Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/562

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546
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

rest almost without breathing. While much of this may be imposture, there are, according to Rousselet and Jacolliot, some well-authenticated cases of the kind. English sentinels were set around one fakir who was buried alive. When disinterred he was apparently dead, but was aroused and lived. I do not consider it necessary to question the correctness of the cases of lethargy and apparent death recorded in the books. A considerable depression of the nervous system accompanies all such phenomena, and the activity of the heart and the rhythm of respiration disappear at a certain stage of the disease.

There have not been many experiments on this subject made upon men. We have one, however, from M. Debove, on the influence of suggestion upon hysterics. On his indication to two patients that they should not eat or drink, they comfortably supported a fast of fifteen days, with only slightly proportionate decrease of weight, and they had had hardly any feeling of hunger at the end of the period. For comparison, M. Debove tried to impose a fast on a vigorous man, but was obliged to suspend it after five days. This subject lost at the rate of 0·8 gramme per kilogramme per hour, against 0·13 gramme in the hysterical patients. He was not susceptible to suggestion.

We draw from these facts that the functional exchanges are retarded in cases of hysteria. We do not yet know the exact influence of the nervous system. There is certainly a diminution of chemical activity in the tissues which produce heat and in the glands that furnish the secretions. This is not saying much, but it is something. — Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue Scientifique.


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SKETCH OF JAMES GLAISHER, F.R.S.

METEOROLOGY owes to Mr. Glaisher the results of many years of patient labor at the institutions and observatories with which he has been connected; a series of valuable researches undertaken at the instance of the British Association; and those daring and brilliant observations in a balloon at very great heights in the atmosphere with which his name is most conspicuously associated. Yet, as has been observed by one of his biographers, "his numerous contributions to scientific and popular literature, often published in a most unobtrusive manner, which is very characteristic of the man, have scarcely gained him so wide a reputation in the learned world as he certainly deserved."

James Glaisher was born, according to the "Men of the Time," in London in 1809. In 1829, as assistant in the principal trian-