PUBLICservice commissions feed out of his hand. Public service corporations rise up and call him blessed. A court or a master in chancery is perfectly willing to accept his report on the value of a big property, as the basis for rates or new securities; and the banker is ready to accept his verdict in making large investments. There is something fundamentally fair and equitable in his mental make-up that leads to a profound confidence in his trustworthiness and ability, explaining all this. Had he been a lawyer, Arnold would have been an ornament to the United States Supreme Bench, but he would never have filed a minority 1pinion. He has a profound conviction as to his own inerrancy, but believes that eleven men are more likely to be right than one. Moreover, Arnold would probably never have been satisfied with the income of a judge. Out of clean, straight engineering he makes every year as much as all the bench in Washington put together-more in one year than his father, an able lawyer, made all his life. The Arnold family began in Rhode Island, so far as this continent is concerned, and records of the eighteenth century show a due profusion of Jeremiahs and Ichabods, which makes one look to the culture of his parent to understand how this man came to be named after a Greek bucolic poet. Anyhow, Bion J. was born at Cazenovia, Mich., August 14th, 1861, but aroused to a consciousness of things American further on westward, for his father had become a pioneer of Nebraska and a member of the territorial legislature of 1865-6. It is something to be among the founders of the great western commonwealths. Nebraska was then rather raw, and there were many struggles and privations for the newcomers on those endless dismal, but fertile stretches of black soil rolling toward the sunset from the banks of the turgid Platte. Young Arnold was never agricultural in his tastes-and, as Edison has said from frst-hand observation, hoeing corn has explained the growth of many large cities. But Arnold showed his native bent by devising new types of farm machinery as a boy' of six. By the time he was fifteen he had built a piston valve steam engine; when seventeen he built from an advertising cut in the Youth's Companion a bicycle, equal to any boneshaker of the period; and a year later he had made a complete miniature locomotive. By this time he had become a student in the Embryonic University at Lincoln, and began spending winters in college and summers as traveling expert for engine companies, or as instrument man with civil engineering parties. He graduated B.S. at Hillsdale College, Michigin, in 1884. M'. S. in 1887, and M.Ph. in 1889, but was not satisfied until he had taken a post graduate course at Cornel! during 1888-9. It would require some space to record his other degrees and university honors, among them being the Honorary degree of D.Sc. from Amwell Institute in 1909, but Arnold is not unlike many other engineers of distinction who are keen for the fact, but care little for the educational means by which they master knowledge. Arnold's mind is an encyclopaedia of engineering data, but those data are ever too fresh to take on the antique form of erudition. For several years, Mr. Arnold did odd engineering jobs and lots of constructive work, settling down at last in the electrical field; building as consulting engineer in 1892-3, at the Chicago World's fair, the first electric elevated railroad in the country. He dabbled in storage batteries with engineering and financial success that startled onlookers; and then developed much of the modern electric railway practice, including the pioneer A. C. and D. C. railway between Chicago and Milwaukee in 1897-8 and the pioneer single phase line in 1900-4 at Lansing, Mich. All this involved invention, creative ability, engineering skill and personal courage of a high order-and at the end of a very short period Arnold had lifted himself to leadership in the new profession, ready for the next development. Every student of invention and engineering knows that while the last century was taken up chiefly with the inventions that have given the world its modern public utilities, neither the promoters nor the public were very acutely alive to the tremendous facts that now arrest attention universally-the political, economic and sociological relations of those inventions to the real welfare of the people. The awakening has been sudden and recent. We were all part of that formative regime, sharing and condoning, but we shall never go back to it, necessary and inevitable as it all was in the creation of the civilization of to-day, based so largely on inventions and arts unknown a century ago. The chief danger now is that in the recoil of the public mind from what it once advocated and accepted so freely, vital injury may be done to the industries upon which the convenience and comfort of all depend, by reason of the restrictions placed upon the free play of individual genius and upon the opportunity offered to capital. Here comes in the vast significance of Arnold's work in what may be called his later style. He BION JOSEPH ARNOLD is arch adviser to the regulating and supervising bodies called Public Service Commissions, and has found a function of extraordinary usefulness in formulating the rules of the new game, in