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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/546

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the coffin, with the knowledge that it was born or extruded after interment, must have a startling effect upon the ordinary bystanders, yet Dr. Aveling ("Obstetrical Transactions," London, 1873) has reported thirty cases where the expulsion of the child was due "either to a contracting power remaining in the uterus after the death of the rest of the body, or to the pressure exerted on the uterus by the gases of putrefaction, the latter being the more frequent cause."

The only motive in preparing this paper has been, not to contradict the fact that premature burials may have taken place and under the most unhappy circumstances, but to place renewed confidence in the ability of the ordinary general practitioner of medicine to recognize the distinction between a state of trance and a state of death, and to induce a disregard of the idle stories of ignorant and superstitious persons upon premature burials.

 

THE ST. GOTHARD TUNNEL.

THE boring of the St. Gothard Tunnel is pronounced by one of the engineers to be the greatest work hitherto attempted by man; certainly its importance and magnitude can hardly be overrated. It deserves to be regarded with especial admiration as a work which was marked in every department and at every stage by triumphs of the highest skill in scientific engineering. The tunnel is intended to form part of the railway connecting the North Sea with the Mediterranean, and is situated on the most direct route between these regions, passing through the chain of the Alps at a central point. The railroad through this line was preceded by the road over the Brenner Pass of the Tyrol, for that was easier of execution, and by that through the Mont Cenis Tunnel, for the French Government had political reasons for constructing a road which should be under its own control. The Swiss soon saw, after the rival lines were constructed, that the traffic which belonged to them would be diverted to pass around them, and immediately began operations to open a road through their own most direct route. In this they enjoyed the coöperation of Germany and Italy. The operations at St. Gothard were begun under the advantage of the possession of the experience, knowledge, and skill that had been gained in constructing the tunnel of Mont Cenis.

The preliminary surveys made it certain that the only points at which the opening of the tunnel could be made were near Goeschenen, in the Canton Uri, on the north, 1,109 metres or 3,604 feet above the sea, and near Airolo, in the Canton Tessin, on the south, 1,145 metres or 3,721 feet above the sea. Considerable works were necessary to reach these elevations. An examination of the map showed that the tunnel might be straight and that it would be about 15,000 metres or