J. Reiset, who has conducted a long and tedious series of experiments on this subject, has adopted a process that seems to offer every guarantee of accuracy. The air that furnishes the carbonic acid is aspirated through the absorption apparatus by two aspirators of 600 liters capacity. The temperature and pressure of the air are carefully measured. The carbonic acid is absorbed by baryta water in three bulb apparatus. The last bulb, which serves as a check to control the operation, remains clear, and proves that no binoxide of barium is formed. The baryta water used is titrated before and after the operation, and from the difference is calculated the quantity of carbonate formed, and hence of the carbonic acid.

These tedious experiments, which varied in duration from 6 to 25 hours, require at least two days of continuous labor. They were repeated 193 times by Reiset in 1872, 1873, and 1879. They were made in still weather, and in violent winds and storms. The air was taken at the sea-shore, in the middle of the fields, on the level earth, during harvests, in the forests, and in Paris. Under such varied conditions, the quantity of carbonic acid varied but little; the numbers obtained were between 2.94 and 3.1, which may be taken as a general average of the carbonic acid in the air.

The quantity of carbonic acid in the free atmosphere is tolerably constant, which must necessarily be the case according to Schloesing's proposed relation between the bi-carbonate of lime in the sea and the carbonic acid in the air. The only cause that seems at all competent to change the geological quantity of carbonic acid in the atmosphere is the formation of fog. As the aqueous vapors condense, they collect the carbonic acid; and the foggy air, as a rule, is more heavily laden with this gas than ordinary air.

It is not surprising that there is less carbonic acid in the air collected on clear summer days, in the midst of clover, etc., that is in an active reducing furnace; if anything is surprising, it is that the quantity of carbonic acid does not sink below 2.8.

It is also a matter for surprise that in Paris, among so many sources of carbonic acid, the furnace fires, the respiration of men and animals, and the spontaneous decomposition and decay of organic substances, the quantity of carbonic acid does not exceed 3.5.

If, then, the great general mean of normal atmospheric carbonic acid deviates but little from 2.9 or 3.0, it is not doubtful that under local conditions, in closed places, and under exceptional meteorological conditions, considerable variations may occur in these proportions. But these variations do not affect the general laws of the composition of the atmosphere.

There are two entirely distinct points from which the measurement of the atmospheric carbonic acid may be contemplated.

The first consists in considering it as a geological element which belongs to the gaseous envelope of the earth in general, and it leads us to express the general relation of carbonic acid to the quantity of air, as about three volumes in 10,000.

The second, which relates to accidental and local phenomena, to the activity of man and beast, to the effect of fires and of decomposing organic matter, to volcanic emanations, and finally to the action of clouds and rain, permits us to recognize the changes which can occur in air exposed to the influences mentioned, and to a certain extent confined. Without denying that it is of interest from a meteorological and hygienic standpoint, it does not take the same rank as first.

J. Reiset's experiments, by their number, accuracy, the large volumes employed, and the interval of years that separate them, have definitely established two facts on which the earth's history must depend: the first is, that the percentage of carbonic acid in the air scarcely changes; the second, that it differs but little from three ten-thousandths by volume.

These results are fully confirmed by the results which were obtained by Franz Schulze, in Rostock, in 1868, 1869, 1870, and 1871. The averages which he got, with very small variation, were 2.8668 for 1869, 2.9052 for 1870, and 3.0126 for 1871.

More recently Muentz and Aubin have analyzed air collected on the plains near Paris, on the Pic du Midi, and on the top of Puy-de-Dome. Their results agree with those published by Reiset and Schulze.

The grand average of carbonic oxide in the air seems to be tolerably fixed, but after this starting-point is established it remains to study the variations that it is capable of, not from local causes, which are of little importance, but from general causes connected with large movements of the air. Upon this study, which demands the co-operation of a definite number of observers stationed at different and distant points of the earth, the experiments being made simultaneously and by comparable methods.

M. Dumas called the attention of the Academy to this point, in connection with its mission of selecting suitable stations for observing the transit of Venus. The process and apparatus of Muentz and Aubin offer the means adapted for making these experiments, and seem sufficient to solve the problem which science proposes, of determining the present quantity of carbonic acid in the air.

If these experiments yield satisfactory results, as we have good reasons to believe they will, it is to be hoped that annual observations will be made in properly-chosen places, so as to determine the variations which may possibly take place in the relative quantity of atmospheric carbonic acid during the coming century.--Compt. Rend., p. 589.

[Although this proposition was made by a Frenchman to his fellow scientists, would it not be well for some American to accept the challenge, and bring it before the coming meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in the hope that we, too, may contribute our mite of effort in the same direction?--Ed. Knowledge.]