showing what is fair play, in getting a square deal for the public, in insisting upon the right of the investor to a reasonable return on the money which has helped make possible some service that crowded populations have greatly needed. Now Arnold has all the qualities of a real umpire, and might even win popularity on the baseball diamond. He knows himself, from experience, the tears and blood wrung from an inventor in reaching the goal. He has shared in the risks and discouragements of a new industry. He has helped to administer properties and knows the portentous seriousness at the problems confronted. On the other hand his temperament is judicial, his sympathies are broadly democratic, he believes that the public very often has had more coming to it than it was allowed to get under the old regime, and he is first, last, and all the time a staunch and eloquent upholder of the doctrine of the vigilant but fair regulation of utilities working under public charter and enjoying public concessions of one kind or another. For fve years Mr. Arnold was a member of the Electric Traction Commission that banished the steam locomotive from New York city and brought in the glad new era, with work running to an expenditure of $60,000,000. In 1902 he was engaged by the city of Chicago to help rehabilitate its old traction system and devise new ones. This meant valuations and studies on a gigantic scale, and since 1907, Arnold has, under direct ordinances, been chief engineer there, controlling construction operations that aggregate a cost of $65,000,000. About the same time he had charge, as consulting engineer of the electrif,cation of the Sarnia tunnel of the Grand Trunk railroad and was a member of the Commission to prepare plans for electrifying the Erie Railroad. In 1908, as consulting engineer to the Public Service Commission of the First District of New York State he made a brave essay to solve some of the mighty problems involved in the operation of the congested Interborough subways, and many of his recommendations, such as side doors for cars, speed control signals, lengthened station platforms, etc., have since been adopted resulting in great increase of capacity and earnings. With this went a lot of appraisals for the Commission of all the surface railways. In 1910, he made an intensely interesting report on the traction conditions of Pittsburgh and during the same year was appointed chief subway engineer for Chicago, preparing a report presented last February. This year he has made for the city authorities of Providence, Rhode Island,' an elaborate study of the local transportation needs; and at the moment is engaged in sizing up the complicated situation at Los Angeles. Cal., where all kinds of traction services have to be tied in and coordinated for better results to traffc and commerce. These and other such jobs are large sized propositions for a big man, but Arnold measures up to them very comfortably. While h1s reports are masterlY in their exhaustiveness and models of completeness, Mr. Arnold's speeches and addresses when he lets himself go, are breezily western and none' the less delightful. He can't help thinking clearly. As president of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers and of the Western Society of Engineers, his executive talent shone to great advantage, and as a member of many societies, clubs and civic bodies he is loyal, generous and ever companionable. Illuminating Pistols in the German Army DURING the recent extended maneuvers of the German army there were many night-attacks; in which use was made of the newly introduced illuminating pistols. According to the new regulations, these are to be employed wherever the configuration of the land makes their use preferable to that of the ordinary search light. The machinery necessary for the use of the latter device is very inconven'ent, and especially in rolling and otherwise difficult country, where the main maneuvers take place, it cannot be used to advantage. The illuminating pistols have not this disadvantage, as they' are easily transported. Further, th& searchlight is useless in valleys and deep-lying plains, as their rays shoot over these and leave them apnrently in still deeper shadow. ''or this reason, such valleys serve as excellent covers at night, against the searchlights. The illuminating pistols have done away with this advantage of shelter, as the cartridges which they throw light up the deepest and darkest gulleys. There are two different sorts of cartr1dges, producing respectively white and red light. The white ones erve exclusively for illuminating the country, the red ones for signaling purposes between wideJy separated commands or divis:ons, even where the distance between them is several kilometers. The illuminating cartridges develop a light that makes everything within 200 meters (656 feet) visible, and lasts eight to ten seconds. An English Plea for Aerial Navigation THE Aeria1 League of the British lmpire he'd a meeting at the Mansion House on May 24th, at which it was decided to inaugurate a special coronation appeal for $1,250,000 for the establishment of a nati(al institute and Ichoo\ of aeronautics.
This article was originally published with the title "Bion Joseph Arnold" in Scientific American 105, 11, 223 (September 1911)