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THE CHEMISTRY OF EXPLOSIONS. BY H. W. HUGHES, PONTIPHIDD. It is pretty clear by this time, a to chemistry and not to merely mechanical contrivances for ventilation, that we are to look for a remedy for these frightful explosions. Ventilation has done about as much as it can do, and has failed, not from want of skill or energy in mining engineers, but from necessity, and the nature of things. Ventilation is intended as a preventive of explosions. and not as a cure of the evils which immediately follow in the track of the fiery hurricane, and which are almost as fatal as the outburst itself. At le at, it is fair to infer that ventilation is but a poor cure for these evils, when we find one of the man- agers at Penygraig declaring at the inquest that he was nearly overcome by the choke damp on the day after the explosion! Granted that ventilation does much as a preventive, yet it must be remem- bered that the more perfect it is, the more violent the explosion when it comes, for it supplies the large volume of air, (10 times that of the gas) necessary to complete the decomposition of the fire-damp, and causes that thorough mixture of gas and air, which brings the explosion to its maximum of force. Hence, imperfect ventilation, with fre- quent, but mild and local explosions on the one hand, and abundant ventilation with scarcely the possibility of an outburst, except from those fatal blowers, which burst into the dark abyss as unex- pectedly and irresistibly as a white-squall or the siroco, on the other, are the scylla and charybdis between which engineers have to steer, and are often wrecked. But the resources of chemistry are illimitable, and it is a thousand pities that its study is not more widely cultivated by the sons of toil. For simplicity of prinoiples, for interest and beauty of experiments, for absorbing charm, and universal utility of application, it yields to no other science- In what better way could our young miners use their leisure than in unravelling ita mysteries, mysteries so closely connected with their daily toil, and literally interwoven with their lives ? In ad- dition to private reading at home, they might form classes, and contribute jointly towards the purchase of apparatus and chemicals which might be beyond the means of an individual, but which a class, taking advantage of the fact that many firms (at the instance of the Education Department) supply apparatus to students at nearly cost prico, might soon convert into a cemplete laboratory. It is vastly important to get men to think in the right direction, and to get as many minds as possible concentrated on the same subject. If a thing is to be found, the more searchers the better. When the atteation of many minds is directed to the same subject. and from different points of view, that subject is seen in all its aspects, and the chance of discovery increases in direct ratio to the number of enquirers. And profound knowledge of chemistry is not essen- tial to discovery. In science there are often truths as valuable within the reach of him who creeps, as of him who soars, so that beginners, especially in chemistry, should not be discouraged by the jargon of some would be great man, who seeks to dazzle them with his isms and ologies, and to eke out the brevity of his ideas, by the length of his words. Priestly was never able to make a chemical analysis, and yet he made several most important discoveries. Chemistry is a purely experimental science, and is a field in which the Genius of Sugges. tion simply revels, while every collier has within his reach infinitely better apparatus than Sir Humphrey Davy commenced his brilliant career with, amidst his old bottles and pipe-stumps. Unfortionately the truths of sience are not so obvious as they are natural, hence the saying that truth lies in a well. At any rate, the sooner the better colliers, especially discover that it does not lie at the bottom of a pint pot. In all manufacturing towns and districts, hundreds of artisans are found who study chemistry te promote their masters' wealth, why should not colliers do so, to promote the safety of their own lives ? I firmly believe that a complete remedy for explosions would have been found long ago had men devoted to its discovery a tithe of the energy expended on artificial diamonds; to say nothing of the Elixir vita;, and the phil. osopher's stone. However, let the youths of our vallies devote their attention to it; even a hint towards its discovery would confer on the world more benefit than if they discovered the perpetual motion, and bring to themselves mure fame than any amount of study of those baneful" rnesurau caethion," which seem to stifle the quantum of sonl with which nature may have blessed them. It is unfortunate that the pilot cloth (not the least arrogant of the domiu&ut cloths of the day) discourage any suggestion that does not proceed from themselves, and many working colliers are of such uarrow views, as to think that because they have been familiar from childhood with the internal details of a colliery, nobody can possibly under- stand the matter better than they; yet I will venture to predict that unless they open their eyes widely and quickly, they will yet fiud themselves indebted to chemistry, a science, winch they too often despise, for the security which we all desire for them, and it is not at all Un- likely that it is in the private laboratory of some grimy student who has never seen a colliery, that the spark will first gleam forth which will explode the explosions and revolu ionize the colliers position. But when that discovery is [u:)de, it is to be hoped that the discoverer will be no niggard of his treasure, but that he will poar it forth with the profusion of a cornucopia into the lap of expectant mankind. I was led to make this remark by a statement which I lately heard, but can scarcely credit, that a gentle- man whose name has recently been much before the public in connection with a discovery he professes to have made, hesitates to reveal it until he has made his calling and election sure to a preeious haul of £ a. d. How poorly does this contrast with the magnanimity of the immortal Davy afier the discovery of the safety lamp Upon his friends' urging him to secure to himself, by patent, the profits from the sale of the lamp, he almost indig- nantly told them that he wished to hand over his discovery to mankind as a free and unfettered gift! But he was knighted you may say. Yes but not for showing an itching palm for £ s. d. If you permit me, Mr Editor, I will follow up this intro- ductory letter with one or two more, in which I will endeavour to describe the evils immediately .con- sequent on an explosion and that in the light of the most recent investigations, and to suggest a remedy In this letter I have only strategically approached the enemy, in the next I hope to overthrow him, and in the last to pursue the flying foe.