Popular Science Monthly/Volume 16/December 1879/Correspondence



Messrs. Editors.

THE following remarkable freak of lightning seems to me worthy of record: There was a severe shower, accompanied by vivid lightning and peals of thunder, in Salem, Massachusetts, August 6, 1879. A lady, while passing through a room in range of two open windows, was suddenly enveloped in a blaze of light from her feet to her waist. She was not in any way unpleasantly affected by it, but from a sense of fright threw herself on the bed beside a friend; both detected the smell of sulphur and of burned leather. Nothing more was thought of the matter till two days after, when the lady went to her dress, which had hung in a closet ever since the afternoon of the storm, to get her purse from the pocket. The purse contained eighty-five dollars in green-backs. What was her astonishment, when it was opened, to find the money gone, and in its place only charred fragments of the same and ashes! The remnants of the bills were adherent to the sides of the central pocket in which the money was contained. Nothing was left of it sufficient to identify it as bills. The pocket of the purse in which it was held was surrounded by a rim of nickel with a central clasp. The clasp was bent and blackened. The band was riveted on by two steel pins. A car-ticket in an adjoining compartment of the purse was blackened; a silver half-dollar was blackened and also bent. The purse was not burned or marred externally, but there was a crisp, burned spot at one end. The purse was in a cotton pocket between two woolen stuffs. It has been seen by hundreds, and by all it is considered a remarkable freak of this most subtile agent.

M. J. Safford.
Boston, July 26, 1879.


Messrs. Editors.

I have read with interest the paper in your November number, "Why do Springs and Wells overflow?" The theory advanced by the writer is ingenious, but it would have been more satisfactory if he had told us how the water which is forced out of subterranean reservoirs in the manner he describes is first forced into them. He says, "If fissures exist in rocks that lead to imprisoned waters, through these outlets the water must certainly flow." Then, of course, such fissures can never serve as inlets; for the same cause—"the resultant of the force of gravity and the centrifugal force"—which sends the water out, would for ever prevent any water from sinking in. If the rainfall, as I suppose he would admit, is more or less remotely the source of supply for these reservoirs, or if they have any source external to them-selves, and are not miraculously inexhaustible, his theory seems to involve a contradiction.

I am, sir, in the interest of science, very respectfully yours,

J. T. Trowbridge.
Arlington, Massachusetts, October 27, 1879.


Messrs. Editors.

Dear Sirs: I have read the article on "Atlantis" in your October number, but can not agree with its conclusions. It is unlikely that any such geological convulsions could have taken place in times when mythology was forming, and if they had done so the myth based upon them could not have taken so realistic a shape. We must agree that myths are petrified descriptions of natural processes expressed in language which can now only be understood figuratively. I think, then, there is room for the probability that the Atlantis myth is founded on the observation of low-lying clouds in a sun-flushed sky which looked like islands in a golden sea. Yours respectfully,A. R. Grote.

Society Natural Sciences,
October 1, 1879.