Extract from the address of C.W.Sicmcns, F.B.S.,hefore the British Association. In viewing the latest achievements in engineering science, two works strike the imagination chiefly by their exceeding magnitude, and by the influence they are likely to exercise upon the traffic of the world. The first of these is the great Pacific Railway, which, in passing through vast regions hitherto inaccessible to civilized man, and over formidable mountain chains, joins California with the Atlantic States of the great American republic. The second is the Suez shipping canal, which, notwithstanding adverse prognostications and serious difficulties, will be opened very shortly to the commerce of the world. These works must greatly extend the range of commercial enterprise in the North Pacific and the Indian seas. The new waterway to India will, owing to the difficult navigation of the Red Sea, be in effect only available for ships propelled by steam, and will give a stimulus to that branch of engineering. Telegraph communication with America has been rendered more secure against interruption by the successful submersion of the French Transatlantic cable. On the other hand, telegraphic communication with India still remains in a very unsatisfactory condition, owing to imperfect lines and divided administration. To supply a remedy for this public evil the Indo-European Telegraph Company will shortly open ite special lines for Indian correspondence. In northern Russia the construction of a land line is far advanced to.cpnnect St. Petersburg with the mouth of the Amoor river, on completion of which only a submarine link betweeij the Amoor and San Francisco will be wanting to complete the telegraphic girdle round the earth. With these great highways of speech once established, a network of subrnariti and aerial wires \vill soon follow bindJLtrSabited portions of our globe together into a cljiSer -Smmuuity of interests, which if followed up by stejB communication by land and by sea, ????? open out a,ea.t aft. meritorious field for the activity of the civil aad mechafiji engineer. But while great works have to be camgg'(jjj igtant parts, still more remains to beacQjgiied nearer home. The railway of to-day has;aken the place of high roads and canals for the t.itg;smission of goods and passengers jetwep.n ourjreat centc-ra of industry and population, but is perse'ing bySgle'eading to places of inferior importance ; Bl r/)mrpete3 ?vith the mule in carrying minerals over mouu-taia ;j)assea, and with the omnibuses in our great cities. If a riKer cannot be spanned by a bridge without hindering navigation, a tunnel is forthwith in contemplation, or, if that should not be practicable, the transit of trains is yet accomplished by the establishment of a large steam ferry. It is one of tKe questions of the day to #cide by which plan the British Channel should be crossed, to relieve the unfortunate traveler to the Continent of the exceeding dis-comfjrt and delay inseparable from the existing most imperfect arrangements. Considering that this question has now been taken up by some of our leading engineers, and is also entertained by the two interested governments, we may look forward to its speedy and satisfactory solution. So long as the attention of railway engineers was confined to the construction of main lines, it was necessary for them to-provide foravy traffic and high speeds, and these desiderata are br?i met by a level permanent way, by easy curves and heavy :rails of the strongest possible materials, namely, cast steel ; .but, in extending the system to tlie corners of tlie eartli, cJbreapnRSs of construction and maintenance, for a mod?tG???? speed and a moderate amount of traffic, become a matter of necessity. Instead of plunging through hill and mountain, and of crossing and reorossing rivers by a series of monumental works, the modern railway passes in zigzag up the steep incline, and conforms to the ?vindmgs of the narrow gorge ; it can only be worked by light rolling stock of flexible construction, furnished with increased power of adhesion and great brake power. Yet by the aid of the electric telegraph, in regulating the progress of each train, the number of trains may be so increased as to produce, nevertheless, a large aggregate of traffic ; and it is held by some that our trunk lines even ????? be worked more advantageously by light rolling stock. The brake power on several of the French and Spanish railways has been greatly increased by an ingenious arrange ment conceived by M. Lechatelier, of applying what has been termed " Contre vapor " to the engine, converting it for the time being into a pump, forcing steam and water into the boiler. While the extension of commtpiication occupies the attention of, perhaps, the greater number of our engineers, others are engaged upon weapons of ofifensive and defensive warfare. We have scarcely recovered our