As stated by us last week, the editor of a magazine professedly devoted to science and engineering, has come out in an editorial endorsing all the claims of those who state that a definite and small quantity of heat can produce an infinite amount of mechanical power, by using the same heat over and over again. We do not mention the name of the editor because we believe he is sincere but defec-fective in sound doctrine. He says, " There is a fundamental principle involved in the regenerator of Ericsson and Stirling, which, could it be employed without drawbacks or losses, would allow one ounce of coal per day to pump out the Niagara River and keep it dry. The principle is the transfer oi heat from the outgoing to the incoming medium— the successive transfers of heat from a highly expansive medium to one which is less so and back again. Many practical men oppose this doctrine and contend that the'losses by obstructing the passages are equal to the gain. This is a mistake. There is no fixed relation between these quantities at all, the loss by bad contrivances may be greater than the gain, or it may be less. Suppose a certain quantity of air, of iron, andof heat eflclosedin a vessel, from which none could escape; if the quantum of heat could be first concentrated in the metal, then diffused in the air, then again in the metal, and so continually changed, would not the pressure on the inside of the vessel change with each transfer of heat and would not a piston fitting in an open end and properly balanced, be alternately driven out and in with a certain degree of force and without any escape oi heat This principle, theoretically, is able to multiply the present sffect of heat to an indefinite extent. The principle of transferring heat from the outgoing to the incoming medium, is actually em. ployed in the steam engines every day, and in every direction. Each unit of heat that is transferred from the exhaust steam to the feed water is so far a step in the direction which Ericsson and others are now diligently exploring." Thus we have quoted from the article in question : it is a profundity to appear in any magazine in the month of IVIay Anno Domino, 1853. Here it is broadly stated that a num-Der oi packages of wire gauze (the- regenerator) has an inherent virtue (principle) in themselves to pump the Niagara river dry, with the use of one ounce oi coal, in a day. This surpasses any work of animated nature which has,come from the hands of the Great I Am; it goes lar beyond the principle of life itself. This one ounce of coal and a few packages of wire gauze is certainly the introduction of the homopathic system into modern engineering; the results promised are, an infinite amount of power from a few scruples of heat. A man has lost his life by the bite of a gnat; but who Would have thought that the Niagara river could be pumped dry by a snuffbox full of charcoal, or the Atlantic (ship) propelled across the Atlantic With a thimble full of anthracite; but so it seems, these things can be done by a wonderful principle in a few packages of wire gauze. It is really astonishing that this principle was not discovered long before this time, as it might have saved our country in five years, at least $50;-000,000 ior railroads to the mining regions, and no less than $500,000,000 in fuel. When we commenced the Scientific American we found that the believers in perpetual motions, and'the obtaining of power from levers were very numerous, but by spreading abroad a correct mechanical philosophy, we believe there is not one of our readers who now entertains any such notions. But the most insane perpetual motlonlst never uttered such an amount of extravagant nonsense as is contained in the foregoing paragraph. There is not an apprentice engineer in our land, we believe, that does not know what an ounce of coal can do in generating an expansive force. It can raise 50 tons of the water of Niagara river one foot high, and no more, by all the wire gauze regenerators or any other device on this terrestrial ball. The example, upon supposition, which is adduced to prove this principle in the regenerator—working it out with a series of ifs—is really a droll one, and may well be compared to a new system of financeering, where- by independent fortunes may very soon be acquired by taking any number of bank bills, exchanging them into gold, then into bills again, and so on ad mjvnitvm doubling the original value of the bills every time they are transferred. Our brokers may obtain a useiul hint from this wonderful principle in the caloric regenerator. There is no law better established than that there is a fixed relation between heat and its effects; a certain quantity of heat perfectly measurable, will prodiice a fixed amount of physical disturbance in another body, and no transfer irom one medium to another (not even a modern spiritual medium) can make 491 deg. of heat in a cubic foot of air raise more than 2,160 lbs. one foot high. It is a great mistake to suppose that the unexpended heat in a steam engine, by transfer, embraces anything like the claim for this principle in the regenerator; as well might a claim be set up for a gain of power—as has been done—by the application of a fly wheel to an engine. The saving oi unexpended heat in steam, and a gainof power by transfer are totally different doctrines which have been jumbled and confounded together by the . author oi the above. There is an article in the last number of Silliman's Journal of Science and Art, by W. A, Norton, Professor of Civil Engineering in Yale College. It concludes with these words ; " it must be admitted to be within the bounds of possibibility that caloric ships may hereafter compete successfully with the celebrated ships of the Collins' Line, at least this conclusion seems to follow unless we have underated the Weight of the caloric engines. It must be left to time to decide the question "whether the full estimated power of the caloric engines can be actually obtained ; and whether, therefore, the results which have been indicated, will, from being a mere ideal limit, ever come to an actual realization." We like to see men and magazines devoted to science speaking out—showing their hands, that we may be able to form some opinion of their real, not professed qualifications; but we must say that Prof, Norton's conclusions have a kind of half hanged look about them, they exhibit a want of that confidence which We like to see displayed in a man conversant with science; they read as if he was not sure whether he was right or wrong. The calculations which he enters into in his article are mixed up with so many exceptions, such as "some little uncertainty " about this and that, that they are worse than useless to engineers in this part of the country. We have said, without any may-bes about it, tht ships propelled by hot air, from the very nature oi the element employed as the expansive motive agent, can never be successful, and never will compete with the slowest steamship now running, much less with the splendid Collins' Line, Time will decide who are the best judges.
This article was originally published with the title "Scientific Apologists for the Caloric Engine"