The bill of Senator Smith shows that, whatever criticisms may have been made of his methods of conducting the Titanic inquiry, he has very clearly learned the lessons of the great disaster, both as to the causes which led to it and the remedial measures which must be taken to prevent its possible recurrence. The Scientific American has claimed from the very first that the most important lesson taught by the disaster was, that present methods of constructing large ocean-going steamships do not make adequate provision to protect their flotation in the event of collision. So far as her strength was concerned, the Titanic was a most excellently constructed ship. The great defect in this vessel, and in at least 95 per cent of the merchant ships afloat to-day, is that the provisions against sinking, such as bulkheads, water-tight decks and the double skin, are altogether too few, and such as exist are insufficiently worked out. Therefore, we are glad to note that the Smith bill calls for the inclusion in oceah and coastwise steam vessels of certain safety elements, designed to protect( the flotation, which, as we have shown in these columns, would have saved the Titanic had they been present within the structure of that ship. If the bill becomes law, it will be necessary for every steel ocean or coastwise sea-going steam vessel and every steel steam vessel navigating the Great Lakes carrying one hundred or more passengers, to have a water-tight skin inboard of' the outside plating. This skin must extend not less than 10 per cent of the load draft above the full load water line, either as an extension of the Inner bottom plating or in the form of longitudinal water-tight bulkheads, and it must reach from the forward collision bulkhead ,pver not less than two thirds of the length of the vessel. '"'' be proportioned to withstand, without material permanent deflection, a water pressure equal to five feet more than the full height of the bulkhead. Bulkheads of novel dimensions or scantling are to be tested by actual water pressure. The bill would be improved if this read that all bulkheads before being passed by the surveyors should be tested by actual water pressure. The bill, as we have said, makes excellent provision for safeguarding the flotation of future ships. We suggest, however, that it would be much improved if a clause were added stating that all openings leading from the boiler and engine rooms and the holds to the shelter deck must be inclosed in steel water-tight trunks, or casings. This provision should be so worded as to apply to openings for boiler uptakes, ventilating shafts, ladders and cargo hatches. The provision of such casings would prevent water, which might enter the ship below the water line, from rising above the water-tight deck and flooding the decks above. The Royal Society ALMOST every eminent Englishman seems at some time to have tossed into a hat a handful or so of that form of carbohydrate food used in the making of alphabet soup; to have taken out at random, just as from a church fair grab bag, a number of these letters and have suffixed them in a long string to his natal and baptismal cognomina. Among these seemingly adventitious combinations the most highly prized by Englishmen of science is that denoting fellowship in the Royal Society of Lond on for Improving Natural Knowledge. This superb institution--when time presses called amply the' Royal Society--on the 15th of July celebrated its 250th anniversary. It was founded by Charles II, of otherwise rather nebulous memory; and all his male successors on the British throne have been members, Including the present King, who evinces a very active interest in its welfare and in its beneficent deliberations. Representatives of the French Academy, which Cardinal Richelieu founded only a few years before the Royal Society, attended the anniversary celebration. The Society seems to have been originated, not by an Englishman, but by a German--Theodore Haak, who came from the Rhine Palatinate and instituted in 1645 weekly meetings of divers worthy persons inquisitive in natural philosophy and other parts of human learning, and particularly of what has been called the new philosophy, or experimental philosophy; and another German, Heinrich Oldenberg, was the first secretary. Three years later a sister organization, the Philosophical Society of Oxford, was founded in that university. A most friendly intercourse was maintained until, in 1660, under the chairmanship of Dr. Wilkitls, their activities were joined in a metropolitan corporation for promoting physico-mathe-matical, experimental learning and philosophy. Sir Robert Moray was the first president; and among others have been Newton and Lister. Several great Americans have been or are fellows--Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford), Alexander Agassir., Simon Newcomb, Dr. S. Weir Mitchell. The membership has from the beginning been limited to fifty-five; most of these famous men have ever been and are advanced in years on joining the Society, such fellowship meaning to them the crowning point of a career devoted to science. And there are fifty honorary foreign members, without power and selected by the council from among men eminent in science abroad. The annual election of officers is held on the day of the Society's spiritual patron, St. Andrew. It receives from the British Government an annual