Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/252

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
238
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

fire—down, up, and horizontally; and this without expense for pipes or hot-air ducts. If one grate is not enough, put another on the opposite side of your room. Coals are cheaper than coffins; and wood is better used to keep the body alive than to inclose it when dead.

An almost perfect arrangement for warming a room would be an open fire, and the entire surface of the walls and ceiling formed of a reflecting material. Then the least possible fire would warm us, because the heat would be kept alive, active, radiant; being reflected constantly from side to side, and up to ceiling and back, as quick as lightning-flashes; and so, impinging upon the body on all sides, would give it a lively, glowing warmth, while the air might be at almost any lower temperature. It would be like having a fire on every side of the room. Of course, this could not, in practice, be perfectly carried out, but it might easily be carried out approximately. Common tin plate is said to reflect eighty-eight per cent of the rays of heat that strike it. This might be stamped with some pleasant design, impressing it very slightly, to break up any distorted reflection of images. Possibly wall-paper might be made with a figured metallic reflecting surface. For a school-house this would be a great improvement, as it would reflect the light as well as heat from every side, and so prevent distorted positions of sitting, which are often found to prevail where the light is only on one side of the pupils.

With the heat of an open fire radiating or reflected upon our bodies, we should not want so warm an atmosphere by 20° or 30° as we do when all the heat in the air. And so the air would be fresh and invigorating, and the lungs would be braced up and strengthened to resist any shock from inhaling the external air. Of course, we must be comfortable. "We must not suppose that suffering with cold is good for health. But we want just as little warmth of air as is consistent with comfort; and we want the heat free from the air, and of an active character. As long as we make our school-houses and dwellings hot-houses, or rather hot-air houses, we must expect to see our children grow up hot-air productions, liable to be withered by exposure, and blasted by pneumonia and consumption.

Some places among the high Alps have recently become famous as winter health resorts. Dr. Wise, in a book recently published in London, descriptive of some of these places, says that at Davos, a point in the Alps five thousand feet high, and surrounded by still higher snow-covered mountains, invalids can remain in the open air, even when it is 15° or 20° below the freezing-point, simply by the warmth of solar radiation and the reflection of the sun's rays from the surrounding snow-crystals. He says that the reflection of the sunbeams from the surface of the snow is so strong that ladies who carry parasols over their heads, and so preserve their complexion from the influence of the direct rays of the sun, nevertheless become tanned ("burnt" is the word he uses) by the reflected rays from the snow