AS the result of his investigation of the recent wreck of an express train at Bridgeport, the coroner finds the New Haven Railroad guilty of “ criminal negligence” in providing an unsuitable cross-over between the express and local tracks at the point where the disaster occurred. Although we agree with this finding so far as it attributes the wreck largely to the existence of a short crossover, an opinion which is entirely in accord with our editorial on this subject in our issue of July 22nd, it is pushing the matter too far to designate the practice of the company as criminal. Criminal negligence can be charged against a company only when it neglects to follow provisions for safe operation which have been established by law, or when it falls below the practice which has come to be regarded among the railroads as sufficient for safe operation. Judged by either of these tests, the New Haven cannot be held blameworthy. The use of short cross-overs between express and local tracks, or in locations where express trains running at full speed have to be switched from one track to another, is unfortunately very general in railroad practice. A few of the best roads, it is true, are alive to the danger; and, as we pointed out in the article referred to, one at least of them is revising its tracks by eliminating short cross-overs on main four-track roads where fast express trains may have occasion to cross from one track to another, but these are the exceptions and not the rule. On the other point raised by the coroner, that it is inexpedient to use short cross-overs on lines over which express trains run, the coroner is entirely correct. The danger of a wreck through failure of the human element is so imminent, that we think the .subject demands the immediate attention of the Interstate Commerce Commission, and the passage of a law requiring that such cross-overs be made of a proper length and the curvature of the turn-outs be ade so easy that expresses can them at high speed without danger of derailment. Although the cost of making these changes would be considerable, it would be well repaid by the greater safety which would be secured. Certainly, in cases like the Bridgeport wreck, where the cost of damages will prove to be enormous, the investment would prove to be good economy. Solving Labor Questions in the Laboratory A MONG the many methods proposed for the solution of difficulties between the employer and the workman, surely the most original is that suggested by Dr. A. Imbert, who, in a recent paper published in the Revue Generate des Sciences, proposes to apply laboratory methods to the solution !i' the wage problem. The author believes that physiology can furnish us with some precise information on the question of the ratio equivalence between work and pay. Proceeding on the proposition that, in the work of a huan or anial the energy expended is produced by an increase in food above the amount which the organism requires when at rest, he makes the statement that the proper remuneration for work can be exactly determined, and this for the reason that it should correspond exactly to the cost of the extra food which made the work necessary. The author considers the case of a postman who travels daily 35 kilometers on a bicycle in a level country, and who kept a record of the quantity and quality of the food which he consumed during a fortnight, the calorific value of which per day was calculated to be 3,200 calories. The day' s work was estimated to be 140,000 kilogram-meters, corresponding to 330 calories of heat. Assuming a value of one-third for the efficiency of the human motor, Dr. Imbert determined that the postman' s daily work required the combustion of an amount of food capable of furnishing 990 calories— an estimate which agrees very closely with one based on numerous physiological experiments showing that the human organism at rest requires daily on an average a quantity of food capable of furnishing about 2,300 calories. Now the difference between that and the 3,200 calories representing the value of his daily food as recorded by the postman gives a difference of 900 calories, which agrees fairly well with the 990 calories obtained by the first method of calculation. The mean equivalent may be taken as 945 calories. The postman found that the cost of his food was 85 centimes a day, and from this it follows that the cost of his work was 25 centimes a day, instead of the four francs which he actually receives. It is evident that his pay should be based on something ore than the onetary equivalent of the work done; the most selfish employer would concede that the pay should cover at least the 2,300 calories of food required by the man at rest, in addition to the 945 expended in work. Furthermore, he needs in addition to food, shelter and clothing, so that he should receive an additional allowance to pay for food, rent and clothing, ites which are inseparable from any estiate of wages, even when they are considered exclusively as remuneration for work done. The pay should provide for the support of the workan' s family. Therefore, physiologically considered, the syste of payent based on the onetary equivalent of the increase of food required is certainly inadequate, and the pay should be based upon an intelligent consideration ' of the general circumstances of the workman' s life and surroundings and his reasonable expectation of comfort, recreation, family life and provision for old age. A more direct application of laboratory methods was that made in the south of France, where hundreds of woen are eployed with pruning shears in cutting up long American vine shoots into cuttings suitable for planting. It is a mechanical operation, capable of exact measurements. By applying to the shears a staple dynamometer in the shape of a rubber bulb, Dr. Imbert measured the work done, by means of the travel of the fingers and the pressure exerted, the latter being recorded on a moving strip of paper. The cuttings are classed as large or small, according as their diaeter is greater or less than six millimeters, and the pay is 60 centimes per thousand for the large cuttings and 50 centimes for the small ones. The women asserted that the difference of ten centimes was not