Skip to main content
a tube of smaller diameter, previously warmed slightly with the hand. The closed end of the test-tube was then heated in a gas flame urged with a foot blow-pipe until there were signs of incipient softening. After cooling, the breath deposit showed interesting features, best brought out by transmitted light under a magnifier. The greater part of the length showed, as before, the usual fine dew. As the closed end was approached the drops became gradually larger, until at about an inch from the end they disappeared, leaving the glass covered with a nearly uniform film. One advantage of the tube is that evaporation of dew, once formed, is slow, unless promoted by suction through the mouth-tube. As the film evaporated, the colours of thin plates were seen by reflected Hght. Since it is certain that the flame had no access to the internal surface, it seems proved that dark deposits can be obtained on surfaces treated by heat alone.
In some respects a tube of thin glass, open at both ends, is more convenient than the test-tube. It is easier to clean, and no auxiliary tube is required to introduce or abstract moisture. I have used one of 3/10 in. diameter. Heated locally over a simple spirit flame to a point short of softening, it exhibited similar effects. This easy experiment may be recommended to anyone interested in the subject.
One of the things that I have always felt as a difficulty is the comparative permanence of the dark tracts. On flat plates they may survive in some degree rubbing by the finger, with subsequent rinsing and wiping. Practically the easiest way to bring a plate back to its original condition is to rub it with soapy water. But even this does not fully succeed with the test-tube, probably on account of the less effective rubbing and wiping near the closed end. But what exactly is involved in rubbing and wiping ? I ventured to suggest before that possibly grease may penetrate the glass somewhat. From such a situation it might not easily be removed, or, on the other hand, introduced.
There is another form of experiment from which I had hoped to reap decisive results. The interior of a mass of glass cannot be supposed to be greasy, so that a surface freshly obtained by fracture should be clean, and give the dark deposit. One difficulty is that the character of the deposit on the irregular surface is not so easily judged. My first trial on a piece of plate glass $ in. thick, broken into two pieces with a hammer, gave anomalous results. On part of each new surface the breath was deposited in thin laminae capable of showing colours, but on another part the water masses were decidedly smaller, and the deposit could scarcely be classified as black. The black and less black parts of the two surfaces were those which had been contiguous before fracture. That there should be a well-marked difference in this respect between parts both inside a rather small piece of glass is very surprising. I have not again met with this anomaly; but
H. vi. 9