wonder at the terrifBc destruction dealt by the Armstrong gun, the Whit?vorth belt, or the steel barrel consolidated under Krupp's gigantic steam hammer, ?vhen we hear of a shield of such solidity and toughness as to bid defiance to them all. A larger gun or a hard bolt by Palliser or Grilson is the successful answer to this challenga ; ?vhen again defensive plating, of greater tenacity to absorb the power residing in the shot, or oi such Imposing weight and hardness combined as to resist the projectile absolutely (causing it to be broken up by the force residing within itself) is brought forward. The ram of war, with heavy iron sides, which a few years since was thought the most formidable, as it certainly was the most costly weapon ever devised, is already being superseded by vessels of the Captain type, as designed by Captain Coles, and ably carried out by Laird Brothers, vrith turrets (armed with guns of gigantic power) that resist the heaviest firing, both on account of their extraordinary thickness, and of the angular direction in which the shot is likely to strike. By an ingenious device. Captain Moncrieff lowers his gun upon its rocking carriage after firing, and thereby does away with embrasures (the weak places in protecting works), while at the same time he gains the advantage of re-loading his gun in comparative safety. It is presumed that in thus raising formidable engines of ofiensive and defensive warfare the civilized nations of the earth will pause before putting them into earnest operation, but if they should do so it is consolatory to think that they could not work them for long without effecting the total exhaustion of their treasuries, already drained to the utmost in their construction. While science and mechanical skill combine to produce these wondrous results, the germs of further and still greater achievements are matured in our mechanical workshops, in our forges, and in our metallurgical smelting works ; it is there that the materials of construction are prepared, refined, and put into such forms as to render greater and still greater ends attainable. Here a great revolution of our constructive art has been prepared by the production, in large quantities and at moderate cost, of a material of more than twice the strength of iron, which, instead of being fibrous, has its full strength in every direction, and which can be modulated to every degree of ductility, approaching the hardness of the diamond on the one hand and the proverbial toughness of leather on the other. To call this material cast steel seems to attribute to it brittleness and uncertainty of temper, which, however, mjy means its necessary charactery=-iGgr This neiv TOTial as prepared for coiiatructlyo- purposes, may mdefbe both hard and tough, asustratcd by the hard sjl rope that has so materiallv contributed to the practical success of steam plowing-. Machinery steel-has gradually come into use since about 1850, wheij Ilrupp, of Essen, commenced to supply large fiiTgoTs that were shaped into railway tires, axles, cannon, etc., by melting steel in halls containing hundreds of melting crucibles. The Bessemer process, in dispensing with the process of puddling, and in utilizing the carbon contained in the pig iron to effect the fusion of the final metal, has given a vast : extension to the application of cast steel for railway bars, tires, boiler plates, etc. This process is limited, however, in its application to superior brands of pig iron, containing much carbon and no sulphur or phosphorus, which latter impurities are so destructive to the quality of steel. The puddling process has still, unless the process of decarburization of Mr. Heaton takes its place, to be resorted to, to purify these inferior pig irons, which constitute the bulk of our productions ; and the puddled iron cannot be brought to the condition of cast steel [ except through the process of fusion. This is accomplished successfully in masses of from three to five tuns on the open bed of a regenerative gas furnace at the Landore Siemens Steel Works, and at other places. At the same works cast steol is also produced, to a limited extent as yet, from iron ore, whidi, being operated upon in large masses, is reduced ! to the metallic state and liquefied by the aid of a certain proportion of pig metal. The regenerative gas furnace—the application of which to glass houses, to forges, etc., has made considerable progress—is unquestionably well suited for this operation, because it combines an intensity of heat, limited only by the point of fusion of the most refractory material, with extreme mildness of draft and chemical neutrality of flame. These and other processes of recent origin tend toward the production, at a comparatively cheap rate, of a very high class material that must shortly supersede iron for all structural purposes. As yet engineers hesitate, and very properly so, to