Researches On Cellulose

Cover of book Researches On Cellulose
Categories: Nonfiction

from the PREFACE: This volume, which is intended as a supplement to the work which we published in 1895, gives a brief account of researches which have been subsequently published, as well as of certa


in of our own investigations, the results of which are now for the first time recorded. We have not attempted to give the subject-matter the form of a connected record. The contributions to the study of 'Cellulose' which are noticed are spread over a large area, are mostly 'sectional' in their aim, and the only cohesion which we can give them is that of classifying them according to the plan of our original work. Their subject-matter is reproduced in the form of a pr?cis, as much condensed as possible; of the more important papers the original title is given. In all cases we have endeavoured to reproduce the Author's main conclusions, and in most cases without comment or criticism. Specialists will note that the basis of investigation is still in a great measure empirical; and of this the most obvious criterion is the confusion attaching to the use of the very word 'Cellulose.' This is due to various causes, one of which is the curious specialisation of the term in Germany as the equivalent of 'wood cellulose.' The restriction of this general or group term has had an influence even in scientific circles. Another influence preventing the recognition of the obvious and, as we think, inevitable basis of classification of the 'celluloses' is the empiricism of the methods of agricultural chemistry, which as regards cellulose are so far chiefly concerned with its negative characteristics and the analytical determination of the indigestible residue of fodder plants. Physiologists, again, have their own views and methods in dealing with cellulose, and have hitherto had but little regard to the work of the chemist in differentiating and classifying the celluloses on a systematic basis. There are many sides to the subject, and it is only by a sustained effort towards centralisation that the general recognition of a systematic basis can be secured. We may, we hope usefully, direct attention to the conspicuous neglect of the subject in this country. To the matter of the present volume, excluding our own investigations, there are but two contributions from English laboratories. We invite the younger generation of students of chemistry to measure the probability of finding a working career in connection with the cellulose industries. They will not find this invitation in the treatment accorded to the subject in text-books and lectures. It is probable, indeed, that the impression produced by their studies is that the industries in coal-tar products largely exceed in importance those of which the carbohydrates are the basis; whereas the former are quite insignificant by comparison. A little reflection will prove that cellulose, starch, and sugar are of vast industrial moment in the order in which they are mentioned. If it is an open question to what extent science follows industry, or vice versa, it is not open to doubt that scientific men, and especially chemists, are called in these days to lead and follow where industrial evolution is most active. There is ample evidence of activity and great expansion in the cellulose industries, especially in those which involve the chemistry of the raw material; and the present volume should serve to show that there is rapid advance in the science of the subject. Hence our appeal to the workers not to neglect those opportunities which belong to the days of small beginnings.

Researches On Cellulose
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