The discovery that the transmission of an electric shock through air, confers extraordinary activity upon a portion of its oxygen, confirms a long-prevailing popular opinion, that lightning tends to purify the atmosphere. The oxygen which has undergone this change, has received the appellations of active oxygen and ozone. This discovery is susceptible of interesting applications to the relation of different localities to various diseases, to which I may allude in another article; but at present I remark that this is one of the discoveries in physical science which tends to confirm the doctrine of potentization by comminution. In the case of oxygen the change consists in an increased facility for combining with oxidizable substances. The molecules of ordinary, and comparatively inert, oxygen are probably split into active fragments on the same principle as a dry tree is shivered by lightning-mutual repulsion of the component parts being caused by the introduced electricity. That ozone consists of divided oxygen, is a doctrine, in the suggestion and public recognition of which I stood alone from 1850 till the present year. In my “Principles of Homoeopathy,” published in the former year, is the following passage: “In my opinion, the recent discovery of active oxygen tends to show, that even the molecules of a gaseous substance may be more minutely divided, and that this comminution enhances its activity. By what other hypothesis can we satisfactorily explain, the great avidity with which oxygen seizes upon combustible substances after its exposure to shocks of electricity.”*[p. 85. †May 1858.]
Here this matter appears to have rested till May 1858, when Prof. Clansins published an article in Poggendorff's Annalen, on “The Nature of Ozone,” in which he considers it to be the divided molecules of oxygen-the same view which I had taken in the “Principles of Homoeopathy,” eight years earlier. Prof. C's. article, which contains some experimental evidences, has been thought worthy of republication in the London & Edinburgh Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science.† This excellent scientific journal, in its number for Sept., 1858, contains a letter from the philosopher Schoenbein of Basle to the distinguished Faraday, in which he considers himself to have proved by experiment, that there are two kinds of ozone; that which is formed by the action of the electric spark and of phosphorus upon oxygen, he considers ozone par excellence, marks it negative on account of its eloctromative bearing, and finds it to be that which alone unites with precious metals, and with the oxide of murium, to form chlorine, the peroxide of murium. Thus chlorine is not a simple substance as the chemical world, adopting the views of Sir. Humphrey Davy, have almost universally regarded it for nearly half a century; and its great activity is due to a portion of comminuted oxygen.
I will not claim the authority of Schoenbein for this last remark, as he does not directly state that ozone is divided oxygen; but this may be inferred from his synthetic formula, ozone positive plus ozone negative equals oxygen. If ordinary oxygen, as he thus affirms, results from the union of molecules of ozone, it is reasonable to conclude that oxygen, sufficiently divided, would be ozone, i.e. active oxygen, and that this division is the cause of its extraordinary activity.
These recent conclusions of Clansins and Schoenbein afford a confirmation of my long-cherished views in relation to active oxygen, and the agency of comminution in Hahnemann's preparations. It is interesting to observe that discoveries in physical and chemical science tend to confirm homoeopathic doctrines, and that among scientific men there is a progress of opinion in this direction.
|The AMERICAN HOMOEOPATHIC REVIEW Vol. 01 No. 02, 1859, pages 68-70
|The Nature of Ozone or Active Oxygen.
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