Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/500

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

cient to sustain the excitation of the chain or band for an indefinite time. That the current does exist, even in its dry state, we have already shown by the test of the electroscope.

An interesting experiment, showing the electricity of the human frame, and bearing strongly on the importance of these inventions for restoring the lost or suspended electric powers, was made by Mr. Rutter, of Black Rock, Brighton. Having brought the two ends of the conducting wires of a galvanometer into two basins of water, a lady, acknowledged to be in consumption, placed a hand in each basin, and grasped two pieces of wood—with the left hand lightly to complete the contact, while her right pressed the wood firmly with muscular contraction. The needle of the galvanometer at once deflected from twelve to fifteen degrees, but in a few moments came back to zero; and no muscular effort on her part could deflect it. A stalwart black-smith was then brought in and the same experiment tried, but with all his muscular contraction the needle was only deflected about 5 degrees. He was then made to give 25 strokes on an anvil with his sledge-hammer, and when he afterward repeated the experiment the needle deflected at once 12 degrees.

By this experiment two things are shown—that, in a state of disease, the body readily parts with, or rather has not the power to retain, its electricity; and that, in a state of health, muscular exertion of considerable severity is requisite to cause it to pass out of the system. There is just room, however, in this experiment, for the captious spirit to object that some chemical action took place by the use of the water. Mr. Pulvermacher has improved on the experiment, by using simply two metallic handles of the same kind of metal, when precisely the same effect is produced upon the galvanometer.

It was suggested, in 1850, by the writer of this article, that the proximate cause of cholera might be found in the rapid passage of electricity from the human frame; the peculiarity of the atmosphere, known to exist during cholera, favoring the passage of that which is the life itself to the human system.

Since that time, wonderful cures of cholera have been recorded by Dr. Godwin, of Elboeuf, Dr. Defontaine, of Mons, Dr. Atkinson, and others. The latter, on one of his cases, remarks: "It was indeed singular to notice the visible quantity of electric fluid which continually discharged itself on the approach of any conducting body to the surface of the skin of a patient laboring under the collapse stage." M. Andraud states that at the height of the epidemic in Paris, in 1849, it was impossible to obtain from the electrical machine any thing but slight cracklings without sparks, and on the 7th of June it was quite dumb. He continued his observations, and on the 9th the machine at the least touch rendered with facility most lively sparks. It is remarkable that, in the six days following the 8th of June, the mortality in Paris fell regularly from 667 to 355.