of combustion being established—it was noticed that the diamond had
always disappeared when it had been heated in the presence of air,
while it had undergone no modification when removed from the action of
the air by means of substances such as powdered charcoal, lime, &c.
at this stage, the question could not long remain unsolved; and the
solution was soon furnished by two of the creators of the science of
chemistry—Humphry Davy in England, and Lavoisier in France.
what is the diamond?" asks Babinet, who has such a quick eye to the
poetry of science. "The most precious thing in the whole world. And
what is carbon? The most common material that is known; one that not
only exists in vast quantities in the bowels of the earth, but
that plants and trees of every kind contain, in an inconceivable
quantity. Silver can hardly pay for the diamond; for if we imagine a
diamond of the weight of a twenty-five franc piece, it would
weigh about 125 carats, and cost at least four millions of francs;
while an equal weight of carbon, even having recourse to the smallest
copper pieces, would have no appreciable value. And yet the diamond and
carbon are identical. Diamond is crystallized carbon."
Everyone knows the pungent gas that escapes from fermented liquors—cider, beer, wine, &c.—and