Prof. Tyndall on Germs

Abstract

I HAVE read with great interest and pleasure Prof. Tyndall's paper on Germs. But I am troubled on one point. I am sure Prof. Tyndall will not think my difficulties unworthy of attention and removal, though I confess that I am only one of that unpretending class to whose enjoyment and instruction he has devoted so large a share of his valuable time. I am an outsider in scientific research; I delight to follow every investigation which tends to the development of science; but I have not the time, and, if time were available, perhaps I should find that I had not the skill to conduct experiments for myself. I have to trust—and I have seldom found myself misled by trusting—to the recorded experiments of men whose reputation has been established by prolonged and valuable work. I cannot willingly give up this trust, and yet there is one passage in Prof, Tyndall's paper which almost forces me to do so. He tells us that in 139 instances he boiled organic solutions in flasks which were then hermetically sealed, and that in no one case did putrefaction accompanied by Bacteria occur. The inference he draws from this “cloud of witnesses” is that Bacteria cannot be developed in flasks so treated.

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