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Unpublished paper, 'Experimental researches on spontaneous generation' by Gilbert W [William] Child

Reference number: AP/46/2

Date: 1864


Child describes a series of 20 experiments performed in the summer of 1863. The substances used were in ten experiments milk, and in ten, fragments of meat and water. These were in all cases placed in a bulb of glass about 2.5 inches in diameter, and having two narrow and long necks. The experiments are divided into five series of four experiments each. In one series the bulbs were filled with air previously passed through a porcelain tube containing fragments of pumice stone and heated to vivid redness in a furnace. In the others they were filled respectively with carbonic acid, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen gases. In each series two experiments were made with milk, and two with meat, and each substance was boiled in one case, and not boiled in the other. The joints of the apparatus were formed either by means of non-vulcanized tubing, or rubber corks previously boiled in a solution of potash. In every case, at the end of the experiment, the necks of the bulbs were sealed by the lamp. The time of boiling such of the substances as were boiled varied from five to twenty minutes, and the boiling took place in the bulbs, and with the stream of gas or air still passing through. The substances were always allowed to cool in the same stream of gas before the bulbs were sealed. The microscopic examination of the contents of the bulbs took place at various times, from three to four months after their enclosure.

Followed by one page of figures of filaments. Includes a letter from [John] Phillips dated 23 May 1864, a covering letter from Child dated 26 May 1864, and a letter addressing corrections from Child dated 11 July 1864.

Subject: Biology

Received 26 May 1864. Read 16 June 1864. Communicated by Phillips.

Whilst the Royal Society declined to publish this paper in full, an abstract of the paper was published in volume 13 of the Proceedings of the Royal Society as 'Experimental researches on spontaneous generation'.

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Ink on paper
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37 pages

Creator name

Gilbert William Child

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Gilbert William Child, Unpublished paper, 'Experimental researches on spontaneous generation' by Gilbert W [William] Child, 1864, AP/46/2, The Royal Society Archives, London,, accessed on 27 February 2024

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