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CURIOUS ELECTRICAL PHENOMENA…

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CURIOUS ELECTRICAL PHENOMENA ■ ■ Professor Tyndall sends us for publication some curious Alpine experiences of Mr. Robert Spencer Watson and his party in the region of the Jungfrau. The suddenness of the atmospheric changes will recall the similar observations of Mr. Whymper, on the Matterhorn, recorded in our pages a fortnight ago. Mr. Watson says:- "On the 10th of July I visited the Col de laJungrrau from the yEggiscti-horn, in company with my wife and Messrs. John Sowerby and W. G. Adams, of Marlborough College. We had with us as guides, J. M. Claret, of Chamouni, and a young man from the hotel. The early morning was bright, and gave promise of a fine day, but, as we approached the Col, clouds settled down upon it, and, on reaching it, we encountered so severe a storm of wind, snow, and hail, that we were unable to stay more than a few minutes. As we descended, the snow con- tinued to fall so densely that we lost our way, and for some time we were wandering up the Lotsch Sattel. We had hardly discovered our mistake when a loud peal of thunder was heard, and shortly after I observed that a strange singing sound like that of a kettle was issuing from my alpenstock. We halted, and, finding that all the axes and stocks emitted the samesound, stuck them into the snow. The guide from the hotel now pulled off his cap, shouting that his head burned, and his hair was seen to have a similar appearance to that which it would have pre- sented had he bjen on an insulated stool under a powerful electrical machine. We all of us experienced the sensation of pricking or burning in some part of the body, more especially in the head and face, my hair also standing on end in an uncomfort- able but very amusing manner. The snow gave out a hissing as though a heavy shower of hail were falling; the veil on the wide-awake of one of the party stood upright in the air, and on waving our hands the singing sound issued loudly from the fingers. Whenever a peal of thunder was heard the phenomena ceased, to be resumed before the echoes had died away. At these times we felt shocks, more or less violent, in those portions of the body which were most affected. By one of these my right arm was paralysed so completely that I could neither use nor raise it for several minutes, nor, indeed, until it had been severely rubbed by Claret, and I suffered much pain in the shoulder joint for several hours. AthaJf-paiit twelve the clouds began to pass away, and the phenomena finally ceased, having lasted twenty- five minutes. We saw no lightning, and were puzzled at first as to whether we should be afraid or amused. The young guide was very much alarmed, but Claret, who is devoid of fear, and whO had twice before heard the singing (though without any of the other symptoms), laughed so heartily that we joined him. No evil effects were felt afterwards beyond the inconvenience arising from the I urning of our faces, which, though we had no sun, were almost livid in hue when we arrived at the Eggisch- horn."—Athenaeum.

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