sufficient, and they obtained an increase of pay. From the paper tracings, Dr. Imbert found that for each centime of pay the worker exerted a total effort of 110 kilogrammes in cutting the small stems at 50 centimes per thousand, and a total effort of 266 kilogrammes per centime in cutting the large stems at 60 centimes per thousand. It was evident from these figures that the pay was not proportional to the work, and the experiments furnished an incontestable proof of the justice of the women' s demands. For if fifty centimes was paid for the small cuttings, the pay for the large ones should have been 140 centimes instead of 60 per thousand. Dr. Imbert claims that his system can be applied to a wide range of manual work, where the multiplicity of mechanical actions would seem to present an obstacle to experimental study of this kind. For instance, he used it successfully to determine the actual work accomplished in moving bags and bales with a hand-truck. The correctness of his conclusions would seem to be borne out by a comparison of the same work when it was done first with a truck and alternately then with a wheelbarrow, the wheelbarrow proving, of course, to be the more fatiguing medium. The article of Dr. Imbert which is published in full in the current issue of the Supplement, will be found to repay a careful study. Amazing Progress in Aviation FOR the third time within the past three months, a French naval lieutenant, who learned to fly only the first of the year, has won a longdistance cross-country race and demonstrated his prowess in airmanship. We refer to Lieut. Con-neau, who, flying under the name of Andre Beaumont, has met with wonderful success in aviation. In the Paris-Madrid, Paris-Rome, the European circuit, and, lastly, the London Daily Mail' s Circuit of Great Britain, Lieut. Conneau, flying a Bleriot monoplane, has been among the leaders. In all but the first-mentioned race he has succeeded in finishing the winner. All of these races have been from 900 to more than 1,000 miles in length, but the English circuit was the most difficult on account of the rule requiring the aviator to finish the race with the same aeroplane and otor with which he started and without the replacement of any of the essential parts. Three French monoplanes, piloted by two Frenchmen (Lieut. Conneau and Jules Vedrines) and one Englishman (Mr. Valentine) led the race from the start. Valentine was forced out after a gallant struggle and after he had completed half of the circuit, on account of a broken propeller; but his two competitors, because of their experience and training, finished the race without mishap and in record time. When the rules of this race were formulated it was believed that ten davs would be too long a time to allow for the completion of the circuit, yet despite the enforced rest made necessary by the rules, Lieut. Conneau and M. Vedrines completed the course in 34 1-2 hours and 35 3-4 hours. respectively, and finished a week ahead of the time limit which had been set for the completion of the race. The actual time in flight of the French lieutenant was 22 hours and 28 minutes, corresponding to an average speed of 45 miles an hour, while Vedrines required an hour and 1 6 minutes longer, which reduced his speed to 42.8 miles an hour. The speed averaged by the winner in this race was about the same as the speed he made in the European circuit. The remarkable feature of the race was the fact that it was completed without mishap or breakage of the machines, and distances as great as from New York to Montreal were covered at a 60-mile clip. The present race was for the aeroplane very similar to the “ sealed bonnet” contests that were in vogue a few years ago for automobiles. It is interesting to note that a prize of $ 30,000 for the first aviator who should fly from New York to St. Louis— a distance of about 1,060 miles— even with a time limit of 100 hours, did not interest any aviators, American or foreign, when it was offered a year ago. It is doubtful even now whether this prize would attract any foreign aviator should it be put up for competition again. What is needed in America is a prize of $ 50,OOO to $ 75,000 for a circuit race of 1,200 to 1,500 miles. If the Aero Club of America could organize such a race, it would show itself worthy of being the representative organization, and would encourage a development of aviation in a way that has never yet been done in this country. N ext to endurance in cross-country flying, the endurance of man and machine in a single flight is one of the most interesting questions. At the end of last year, Henry Farman attempted to remain aloft in continuous flight for a period of 12 hours. He actually succeeded in flying continuously for 8 hours and 12 minutes. Since then he has always been eager to increase liis record to the half-day point. On July 21st, M. Loriden, in one of his machines, managed to fly continuously for 11 % hours, during which time he covered a distance of 469 miles. It is claimed that he alighted on account of fatigue and not because his fuel was used up. On July 26th, at Mineola, St. Croix Johnstone, in a Moisant monoplane, made 39 circuits of a 5-mile course, covering 195 miles in 4 hours, 1 minute, 54 3-5 seconds, in an effort to break Loriden' s record. He was obliged to descend on account of motor trouble, but he raised Parmalee' s endurance record, made last January at Los Angeles, by 22 odd inutes. The above achievements show the wonderful strides that are being made week by week in aviation and lead us to believe that within a very few years we shall have trans-continental and trans-Atlantic aeroplanes flying at faster speeds than the modern express trains. Even at the present time express-train speed has been greatly exceeded. In the English circuit Lieut. Conneau flew the 343 miles from London to Edinburgh at sixty miles an hour and beat by a whole hour the fast “ Flying Scotsman” express, while in the Paris-Madrid race Vedrines covered the 230 miles between Paris and Angouleme at the rate of 70.
This article was originally published with the title "The Coroner on the Bridgeport Railroad Wreck, Solving Labor Questions in the Laboratory, and more" in Scientific American 105, 6, 114 (August 1911)