ANew Method of Chemical Analysis IN a lecture delivered before the Royal Institution in the spring of this year, and reported on in Nature, Prof. J. J. Thomson made a communication which will mark one of the chief scientific achievements of the year. Sir Josephs connection with the corpuscular theory of matter and his heroic attacks upon the most fundamental problems of chemistry, such as are presented to us in the periodic table of the elements, is known to our readers. Until recently J. J. Thomson's theory of the atom, while representing with remarkable truthfulness certain of the chemical properties of matter, was still largely theory. The work reported on in the lecture referred to above may be said to represent the first and most important step toward the realization by experiment of some of the conjectures which flow from the hypotheses advanced by the great physicist some years ago. The experimental arrangement followed is to project positive rays through a vacuum tube containing traces of the materials under examination, and to subject the rays to the influence of a magnetic and electrical field, disposed at right angles to one another. Under these circumstances, the ray is deflected and from the nature of the deflection it is possible to determine the mass of the molecules or atoms within the tube. The course of the ray is recorded photographically, and if several substances are present, a number of separate curves are obtained, forming a “positive ray spectrum.” Our first illustration shows the spectrum of nitrogen prepared from air. Measurements on this photograph show that the atomic weights of the carriers producing the spectrum curves were as follows: Positive. Negative. 1.00 H+ 1.00 H— 1.99 H,+ 11.20 C— 6.80 N+ + 15.20 0— 11.40 0+ ...... 13.95 N+ ...... 28.10 N2+ ...... 39.00 Arg+ 100.00 Hg++ ..... 198.00 Hg+ ...... The symbol H+ denotes that the carrier is an atom of hydrogen with one charge; H2-f- that it is a molecule of hydrogen with one charge; N++ that it is an atom of nitrogen with two charges, and so on. A case of the highest interest is the positive ray spectrum of marsh gas. (Fig. 2.) The remarkable feature in this is that it discloses the presence, not only of marsh gas, OH., but also of substances having molecular weights, 12, 13, 14, 15, thus corresponding to bodies C, OH, OH” OH,. With regard to these, Sir Joseph remarks: “If I am not mistaken, this is the first occasion when the atoms OH, CH,, OH, have been observed in the free state.” The significance of this discovery to chemistry can hardly be over-estimated. Schonbein remarked years ago—though the same words have held true until practically the present day: “Shakespeare says that 'there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in philosophy.' Thus, presumably, intermediate between the state in which two portions of matter exist after completion of chemical combination and the state in which they previously existed separately, there is a series of transition states of which the chemistry of to-day knows nothing.” It appears that now Sir J. J. Thomson has given us the key that opens the entrance to this realm of natural phenomena, which, until now, has been practically a sealed book to us. An Important Step in the Problem of Television THE electro-telescope, or “electric eye,” invented by Prof. Rosing of the St. Petersburg Technological Institute, is said by Prof. Ernest Ruhmer, himself a diligent and successful worker in this field, to mark an important step toward the practical solution of the problem of television. Prof. Rosiug's ingenious apparatus, which has already been mentioned in the Scientific American Supplement of June 17th, 1911, is described as follows by Prof. Ruhmer in a recent issue of Die Umschatt: The transmitting apparatus (Fig. 1.) is connected with the receiving apparatus at the distant station (Fig. 2) by six wires. Instead of the selenium cell used in most systems for transmitting gradations of Fig. 2.—Positive ray spectrum of marsh gas, light and shade, Prof. Rosing employs a photo-electric cell, which reacts much more quickly. This photoelectric cell Ji' (Fig. 1) consists essentially of a glass globe, filled with rarefied hydrogen or helium and with its lower hemisphere coated internally with an amalgam of sodium or potassium, which is connected with the negative pole of a galvanic battery, the positive pole of which is connected with a platinum electrode which is fused through the glass at the top of the globe. In these conditions no Current passes so long as the globe remains in darkness. If, however, the amalgam which forms the cathode is illuminated, the rarefied gas is traversed by a current, the strength, of