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MARVELS OF THE YEAR 1909.
The year 1909 will stand out on the page of histories yet to be written as the "Year of Marvels." Some of its deeds glow with a luster that fairly dims the eye. Records have been broken in many fields of enterprise. Invention has reached its highest level.
All aviation records were broken at Rheims in August, 1909, although they do not discount Louis Bleriot's achievement in flying across the British Channel and the records of the Wright Brothers in America. Henry Farman, the French aviator, flew the greatest distance ever covered during a continuous flight m an aeroplane. This memorable flight, which is officially recorded as 118.06 miles was made August 23 last, in the remarkable time of three hours, four minutes and 56 2-3 seconds. The actual distance of the flight, however, was 140 miles. This world-beating record won for Farman the $10,000 prize offered by the Champagne district syndicate for the aviator who could cover the greatest distance in the air.
Glenn H. Curtiss, the sole American contestant, holds the world's record for the fastest flight. He covered 18 3-5 miles in 23 minutes and 29 1-5 seconds, or at a speed of nearly fifty miles an hour. This record won for him the International Cup and $4,000.
Louis Bleriot covered the course of 6 1-5 miles in 7 minutes and 47 4-5 seconds and Hubert Latham reached the greatest height — 490 feet.
These records beat the records of Orville and Wilbur Wright but slightly. Orville Wright remained aloft more than an hour on three different occasions at Fort Myer while Wilbur Wright made a hundred miles in two hours and eighteen minutes. Orville has met the United States Government's requirements by flying five miles and back in his aeroplane, carrying a passenger, at an estimated speed of 42 miles an hour. For this achievement made on July 30, he and his brother were paid about $30,000, the Government having offered $25,000 for an aeroplane that would carry a passenger at the rate of forty miles an hour and a bonus of 10 per cent for each mile in addition to the forty. The greatest record for dirigible balloons was made by Count Zeppelin, who covered 450 miles in the Zeppelin III.
Close on the heels of the splendid achievement of the discovery of the North Pole came an achievement in-many respects as wonderful — a four day boat across the Atlantic. The giant Cunard steamship Lusitania, which arrived in New York Sept. 3, 1909, made the course from Daunts's Rock Lightship to the Ambrose Channel Lightship — over which all ocean records are computed — in four days, 11 hours and 42 minutes. This time clipped three hours and 10 minutes from the previous best record which was made by the Mauretania, her sister ship. Throughout the entire trip the Lusitania averaged 25.85 knots — another record in itself.
Less than a hundred years ago it took at least thirty days to cross the Atlantic. Frequently it required two months. It was not until 1885 that a ten day boat was a reality. From that time the steamship lines have reduced the passage hour by hour and day by day until 1907 when the first five day boat appeared.
While records were being broken on land and sea and air, other records were being made below the surface of the water.
The Octopus, a submarine built for the United States Navy, broke the world's record on May 22 last by reaching the remarkable speed of more than eleven knots an hour under water. According to the official report made to the Secretary of the Navy, the Octopus covered a mile at the rate of 11.6 knots, the best previous record being 8.5 knots, made by a British submarine last year. In the diving test she went down at an angle of eight degrees to a depth of twenty-six feet in a fraction less than forty seconds. The best previous record for such diving was forty-six seconds, made by the Fulton, of the Octopus type. In addition, the Octopus, while going at full speed on the surface dived to a depth of twenty feet in four minutes and twenty seconds, the best previous time being eleven minutes.
A world's record for depth of submergence with a crew aboard was made by the Lake, also a United States submarine, on May 23, when she went down 135 feet. The best record previous to this was 130 feet, made by a French submarine.
Thus it will be seen that the United States Government has submarines that are superior to any others in the world and there are now 104 in actual commission in the several navies and one hundred more are authorized or building. It is predicted that within two years submarines with a submerged speed of fifteen knots will be built, but many experts believe the present records will stand for a longer period.
One of the greatest submarine exploits of recent years was made by Lieut. Kenneth Whiting, an American naval officer, in the harbor at Manila last month. He demonstrated that it was possible to escape from a submerged submarine by being shot through the torpedo tube.
Mountain climbing records were broken in 1909 in several parts of the world. The Duke of the Abruzzi in July reached the highest altitude ever before attained by any human climber. With his Italian party he climbed Mount Goodwin-Austen in the Himalayas to the height of 24,600 feet. The best previous record for altitude was made by W. W. Graham in 1883, when he climbed Mount Kabaru in the Himalayas to the height of 24,015 feet. Thus it will be seen that the famous Italian Duke exceeded this record by 585 feet. Mount Goodwin-Austen is the second highest peak in the world. Mount Everest is the highest — 29,002 feet — but as yet no one has succeeded in reaching its summit. The height of Mount Goodwin Austen is 28,250 feet, so that the Duke of the Abruzzi had 3,650 feet to go to reach the top when he turned back.
