« PreviousContinue »
To the metals belonging to the group Ti, Ta, W, V, Mo, To and No; Sn
belongs also to this series as well as to the first.
The differences between CI and Br, Br and I, approximate to the same number, as likewise do the relations between Li, Na and K, and between Ca, Sr and Ba.
This relation, therefore, extends to no less than forty-eight ot the elementary bodies: to all except those as yet imperfectly understood, most of which may yet range themselves under the same law, and except the oxygen group, oxygen, sulphur, selenium and tellurium, substances which stand alone and unmistakably apart from the other elements.
Philadelphia, Not. 10,1859.
Art. XIV.—Remarks on the Dissolution of Field Ice; by Chas. Whittlesey, of Cleveland, Ohio.
The interesting paper of Col. Totten, U. S. A., in the November number of this Journal for 1859, upon the rapid disappearance of ice in the northern lakes, recalls some observations that I had an opportunity to make on Lake Superior a few years since.
On the 8th of March, 1855, the inhabitants of Eagle River, a village in Haughton County, situated upon the most northerly part of Point Kewenaw, were engaged in procuring ice for their summer use. The severity of winter in that latitude (47° 22' north) had so far relaxed, that the surface of the field was slightly porous from the direct action of the sun. There had been no rain; the atmosphere was clear and cool, but on the sunny side of houses and other objects the snow melted rapidly in the day time. a
Below the soft and moist surface, at a few inches in depth, the ice was V}. solid and pure to the bottom, its thick- j ness being thirty inches. The blocks which the people were cutting out, were taken about 1000 feet from the shore. One of them nearly in the form of a cube, of thirty inches on each face, was suffered to lie upon the unbroken ice, its natural surface up- "'^Va/upiwriurflici!" permost, as represented in the figure here inserted.
I was thus enabled to take a direct view of the progress of its decay, as no doubt others have done many times, upon these lakes. As the force of the sun increased, the porous part on the surface increased rapidly in depth, lines or planes of separation extending downward from it into the hitherto transparent and homogeneous mass. There were not at any time horizontal planes visible, indicating layers or lamination, in the original structure. A thin film of matter followed each newly formed crevice downwards, and bubbles of air rose continually through the same to the surface. These planes of division converged below, giving the block the appearance above represented, of inverted spikes or rudely formed pyramids, with their bases upward.
By ten o'clock A. M. the upper half of the block was divided in this manner. The figures were somewhat regular and were principally triangular and rectangular, reminding me of the imperfectly columnar red trap of the north shore of Lake Superior. By noon the block was so far disintegrated that it fell to pieces under a single blow, and remained a pile of roughly formed spikes, pyramids and prisms of various lengths. After this as so much new surface was exposed to the sun it melted very fast. The newly cut ice was still solid and clear except a few inches at the surface.
There seemed to be in the block that had so suddenly lost its form and solidity, a process of contraction, arising from an increase of temperature. I presume that this appearance can be thus accounted for. No doubt the planes of division existed in the solid ice, as results of the crystallization in freezing. The general law of structure in all masses slowly crystallizing from a state of fusion is the production of a prismatic structure perpendicular to the cooling surfaces. Basalt assumes its polygonal figures in obedience to the same law, and the structure of ice is quite in accordance with it Its effects are not wanting even in some pastes, like starch and domestic cake.
This structure exists often where it is concealed. An ingot of block tin shows no crystalline structure, but by slow fusion the amorphous parts melt and run out leaving a skeleton of crystalline prisms. Ice is in the same predicament, and since in freezing water expands one-seventh of its volume, the first result of the fusion of a part of it is to dissect out the prismatic masses, leaving them standing isolated by reason of their being on a larger scale than the fluid volume from which they were formed. In this process the air bubbles no doubt materially assist by opening channels of escape for the ice-water.
What I have stated may assist in explaining why immense fields of fresh water ice disappear in a single gale of a few hours duration. When the temperature rises above 32° the ice soon loses its cohesion, and the first agitation breaks it up. In popular phrase it sinks, and is thus lost sight of suddenly; but in truth it is dissolved bv the warmer water acting upon the fragments in the shape of little columns and pyramids such as Col. Totten saw strewed along the shore of Lake Champlain.