which has been found by Righi and Stoletow to be directly proportional to the intensity of illumination and to follow exactly every variation of the latter. In Prof. Rosing's transmitting apparatus (Fig. 1), an image of the object or picture MN is thrown, by the lens L and the two polyhedral mirrors A and B, upon an opaque screen having a small aperture a, which is placed in front of the photo-electric cell Ji'. The mirrors A and B rotate on mutually perpendicular axes with different velocities. The image is displaced in the plane of the drawing by the mirror B and in a direction perpendicular to that plane by the mirror A. By the combined action of the two mirrors the image is moved across the opaque screen in a series of parallel paths, so that every part of the image falls successively on the aperture a and illuminates the photoelectric cell Ji' within a small fraction of a second. The picture is reproduced at the receiving station by means of a Braun's tube. This device is an evacuated glass tube (R, Fig. 2) containing two electrodes, A R, which are connected with the poles of an influence machine or other source of electricity of high potential. The cathode If. emits cathode rays which fall upon a diaphragm through which a small pencil of the rays passes to a screen P. This screen is coated with potassium tungstate which is excited to fluorescence by the impact of cathode rays, so that a small luminous spot is formed at the point where the pencil of rays strikes the screen. Oathode rays can be deviated by electrostatic and by magnetic force, and Rosing makes use of both agencies. The Braun's tube is surrounded by two pairs of electromagnets, s t. One pair of electromagnets deviates the pencil of cathode rays in the plane of the drawing, the other in the perpendicular direction. Each of the mirror-drums A and B at the transmitting station (Fig. 1) carries a number of magnets which, as the drums revolve, generate electric currents in fixed cells, p p' p” and q q' q", near which they pass. Each of these two groups of generating coils is connected by two line wires with one pair of the electromagnets which deflect the pencil of cathode rays at the receiving station. In each case the current, the magnetic field which it produces, and the deflection of the rays are proportional to the angular displacement of the mirror-drum, which also determines the position of the reflected image at the transmitting station. The pencil of cathode rays, therefore, moves over the fluoi'es-cent screen in exact accordance with the movement of the image. The brightness of the fluorescent spot which thus reproduces the image at the receiving station is regulated by the condenser plates G () (Fig, 2) which are placed inside the Braun's tube and connected, respectively, through two line wires, with the positive pole of the battery at the transmitting station and with the platinum electrode of the photo-electric cell Ji' (Fig. 1), while the negative pole of the battery is connected directly with the amalgam coating of the cell. In these conditions the strength of the electrostatic field between the condenser plates is proportional to the intensity with which the photo-electric cell is illuminated. The pencil of cathode rays which passes between the plates is correspondingly deflected so that a larger or smaller part of it is enabled to pass through a second diaphragm (o, Fig. 2) which is interposed between the condenser and the fluorescent screen, the diaphragms being so placed that no rays fall on the second one when the condenser carries no charge. Hence the brightness of the fluorescent spot which moves over the screen at the receiving station is always proportional to that of the corresponding point of the original image, and as the entire operation is repeated many times in a second, the fluorescent screen presents to the eye, in consequence of the persistence of retinal impressions, a motionless and exact monochromatic reproduction of the original picture. Science Scientific Researches in Spitzbergen. —A German research institution has been established in Spitzbergen, and Drs. Rampp and Wagner have begun a year's work there, in aerology and geophysics. A unique interest attaches to the observations of the upper ail' that will be made throughout the polar night. Aerial Post in Italy. —The latest country to try an aerial postal service is Italy. The Italian aeronaut Dal Mistro recently carried a sack of mail between the Bologna and Venice postoffices in a Deperdussin monoplane, covering the distance of 101 miles in 1 hour and 28 minutes. The Utilization of Grape Pips.