Chimney Quotes (2 quotes)
Incandescent carbon particles, by the tens of millions, leap free of the log and wave like banners, as flame. Several hundred significantly different chemical reactions are now going on. For example, a carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms, coming out of the breaking cellulose, may lock together and form methane, natural gas. The methane, burning (combining with oxygen), turns into carbon dioxide and water, which also go up the flue. If two carbon atoms happen to come out of the wood with six hydrogen atoms, they are, agglomerately, ethane, which bums to become, also, carbon dioxide and water. Three carbons and eight hydrogens form propane, and propane is there, too, in the fire. Four carbons and ten hydrogensbutane. Five carbons pentane. Six hexane. Seven heptane. Eight carbons and eighteen hydrogensoctane. All these compounds come away in the breaking of the cellulose molecule, and burn, and go up the chimney as carbon dioxide and water. Pentane, hexane, heptane, and octane have a collective name. Logs burning in a fireplace are making and burning gasoline.
While the unique crystal stands on its shelf unmeasured by the goniometer, unslit by the optical lapidary, unanalysed by the chemist,it is merely a piece of furniture, and has no more right to be considered as anything pertaining to science, than a curious china tea-cup on a chimney-piece.