Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/947

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

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ganisms whatsoever. The interior of the great majority of normal nasal cavities is perfectly aseptic. On the other hand, the vestibules of the nares, the vibrissæ lining them and all crusts found there, are generally swarming with bacteria. These two facts seem to demonstrate that the vibrissæ act as a filter, and that a large number of microbes meet their fate in the moist meshes of the hair which fringes the vestibule. Germs which have penetrated into the nose are rapidly ejected by the action of the ciliated epithelium. "The nasal mucus is an unsuitable soil for the growth of organisms, and hence is an important factor in that it does not further their multiplication. A pure culture of the Bacillus prodigiosus was prepared, and a sterilized loopful deposited at a distinct point on the nasal septum well within the vestibule. Cultures were made from this spot every few moments for two hours, with the result of a continually diminishing growth in the culture medium, the sample taken at the end of two hours producing no growth whatsoever. The foregoing facts emphasize the importance of nose-breathing, and the great danger which arises from the habit of breathing through the mouth, and the resultant unfiltered stream of bacteria which is drawn through the pharynx into the trachea and bronchi.

Deteriorating Effects of Alcohol.—In the Fifth International Congress against the Abuse of Alcohol, held at Basel, Switzerland, in August, 1895, Prof Gauls, of Zurich, and Drs. Smith, of Marbach, and Fürer, of Heidelberg, read papers on the influence of alcohol on the cerebral substance and its deteriorating effects even in moderation on the memory and reasoning faculties. Drs. Smith and Fürer contended that intellectual work is always better during periods of abstinence than when strong drink is even sparingly indulged in. The reports presented by directors of lunatic asylums pointed to the conclusion that lunacy increases in direct proportion to the abuse of alcohol. On this point the preponderance of the sympathies of the meeting was evidently in favor of total abstinence. The influence of alcohol in fostering crime was dwelt upon by MM. Kohlinski, of Düsseldorf, and Marthaler, of Berne, penitentiary chaplains, and was made prominent by M. Denis, who endeavored by elaborate statistical returns to show the length to which European countries had gone in combating this source of criminality. France and Belgium, where no serious attempt has been made to restrain the spread of alcoholism, have, he said, the worst record in regard to crime. Switzerland and Holland, he contended, where the restrictive movement had already begun, had rendered crime "stationary," preluding a reduction in its prevalence as the movement became more energetic. Norway and Sweden, as already indicated, could boast of a distinct diminution in their criminal population, thanks to their control of alcoholism.

A Correction.

Editor Popular Science Monthly;

Sir: On page 575 of your issue for August, 1895, is the statement, "Prof. Simon Newcomb has been elected by the French Academy of Sciences an associate academician as successor to the late Prof. Helmholtz." As this fact is apparently ignored in the article on page 561 of the February issue (1896), where it says, "As yet the name of no citizen of the United States has been inscribed on the roll of the foreign associates of the institute, although it is understood that in a recent election to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of a member the name of Prof. Simon Newcomb, of Washington, lacked but a few votes of receiving this honor," it is perhaps well to say that the former item is the correct one, and that Prof. Newcomb was elected a foreign associate of the French Academy of Sciences on June 17, 1895. Very truly yours,

Marcus Benjamin.
Washington, D. C., February 25, 1896.

Prof. Röntgen's X Rays.—The recent experiments of Prof. Röntgen on the so-called cathode rays from a Crookes, Lenard, or Hittorf vacuum tube, described by him in the Sitzungsberichte der Würzburger physikalische -medicinische Gesellschaft, 1895, and translated for Nature, are really only a continuation of the work of Hertz and Lenard, who experimented with these rays several years ago, and determined their curious property of passing through substances opaque to the ordinary light rays, and the