Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/879

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

sea-level exerted much influence on health, though the great thing for emigrants was to choose a climate as nearly as possible like that to which they were used.


An Experiment in Hypnotism.—Mr. A. Taylor Inness contributes to the London Spectator a curious relation of a case in which a hypnotizing practitioner ventured to stop the beating of the heart of his subject. Calling a physician of the place, who was well acquainted with the subject, to himself, he asked him, "Doctor, will you put your finger upon his left pulse, while I keep mine on his right?" Dr. ——, says the story, "was skeptical and hostile, but at our instance he consented. Keeping one hand on the lad's wrist, Lewis laid the other gently over his heart. Within a minute or two M.—— lost his rich and vivid color, and Lewis counted the decreasing strokes till he announced that they were scarcely recognizable. 'Is that not so, doctor?' he asked. Dr. ——was extremely unwilling to speak; but, under the urgency of some of us who stood by, he at last said, in so many words, that the pulse had almost shrunk to nothing. The boy stood, a ghastly statue, for a minute longer, when Lewis, saying hurriedly, ' The pulse is now imperceptible; we must protract this no longer,' took away his hand from the breast, to the evident relief of his improvised colleague. But it was to the evident relief, too, of their common patient. I remember distinctly to this day the ashen hue even of his lips, and the wonderful gradations through which the blood found its way back into them and into the whole young face—a face still asleep, but now glowing as if it had traveled a long way from the margin of the grave."


Physical Geography of the Mediterranean.—Sir R. L. Playfair said on this subject, in his British Association address, that the Mediterranean must at one time have consisted of two inclosed or inland basins like the Dead Sea, separated by the isthmus between Cape Bon, in Tunisia, and Sicily. The depth between Italy and Sicily is insignificant, and Malta is a continuation of Sicily. The shallows cut off the two basins from all but superficial communication. The configuration of the bottom shows that the whole strait was at one time continuous land, affording free communication for land animals between Africa and Europe. In the caves and fissures of Malta are three species of fossil elephants, a hippopotamus, a gigantic dormouse, and other animals that could never have lived on so small an island. In Sicily remains of the existing elephant have been found, as well as the Elephas antiquus, and two species of hippopotamus, while nearly all these and many other animals of African type have been found in the Pliocene deposits and caverns of the Atlantic region. The submersion of this isthmus no doubt occurred when the waters of the Atlantic were introduced through the Strait of Gibraltar. The rainfall over the entire area of the Mediterranean is not more than thirty inches, while the evaporation is twice as great. Therefore, were the strait to be closed, the level of the sea would sink again, and this would affect the Adriatic and the Ægean Seas and a great part of the western basin. At the Strait of Gibraltar an upper current at three miles an hour supplies the sea with the difference between rainfall and evaporation. An opposite current of warmer water flows out at half the rate, carrying off the excess of salinity, but leaving the Mediterranean salter than any part of the ocean except the Red Sea. The almost constant temperature of 56°, compared with 53° to 49° in the Atlantic, enabled Dr. Carpenter to distinguish between Atlantic and Mediterranean water.


Customary Survivals.—Our knowledge of primitive civilization, says Canon Isaac Taylor, in Knowledge, is largely derived from the study of survivals. Survivals may be defined as anomalous traditional usages, seemingly meaningless or useless, which originated in some state of things that has passed away, but which by the force of custom have continued to exist. That the Queen still gives her assent to acts of Parliament in a formula couched in Norman French is, for instance, a survival from the time when the sovereign of England was a Norman duke, unable to speak English. A judge's wig is a survival of the long hair which came in fashion at the Restoration; and the black patch on the crown, with its white fringe, is a survival of the black skull-