There is very little doubt that the general course of the decompositions follows these iines; but any such simple explanation of the actions taking place is rendered impossible by the fact that, instead of the breaking-down of the hydrocarbons being completed in the coal, and only secondary reactions taking place in the retort, in practice the hydrocarbons to a great extent leave the coal as the vapours of condensible hydrocarbons, and the breaking down of these to such simple gaseous compounds as ethylene is proceeding in the retort at the same time as the breaking up of the ethylene already formed into acetylene and methane, and the polymerization of the former into higher compounds.
Formulae have been proposed by Pschorr and Knorr explaining this and other decompositions (in Pschorr's formula the morphine ring system is a fusion of a phenanthrene and pyridine nucleus); another formula, containing a fusion of a phenanthrene with a pyrrol ring, was proposed by Bucherer in'1907.
Beyerinck and Jegunow have shown that some partially anaerobic sulphur bacteria can only exist in strata at a certain depth below the level of quiet waters where SH 2 is being set free below by the bacterial decompositions of vegetable mud and rises to meet the atmospheric oxygen coming down from above, and that this zone of physiological activity rises and falls with the variations of partial pressure of the gases due to the rate of evolution of the SH 2.
These facts, and the further knowledge that many bacteria never observed as parasites, or as pathogenic forms, produce toxins or poisons as the result of their decompositions and fermentations of organic substances, have led to important results in the applications of bacteriology to medicine.
Astonishment has been frequently expressed at the powerful activities of bacteria - their rapid growth and dissemination, of the extensive and profound decompositions and Activity bacteria.