construct their bridges, their vessels, and their rolling stock of the material produced by these processes, because no exhaustive experiments have been published as yet fixing the limit to which they may safely be loaded in extension, in compression, and in torsion, and because as yet no sufficient information has been obtained regarding the tests by which their quality can best be ascertained. This great want is in a fair way of being supplied by the experimental researches that have been carried on for some time at her Majesty's dockyards at Woolwich, under a committee appointed for that pur-' pose by the Institution of Civil Engineers. I have also pleasure to announce an elaborate report by Mr. William Fairbairn on this subject. In the meantime excellent service has been rendered by Mr. Kirkaldy in giving us, in a perfectly reliable manner, the resisting power and ductility of any sample of material which we wish to Submit to his tests. The results of Mr. Whitworth's experiments tending to render the hammer and the rolls obsolete by forcing cast steel, while in a semi-fluid state, into strong iron molds by hydraulic pressure are looked upon with groat interest. But, assuming that the new building material has been reduced to the utmost degree of uniformity and cheapness, and that its limits of strength are fully ascertained, there remains still the task for the civil and mechanical engineer to prepare designs suitable for the development of its peculiar qualities. If, in constructing a girder, for example, a design?vere to be adopted that had been worked out for iron, and if all the scantlings were simply reduced in the inverse proportion of the absolute and relative strength of the new material, as compared with iron, such a girder would assuredly collapse when the test weight was applied, for the simple reason that the reduced sectianal area of each part, in proportion to its length, would be insufficient to give stiffness. You might as well almost take a design for a wooden structure, and carry it out in iron by simply reducing the section of each part. The advantages of using the stronger material become most apparent if applied, for instance, to large bridges where the principal strain upon each part is produced by the weight of the structure itself, for, supposing that the new material can 1 be safely weighted to double the bearing strain of iron, and I that the weight of the structure were reduced by one half accordingly, there would si ill remain a large excess of available strength in consequence of the reduced total weight, and this would justify a further reduction of the amount of the material employed. In constructing works in foreign parts the reduced cost of carriage furnishes also a powerful argument in favor of the stronger material, although its first cost per tun might largely exceed that of iron. Cider an the Cider Manufacture, The season for the manufacture of cider is at hand. As it is an important product, and many a good crop of apples is wasted in making an inferior quality, simply from want of a little practical knowledge, the following hints from the Working Farmer will be found seasonable and sound : " In general, we may say that the same principles that govern the manufacture of wine hold good in making cider ; for cider is merely wine made from apples instad of grapes, and deserves the name of wine certainly as much as the fermented juice of currants, raspberries, and other fruits that we dignify with this name. To be more particular, no good cider can be made from unripe fruit. We should laugh at the man who should undertake to make wine from green grapes. It is just as foolish to make cider from green apples. Sugar is essenj tial in all fermentation. As fruit matures, the starch is converted into sugar ; and only when mature is the fruit fit for eating and conversion into wine. Providence has made all unripe fruit unpalatable, so that neither man nor beast should be tempted to eat it in its green state. In unpropitious seasons the vine grower adds sugar to the expressed juice of his grapes in order to supply the deficiency of saccharine matter and perfect the fermentation ; and few if any of the grapes of New England contain enough sugar to make good wine without this addition. Cane sugar, however, never gives a flavor equal to that naturally produced in the fruit. The nearer to perfect ripeness, therefore, we can bring our apples, the better will be our cider. We have tried adding sugar to the juice of apples, and find that it improves the quality of the cider as much as it does ?????. If sugar is added to the juice of any fruit, it should be of the purest kind. It is a common mistake to suppose that the flavor of Muscovado sugar will work off during the vinous fermentation ; it is continued even into the acetous fermentation, and deteriorates the quality of the vinegar. " As a second rule, no