Editorial | Published:

Economical Alimentation

Nature volume 5, pages 4546 | Download Citation



IN glancing over the recent issues of the Comptes Rendus, one cannot but fail to be struck with the practical importance of many of the communications contained therein, a large proportion of which bear special reference to the Siege of Paris. In nearly every branch of science there is some endeavour made to supplement and improve our knowledge in matters such as were then of the greatest importance, and the members of the Académie have come forward eagerly to aid, by advice and precept, in overcoming the misery of a prolonged siege. Unfortunately, but little could be done, even by such men as Fremy, Dumas, Chevreul, and others, against the insuperable difficulties which presented themselves; but nevertheless Paris owes much to her men of science who contributed many services of value, at a time when these were most needed. The manufacture and employment of nitro-glycerine in mines and shells, were successfully accomplished at a crisis when the stock of gunpowder was running terribly short, and the supply of some other reliable explosive was rendered imperative. Hitherto nitro-glycerine had been regarded as a most dangerous combustible, liable to explode at the slightest concussion, and yet we hear of its employment in shells against the Prussians, thundered forth from guns of the heaviest calibre, without one single instance of its premature explosion being recorded. Again the question of ballooning, although not perhaps very far advanced by the deliberations of the Académie, has, at any rate, been more satisfactorily solved than at any previous period, and Paris has been certainly the first to employ these frail and romantic contrivances in a practical every-day manner, and thus to render the words, “par ballon monté” familiar to the ear as a household phrase. In matters of surgery, as in those of a sanitary nature, sound advice was not wanting, and even the abstract calling of the soldier, —the philosophy of his manner of fighting—formed the theme of much scientific discussion.

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