-The utilization of by-products is one of the most striking characteristics of modern industry. A recent example is found in Italy, where a means has been discovered to turn to account the hitherto worthless pips of the grapes used in wine-making. Oil is now extracted from them on a commercial scale by a process of direct heating with tetrachloride of carbon. The latter is obtained in abundance in Italy in the preparation of electrolytic soda. Nobel Prize Winners. —On December 10th, King Gustav of Sweden presented the Nobel Prizes, with the exception of the peace prize, to the winners. Mme. Marie Sklodowska Curie personally received the prize for chemistry, Prof. Wilhelm Wien of Wuerzburg University the prize for physics, and Prof. Allvar Gull-strand of Upsala University the prize for medicine. The Belgian Minister received the prize for literature in behalf of Maurice Materlinck, who was ill. The Nobel Prizes each amount to nearly $40,000. Upper-air Research in Canada.—The Meteorological Service of Canada has been making observations of the upper air with sounding balloons since February last, and has achieved some excellent results. Of sixteen balloons sent up, eight have been recovered to the present writing. The altitudes attained have varied from 11.2 to 23.2 kilometers (about 7 to 14 miles). The isothermal layer was found at an average height of 13 kilometers (8.1 miles). The lowest temperature recorded was 70 deg. below zero Cent. (94 deg. below zero Fahr.) at an altitude of about 8.7 miles. A Meteorological Tea. —In connection with the Washington meeting _ of the American Association for the Advancement of Science an informal gathering is to be held at the Weather Bureau, Thursday afternoon, December 28th, from 5 to 7, when “The Relation of Meteorology to Other Sciences” will be discussed, and the visitors will be given an opportunity of inspecting the installations and work of the bureau. Eminent representatives of several sciences have been invited to make brief addresses on the meteorological bearings of their several fields of work. The promoters of this undertaking hope that a similar cowversaziowe or tea may become a permanent feature of the association's annual meetings, at which meteorology has not heretofore been represented in any definite way. The Bend of the Brahmaputra.—We recently referred in these columns to the remarkable fact that the great bend of the Brahamputra—where the river turns southward, in Tibet, and begins its course toward the Bay of Bengal—remains to this day a geographical question-mark for a distance of nearly a hundred miles. Probably no one bit of the earth's surface, with the exception of the poles.. has been the object of such keen curiosity on the part of geographers. It is now reported that the British authorities in India are preparing a punitive expedition against the savage Abors— whose hostility has been the chief obstacle to the exploration of the region in question, anu whose latest misdeed was the murder of Mr. Noel Williamson and Dr. Gregorson. In the course of this expedition it is almost certain that the unknown stretch of the river will be explored, and the identity of the Tibetan Tsangpo with the Brahmaputra will be fully established. The Canton-Hong-kong Railway. —The American consul general at Hong Kong reports the formal opening on October 4th of the Canton-Hong-kong Railway. The British section, which was built by the colony of Hongkong and opened about a year ago, extends from Hongkong or Kowloon to Sam Chun, about 22 miles; it is tunneled through many mountains and cost $5,164,710. The Chinese section, built by the Chinese government with money lent by the colonial government of Hongkong, extends 89 miles from Sam Chun to Canton, and cost $6,510,000. The freight cars were mostly imported from England, but the passenger cars were made in the shops of the Railway Administration of North China, oxcept those of the British section, which were made in Hong-kong. Some of the rails are from Chinese works at Hankow. In fact, a noteworthy feature of this and other recently built railways in China is the large amount of the equipment that is Chinese-made Electricity Meat Shrinkage in Electrical Cooking.—A recent consular report calls attention to the tests at the London Electrical Exposition which demonstrated that the shrinkage of meat when cooked in a coal range is somewhat greater than that of the same meat cooked in a gas range, and considerably more than when cooked in an electric range. A leg of mutton weighting 8 pounds and 8 ounces showed a shrinkage of 2 pounds and 11 ounces when cooked in the coal range, whereas a leg of mutton weighing 9 pounds showed a loss of 1 pound and 4 ounces when cooked in an electric oven. The shrinkage for the gas oven was 2 pounds and 4 ounces on an 8-pound leg of mutton. Helium Tubes as Light Standards.