IT was Huxley, we believe, who expressed the opinion that it was the duty of every scientific man to scatter among the multitude a few grains of that scientific knowledge which he has laboriously acquired by patient research. Huxley himself practiced what he preached; for he gave the world the most ably-written popular scientific essays in the language, essays which stand to-day not simply as admirable examples of scientific reasoning, but as almost classical examples of good literary English. Indeed, the whole group of Darwinian disciples seems to have been gifted with the rare ability of presenting the facts of evolution, so that the mass could understand them, and doing so without loss of dignity. Perhaps it was because the acceptance of the theories of evolution conflicting though these did with the accepted theories of creation, had come rather from the people than from scientific men, that the popular writers on evolution directed their appeals to the men and women who had no scientific knowledge and who had to be talked to in their own language. Certain it is that “The Origin of Species” could hardly have been written more simply and more lucidly than it is. That science, when it is popularly expressed, need not be sensational, need lose nothing in accuracy of statement, and may be even artistic in expression, is evidenced by the written work of Sir Oliver Lodge, Sir William Crookes and Sir Norman Lock-yer. English men of science, on the whole, are better literary men than Americans. In this country we find, frequently, obscurity and carelessness of expression which can only be explained by the lack of that literary atmosphere with which the names of Cambridge and Oxford are inevitably associated. It may be thai; our violently sensational press, which seizes upon the artificial germination of frogs' eggs and converts it into a double-page Sunday magazine “feature” that causes a real scientific man to writhe at its mere contemplation, has brought about this aloofness of the American scientist from popular science. In no country in the world is the thirst for -knowledge so great as here. In no country are the people so willing to read articles on scientific subjects, if they are only expressed in an untechnical way. As we glance through even the popular scientific periodicals, we find them almost deliberately technical in expression. Sentences bristle with references to the “Huntingdon-Heberlein process,” the “Kerr effect,” and the like. Engineers are particularly given to this method of expression, which, however intelligible it may be to the scientist interested in that particular branch of research, is cryptic to the ordinary reader. What can the man in the street be expected to know of the X-Y-Z-type motor, and such terms? There can be no doubt that coupled with an actual thirst for knowledge is the appeal of the miraculous. Unfortunately, it is the miraculous only that is exploited in the daily newspaper, and if the particular scientific discovery of the day is not sufficiently startling for journalistic purposes, the' reporter will not hesitate to exaggerate, if it is merely for the purpose of astounding his readers. It cannot be denied that there is a romance in science, a poetic quality that can be legitimately expressed, and which is expressed by the best writers of the day. What, for example, can be - more appealing than the thought of Caroline Herschel assisting her brother night after night in his astronomical work, even feeding him with her hands so that he might not be compelled to lose a single precious moment? What can be more dramatic than the fact that Newton, when at last he beheld the law of gravitation in his grasp, was unable to complete the simple calculation that inevitably proved the correctness of his views, so overpowering was the effect upon his imagination? What poet has ever soared to greater heights than Darwin and Spencer, men who reared upon the thousands of biological facts that picture of the evolution of all living matter that is epic in its magnitude? What can be more magical to the ordinary reader than the simple story of the coal tar dyes, that wonder working of the chemist which has converted what was once a noisome ooze of gas works, difficult to dispose of, into a palette of gorgeous colors, a medicine chest of precious healing unguents, an arsenal of explosives, a garden of roses? What man is so unemotional that he cannot be stirred by the recital of Edison's quest of a filament that would give him the light for which he was seeking, a quest during which men slept in his laboratory with resistance boxes for pillows and work benches for beds? In a paper read last year before the section of Physiology and Experimental Medicine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Prof. Charles Sedgwick Minot speaks of technical articles which are “bungled in form and weakened by prolixity.” It is his opinion that the heads of laboratories should insist, by example and precept, that all the workers under their influence, should write clearly and briefly. “For if an author fails to show respect for his own scientific work, how can he expect others to respect it?” Surely there can be no better way of intensifying the world's respect for science than by using the English language for the dissemination of knowledge in a dignified and yet simple way. Popular scientific , writing, in its best sense, by which is meant simplified and not sensational science, implies nothing that a really scientific man would not care to undertake. It is all a matter of expression, of writing down to the level of the multitude— not necessarily speaking the language of the street, hut at least appealing tq the brain of the street. It is writing such as this which has proved a source of inspiration to many a man who has later graced the laboratory and the observatory. Aircraft in the Recent German Maneuvers AS in France, so in Germany, aircraft have /_\ been employed in the army maneuvers this .X A.year for the first time in real earnest—not as an experiment, but as a legitimate branch of the regular service. This feature was emphasized even more in Germany than in France, because no civilian aviators in disguise were employed, but only the official military pilots; all officers trained at the military flying grounds in machines belonging to the army. As it happened, these maneuvers demonstrated principally that, for military purposes, the shortcomings of to-day's aircraft