Societies and Academies

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    Academy of Sciences, August 22. —M. Duchartre in the chair.—Heat of combustion of some chlorine compounds, by MM. Berthelot and Matignon. The method of the calorimetric shell was employed for determining the heat of combustion of certain acid bodies. Monochloracetic acid, , gave + 174˙2 calories at constant volume, and + 173˙9 at constant pressure, as the result of two combustions with camphor in presence of arsenious acid. The values obtained for trichloraeetic acid, , were + 106˙3 at constant volume, and 105˙4 at constant pressure. Trimethyiene chloride, , burnt in the presence of an equal quantity of camphor, gave a mean of 3˙900 calories per gramme of the substance.—On glyoxylic or dioxyacetic acid, by the same.—M. Pasteur, in presenting to the Academy a work by Dr. Daremberg on Cholera, its Causes, and Means of Guarding against it, called attention to the following points: “Dr. Daremberg, in one of the principal chapters of his book, protests with great force against the pollution of the water-courses by drain-waters, and equally against the pollution of the soil by the distribution of these waters on the land under cultivation. He thinks that the germs of cholera, in the form of the bacillus which produces it, can remain living and virulent in the soil for several years, and eventually lead to the spread of the disease. Thus the cholera in the environs of Paris would have originated in cholera germs preserved since the last epidemic in 1884.”—Thermo-chemical study of certain organic bodies with mixed functions, by M. Léo Vignon.—Quantitative determination of peptone, by precipitation in the state of peptonate of mercury, by M. L. A. Hallopeau. This method is claimed to be superior to the polarimetric, the calorimetric, and the absolute alcohol methods as being a complete precipitation admitting of more trustworthy measurements than the first, and less difficult than the second. A solution of peptone, which must be neutral or very slightly acid, is precipitated by a large excess of mercuric nitrate. The precipitate of mercuric peptonate, white, flocculent, and bulky, falls almost immediately to the bottom of the vessel. It is allowed to settle, and then poured on to a filter of known weight, washing with cold water until no precipitate is produced by sulphuretted hydrogen. The increase in the weight of the filter, dried at 106°to 108°, represents the weight of the peptonate of mercury; multiplying this by 0˙666 gives the amount of peptone present. The mercuric nitrate is readily obtained from the “pure” commercial nitrate. Since this contains an excess of free nitric acid, which partially redissolves the peptonate of mercury, the acid must be removed by heating the nitrate with ten times its weight of water for fifteen or twenty minutes, filtering and heating to near boiling in a porcelain capsule. Then stir and add a few drops of carbonate of soda until the precipitate of oxide of mercury is no longer redissolved.—Etiology of an enzootic disease of the sheep, called Carceag in Roumania, by M. V. Babes. In the very fertile and often submerged islands of the Danube, where the shepherds from Roumania and Transylvania congregate, and where there are always hundreds of thousands of sheep, a disease occurs among them, especially in May and June, to which often a fifth of the herd will succumb, especially if it should have been brought thither from a distant pasture. It is an acute malady of a febrile nature, combined with hæmorrhage and œdema, and always with hæmorrhagic and sometimes necrotic inflammation of the rectum. In the red corpuscles of the blood are found round, immovable cocci, often undergoing subdivision. They are very similar to those, observed in the corresponding cow-disease known in America as the Texas fever.—On a new chemical function of the comma-bacillus of Asiatic cholera, by M. J. Ferran. The growth of this microbe is always rapid and luxurious in the ordinary culture solutions; if they contain milk-sugar, it is incomparably more so; but the growth ceases entirely as soon as the solution becomes acid by the development of lactic acid, and the vitality of the microbe is extinguished. It seems reasonable to employ lactic acid in lemonade against cholera, and to aid its action by the anexosmotic power which morphin offers us; this substance would perhaps hinder the absorption of the toxic substances, and would prolong the action of the lactic acid by opposing its rapid elimination.

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    Societies and Academies. Nature 46, 436 (1892) doi:10.1038/046436a0

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