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Science News a Century Ago

Nature volume 143, page 612 (08 April 1939) | Download Citation



The Royal Society AT a meeting of the Royal Society on April 11, 1839, James Finlay Weir-Johnston (1796-1855), the agricultural chemist, read a paper “On a New Equi-atomic Compound of Bicyanide with Binoxide of Mercury”. In the paper he gave an account of the properties of “a salt, obtained by agitating, with red oxide of mercury, a small portion of hydrocyanic acid, and which he found to be distinguished from the bicyanide of mercury by its sparing solubility in cold water, by the alkaline reaction exhibited by its solution (a property which indicates an excess of mercury) and by its susceptibility of detonation by heat, depending on this excess being in the state of an oxide and on the carbon of the cyanogen it contains, and the presence of which is shown by the disengagement of hydrochloric acid gas when acted on by hydrosulphuric and hydrochloric acid”.

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