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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/396

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

To study the relative effect of the temperature and chemical purity of the atmosphere I constructed a small experimental chamber of wood fitted with large glass observation windows and rendered air-tight.

On one side of the chamber were fixed two small electric heaters, and a tin containing water was placed on these in order to saturate the air with water vapor. On another side of the chamber was placed a large radiator through which cold water could be circulated when required, so as to cool the chamber. In the roof were fixed three electric fans, one big and two small, by means of which the air of the chamber could be stirred. The chamber held approximately 3 cm. of air. In one class of experiments we shut within the chamber seven or eight students for about half an hour, and observed the effect of the confined atmosphere upon them. We kept them until the reached 3 to 4 per cent., and the oxygen had fallen to 17 to 16 per cent. The wet-bulb temperature rose meanwhile to about 80° to 85° F., and the dry bulb a degree or two higher. The students went in chatting and laughing, but by-and-by, as the temperature rose, they ceased to talk and their faces became flushed and moist. To relieve the monotony of the experiment we have watched them trying to light a cigarette, and, puzzled by their matches going out, borrowing others, only in vain. They had not sensed the diminution of oxygen, which fell below 17 per cent. Their breathing was deepened by the high percentage of , but no headache occurred in any of them from the short exposure. Their discomfort was relieved to an astonishing extent by putting on the electric fans placed in the roof. Whilst the air was kept stirred the students were not affected by the oppressive atmosphere. They begged for the fans to be put on when they were cut off. The same old stale air containing 3 to 4 per cent. and 16 to 17 per cent. was whirled, but the movement of the air gave relief, because the air was 80° to 85° F. (wet bulb), while the air enmeshed in their clothes in contact with their skin was 98° to 99° F., wet bulb. If we outside breathed through a tube the air in the chamber we felt none of the discomfort which was being experienced by those shut up inside. Similarly, if one of those in the chamber breathed through a tube the pure air outside he was not relieved.

E. A. Rowlands and H. B. Walker carried out a large number of observations in the chamber, each acting as subject in turn. They recorded the effect on the respiratory ventilation and on the pulse rate both when resting and when working. The work consisted in pulling a 20-kilogram weight about 1 meter high by means of a pulley and rope. In some of the experiments the exhaled carbonic acid was absorbed, and in others carbonic acid was put into the chamber. The subjects inside could not tell when the gas was introduced, not even if the percentage were suddenly raised by 2. The introduction of this