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Even if unproved nitrogen is in too large proportion in the air to be inactive. When a student I heard Profs. B. Silliman Sr., Josiah P. Cooke and R. E. Rogers teach that nitrogen was negative and useless, a diluent, and that all biologic researchers maintained this position.
I could not, while respecting the dictum of these eminent men, assent to this, because nitrogen was four-fifths the bulk of air. It seemed to me that the chemists were like physicians who could not tell what was the matter, when it was patent to all that there was something wrong, and who must confess their inability in diagnosis.
Since my pupilage I have eagerly watched for evidence to support my position, and have found some that I present hereunder.
AIR is FOOD.
This idea is over 3,000 years old. Air is indispensable to life. Eaten twenty times a minute during life.
CUTTER E. AIR IS FOOD; NITROGEN.. JAMA. 1898;XXX(7):365–366. doi:10.1001/jama.1898.72440590025001h