count for less than elsewhere; for the weather was very propitious during the more important military operations. Aeronautics is evidently sufficiently revolutionary in warfare; this existence simply means that fair, quiet weather at any moment entirely reverses the situation as it may have developed while stormy winds prevailed. In this year's maneuvers Count von del' Golz, the Commander of the “blues,” had at his disposal the older but entirely reconstructed Gross-Basenach airship “M II.” and four biplanes, all of the German Albatross-Farman type. All these aircraft flew a blue-white flag, and the “MIL” had a new envelope of silver-gray aluminium-rubber cloth, which, without being heavier, is much more gas-tight and weatherproof than ordinary yellow rubber cloth. The red army air squadron, at the disposal of Prince Friedrich Leopold, flew a white-red flag and consisted of the fast “M III.” Gross-Basenach dirigible and four “Taube” monoplanes. The “M III.” still had its old yellow envelope, which in the end caused its destruction by fire through its being an absolute non-conductor of The homogeneous nature of each of the opposing airfleets also tends to give these German air maneuvers a more military and businesslike aspect than the French ones displayed. Each of the eight aeroplanes carried two men, a pilot and an observer, the very - bird-like Etrich-Rumpler monoplanes being just as good passenger machines as biplanes. It will be seen that the red side had the faster craft. Each side organized an aeronautic field-park, consisting of one great “regulation” transportable airship tent (100 meters long), and four aeroplane tents. The former are very strong. They consist of a skeleton of steel masts and cables, covered with stout canvas. It takes twenty-four hours to pitch such a tent and half as long to break it up. The aeroplane tents could be pitched and struck in a very short time. They were transported, each on two automobile trucks. So it became possible that Lieut. Machen-thun flew at dusk to the farmost line of outposts, and later, in the darkness, his tent was taken there too on its automobile train. He camped all night close to the enemy and at daybreak ascended and flew directly across the hostile position, while the automobiles “took flight” with the struck tent toward safety in the rear. Having but little distance to cover in reaching the enemy, Lieut. Machenthun thus, after very little time, was able to return with information of vital importance. The most striking work of the aeroplane, however, was done on the red side. The military situation was such that the red army attacked at once in force, while the blue ' one was as vet scattered and showed a very weak front. An elaborate ruse was then resorted to, to “bluff” the reds. An officer of the general staff, pretending to carry a message on horseback to one of the blue commanders, allowed himself to be chased by red cavalry, and while in flight deliberately dropped a map with bogus positions showing great forces of the blues (who actually were still far away) marked upon it. The chart was recovered by the reds and in due course reached their commander-in-chief, who was much pleased with such a piece of booty, especially as cavalry scouts reported that the marked positions ex- isted. The reds were presently massed empty ditches containing small heaps of stone and earth, which, from a distance, appeared to the scouting cavalry as the yellowish-gray, helmet-covers of infantry prone on the ground, while positions actually threatened were denuded of troops. To make doubly sure, Lieut. Canter's monoplane was sent flying over to the enemy's charted positions. His obs erver (long trained aboard captive balloons) had hardly passed the hostile advance posts, when he discovered the true nature of that first line of bogus positions. Instead of returning, the officers first continued their flight until they had found that the second line was a mask as well as the first, that the reserves were not where they had been marked on the captured chart, and that the only real strength at that front was strong bodies of artillery. But the time now had become pressing, and it was of the utmost importance that the red commander should be informed of his error at once. Lieut. Canter did not have to fly far in a search for the red headquarters. He spied the black-and-yellow flag marking the position of the Emperor himself, and with quick decision he laid his course for it, came close to the ground and had his observer drop a card with the news right before the feet of the Emperor. The reds then won, and later, at the criticism that always follows operations, the Emperor asked for Lieut. Canter, shook his hand and thanked him personally. In his final criticism the Emperor dwelt especially on the excellent services rendered by the dirigibles and aeroplanes, which proved to be the decisive factor in these maneuvers. It was observed that the fast dirigible “M III.” employed peculiar well developed tactics in dodging artillery fire by sudden changes in the level and direction of its flight. On both sides the dirigibles were in action all day long. Horses Hold Their Own in France. NOTWITHSTANDING the fact that the development of the automobile, as well as of the aeroplane, has proceeded more rapidly in France than in any other country, the use of horses seems to persist there better than in some of the slower-moving nations. In ten years the number of horses in Paris has diminished by 24,210—that is, from 96,698 in 1901 to 72,488 in 1911. This large decrease (a trifle over 25 per cent) makes the increase for the country as a whole all- the more striking. In Paris mechanical traction has displaced the horse on all the omnibus lines, and the horse-cab is rapidly disappearing. The persistence of the horse in rural France is attributed to the fact that there, in contrast with England and Germany, for example, the land is divided into very small holdings, so that the farmers are for the most part quite unable to afford an investment in mechanical appliances for traction, etc., notwithstanding the greater eventual economy in using motors in place of horses. It is expected that the farmers' associations will be able to devise some co-operative plans that will give the small farmer access to the advantages of modern inventions along this line.
This article was originally published with the title "Popular Science, Aircraft in the Recent German Maneuvers, and more"