rotten apples, nor bitter leaves, nor stems, nor filth of any kind, should be ground for cider. The winemaker who seeks a reputation for a superior article looks well to tlie condition of his grapes before he allows the juice to be expressed. We do not like to eat rotten apples ; and they are no better for drink than for food. No wonder that a prejudice should exist against cider in the minds of those who have seen the careless way in ?vhich it is sometimes made. We have heard it called, and not inaptly, the expressed juice of worms and rotten apples. Perhaps, if we could see the process of manufacturing cheap ivir.cs, our prejudices against them would be equally strong. Tiicre is no economy in such carelessness. If cider is worth making, it is Wi.rth making Avell ; and then v/ith a good conscience we can ask a good price, and be sure of getting it too ; for a good article is always in better demand than a poor one. " Much cider is injured by being pressed with musty straiv. In this respect, the little hand mills have the advantage, for they require no straw ; and there is little straw so bright and and clean as to be totally free from dust and an upleasant odor. We very much question whether straw is of any advantage in the large power mills. It doubtless aids in conducting the juice, but it also absorbs not a little ; and the danger of a bad flavor from it is so great that we should discard it altogether. The press can be made small, and of birch or some otherharitimber, that will not contaminate the cider. Two presses are really necessary for each mill, so that the pomace can be exposed to the air in the one while it is being pressed in the other, and thus acquire a deeper color " Perhaps the most essential requisite for good cider is the cask in which it is to be preserved. Few old cider barrels can be cleansed so as to bo fit for use again. We'havc seen them soaked in running water for days, and still retain the seeds of putrefaction. Fresh slacked lime we have found one of the best disinfectants ; but we prefer a new oak barrel or one in which whisky or alcohol has been kept. We have heard linseed-oil barrels recommended, as the oil will rise to the surface and prevent rapid fermentation. They are good for those who like them. We prefer to shut off the air at the right time with a good tight bung. ' If it is desired to keep the cider in a state of must it can easily be effected by boiling it a little, and then bunging up the cask tightly. This is the canning principle ; and if the cask is tight, the cider will be found as sweet at the end of the year as when first put up. We doubt whether the medicinal effect of such cider is as good as ?vhen it is allowed to ferment for a few days, and a little alcohol, and not a little carbonic acid, are generated. Whenever the cider arrives at the proper stage of fermentation—and the time for this will vary from a week to a fortnight, as the temperature of the weather may vary—the cask should be closed tightly, and all air excluded. Some say that a pound of mustard seed or a pint of horse-rad'sh should be added to each barrel when the bung is driven, and claim that this prevents further fermentation. They may add a little pungency to the cider, but we do not see how they act to prevent fermentation ; nor do we know how fermentation can proceed without air. Prof. Hors-ford, a few years since, suggested sulphate- of lime to keep cider sweet. It certainly has this effect, but, at the same time, neutralizes the peculiar acid, on which much of the good effect of the cider depends. If, at the proper time, the cask is made air tight, or the cider is securely bottled, yve much doubt whether any of these artificial ingredients are an improvement. It more color and richer body are desired, a quart or two of boiled cider added to each barrel will impart them. " Cider, like every other blessing, must be used with moderation. As the sweetest things can become the sourest, so our greatest blessings can be perverted into great curses. We feel bound to speak well of a bridge over which we have crossed sa'ely ; and cider has bridged us over a severe attack of jaundice, and we find it an excellent aid to digestion. If the experience of others differs from ours, we shall not quar rel with them, but only agree to diflfer." MANUFACTURE OP SUGAH.—It is stated that experiments are now in progress in some French colonies to try, on a large scale, Messrs. Rousseau and Bonneterre's plan of converting the saccharine juice of cane or beet-root into a peculiar saccha-rate of lime, and to transport that salt, instead of raw sugar, for the purpose of refining. It is said that this compound is as hard as sand, and can be transported without the risk of damage and injury sugar is subject to, and be kept for any length of time
This article was originally published with the title "The Latest Achievements of Engineering Science"