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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/298

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

time, and the prospect for the continuation of the supply is cheerful. "Look," the author says, "at the burning gas-wells of Baku, where the gas escapes by fissures in the soil, and has been blowing and burning for centuries, and all for nothing thus far. There appears to be no diminution in their flow, while from the Chinese historical records it appears that natural gas has been evolving in more than one locality for at least a thousand years, and I expect the same here. It comes from regions far below the deepest coal mines, and may continue to flow when some mines are exhausted."

 

Geography-teaching in Russia.—The object of a paper in the British Association, by Dr. H. R. Mill, on Geographical Teaching in Russia, was to give an idea of the method of instruction as prescribed by the official syllabus enforced in government and private schools. The books are generally illustrated by black and white maps, and by diagrams of great interest and ingenuity, exemplifying statistics in graphic form. It is characteristic of the Russian system to go deeply into statistics. The absence of pictures in the instruction books is noticeable, but subjects are treated exhaustively. Greater attention is paid to ethnography than in the system of any other country, because, probably, of the many races among which the subjects of the Czar are divided. Russians are in the habit of regarding Asia rather than Europe as nearest to them.

 

Coffee-drinking.—Dr. Mendel, of Berlin, has recently published a clinical study on Coffee Inebriety. His observations were made upon the women of the working population of Essen, a town in Prussia, Department of Dusseldorf. He found large numbers of women who used over a pound of coffee a week. The leading symptoms are profound depression, frequent headache, and insomnia. A strong dose of coffee relieves this for a time; a partial loss of power over the muscles occurs, and an increasing aversion to labor. The heart's action becomes rapid and irregular. Dyspepsia of an extreme nervous type is present. Brandy offers only a temporary relief. The face becomes sallow and the hands and feet cold. Acute inflammation is likely to occur; an injury to any part of the body is the starting point for inflammation of an erysipelatous character. Melancholy and hysteria are common symptoms. Many opium and alcoholic cases have an early history of excessive use of coffee.

 

The Dangers of the Present Mode of Burial.—Human effluvium from the living body, taken into the lungs or stomach, is a weil-recognized cause of disease. That it is not, at the least, equally so from the body dead, especially when it is putrescent, is difficult to believe. The following, taken from Johnson on Tropical Climates (American edition, p. 83), is an illustrative case: "An American merchantship was lying at anchor in Whampoa Roads, sixteen miles from Canton. One of the crew died from dysentery. He was taken on shore to be buried. No disease of any kind had occurred in the ship during her voyage from America to the river Tigris. Four men accompanied the corpse, and two men began to dig the grave. Unfortunately, they pitched upon a spot where a human body had been buried two or three months previously (as was afterward ascertained). The instant the spade went through the lid of the coffin a most dreadful effluvium issued forth, and the two men fell down nearly lifeless. It was with the greatest difficulty that their companions could approach near enough to drag them from the spot and fill up the place with earth. The two men now recovered a little, and with assistance reached the boat and returned on board." Both died—one on the evening of the fourth and the other the morning of the fifth day—of a malignant fever, with symptoms resembling plague. The other two men, who were less exposed, were similarly affected, but recovered. That the poisonous emanations inhaled in this case would have been any less dangerous if swallowed with the subsoil water in the vicinity can be surmised by those only who believe inhumation of the dead to be without danger to the living.

 

An Early Form of Telegraphy.—Among the early devices for conveying information to a distance by means of signals the following is very ingenious. It was used by a Grecian general, Æneas, who flourished in