While the cousin of the King of Italy was climbing the Himalayas Walter S. Bond of New York City was breaking records in the Alps. He climbed Mount Blanc from Chamounix in nine hours. The best previous time was made by Morehead, an Englishman, in 1865, when he made the ascent in nine hours and a half.
The record for circling the globe was broken in August, 1909 — also by Americans. Two New York school boys, Walter Drew and John Munnich, accompanied by the Rev. A. A. King and J. J. Conway, made the trip around the world in 41 days and 8 hours. This record was made in little more than half the time prophesied by Jules Verne in his famous book "Around the World in Eighty Days." Nellie Bly made the trip in 67 days in 1890 and for years this stood as a remarkable achievement. The best previous record until last month was 43 days.
If it had not been for a bad wreck and other unavoidable delays, causing the party to miss steamboat connections, the trip around the world would have been made in 35 days. Indeed, if all the trains and steamships run on schedule time, it is practically possible to make the trip around the world in thirty days. Although Edward Payson Weston failed in his attempt to walk across the continent from New York to San Francisco in 100 days, the fact that he accomplished the 3,000 mile journey in 105 days broke all previous records.
Great strides were made in wireless telegraphy during the year. Only eleven years have elapsed since the time of Marconi's wireless signal at Flatholm and six years since the exchange of wireless messages across the Atlantic between Cape Breton and Cornwall. During the year the globe was virtually girdled with wireless stations — at Nome, in Hawaii, Hong-Kong, Burmah, Mozambique, Trinidad, Tripoli. Paris talks with Messina, press reports are flashed across the Atlantic, steamships at sea receive daily bulletins. In the winter of 1909 the lives of all the passengers of the steamship Republic were saved by wireless, and after that time the passengers of no less than a dozen other ships were saved in the same way.
Wireless messages can now be sent regularly 3,000 miles over water and 1,000 miles over land. On May 3, 1909, the first wireless messages were sent between New York and Chicago — the record distance by land up to the present time. Stray messages have been picked up at much greater distances, but of course they do not figure in records. They are considered flukes. Nova Scotia to Paris — 3,000 miles — is the record up to date. The crowning demonstration of the usefulness of wireless, however, is the summoning of aid to a ship in distress. Such projects as a wireless fire alarm system for the preservation of forests and wireless weather reports from coast stations are but new fields of endeavor.
Practicability of wireless telephony has been demonstrated and the warships of many navies are now equipped with wireless telephones. The United States Navy was the first to install them, and the best records have been made between our battleships. Until 1908, 200 miles was the farthest that messages could be transmitted, but in March 1909 wireless telephone messages were sent by Dr. Lee DeForrest from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to Marseilles, a distance of 550 miles. This is the record up to date. Great progress is being made by Dr. Lee DeForrest and other inventors, and they predict that the time is not far distant when it will be possible to telephone across the Atlantic.
The year was the greatest for speed records in the history of the world. It was demonstrated at Clayton, N. J., in December, 1908, that steam driven engines are still king, and that they can run as fast on a curved as on a straight track. One of the big locomotives on the Pennsylvania Railroad in a test held December 5 made a fraction more than ninety-nine miles an hour. This is the world's record for steam locomotives.
The record speed for electric locomotives is ninety-two miles an hour. This record was made December 6 at Clayton, N. J., by Electric Engine No. 028, belonging to the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad and known as the Jamestown Exposition engine.
It has been demonstrated that trains can be run with safety at a speed of ninety miles an hour, although it takes three or four times longer to stop a train going at that speed than one going sixty miles an hour.
A new record was made in August, 1909, in pulling heavy loads by rail. An engine on the Virginia Railroad pulled ninety cars, each laden with fifty tons of coal, a distance of 243 miles, breaking all previous records for heavy hauls.
World's records went to smash in August at the new motor speedway at Indianapolis. Lewis Strang won the fastest 100-mile race ever held, in i hour 38 minutes 48 4-10 seconds. Strang made a new twenty-five-mile record, going that distance in 23 minutes 20 seconds. A new ten-mile record was made by Zengell in 8 minutes 56 3/4 seconds.
Ever since the opening of this century scientists have been indulging in most hopeful "peeps ahead" at probable future achievements.
William Marconi, the inventor of wireless telegraphy, predicts that all rapid transit will be made by airships within the next fifty years, and that the storage battery will take the place of coal and fire and water.
