Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/133

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123
EDITOR'S TABLE.

eral deposits will be somewhat more complete.Yours very truly,

C. A. Trowbridge.
New York, September 6, 1881.
 

 

NUMBER-FORMS AND COLORS.

Messrs. Editors.

In "The Visions of Sane Persons," in the "Monthly" for August, the author, Francis Gallon, speaks of a certain proportion of people (five per cent.) to whom the thought of a series of consecutive numbers invariably brings the vision of them arranged in a perfectly defined and constant position.

From my earliest recollection, numbers have always appeared to me arranged in a straight line of regularly increasing height, extending from north to south: 1 is flat on the ground; 2 close to it, but a little higher and a little farther to the south, and so on. The row of figures extends upward at an angle of about forty degrees. I said that 1 was flat on the ground. I do not mean the literal ground, for the whole vision appears surrounded by and outlined against that brownish-red light which falls through our closed lids upon our eyes, when we shut them in the full glare of sunlight. I meant that 1 is at the feet of the imaginary person who, wishing to read these numbers, stands with his back to the north, looking southward and upward at this regularly ascending row.

Not only do they have position; they also have color—that is, nearly all of them. The conception of color or non-color is associated with them all: 1 is transparent, like glass or water; 2 has a reddish tinge; 3 is a bluish-green (I have in mature years seen the exact shade that my childish imagination invested this number with—in shallow bays, and waters of the tropical Pacific); 4 is also red, but a different shade from 2—more of a crimson; 5 is a very pretty, delicate gray, always spotless—a Quaker woman's dress reminds me of 5; 6 is a deeper shade of 3, a deeper blue-green; 7 I always disliked. It is a yellowish brown, the hue of withered fields and bare earth in winter, when there is no snow on the ground; 8 is black; 9 is a decided green, a darker shade of 3 and 0. Whether this is because it combines them I can not say; 10 is colorless, being composed of two numerals that are colorless, though, as previously indicated, the conception of non-color is associated with it.

The ’teens likewise have colors, but not individual ones. The numeral in the units' column gives color to the whole, though it is somewhat diluted by the colorless quality of the 1 by which it stands. It is as if an equal quantity of clear water had been poured into a colored liquid. In the numbers above twenty, sometimes one numeral, sometimes another, gives color to the number, but this is done in an arbitrary manner, and I can perceive no rule. These higher numbers, too, are somewhat confused, not so clear as those of lower denomination. The only ones that are distinct are 22, 33, 44, 55, etc. I will add, in conclusion, that there is connected with them no conception beyond form, position, and color.

Will some chemist, or some one well read in history, please explain the allusions and references in this passage from Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables"? It will be found in Chapter CCXLIX, of Lascelles Wraxall's translation: "It was from the drain of Munster that John of Leyden produced his false moon; and it was from the cesspool-well of Kekhscheb that his Oriental Menæchmus, Mokannah, the veiled prophet of Khorassan, brought his false sun."

Louise Coffin Jones.
Oskaloosa, Iowa, August 5, 1881.
 


EDITOR'S TABLE.

BALANCE AND COMPENSATION OF INORGANIC FORCES.

IT was some forty years ago that the organic chemists, represented by such masters as Dumas and Liebig, worked out the beautiful idea of the balance of organic nature. They showed that the vegetable and animal kingdoms carry on antagonist processes—each for ever undoing the work of the other. The atmosphere is the arena of this subtile conflict, being poisoned by the animal world and purified by the vegetable world; while these opposing processes so effectually counteract each other, that the air is automatically maintained in a condition fitted for the preservation of the living races.

A corresponding balance of forces is displayed on a grand and still more striking scale in the inorganic world, by which the varied configuration of the earth's surface and the continued habitability of the globe are maintained.