—It was brought out at the meeting of the Philosophical Society of Washington last November that the Bureau of Standards has been experimenting with various gases, with a view to obtaining a vapor lamp which may be used as a light standard. The best gas was found to be helium. The light produced in the helium tube is a yellowish white, similar to that of the Hefner flame, and of carbon filament lamps. Other gases which seemed promising were dioxide and sulphur dioxide, but these were rejected, owing to the fact that the light they emitted was too white. The helium tube shown by experiment to be best adapted for the purpose was 7 centimeters long, with a bore of 2 millimeters and a wall 2 millimeters thick. The tube was provided with terminal bulbs 35 millimeters in diameter, containing aluminium electrodes 25 millimeters in diameter. With this form of tube the density of the gas did not affect the light over a range of 3 to 8 millimeters pressure, and a practically constant light was emitted, even though the voltage and the frequency of the current varied considerably. Paris Suburban Railroad Electrification.—It will be remembered that a project is on foot for electrifying the whole of the Paris suburban railroad lines belonging to the West State system, and the expense of carrying this out is estimated at nearly $30,000,000. No definite decision has been made as to what electric method will be employed for running the trains. The plans left over from a former commission called for the use of a line somewhat resembling the Metropolitan subway, and the new commission is engaged in bringing these up to date. This method of looking at the subject is criticised, however, by outside engineers, as they claim that the suburban lines should- not be operated on the same plan as the subway by direct current motors, but that such roads should be considered as part of the trunk lines and would be better run on the single-phase system, such as is adopted by the Prussian, Swiss and Swedish governments and elsewhere. The advantage would be felt when it comes to extending the suburban lines, as this can be done indefinitely, while it would be difficult on the present plan. Besides, there would be no need for substations placed along the road. As there are 130 miles of suburban track, this would require quite a number of such stations. Around the Globe by Wireless.—A project is being developed in France by which it is expected to send wireless messages around the globe, and this will be done by erecting stations in the French colonies. A commission has already been formed by the colonial department to carry out the enterprise, and Comm. Ferrie, the well-known wireless engineer who is at the head of the Eiffel Tower plant, is in charge of the technical matters. Not more than $2,500,000 will be required for the twelve wireless stations called for by the programme, and it should be completed in about two or three years. Messages sent out from the Eiffel Tower at Paris will first reach the posts erected at Dahomey and Timbuctoo in west Africa. Thence they will cross the continent to the coast of the Red Sea at Djibouti or else proceed southeast to Madagascar. Either of these two posts can then send messages across the Indian Ocean to the post in India at Pon-dichery, whence they will be transmitted to the eastern coast of Asia at Saigon. About 5,000 miles separate this point from the island of New Caledonia, to the north of Australia, and this can be covered by a high-power station. The Pacific will then be crossed by stations at Tahiti and the Marquise islands. It then remains to cross over Central America so as to reach Martinique in the Atlantic, then crossing the ocean to the west African coast at Rufisque. From here the circuit around the globe will be completed to Paris. The main object of the French enterprise is to connect the capital with all the colonies spread over the earth's surface and also to connect all the colonies among themselves. This will give a great advantage over the present telegraphic cables, which frequently break and need repairs and are often owned by foreign companies. It is interesting to note that the waves sent from the Pacific to the Atlantic posts will cross over the region of the Panama Canal. Aeronautics Moving Pictures from an Aeroplane. ..The photographer who accompanied Robert G. Fowler on his coast to coast trip for part of the way, has been taking motion pictures from Fowler's aeroplane. It is stated that a special apparatus was employed to overcome the vibration caused by the aeroplane engines. We are not informed whether the films are a