Chemical Abstracts, vol. 2 (10): 1410 (20 May 1908)
Monatshrift f. Chemie 29: 5-14
"The Condensation Products of Ethylene and Acetylene Formed through the Agency of the Silent Electric Discharge"
Berthelot has shown that a silent electric discharge acting upon saturated or unsaturated hydrocarbons will split off hydrogen in varying quantities from the molecule and, instead of polymerization products, condensation products will result. The author reports the work upon ethylene and acetylene under these conditions. The pure dry gases were introduced into a synthesizer, an ozonizer with manometer attachment. In the case of ethylene the condensation product is soluble in ethanol and diethyl ether and gives a molecular weight of 420. This corresponds to a formula approaching C30H54. The action of bromine and nitric acid upon this product led to its classification with cyclic compounds. The acetylene product is extremely insoluble and hence no molecular weight determination could be directly obtained. The compound is similar in chemical properties to the preceding one, and is undoubtedly of ring structure. The deficiency in percentage of carbon in these compounds is worthy of note. An explanation for the same is given by the author in the following abstract (Monatsh. 29: 1-4).
"The Mysterious Deficiency of Carbon in the Condensation Products from Ethylene"
Pure dry ethylene and acetylene were in turn brought under the influence of silent electric discharge, and the condensation product in each case analyzed. The purest chemical reagents were employed in these combustions. From several determinations the percentage of carbon and hydrogen taken together fell below the theoretical 100%; in the case of the ethylene product a 7% and in that of the acetylene product a 22% deficiency was noted. This loss in the amount of hydrogen and carbon required by the formulae of hydrocarbons has been accounted for by Berthelot in the possibility of absorption of oxygen from the atmosphere. The author has excluded this possibility by working with dry gases and preserving the products in hermetically sealed tubes immediately upon their formulation. It is also stated that condensed ethylene loses no carbon on exposure to air and that condensed ethylene is hardly affected by many weeks’ standing. The analysis of the products from sealed tubes and those exposed for some time to the air were in agreement with each other. The possible intake of oxygen during the removal from the tubes is practically nil, owing to the rather insoluble nature of the compounds and the absence of any change in their appearance. These facts present us with a scientific riddle, a chemical anomaly, which the author believes can be explained only through experimental error or through the transmutation of elements. As great care and precision were taken in all of the determinations, the author is more convinced of the latter possibility, especially since these condensation products, notably that of ethylene, possess strong radioactive properties. These products, therefore, may be considered, not as simple hydrocarbons, but as compounds of these with known or unknown elements here brought into existence through the action of the silent electric discharge upon gaseous ethylene or acetylene.