Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/402

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Fragments of Science.

Zola's Anthropological Traits.—Mr. Arthur MacDonald has published, originally in the Open Court, a minute anthropological study of the personality of Émile Zola. Passing all the physical points noted, we select a few only of the most peculiar mental traits mentioned by the author. Fear is spoken of as Zola's principal emotion, connected in him with the instinct of self-preservation. He is not much afraid of the bicycle, but shrinks from a ride through a forest at night. He has no fear of being buried alive, yet sometimes when in a tunnel on a railroad train he has been beset with the idea of the two ends of the tunnel falling in and burying him. Some morbid ideas have developed in him, but they do not cause him pain when not satisfied. He lets them run into their "manias," and is then contented. The idea of doubt is one. He is always in fear of not being able to do his daily task, or of being incapable of completing a book. He never rereads his novels, for fear of making bad discoveries. He has an arithmetical mania, and when in the street he counts the gas jets, the number of doors, and especially the number of hacks. In his home he counts the steps of the staircases, the different things on his bureau. He must touch the same pieces of furniture a certain number of times before he goes to sleep. Some numbers have a bad influence for him, and there are good numbers. In the night he opens his eyes seven times, to prove that he is not going to die. He is regarded by the author as a neuropath, or a man whose nervous system is painful but does not seem to affect the soundness of his mind. "In brief, the qualities of Zola are fineness and exactitude of perception, clearness of conception, power of attention, sureness in judgment, sense of order, power of co-ordination, extraordinary tenacity of effort, and, above all, a great practical utilitarian sense."

The Simplon Tunnel.—The following facts are taken from a brief account of this great engineering feat in the Engineering Magazine: There is at present no direct rail connection between western Switzerland and Italy, and to reach Milan it has been necessary to go around to Lucerne and so on through by the St. Gothard route. The distance by rail from Milan to Calais by the Mont Cenis is 665 miles, and by the St. Gothard 680 miles. The distance by way of the Simplon Tunnel will be only 585 miles. The Jura-Simplon Railway from Geneva around the lake and up the Rhone Valley ascends to Brieg at an altitude of about 2,300 feet, while on the Italian side the railway from Milan stops at Domodossola, at an altitude of 900 feet. Between the two, which are 41 miles apart and over an elevation of 6,590 feet, lies the famous Simplon Pass. Connection is now made by diligence, the trip occupying a whole day. The plan of the new railway includes the prolongation of the present line on the Italian side to Iselle, at an altitude of about 2,100 feet, where the Italian entrance to the tunnel was begun in August, 1898. On the Swiss side the entrance is at Brieg, and the tunnel will connect these two towns, being 12.26 miles long. This is nearly three miles longer than the St. Gothard, but the altitude is only 2,300 feet above the sea, instead of 3,800 feet, as at the St. Gothard. The tunnel is to be straight laterally, but higher in the middle than at either end, the grade being 1 in 143 on the Italian and 1 in 500 on the Swiss side. The principal difference between the Simplon Tunnel and those previously pierced through the Alps is that, instead of one single tunnel, two separate tunnels, fifty-five feet apart, are to be constructed, connected by lateral passageways every 650 feet. At first but one of these is to be completed to the full dimensions, the other being carried through at only about a quarter of the ultimate cross-section, and not enlarged and put into use until the traffic demands it. Both tunnels are now being bored by the use of the Brandt hydraulic rotary drills, water being supplied at a pressure of 70 to 100 atmospheres. The borings are through gneiss, lime-