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CHESS COLUMN-I

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SCIENCE NOTES AND GLEANINGS.

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SCIENCE NOTES AND GLEANINGS. IT has long been known that both camels and llamas once inhabited the American continent, and now Professor Scott, of Philadelphia, main- tains that all the American artiodactyls, except the piga, have sprung from a common cameloid stem. TIIB effects of hunger when prolonged are found by Professor Lassignardie to be much like those of drunkenness. At first the intellectual powers become unusually active and the imagina- tion runs wild, then there is a change to excit- ability, selfishness, cruelty, and weakened faculties. MORS perfect combustion in furnaces is secured by a German inventor, who has discovered that on properly introducing an air current into a chimney it takes a course opposite to that of the hot gases, and its oxygen reaches the centre of a fire in a heated condition favourable for com- pletely uniting with the fuel. SILKWORMS, in Flammarion's experiments, have attained their maximum production of silk in white light, the next in the purple of the red end of the spectrum, and a minimum in blue light. In blue rays the males produced reach 63 per cent. The red rays favour the production of females, and also their fertility, twice as many eggs being laid as in blue light. NEW BREATHING APPARATUS. A new breathing apparatus has been invented by an Austrian. It is for use as a rescue apparatus for coal mines. It consists of an indiarubber cloth receptacle made in the form of a collar, which closely surrounds the wearer's neck, serving as a breathing bag, and at the same time to hold a store of quick-lime for absorbing the carbonic acid and water vapour. A mask tightly enclosing the face is also employed, and oxygen can be breathed from an accompanying container, so that a man wearing these appliances can remain in a locality filled with irrespirable gases. STRENGTH OF ALLOYS OF NICKEL. According to RudelofF, the strength of alloys of nickel with iron containing little or no carbon increases with each rise in nickel up to 8 per cent., while the ductility decreases up to 16 per cent. beyond this point and up to 60 per cent. the increase of nickel causes an increase both in ductility and strength. The effect of nickel on the elastic limit of steel increases as the carbon increases, says the Engineer. In 0 20 carbon steel the gain on elastic limit due to 1 per cent. of nickel is 5,7141b. while in 0"50 carbon steel the gain on elastic limit due to 1 per cent. of nickel is 10,5701b. MIDSUMMER MADNESS. The old saying about "midsummer madness" seems to have had some truth in it. The Academy of Sciences, Paris, and other learned societies find that in July and August the largest number of absurd and insane projects are sub- mitted to them, and from the statistics of lunatic asylums in Switzerland Dr. Mercer shews that mental derangements reach their maximum in the heat of summer, though bodily ailments are usually at a minimum then. Moreover, the curve for suicide in Switzerland is twice as high in July and August as it is in December, an observation which agrees with the curves for suicide in some other countries. Crime has also been shewn to attain a maximum in America duiing the hot season. Apparently a mere drought—that is, a low hygrometric state of the atmosphere—increases mental trouble and suicide. NEEDLES AND PINS. It seems remarkable, says Engineering, that 50 to 60 workers are needed to produce a needle or pin, or a pair of hooks and eyes, and yet it is by this concentration and specialisation of plant that the cost has been so greatly reduced. Ten thousand hairpins are made for a labour cost of 3s. 5d., against 10s. twenty years ago; 14,400 of hooks and eyes for 6s., against about 26s. 1,000 knitting needles for 4s., against 10s. 1,000 sewing machine needles for 9s., against nearly £17; 1,000 curved sewing machine needles for 15s. 7d., against £27; while pins cost only Is. for 12 packages instead of 42s. Engineering gives details of the change in making sewing machine needles. Straightening and cutting the wire into lengths is the first process, ana by special machines this is done in about one-twentieth of the time formerly required. Reducing the wire to size used to take 285 times the period now required; and here it may be remarked that one person attends thirteen of the cold pressing machines which carry out this part of the pro- cess. In another case, the same work is done by a cold swaging machine, and thirty-three of these machines are attended by three persons, and each is paid 12s. a day. USE OF LIQUID AIR IN SURGERY. The difference of temperature between