grant of 5,000. A report on its considerable trust funds and its other sources of revenue is published annually. Its expenditures are for the public weal; every year thousands of pounds are devoted to the promotion of scientific research, and to paying for the experimental work of scientists who personally lack the means. Through its long and most honorable existence, it has ever been the principal advisor of the State and Crown in all matters of science. It is officially represented on the governing body of every kind of governmental and semi-public scientific and other educational institution. Its counsel is sought and given on matters innumerable. It keeps ever in touch with learned societies throughout the world. It has the custody of the standard copies of the Imperial Standard yard and pound; it controls the National Physical Laboratory, which was established by the Government on its recommendation; it superintends the Kew and the Greenwich observatories; on its initiative, and by its advice, the Government inaugurated the geodetic survey in 1791. Other enterprises which have had the Society's aid are the expedition of Capt. Cook to observe the transit of Venus, and that great command"; -er's circumnavigation of the globe; the various Arctic expeditions- under Ross, -Parry, Franklin, and Nares; the Challenger expedition; the International Congresses on the questions of a prime meridian, and of an international seismological investigation system; tidal observations; protection of buildings from lightning; tropical diseases; color-blindness; and much else impossible of enumeration. The Conquest of Disease THE Health Department of this city is to be congratulated upon the statistics showing the death rate in New York from natural causes during the forty-six years covering the period since the department was organized. In the year 1866 the death rate ratio was 36.31 per each thousand of population. Today the ratio is 15.13 per thousand. Well may the report say The facts are significant. They show in an unmistakable manner the success of public sanitary administration which has directed its efforts almost entirely against infectious diseases." Peace hath its victories--and surely this successful conquest of disease is one of the greatest of them. Our satisfaction in contemplating a reduction of over 50 per cent in the death rate of New York, our admiration for those thoughtful, highly intelligent and always industrious men who, in the quiet of the laboratory, have been carrying on the fight against disease, becomes the greater when we remember that what has been done in this city has been done also in - a hundred others. A reduction of over 50 per cent in less than fifty years in the death rate justifies, surely, the hope that before another fifty years has passed science will have obtained a complete mastery of infectious diseases, and mankind, once the prey of superstition and a predisposing dread, will have realized that, if certain simple salutary laws are followed, it can live its day-by-day life free from all fear, even of the great white plague itself. Certain diseases there are which to-day remain un-conquered, chief among which is the last-named. Yet even these are gradually being brought under control, and the progress in bacteriology, particularly during the past decade, has been such that, even in the laboratories (where predictions are never made) one can detect a note of strong hopefulness that consumption and the few other of the diseases which have hitherto stubbornly withheld their secrets, will be brought within' absolute control. It is an amazing fact that the very methods by which the bacteriologist has achieved his wonderful success are being bitterly attacked. Had it not been for the practice of vivisection, this 50 per cent reduction in the death rate could never have been accomplished. So far from the bacteriological investigations which have been made in the laboratories of this and other cities being marked by needless cruelty, the discomfort or pain which may have been suffered by a certain few dumb animals has brought untold benefit an d relief. The Exiles of the South Orkneys THE heroism of the cosmopolitan grout) of scientific men that keeps in operation the Argentine meteorological stationin the South Orkneys attracts surprisingly lit.tle attention, even from the scientific public. -The station was originally established by the Scottish Antarctic Expedition of 1903-04' and was taken over in 1904 by the Argentine Meteorological Office. Every year a party of four--three observers and a cook--is sent out from Buenos Aires to spend a year o exile in this inhospitable spot, which, although north of the Antarctic circle (lat. 60 deg. 40 mill.), is generally ice-bound, and has a truly polar climate. The mean annual temperature is 23.8 deg. Fahr. The snowfall is excessive, sunshine is rare, and strong gales are frequent. Moss and lichens are the only vegetation. From a purely scientific point of view, the study of the winds and barometric pressure distribution of the Antarctic is peculiarly interesting on account of its comparative simplicity. The South Pole lies at about the center of a dome-shaped continental glacier, so that the wind-system belonging to the planetary circulation and that due to air drainage down the glacier-slopes are approximately concentric. It is urgently desirable that other fixed and