I. CHEMISTRY AXD PHYSICS.
1. On Platinum and the metah which accompany it,—H. St. Claire Deville and Debray have published a very interesting and valuable memoir on the platinum metals, considering the subjec t rather from a metallurgical than from a purely chemical point of view. For the details of the processes employod we must refer to the original memoir, which rarely admits of abridgment, and which is in the highest degree instructive. The authors employ exclusively the dry method of investigation and operate at temperatures much higher than any which have hitherto been obtained upon a working scale. By a new arrangeme nt of the oxyhydrogen blowpipe most of the members of the platinum group may be fused—platinum even in larger quantities than was accomplished by Dr. Hare. By the same apparatus properly employed, the authors purify the metals and their alloys from more volatile elements with which they may be mixed. Osmium has a density of 21-3 to 21-4, and when dissolved in tin exhibits traces of a crystalline structure. It is bluish white, has no odor, and gives off vapors of osmic acid only above the temperature of melting zinc. At the temperature of melting ruthenium, osmium is sensibly volatilized but it does not fuse, and hence resembles arsenic in having its boiling point lower than its point of fusion. Two determinations of the density of the vapor of osmic acid gave 8p88 and 8 89, corresponding to 2 vols. Next to osmium ruthenium is most difficult of fusion, but may yet be obtained in small fused masses when its density is from 11 to 11*4. The authors give analyses of the protoxyd of ruthenium and of the crystallized deutoxrd isomorphous with stannic acid. They also describe a beautiful alloy of ruthenium and tin having the formula RuSna and crystallizing in cubes. Palladium fuses even more readily than platinum, and volatilizes at the temperature at which iridium melts. It also absorbs oxygen when fused like silver without becoming oxydized. Its density at 22-5° is 11*4. With tin it forms an alloy crystallizing in small brilliant plates having the formula SnsPds. Rhodium fuses less easily than platinum; it has about the color of aluminum and when pure is malleable and ductile; its density is 12*1. It forms crystalline alloys with zinc and tin.
Platinum may (as first shown by Dr. Hare) be fused in large quantities before the oxy-hydrogen blowpipe. Deville and Debray give a detailed description of the apparatus by which this metal may be fused in quantities of not less than 12 to 15 kilograms at an expense of from 0-24 fr. to 0-40 fr. per kilogram. (The late Dr. Hare fused 28 ounces at one operation.) The fusion of platinum is best accomplished in crucibles of lime, which serve to refine the metal by absorbing the impurities. When fused and refined, platinum is as soft as copper; it is whiter than ordinary platinum and free from porosity; its density is 2T15. With tin platinum forms a beautiful crystallized alloy having the formula Pt2Sn3. Iridium requires an extremely high temperature for its fusion, but when fused has a pure white color, and is brittle under the hammer like a crystalline metal; its density is the same as that of platinum, namely 21-15.
SECOND SERIES, Vol. XXIX, Ng. 85.—JAN., UCO. (Dr. Hare, who long ago succeeded in fusing iridium, found its density 21-83.) Indium forms with tin a beautiful alloy crystallizing in cubes having the formula LSna.
The authors remark that the alloys of platinum with iridium and rhodium are much more valuable in the arts than pure platinum, many of them resisting the action of aqua-regia, and possessing a considerable degree of hardness and rigidity. The memoir contains in addition numerous elaborate analyses of different specimens of platinum ore and of osmiridium, as well as new processes for the treatment of platinum ores upon the larger scale, the preparation of pure platinum for industrial purposes, and of alloys of platinum with its associate metals possessing useful properties. For these we must refer to the original.—Ann. de Chimie et de Physiqxie, lvi, 385, Aug. 1857.
[Note.—A memoir read before the Am. Association for the Advancement of Science at its meeting in August 1859, and shortly to appear in the 12th volume of the Transactions of the Smithsonian Institution, contains entirely new processes for the separation of all the platinum metals in a state of absolute purity. These processes are in the wet way; they are very simple and easy of execution, and they not only apply to the separation but to the qualitative analysis of mixtures of the different metals of this group in almost any proportions. The methods in question involve the preparation and properties of a new and remarkable series of salts, and will I hope be found to remove completely the difficulties which have hitherto surrounded the subject.—w. u.]