liquid air and the human body is about 440deg. on the Fahrenheit scale of temperature—the temperature of the body being S8 8deg., while that of liquid air is 340deg. below zero. Taking advantage of this fact, Dr. A. Campbell White has used liquid air to produce a sudden and extreme shock to a localised part of the body, without localised destruction of the tissues, or without affecting the general sjjtem—to act, in fact, as a local anaesthetic. It takes only a second or two for a spray of liquid air to produce the most extreme cold at the part ct the body to which it is applied, and but little more than that time for the part to regain its temperature. Used in this way, great stimulation is given to the circu- lation near the sprayed part. After this quick restoration of the circulation, there is no injury to the tissues, except when the liquid is applied at a finger-tip or some other extremity. If the spraying is continued for a minute or two, the part to which it is applied is frozen to a con- dition in which all feeling is lost. An excellent characteristic of liquid air in surgery is the absence of hsemorrhage, which enables the physician to apply the dressing before any bleeding sets in. Dr. White is sanguine as to the use of liquid air for many medical and surgical purposes. MIGRATION OF MOLECULES. A few years ago, Sir William Roberts-Austen made the remarkable discovery that molecules of gold were able to travel through lead. He fused gold plates to the bases of bars of lead, and after keeping the bars at a high temperature for a month he found that molecules of a gold-lead alloy had actually travelled up to the top of the lead rods—a distance of nearly three inches. Similar experiments were made many years ago by Sir Lowthian Bell and Sir Frederick Abel, who shewed that if steel and iron are placed in close contact and heated, the iron gains in per- centage of carbon and the steel loses. Professor J. O. Arnold and Mr. A. M'William have described a series of experiments made by them to determine whether other elements diffuse through iron. Several thick tubes of nearly pure iron were obtained, and a core of iron, contain- ing other elements in certain known proportions, was fixed in each. After heating these compound pieces in a vacuum for ten hours they were taken out and analysed; micro-sections cut right across tho compound bars were also polished, etched, and examined. The result in each case shewed clearly that carbon, sulphur, phosphorus, and nickel had passed from the cores to the tubes, while several other elements, such as copper, arsenic, and aluminium, did not diffuse into the solid iron in this way. The exact manner in which these molecular migrations take place is doubtful, but the fact that such movements actually occur is of great importance in con- nection with the manufacture of steel. THE PAINLESSNESS OF DYING. Professor Nothnagel, of the Vienna University, delivered a lecture recently before the Society of Vienna Authors and Journalists, on the subject of dying. The principal object of the lecture was to prove that death, in nearly every case, and with only very rare exceptions, is painless. The lecturer affirmed that it could be said with a great amount of certainty, on the strength of observation and scientific deduction, that what- ever the fear of death—which is merely a physi- cal phenomenon—death itself is physically with- out pain; because, in almost every imaginable case, consciousness ceases before the heart ceases to beat—that is, before death. In order to feel pain, the painful irritation—in the case of gun- shot wounds, for instance—must have passed from the spot on the skin to the brain: and it has been proved that, if the wound is fatal, the action ot the bullet is more rapid than the message to the biain announciug it: con- sequently, such death is painless. It haa been frequently observed on the battlefield that blood was running for some time before pain was felt, or that the wounded man dropped down without knowing at first why. Death by burning, perhaps the most horrible of all its forms, is rendered painless at an early stage by suffoca- tion, which also alleviates the pain of many who die from disease, the shcrtnegs of breath and yearning for air, though painful enough, being relieved by suffocation at the moment of death. In case^ of acute feverish diseases the poisonous action of bacteria works so depressingly on the nervous system that, with full conscious- cess to the last moment, apathy sets in, render- ing it a matter of iadifference to the patient whether he dies or not. That is to say, the desire of life gradually sinks to vanishing point, and death is physically and psychologi- cally painless,

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