permanent meteorological stations should be established in the south polar regions. Pending this consummation, the enlightened policy of the Argentine government in maintaining a station in the South Orkneys. at a cost of from 20,00 to 25.00 a year, is most commendable. Special praise, however, is due to the devoted men. of several nationalities--Scotch, American, and others-- who are unobtrusively carrying out this important undertaking, with all the hardships it involves. They richly deserve the tribute paid to them by M. Rouch, of Dr. Charcot's last Antarctic expedition, in a recent address before the Socit Mtorologique de France: "There, for a year, in a primitive house, amid continual storms, never sure of the return of the ship, which, in order to reach them, must sometimes penetrate a difficult ice pack, they lead the traditional existence of a polar winter sojourn; obliged to bear every drudgery and to endure a rigorous climate. The!. do not call themselves polar explorers, and on their return to civilization they do nqt go, about the world delivering lectures--hence they are unknown; 'But is it not just that I pay this tribute of my admiration to these men?" July 27, 1912 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN 7l Engineering New French Dreadnoughts.--The French navy is following the lead of Great Britain and the United States by increasing the caliber and reducing the number of guns in her main batteries. The three new battleships, the Lorraine, the Bretagne, and Provence, of 23,500 tons, will carry ten 13.5-inch guns, all placed on the longitudinal center line of the ship. The Largest Warship.--Although authorities differ as to the dimensions of the recently-launched British battle-cruiser Queen Mary, there seems little reason to doubt that she is the largest warship afloat at the present time. Some authorities give her dimensions as follows: Length over all, 725 feet; beam, 87 feet; and displacement, 29,000 tons. She will probably make over 30 knots on trial, and to do this her turbines will have to develop not far short of 100,000 horse-power. The Moltke, of 23,500 tons approximate displacement, required 90,000 horse-power to drive her at from 29 to 29 Yz knots. Thirty Miles of Warships.--Great Britain has been the scene of some remarkable naval mobilizations, of which, until this summer, the most notable was that held during the coronation festivities last year. In point of size, however, that review was surpassed by the one held at Spithead last month, when 239 warships, big and little, were drawn up in six parallel lines, which, if strung out in single line, would have extended for 30 miles. The significance of this display will be appreciated when it is remembered that Great Britain is building warships at a faster rate, and is building more of them, than at any period in the history of her navy. Scouting by Submarine Bell.--Four of our naval submarines, using the submarine bell as the only source of communication, recently went in search of the Castine, which represented an enemy's ship. The submarines maneuvered in depths of from 20 to 60 feet, and finally the Castine was found and theoretically sunk by four torpedoes provided with dummy heads, whieh were successfully discharged at the ship. It may be mentioned that the submarine bell affords effective protection against collision, since the throb of the .engines of an approaching ship can be distinctly heard when the submarine is below the water. "Titanic Inquiry Concluded.--The Board of Trade inquiry into the Titanic disaster has been concluded, and its President, Lord Mersey, has announced that its report will be produced within a reasonable time. The Attorney-General referred to the inaction of Capt. Lord, of the Californian, and said that he had come to the conclusion that there was no excuse to be found for his conduct on that night when, as the evidence showed, his ship might have reached the Titanic in time to save the whole of her passengers. He asserted that utterly unnecessary risks had been taken by the Titanic, and that the causes of the disaster were a bad lookout and excessive speed. A 32-knot Steam Yacht.--The turbine yacht Winchester, built for P. W. Rouss, Esq., of New York, by Yarrow&Co., under the supervision of Cox&Stevens, naval architects, New York, ran her full speed trials recently on the Skelmorlie deep water measured mile, attaining a mean speed of 3274: knots. This was a quarter of a knot in excess of the contract speed. The Winchester is 205 feet in length and 18 feet 6 inches in breadth, and the trials prove her to be one of the fastest yachts afloat. The propelling machinery consists of Parsons turbines, driving two shafts, and steam is supplied by two of the firm's water-tube boilers fired with oil fuel. Hydraulic Transmission for Diesel Motors.--The Vulcan Company, of Stettin, are building two Fottinger transformers, capable of delivering 1,200 horse-power, for a vessel to be employed in the Congo trade. It begins to look as though the introduction of Diesel engines on ocean-going ships, particularly- those engaged in freight carrying, will produce a widespread demand for an efficient speed-reduction mechanism. Three types are available--the mechanical, the electrical and the hydraulic. The mechanical leads in efficiency, the electrical in the wide range of speed control, and the hydraulic reduction gear, although lower in efficiency than the others, has the advantage of quick reversing, a wide range of speed and great reliability. Memorial to Titanic's Engineers.