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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/300

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

A little drowsiness is natural to the work of digestion, and may be talcen as a fair indication of its activity; but normally it should be no more than can be overcome by an easy diversion. When the tendency to sleep regularly follows a meal and is well marked, it must be explained in some other way—perhaps by excess of food, or some special bodily condition. The effect of actual sleep on digestion can not be immediately helpful, for, during its continuance, all the bodily operations are slower, but a good effect may possibly follow in the greater energy of life after a little rest. Persons who sleep after eating should take account of the fact in fixing the hour for the next meal.

An English brewer, recently deceased, Mr. Richard Berridge, has left a fund of £200,000, or $1,000,000, to be applied to the advancement of economic and sanitary science.

It is remarked, in connection with the active sanitary measures that have been set on foot in Japan since the cholera epidemic of 1886, that the people themselves have come largely to appreciate the importance of sanitation, and the work is going on "smoothly between the authorities and the people, without the least misunderstanding or ill feeling."

A piece of dry biscuit has been found by W. J. Russell to possess an odor which could be perceived by a pug dog at a distance of several inches, when hidden and covered up, and even when its smell was disguised by cologne-water. In every instance the dog, when called in, was able to find the biscuit in less than a minute.

A story is told in the north of England papers of a person, who, having had his right eye destroyed and his frontal bone broken by an explosion, and lost also the vision of his left eye, from shock to the retina, it is supposed, had his vision restored by lightning. During a severe thunder-storm he remarked that he saw light through his spectacles, and immediately afterward experienced a piercing sensation passing from his eye to the back of his head, after which he found that he could see indistinctly the objects near him. The next day he was able to walk about the town without a guide.

The nations which still eat with the fingers defend the practice on the ground of cleanliness. A Malay gentleman regards the use of a fork much as we should think of the use of a borrowed tooth-pick. He is troubled by the reflection that it has been in other mouths, and that some lazy servant may have neglected to wash it properly. The care of his fingers is in his own charge, and he knows that they are clean, and that they have never been in any one else's mouth.

The statistics of blindness in Russia go to show that the affliction prevails more widely among the Ural-Altayans, and especially among the Finnish-Mongolian stems, than among the Aryans and Shemites, although the conditions of these races, so far as poverty is concerned, are much the same. One eighth of all the cases are due to smallpox, and one half only to direct eye-diseases.

It is said that the ivory produced by eight hundred elephants is consumed every year by a single firm only—Messrs. Rodgers and Sons, cutlers, of Sheffield.

Dr. Defontaine, of the Creuzot steelworks, has described an affection which he calls electric sunstroke, to which the workmen in that factory are subject. The electric furnace, which is essentially an arc-light of 100,000 candle-power, produces upon the workmen all the symptoms of sunstroke. Although protected by dark glasses, the retina of the eye is painfully affected, the sight is very considerably disturbed, a copious discharge of tears is kept up, headache and sleeplessness are engendered, and the skin of the face peels off.

It is quite generally known that the correction which each astronomer has to make to his observations, called his "personal equation," represents the slight delay which occurs after his eye observes an event and before his hand records it. The time required for the passage of a nervous impulse from the retina to the brain, its translation there into terms of consciousness, the sending of an efferent nervous impulse to the hand, and the setting in motion the muscles which move the recording-instrument, differs in dififerent persons—hence the personal nature of the correction. It is not so well known, however, that the personal equation of an observer is determined, not with reference to the actual time of the event, but with reference to the time as observed by some particular observer, who is taken as a standard, his equation being arbitrarily assumed to be zero. Hence it sometimes occurs that a personal equation is a minus quantity, but this does not signify that the observer anticipates events, it shows only that he loses less time than the standard man with whom he is compared.

The doctrine that cold or chill is a general cause of such diseases as bronchitis, pneumonia, pleurisy, and rheumatism, is disputed by Dr. W. H. Ransom, of Nottingham. While admitting that such diseases are apt to appear during cold seasons and in cold or temperate latitudes, he has failed to observe such a direct correspondence between the chill and the disease as would satisfy him of the existence of a valid relationship of cause and effect; and he is disposed to regard the chill as a coefifcient of the cause rather than the primary excitant itself.