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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/881

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

that are based upon a shallow polar basin. The sea bottom was remarkably devoid of organic matter. Under the surface of cold ice water covering the polar basin warmer and more saline water was found, probably from the Gulf Stream. No land and no open water, except narrow creeks, were seen. A few days after Christmas, 1894, the Fram was at latitude 83° 24′, the farthest north that had been reached. Dr. Nansen here left the ship, taking Lieutenant Johansen with him, to explore the sea farther north. He reached his highest point on April 7, 1895, and, finding the prospect of a further advance discouraging, started on his return journey the next day. He reached Franz-Josef Land June 7th of this year; was embarrassed to find Payer's map all wrong; and, after sailing and paddling around for several weeks in the supposed direction of Spitzbergen, met the steamer Windward. Leaving Franz-Josef Land in this vessel, August 7th, he and his companion were brought by a short and very pleasant passage to Vardöe, Norway. The Fram, which Dr. Nansen left in charge of its master. Captain Sverdrup, returned safely to Norway only a few days after Dr. Nansen's arrival. Persona best informed in arctic research affirm that the expedition has made many and valuable discoveries.

An expedition of eminent explorers, among whom are Sir W. Martin Conway and Mr. Trevor Battye, which started out to cross Spitzbergen and explore its interior, has successfully accomplished its purpose. M. Andrée, who went to the polar regions for the purpose of attempting to reach the pole by balloon, found himself constantly baffled by opposing winds, and has returned, having been obliged to give up the attempt for this year.

 

Poisonous Spider Bites.—It has always been questioned whether the bites of the spiders of the temperate zone were ever fatal. Popular belief has it that they sometimes are, but spider students generally scout the notion. A few cases have recently been cited, however, on testimony which can hardly be doubted, that point to an affirmative answer. An account is given in Dr. Biley's Insect Life of a man in excellent health who died fourteen hours after having been bitten in the neck by the species Latrodectus mactans. He instantly felt an intense pain, and picked off from the wound a spider of the species named. Four hours afterward the spot was marked by a circle of little white pimples about as large as a silver half dollar, but the wound itself was not seen; and, while there was no swelling, the neck and left arm were rigidly hard. Violent pains ensued, reaching the intestines, but the sufferer was able to go to the village for whisky and back, after which spasms set in. Sis cases of spider bites, observed by M. Corson de Savannat, were followed by serious but not mortal effect. The identity of the conditions under which the bites were received and the similarity of the observed symptoms give the cases resemblance to real laboratory experiments. All suffered great pains in the abdomen and back and tetanic contractions lasting several hours, with dyspnoic respiration and rapid, strong pulse. The patients' condition appeared desperate without its being possible to define any particular local pain. The cases were treated with injections of chlorhydrate of morphine and internal stimulants. Similar nervous troubles and contractions were marked in 1833 by M. Graells, of Barcelona, as following bites by the Latrodectus mamigniatus. In some cases a rash is mentioned as breaking out in a few hours either in the region around the bite or over the whole body, A spider whose bite is regarded as fatal is found on the seashore of New Zealand. The symptoms following the bites of these spiders are described by the New Zealand doctors as like those consequent upon the action of narcotics, while those produced by our northern spiders are rather convulsive.

 

Alaska.—Mr. W. H. Dall, in his paper on Alaska as it Was and Is (1865-1895), describes the region which includes the Aleutian chain and other islands west of Kadiak as presenting a striking contrast "to the densely wooded mountains and shining glaciers of the Sitkan region to the east and the rolling tundra, cut by myriad rivers, in the north. Approached by sea, the Aleutian Islands seem gloomy and inhospitable. Omnipresent fog wreaths hang about steep cliffs of dark volcanic rock. An angry surf vibrates to and fro amid outstanding pinnacles, where innumerable sea birds wheel