"Within the next fifty years," he declares, "coal will cease to be our only source of energy. It may be that helium, which Prof. Onnes has succeeded in liquefying at the incredible temperature of 455 degrees below zero, may lead the way to an unsuspected source of energy and heat.
"Personally, I believe the harnessing of the sun's rays will be the next big scientific achievement. In every land men of science are patiently studying the problem of utilizing the energy of the sun — storing it, in fact — so that the generation of electric force may be cheapened by its use to a point where the storage battery on a large scale will be an economic as well as an academic possibility. The wasted energy in coal, as now used, may in the interval, be brought to do its work and so bring about the monster storage battery sooner than we now expect. But sooner or later we shall enslave the sun's rays to our uses."
Thomas A. Edison shares Marconi's belief that scientists will some day control the energy stored in coal without waste.
"Ninety per cent of the energy stored in coal is now lost," he said recently. "It goes off in heat from the chimneys, and is especially wasted in the process of converting water into steam. However, I predict that means will be devised by which this enormous waste will be saved. When it is done the production of power will be revolutionized. The result will have an incalculable influence upon the material progress of civilization. It will enable an ocean liner to cross the ocean in three days with an expenditure of about one-tenth the amount of fuel now required.
"Within a few years electricity will run the world. It is bound to do so. The greatest enterprises to-day are those on an electrical basis. Electricity and nothing else will be the great force of the future."
Bishop Samuel Fallows of the Reformed Episcopal Church predicts that we will soon be able to talk with spirits as we now talk with material persons.
"Telepathy is an established fact," declares the Bishop, "and such strides have been made in the explanation of psychic phenomena in the past few years that within the next few years we will be able to converse with the spirits of departed friends and relatives. Their state will be made known to us through the science of 'immortalism,' which is spiritualism with the 'fakes' left out. Immortalism will be studied by the masses just as they now delve into Latin, arithmetic, geography or grammar. All the great discoveries of the future are going to be made along the lines of mental telepathy."
Dr. James H. Hyslop, secretary of the American Society of Psychical Research, is only one of many distinguished scientists that have expressed a firm conviction that before the close of the present century the psychic riddle will have been solved and psychic knowledge and tests will have been reduced to an exact science.
"It is going to keep us busy collecting facts for a long time," Dr. Hyslop declares. "Many more years may elapse before we succeed in proving our theories as to the nature and uses of the spirit forces surrounding us.
"A world beyond the senses is already a settled fact, a fact certified to by scientific investigation and without appeal to exceptional phenomena. This conviction is reinforced by the phenomena of X-ray, wireless telegraphy and radio-active substances.
"The field of psychopathology will soon be occupied for both philanthropic and scientific work. An institute for psychic research will provide for study and therapeutic treatment of certain types of functional mental diseases — insanity, hallucination, secondary personality and such troubles as may yet be made to yield to hypnotic suggestion."
Telegrams, telephones and letters no longer necessary, better health and longer life, sex determined before birth, and the development of a race of geniuses — that these and many others will be the practical results of the psychological research now being conducted throughout the world is the assertion of Floyd Wilson, a psychologist and occultist of New York. Mr. Wilson, who is the author of several important works on psychology and a member of both the New York and London Societies for Psychological Research, believes that the psychic age is at hand and that it is only a question of a few years until practical results will be demonstrated.
"The time is not far distant," says Mr. Wilson, "when telegrams, telephones and letters will be a thing of the past. Mental telepathy will take their place. At the present time a comparatively few people are able to transmit their thoughts to each other in this manner, but it is within the possibilities of every one. When we know more about it, as we assuredly shall, it will not be necessary to transmit our thoughts by physical means. Mental telepathy will supplant all forms of present communication.
"And when you stop to consider it, mental telepathy is no more wonderful than wireless telegraphy or wireless telephony. The principle is practically the same — space is annihilated and without physical connection.
"That our health will be better and our lease on life longer in the years to come goes without saying. Poor health, to a great extent, is due to a condition of mind. By thinking health people will keep in good health, and by determining to remain young, or at least by determining to keep from getting old, old age may be staved off many years. Of course, people will get sick and die, just as they do to-day, but illness will be less prevalent and death will be postponed longer."
Dr. Lee F. De Forrest, in the current number of The Scrap Book, writes: "It is now possible to say we will soon be able to talk across the ocean, and over still greater distances. In fact, I think I can predict, without too great a strain on the imagination, that in the future, and not so far off, we will be able to talk around the world — in relays, perhaps, but so arranged as to be almost instantaneous. It is as sure as arithmetic that within the next few years every vessel of a few hundred tons will carry the wireless telephone. From recent experiments, I feel certain that within a short time we shall be able to be in wireless communication between our station, atop the Metropolitan Tower In New York and the Eiffel Tower in Paris."