success Vedrines' Falls. —On December 8th, Pierre Vedrines fell with his monoplane at Morannes from a height of 75 feet. His collar bone and right arm were broken. This would not be so serious were it not for the fact that grave internal injuries were also sustained, with the result that some concern is expressed whether or not Vedrines will survive the accident. He had only just recovered from a very bad fall at Hericourt on September 13th, in which two of his ribs were broken. Vedrines is one of the crack flyers of France. An Adverse Wright Decision. —The suit brought by the Wright Company against Claude Grahame-White for damages resulting from an alleged infringement of their patent has been decided in Mr. Grahame-White's favor by the United States Court, Judge Hand presiding. The judge said: “It is well settled by numerous authorities that the word 'damages' in the section includes profits. Therefore, under the complaint as it now stands the complainant cannot recover upon the accounting any damages or profits prior to the bringing of the suit. The question of costs is reserved for final action." Final Award of the Statue of Liberty $10,000 Prize. —At a meeting of the International Aeronautic Federation in Rome last month Grahame-White was finally awarded the $10,000 prize for the race from Belmont Park to the Statue of Liberty and back, which was flown during the meet at Belmont Park a year ago. 'I.'he two other competitors, the late John B. Moisant and Count de Lesseps, were each declared to be the winner of this prize at one time or another, but Grahame-White's protests that Moisant had not flown one hour continuously at the meet in accordance with the rules and that Count de Lesseps fouled a pylon were sustained. The Aeronautic Shows in Paris and New York. —The Third International Exhibition of Aerial Locomotion opened in the Grand Palais in Paris on December 16th. The great advance made in aviation during the past year was apparent from the great number—about two score—of excellent aeroplanes on view in the main hall, as well as from the large number of makers of accessories who exhibited in the galleries. All told, about 350 makers of aeroplanes and accessories had their product on exhibition. With the exception of one Englishman and two Germans, all the exhibitors were French. Fifteen different makes of aviation motors were on view. Many lectures by men prominent in aeronautics will be given during the fortnight the exhibition is open, New York's first big aeronautic show is to be held next May under the auspices of the Aero Club of America. An Aerial Taxicab. —Bleriot has built for Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe a veritable aerial taxicab. The machine has a body which looks for all the world like that of a taxicab body. The passengers enter by a side door and view the landscape below through mica windows. Pneumatic cushions protect the passengers in rough landings. The pilot sits in front of the machine like a true chauffeur, and controls the machine with regular Bleriot cloche and foot tiller. There is even a speaking tube to facilitate communication between the passengers within the taxi and the chauffeur, The elevator has been placed in front instead of in the rear. A 100-horse-power Gnome engine is mounted on top of the cab, and with it the fuel tanks. The spread of wing is 43 feet from tip to tip, and the over-all length is 46 feet. Ready for flight, without passengers, the aeroplane weighs 1,540 pounds. Recent Aeroplane Fatalities. —On December 2nd, Tod Schriver, one of the first fliers to be taught by Curtiss, was killed by a fall at Ponce, Puerto Rico. He had been flying in a strong wind about 10 minutes, and was descending in order to alight when he made a sharp turn and at the same time accidentally accelerated his motor. The result was that the biplane tipped still more and then slid sideways to the ground. It struck on one end in a cane field, and Schriver was so badly hurt that he expired soon after. The same day Lieut. Baron von Freytag-Loringhoven fell and was killed at the Doeberitz military aviation field in Germany, while on the 3rd inst. another German aviator, Herr Reeb, met with the same fate while flying across country from Munich to Nuremberg. Three days later Hubert Oxley and his passenger Weiss fell to their deaths at Filey, England, while flying a powerful Blackburn monoplane. On December 13th Lieut. Charles Lantheaume, a French military aviator, was killed by a fall at Melun just as he arrived after a successful flight from Etampes.
This article was originally published with the title "Abstracts from Current Periodicals" in Scientific American 105, 26, 574-575 (December 1911)