--One of the most striking instances of devotion to duty in the Titanic disaster was that afforded by the engine-room staff. In a sudden emergency, such as overtook this ship, the order -for the engineer staff if; all below; and, judging from the fact that not a single member of the staff of thirty-four, including John Bell, the Chief Engineer, survived the disaster, it is believed that every one of these men remained at his post to the very last and went down with the ship. > Engineers the world over are invited to contribute to a Shilling Fund (25 cents) to erect a suitable memorial in Southampton. Contributions will be received in the United States by Mr. H. L. Aldrich, International Marine .Engineering, 17 Battery Place, New York city. Aeronautics Newest Record for Speed.--Vedrines traveled for two hours at a speed of one hundred and six miles an hour at Rheims, on July 13th. He broke all records. The Wright Hydro-aeroplane School.--Orville Wright has decided to open a station at Glen Head, L. L, where the use of the hydro-aeroplane is to be taught. The station will be in operation, it is said, on or before August 1st. The Aeronautic War Fund of France.--According to Le Temps the National Committee for Military Aviation has collected the sum of 1,280,373 francs for aviation purposes. The National Committee has already turned over to the Ministry of War the sum of 500,000 francs for the purchase of thirty-three aeroplanes. A Hydro-aero Bus.--Roger Sommer has built a hydroaeroplane which is to carry six passengers. The machine is to be used on Lake Geneva. Tickets will be sold to tourists. The maximum speed is to be only forty-five miles aD hour. Daily circuits are to be made from town to town around the lake. Japan Buys Aeroplanes in America.--It has been announced at the office of Glenn H. Curtiss that the Imperial Japanese Navy has placed an order for three hydro-aeroplanes, and that three Japanese Navy officers are now on their way to Hammondsport, where they will be taught to fly the machines. A Glenn Curtiss Launching Machine.--Glenn Curtiss, the well-known aviator, has 'secured a patent (No. 1,027,242) for a means for launching flying machines, which comprises a suitable mount with an aeroplane supporting device pivoted upon it, in connection with which he provides means for imparting at a variable speed an angular throw to the supporting device so that the- machine is brought to a position after it has attained a maximum velocity which position is according to the proposed direction of flight. Aeroplane Fleets for Argentina and Roumania.--The recent popular movement in Italy whereby the army of that country became possessed of a fine fleet of aeroplanes has had parallels in Argentina and Roumania. It -is reported that the Sociedad Sportiva Argentina has offered the Minister of War an aerial fleet, the cost of which will be defrayed by the sale to the public of 1,500,000 illustrated postcards. A competition was recently held to obtain suitable designs for the cards, viz., allegorical representations of the military uses of aviation. An Aerial League has been formed in Bucharest for the purpose of raising funds by popular subscription with which to buy aeroplanes for the Roumanian army. Do Flying-fish Fly?--This much-mooted question is discussed by William Allingham in the Na?<icaZ Magazine. The orthodox scientific opinion is that the wings of the flying-fish merely serve as a parachute to sustain the fish for a brief period in the air, after he has launched himself out of the water by a powerful screw-like movement of his tail. According to this view, the fish has no power of directing his flight after he has left the -water. However, Mr. Allingham, who is a nautical expert attached to the British Meteorological Office and is in constant intercourse with seamen, reports many observations that tend to controvert this opinion. Certain observers claim that the wing-fins are in constant rapid vibration, and seem actually to serve the purpose of flight. One vessel master watched a fish that had attained an altitude of 20 feet above the water, and was flying toward the mizzen rigging of his ship when, apparently noticing the obstruction, it changed its course about 60 degrees, crossing the vessel's stern to regain the water. Many other similar observations are mentioned. A series of cinematograph pictures might solve this question once and for all. Death of Hubert Latham.--Hubert Latham, one of the pioneer aviators, was killed by a buffalo on June 7th in a hunt in the French Soudan. He was one of the few men who first took up aviation and who was still flying almost up to the time of his death. The rest have either been killed or have gone into the safer vocation of manufacturing. Latham took up flying very soon after Wilbur Wright made his demonstrations in France. He always flew an Antoinette monoplane. He had -not been flying many months before he decided to cross . the Channel. ' His first attempt was made on July 19th, 1909. He flew half-way across and then fell into the sea and was picked up' by a French torpedo boat. After Bleriot had performed the feat", Latham made a second attempt on July 27th, covering nineteen of the twenty-two miles. Just off Dover he again fell into the Channel. Latham was phenomenally lucky. He emerged time and time again from accidents without serious personal injury, although he smashed machine after machine. In his day he was a record breaker. He held records for endurance, height and speed, all of which, however, have since been broken. Americans will remember him as one of the contestants on the French team that competed at Belmont Park in 1910. Automobiles When Kerosene is Useful.