thrown on the floor of the laboratory would entirely prevent the success of experiments illustrative of certain electrical phenomena. A pinhole in the door of a photographer's "developing" room will ruin his freshly taken plates. — New Science Review.

No comments: