(12569) G. W. G. says: In a recent Issue I saw an article referring to a discussion in the English papers of the meaning of the word “anticyclone.” Now, it is an interesting fact to which I would call your attention that the word “cyclone” is used by different people to denote each of the three different kinds of atmospheric whirls, which are distinguished absolutely from one another by meteorologists. In the newspaper vernacular it means a tornado ; <in French, and by implication the other Romanic countries, it means a hurricane or typhoon; while its proper meaning, according to our American meteorologists, is a broad flat whirl, known more familiarly as a “low.” This is designated in French science by the term Bourrasque, which popularly connotes merely a storm. Will you not take this matter up, and inform your readers where and by whom the word “cyclone” was originated, and what it originally signified, and how it came to be appropriated to mean three different things. This would make more clear the true and proper significance of the word, as well as, naturally, that of the word “anticyclone,” which appears to be used everywhere in its proper significance, for the obvious reason that there is, and can be, no such thing as antihurricane or an antitornado. A. The word “cyclone” was invented by Henry Pidding-ton, of Calcutta, one of the founders of the modern theory of storms, and first appeared in bis well-known “Sailor's Horn-book,” published in 1848. It was irregularly formed from the Greek word for circle, and was applied by its author to “all circular or highly curved winds . . . without any relation to the strength of the wind.” Among the winds coming under this generic designation he enumerates hurricanes, typhoons, whirlwinds, African tornadoes, simoons, and—with a note of interrogation— “some gales of high latitudes.” Under the term “whirlwinds” he would doubtless have included what is now called in America a “tornado"—and popularly a “cyclone"—the African tornado being a wind of the squall variety. If Piddington were writing to-day, he would hardly include the latter among the “cyclones.” While, with advancing knowledge of the mechanics of the atmosphere, the application of this word has varied from one generation of meteorologists to the next, current usage in regard to it is nearly uniform in all languages. The “Cyklone” of Hann's “Lehrbuch der Meteorologie” (written “Zyklone” by most other Germans) is identical with the “cyclone” of English and American meteorologists; while if our correspondent will consult Hildebrandsson and Teisserenc de Bort's great historical review of dynamic meteorology, “Les bases de la meteorologie dynamique,” he will find that “cyclone” has the same application in French. Modern scientific usage extends this term to two somewhat different forms of atmospheric whirl, viz., tropical (properly “intertropical") and extra-tropical cyclones; but not to the relatively small and local whirls known as spouts (waterspouts and landspouts—the latter including tornadoes), which are believed to originate in the upper atmosphere, or to the small dust-whirls and the like, due to local convection just above the ground. It must be admitted, however, that many meteorologists are so far influenced by the popular identification of cyclones with violent storms that they avoid the use of this word in writing of the cyclonic wind-systems of middle latitudes, which are not necessarily stormy ; preferring to refer to these systems as “depressions,' “barometric minima,” “lows,” etc. The same writers freely apply the word “cyclone” to the moving low-pressure systems within the tropics, where such disturbances always assume the character of storms, and are usually so violent as to deserve their alternative name “hurricane.” Thus J. Algue's standard work on typhoons is entitled “The Cyclones of the Far East.” The fact that tropical cyclones are always storms—and usually violent storms-—probably explains how the word “cyclone” came to be identified, in the popular mind, with a severe wind-storm. This particular class of cyclones having been the subject of a great amount of practical literature addressed to mariners, the term probably passed by way of the nautical vocabulary into the vocabulary of everyday life. Popular usage in this country is so nearly unanimous in identifying the cyclone with the tornado that lexicographers have been forced to accord a measure of recognition to this application of the word “cyclone,” and it has even received the approval of the law courts. (See an interesting decision of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals reported in the Monthly Weather Review, June, 1907, p. 260 ffg.) The word “bourrasque” has, as our correspondent states, been applied in French scientific literature to ordinary cyclonic disturbances, but is now obsolescent in this sense, and was never the usual term. A “bourrasque” is properly a violent and transient wind, especially a squall. This term belongs to the family of words—including “bora,” “burran,” etc.—derived from the Greek “boreas"—the blustering north wind blowing down from the mountains. (12570) E. Q. K. writes: I wish you would explain the discrepancy between theory and observed facts which I have noticed in regard to the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, the period when the days and nights are equal in length. The dates are about the 21st or 22nd of March and September, according to the astronomers, yet the almanacs report a considerably longer day than night on those dates. Are the almanacs wrong, or do they give times of apparent sunrise and sunset; and are there reasons why the apparent time is not the real time of these occurrences? I take the following from the World almanac for 1910 : MARCH. Sun rises. Sun sets. 18th____6:9 6:9 (day and night equal on 18th). 19th.... 6:7 6:10 (day exceeds night by 3 minutes). 20th.... 6:5 6:11 (day exceeds night by 6 minutes). 21st.....6:3 6:12 (day exceeds night by 9 minutes). 22nd..... 6:2 6:14 (day exceeds night by 12 minutes). This would seem to make the 18th the date of the vernal equinox, instead of the 21st. SEPTEMBER. Sun rises. Sun sets. 21st.....5:45 6:1 (day exceeds night by 16 minutes). 22nd.... 5:46 6:0 (day exceeds night by 14 minutes). 23rd____5 :47 5 :58 (day exceeds night by 11 minutes). 24th.... 5:48 5 :56 (day exceeds night by 8 minutes). 25th.... 5:50 5:55 (day exceeds night by 5 minutes). 26th.... 5:51 5:53 (day exceeds night by 2 minutes). 27th____5:52 5:51 (night exceeds day by 1 minute). Here the autumnal equinox appears to come somewhere between the 26th and 27th of September, while the 21st and 22nd show a large excess of daytime. A. The times of sunrise and sunset as given in the almanacs are those ait which the upper edge of the sun appears or disappears at the true horizon. As the sun is half a degree in diameter, and in our latitude goes down obliquely, this takes place 1% minutes earlier at sunrise, and later at sunset, than the time when the sun's center is on the horizon. This alone would make the day three minutes longer than the night when the sun is at the equinox. To this must be added the effect of atmospheric refraction, which raises the sun, when near the horizon, by half a degree—his whole diameter. This makes sunrise three minutes earlier and sunset three minutes later than otherwise would be the case. The combined effect of these two causes makes the day nine minutes longer than the night on March 21st and September 21st. (12571) J. E. L. asks: Could you answer the following question to set some minds at rest? It all comes through the baseball series just past. You need not be surprised to hear from such a far western country and from people who seem to be so much interested in the American national game. Mostly all of us come from the East. The question is: Would a slow ball, met squarely in the face by a bat, rebound farther back than the same ball, being swift, met by the same bat with the same force behind? If it is possible to give some reasons to explain the natural result, it would set many minds at rest. A. Given a ball and bat of regulation weight, and a certain amount of energy between the ball and the bat, the ball will go to a certain distance with a certain velocity. It does not seem to us to make any difference whether the ball or the bat has the energy in equal or unequal portions, if the total energy is the same. That is, if the ball is at rest and is struck with a whole force, it will go with the same speed and to the same distance as if the bat were at rest and the ball struck it with this force, or if bat and ball are both in motion and come together when each has half of this force. In each case the ball will have the same force after rebound. The fact is that such a condition is not realized in an actual game. The batter sees the ball coming swiftly and puts in more force than if the ball is coming slowly, and this is done instinctively. He must put more force into the bat, so that it may have the velocity necessary to find the swift ball before it gets past him. Balls are pitched swiftly, since there is more chance that a swift ball will be missed, and go to the catcher. The specific question which you propose can now be intelligently answered. The swift ball rebounds from the bat further than a slow one can if the bat has the same force in the two instances, because the rebound is the sum of the force of the ball and of the bat. The rebound is due to the entire "Inventors and Inventions" A NEW BOOK JUST PUBLISHED BY H. ROBIN SON 41 W. 33d ST., NEW YORK. INDISPENSABLE AND INTERESTING TO EVERY INVENTOR OR PROSPECTIVE INVENTOR. PROFUSELY ILLUSTRATED CLOTH BOUND, SI.00. IT TREATS AUTHORITATIVELY IN A CLEAR, POPULAR AND ENTERTAINING STYLE THE FOLLOWING SUBJECTS; How to Invent. Financing a New Invention. Marketing a New Invention. Advice to Inventors. The Glory of Invention. Pictures of Famous Inventors. Various Ways Employed to Cheat and Rob Inventors. Present Available Means of Protecting an Invention. Treatment the World accords to Them, and Other Important Subjects. Modern Foundry and Machine Shop Plant FOR SALE IN PROVIDENCE, R. I. Ideally situated on the water front at the head of the harbor, with excellent deep water dock. 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The resulting velocity Is less, and the distance to which it flies Is less.
This article was originally published with the title "Notes and Queries" in Scientific American 105, 23, 504-505 (December 1911)