2. Blowpipe experiments.—Bunsen has contributed some very interesting additions to our knowledge of the use of the blowpipe in quantitative as well as qualitative analysis. The author employs the peculiar form of gas burner, first introduced by him, and now used in all laboratories, instead of the blowpipe. The lower part of the flamo is surrounded by a conical sheet iron chimney, 30,Iim. in diameter above, and 55ram. below, so that the burner tube is in the axis of the chimney and 45mrn. below the upper base of the cone. The cock is to be regulated so that the apex of the inner non-luminous cone of gas within the flame exactly reaches the level of the upper base of the chimney. In this manner we obtain a flame of perfectly constant dimensions which is immovable, sharply defined in all its parts, and which may always be obtained of uniform character. The outer cone of flamo has a very faint sky-blue color, which is invisible even by feeble daylight. The inner cone of flame is less intensely blue than the outer. The object to be submitted to the action of the flame must never be larger than the half or the third of a grain of millet seed. It is to be introduced into the flame by means of a little loop on the end of a platinum wire which is attached to a holder by which it may be moved gently and steadily, so that the object may be introduced into any part of the flame. The loop is to be moistened with water, when a grain or a little of the powdered substance will readilv adhere to it.
The author remarks that the temperature which the flame is capable of producing depends principally upon the constitution of the gas consumed. The temperatures corresponding to gas analyzed in the Heidelberg laboratory on four different occasions were 2369 C, 2352 C, 2391 C, 2386 C, or as a mean, 2350 C, so that the temperature of the flame ■where the quantity of air is exactly sufficient for the combustion of the gas, may be assumed in round numbers as 2300 C. It is easy to see, however, that the temperature will vary in different parts of the flame. The author gives a simple and elegant method of determining the point of maximum temperature by introducing a platinum wire into the flame, and determining at what point the light emitted by this is most intense. In this manner it is found that the zone of maximum temperature lies in the external cone of flame, a few millimetres above and below the apex of the internal non-luminous cone, which is on a level with the upper base of the chimney. The author employs this zone to investigate the action of a temperature of 2300 C. upon different substances,.and terms it the melting space. The outer border of this melting space acts as an oxydizing flame, the inner as a reducing flame, the reduction being most powerful immediately above the apex of the innermost cone. The great constancy which the flame exhibits in all its parts allows us to observe and estimate the volatility of substances at the very high temperature of 2300 C. For this purpose a mass of matter having a measured diameter of 1 millimeter is introduced into the flame, and the time required for complete evaporation determined by means of a seconds pendulum or a metronome. The size of the mass introduced upon the platinum wire is easily regulated by adding new substance or by evaporation in the flame, and may be measured under the microscope. The author takes the volatility of carbonate of soda as unity, and give3 a table of the comparative volatility of different substances in terms of this unit: thus the volatility of chlorid of potassium is 15'33; of chlorid of sodium 6'57; of phosphoric acid 23-00. Other substances are more or less completely decomposed at the temperature of 2300 C.
Besides its use in experiments on volatility the flame may also be employed for a series of other very valuable blowpipe reactions, among which the author cites the quantitative determination of soda in the presence of potash and lithia.
For the simple recognition of soda in its volatile salts, it is sufficient to introduce a small bead of the substance into the melting space and then to illuminate a crystal of bicromatc of potash with the light proiced. The salt appears perfectly colorless, transparent, and with a diamond lustre so long as the rays of the soda flame fall upon it, and this even by ordinary lamplight or daylight. A still more delicate reaction is obtained by using paper, covered with iodid of mercury, a square centimeter of which may be attached to the chimney in front of the flame by a movable arm. If we introduce the smallest quantity of a soda compound into the melting space, the red paper appears white, with a 'aint tinge of tawny yellow. When the soda salt is in solution the loop if the fine platinum wire may be flattened under the hammer to a little •ing. This ring introduced into the liquid will take up a drop which must be gently evaporated to dryness and then tested as before. In this manner xafoTsu °f a milligram of common salt may be easily detected.
Volatile potash compounds, as is well known, communicate a bluish violet tint which is completely concealed by small quantities of soda. In this case the potash may easily be detected by means of Cartmell'a