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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/682

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

graph of an elbow joint which shows the texture of the bones (Fig. 5).[1]

The use of the fluorescent screen, too, has been greatly extended. Dr. Francis H. Williams, of Boston, has used it as a valuable instrument in medical diagnosis, especially in studying lung diseases. It has been used at the Harvard Medical School to follow the processes of digestion. To accomplish this, in one instance a goose was fed with food mixed with subnitrate of bismuth, a salt which absorbs X rays.

The passage of the dark mass down the long neck of the bird could be traced on the fluorescent screen, and the peculiarities of its motion in the gullet could be studied. A cat was also fed with

PSM V56 D0682 X ray photo of an elbow joint.png
Fig. 5.—Photograph of an elbow joint, showing the texture of the bones.

the same substance, and the movements of its stomach noted. These movements were analogous to those of the heart—in other words, were rhythmical when the processes of digestion were going on normally and uninterruptedly. When, however, the cat was irritated, it may be by the sight of a dog, these pulsations instantly ceased. As soon as the source of vexation was removed and the purring of the animal showed a contented frame of mind, the stomach resumed its rhythmical movements. The dependence of the digestive apparatus on the state of the nervous system was thus clearly shown. The female cat was much more tractable under these experiments than the male.

The use of the X rays is accompanied with some danger if the Crooke's tube is not properly used. A long exposure to the X rays is apt to produce bad burns which are like sunburns, and lead in certain cases to bad ulcerations. They are long in healing and are characterized by a peculiar red glow, especially on exposure to a cold wind. To prevent them one should place a sheet of thin aluminum between the Crooke's tube and the part of the body


  1. Taken by Professor Goodspeed, University of Pennsylvania.