Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/656

This page has been validated.

growth of the rootlets in two days at different temperatures. In all cases there is increased growth from 61° to 77° Fahr.; in many cases, as grasses, clover, mustard, and linseed, a decrease from 77° to 88° Fahr., and in nearly all cases a decrease from 88° to 100° Fahr.


Poisoned Soils.—Trees have been twice planted in a certain square in London, but in both cases died. Dr. Voelcker was accordingly directed by the Royal Horticultural Society to inquire into the cause of this. On examining the clear, watery solution from treating the soil with distilled water, he found that the soil contained one-tenth per cent, of common salt, and two-tenths percent, of nitrates. Whenever the amount of chlorine in soil has reached any thing like an appreciable quantity, it exercises an injurious influence. Land, for example, which has been inundated by the sea, will not grow wheat for the next two years, though in the first year cabbages may be grown, and they will withdraw a good deal of salt from the soil. The quantity of nitrates in the soil under examination was remarkable. Usually, this quantity does not reach a proportion that could be expressed otherwise than by a third place of decimals. There was no doubt, according to Dr. Voelcker, that the two saline ingredients mentioned did the mischief. He did not doubt that the presence of the salt and nitrates was due to the fact that the place was constantly used for committing nuisance. In the same way rabbits kill hedges, and it is well known that it is years before grass will grow in their runs.


Anæsthetics and Metaphysics.—Benjamin Paul Blood has written and printed a little book entitled "The Anæsthetics Revelation and the Gist of Philosophy." His idea seems to be that, when the nervous system is twisted out of its normal function by certain poisons, as it springs back great things are revealed; that is, at the moment a person escapes from anæsthetic stupor he gets a glimpse of the "genius of being"—whatever that may be. Mr. Blood wrote to Tennyson about his discovery, and in his reply the poet says: "I have never had any revelations through anæsthetics; but a kind of 'waking trance' (this for lack of a better word) I have frequently had quite up from boyhood when I have been all alone. This has often come upon me through repeating my own name to myself silently till all at once, as it were, out of the intensity of the consciousness of individuality, the individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being—and this not a confused state, but the clearest of the clearest, the surest of the surest, utterly beyond words—where death was an almost laughable impossibility—the loss of personality (if so it were) seeming no extinction, but only true life."


The Black Death in Egypt.—According to a correspondent of the Paris Journal des Débats, writing from Egypt, Europe is threatened with a visitation of the black death. The pestilence is said to be spreading rapidly in the neighborhood of Medina and Mecca, its chief feature being the dreaded "plague-spot," which, once it appears, is the sure sign of a fatal termination. The Egyptian Government is exerting itself to the utmost to prevent the spread of the contagion; but, unfortunately, the Ramadan is at hand, when thousands of Mussulman pilgrims flock to the shrine at Mecca, and it is feared that" they will not only help to spread the contagion there, but also bring it back with them to Europe. The greatest anxiety is felt in Italy, on account of its frequent intercourse with Egypt and the coasts of Asia Minor. The only means of averting the danger would be a stringent prohibition to the pilgrims to return direct to the country from which they came; but this measure would require the united action of the European governments, in order to gain the consent of the various Mussulman governments.


The "Voltaic Armadillo."—Regarding the medical use of this contrivance, a leading physician of New York writes us as follows: "I prescribed the voltaic apparatus of Mr. Seibert for one of my patients, a few weeks ago. I have not heard from my patient since, and do not know what effect, if any, resulted. Pulvermacher's chains, I know, have the indorsement of Sir Charles Locock and many other leading physicians