--A motorist from Marion, N. Y., the other day was caught miles away from a garage, without a drop of gasoline on which to get home. Inquiry at farm houses nearby failed to reveal any available supply of the precious fluid, and so he decided to try a can of kerosene. As the motor was still warm, he had no difficulty at all in starting it and finishing his run home without further trouble. Folding Chairs of Pressed Steel.--Folding cha'rs made of pressed steel, which can be folded together so as to look like an ordinary music holder, and slipped into a cover, are the latest in the accessory business. Although the weight of the chair is but thirty ounces, it is built strong enough to support a man weighing four hundred pounds. Nickel Trimmings Now Popular.--A large proportion of the 1913 output of the American automobile companies will have nickel trimmings. The beauty and durability of nickel, and the ease with which it is kept bright, commend its. more general use. At any rate, it is a tasteful compromise between the brilliance of burnished brass and dull effects of the more utilitarian finishes, such as gun metal. Subsidizing Motor Cars.--The British War Office has drawn up a provisional scheme for subsidizing petrol motor lorries (i. e., gasoline trucks built for carrying heavy loads) built after January 1st, 1910, and owned by civilians. The owners are to receive an initial subsidy varying from 39 to 58, and an annual subsidy of 73, in return for which they are to agree to turn over their wagons to the government in case of war, at a fixed price. Reinforced Bulb Horns.--Because the ordinary bulbs used on automobile horns have invariably been a source of trouble and annoyance to the motorist, and because the various mechanical horns are making such a remarkable progress, a French horn maker has brought out a reinforced bulb for the ordinary reed horn, which has several unusual features. Instead of being smooth .and slippery, the new bulb is ribbed horizontally and vertically, affording a good grip to the fingers and strengthening it to such an extent that it will outlast three ordinary bulbs. Race Victories and Sales.--The public, of course, well knows that race victories influence to a certain extent the sales of cars, particularly of those of the roadster type. But it must come as a distinct surprise to hear of a German factory which by good judgment and good luck managed to win three successive road races and one reliability tour, whereupon it received a cable order from England for no less than eight hundred chassis of the winning type. Previous to the winning of these races the entire output of the factory amounted to only one thousand cars. Dual Wheels for Heavy Cars.--Instead of mounting dual rubber tires on a wide-rimmed wheel, for use on heavy-duty trucks, a New York tire expert has invented a dual wheel, which is said to have shown great efficiency in the trying-out process. The wheels are staggered, one spindle being in front of and the other behind the line of the axle. The spindles are connected by means of an equalizing bar, which permits the wheels to follow the contour of the road and equally divides the load between them. While the wheel is to be made in New York by a well-known rim manufacturer, it is based on patents which were granted to Molesworth, the British scientist. The invention - was improved and developed by Alexander Dow. Emergency Steering Device.--Many of the most serious accidents in fast driving, and especially in racing, arise from the breaking of the steering knuckle and the subsequent swerving of the front wheels. A Rochester mechanic has patented a device which is designed to prevent the swerving of the wheels in the event of a fracture of the steering gear. The device is practically a double steering gear, operating independently. The main gear is attached to the machine and the second gear can be put on if desired. The former operates on a knuckle joint, while the latter acts directly on the wheels. A steering post is fastened directly beneath the steering wheel, and operates on a worm screw connected with rods on which are bolted collars set in a flange bolted to the wheels. The flanges are constructed so the collar rests in- them and runs on ball bearings, the two wheels being connected by rods across the front of the machine, in addition to the usual tie rods. If the main gear breaks, the rods hold the wheels from swerving and steer as if nothing had happened. If one of the rods .of the device breaks, the other will do the work. If a nut comes off one of the wheels, the flanges and collars will tend to prevent the whole from coming off, and even if the axle' should break, the device will do its share toward preventing a bad smash-up; the machine will rest on the rods and give the driver a chance to come to a stop without turning a somersault.
This article was originally published with the title "The Royal Society" in SA Supplements 74, 1908supp, 70-71 (July 1912)