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MISCELLANEOUS.

A QUEEN CYCLIST

i The Queen of Holland, young and inexperienced though she is, has her full share of human trials, and for the moment she is simply inconsolable. Queen Wilhelmina recently paid a visit to the Court of Vienna, accompanied by her august mother, and, while there, became passionately fond of cycling. It is a fashion in Vienna, and queens are as liable to fall under its sway as shopgirls and typewriters, especially if they be young and brimful of spirits. Queen Wilhelmina roturnod to her home in Holland taking with her, as a precious souvenir, a cycle which comes as near perfection as one can well conceive. After she had amused herself by whirling up and down the walks of the Royal garden for half an hour, her mother, the Queen Regent, was seized with harrowing scruples as to the propriety of the thing. A Cabinet Minister or his wife might, of course, ' bike' to their heart's content without provoking censure or comment; even a duchess might mount a bicycle or guide a tandem without any loss of dignity. But a queen ! There is no authentic precedent for such a radical innovation, or, if there be, it is worthless. The Queen Regent made matters as clear as she could to her royal daughter, but the wilful young maiden declared she could Ie ? red to >ers of haste, ye the olland alo of crated natter c un- _; and words sdents :nion,' tot to s the mode jjects, :e and jssary rmber re, we jesty,' your slight ort of of a biker ibbon E. uth a.. c re- ■ imilities vs of I the ie the from ;

the time it. starts on its career until it reaches them.

This marked addition to the chances of saving the lives of the shipwrecked seamen is the invention of Reuben H. Plass, of Brooklyn, N. Y. Mr Plass will be remembered as the inventor of a system of maritime ocean buoys, which it was intended should form a chain of communication by means of cable and telephone between America and Europe.

In spite of the magnificent work of the life-saving corps in the United States, and regardless of the apparatus for the rendering of aid to the shipwrecked which is at their command, many a life has been lost by the inability of the persons who are clinging to a wreck to see the line shot at them from the shore, or, if it reached the rigging, to tell just where it might be seized upon. As, in such cases, minutes mean lives, the inability to see and grasp the life-line without the delay of a second has lessened the population of the earth by several in many instances. The idea that Mr Plass has successfully evolved is to employ a life-line that emits a phosphorescent light of sufficient luminosity to be visible for a long distance immediately it leaves the mortar's mouth and is shot through the gale and across the waves to the wreck. In the past if it happened to be daylight when the life-savers were at work, they could, by means of their glasses, tell whether or not they had landed a life-line aboard the wreck. It,unfortunately happens, though, thatthe majority of wrecks occur at night and therefore a luminous life-line becomes an invention of the first importance. By its use the life-saver can tell just exactly what has happened to the line. There need be no more uncertainty.

Mr Plass is more than confident that the final results of the experiments with his invention will be the adoption of the luminous life-line by the Government of the United States. He is a very practical sort of man and not at all given to theorising on possibilities not warranted by facts. ' The idea of the luminous hfe-line was suggested to me,' said Mr Plass when questioned regarding the matter, ' by reading an account of the wreck of the barque Nason on the reefs of Cape Cod a few years ago. In this case, the life-savers shot a line out to the wreck but could not tell for a long time, in fact not until daylight, whether the line had reached the barque or not. When day came to show how the wreck had stood the beating and surging of the waves, the men who composed the crew were seen frozen in the rigging, while the line which meant life to them all lay within reach. They had not seen it. j They had been unable to find it at all. ' It seemed a great pity to me then • that such a thing as that should be and I the thought came, ' Why should npt a j line be so constructed that it would be luminous 1 Then there never need be anything like the loss of life on the Nason for a similar cause.' The theory was admirable, I was firmly convinced, and ought to be carried out. But how to do this vyas a poser. Of course phosphorus ■ must of necessity he a prominent factor in any such invention. The principal thing to find out was how to make phosphorus stay on a cable. Then, again, the line in the j process of being fired from the mortar and the chafing it receives in the rig-

ging of a wreck would be likely to ignite the phosphorus. Phosphorus takes fire at a few degrees above the temperature of the human body, and it would only be the natural result of the friction caused by paying out the cable rapidly to make the line ignite.

• 'Well, I worked along this line for a long while, but finally I managed to make a combination of chemicals with phosphorus that I believe has entirely solved the problem. The exact figures at which the solution of phosphorus the line is coated with will ignite are 114 degrees, while the temperature of the body is ninety eight degrees. Sumner

I. Kimball, general superintendent of the United States life-saving service, has been making a thorough test of my invention, He is not quite ready yet to give the result of his investigations, but I am not feeling at all nervous because of anticipating that my invention will not bo recommended to the United States Government for adoption.'

Persons who never lived along the coast or in the vicinity of the shores of the great lakes may find it hard to realise tiie full measure of importance with which Mr Plass' invention is burdened. The life-line is really the most impor-

taut and principal aid to life-saving of which the United State. Government service' can hoa-i.. .More than 7,' i per cent of persons rescued from wrecks are saved primarily, if not directly, through Ihe life-line. The mortar from which tiic life-line is shot is bronze with a smooth two and a half inch bore, weighing with its carriage l.s.'j pounds, and carrying a shot weighing seventeen pounds. This projectile is a solid, elongated cylinder, fourteen mid one-half inches in length. Into (he., base of (his is screwed ;iu eyebolt for receiving the shot-liife, the bolt projecting sufficiently beyond the muzzle of the gun to protect the line from being burned off in firing. When the gun is fired the weight and inertia of the line cause the projectile to reverse. In discharging the gun, any charge may be used up to the maximun of six ounces. There are three sizes of lifelines in use by the United States"life saving service. .V range of 700 yards has been obtained with the large line under favorable circumstances, although it is not strong enough to sustain the hauling of what is called a whip line, a line that gives the victims of storm and wreck immediate aid and support in getting ashore. It is estimated that the luminous life line of Mr. Plass will be visible with as much distinctness as if the light were emitted from a ii fty-six-candle power electric bull). In that way. unless the storm were too dense, the line would be visible its entire length from shore to wreck snd the watchers on the beach could tell what progress towards safety was being made by those whose lives they were striving to save.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/DTN18980122.2.29.5

Bibliographic details

MISCELLANEOUS., Daily Telegraph, Issue 9070, 22 January 1898, Supplement

Word Count
1,381

MISCELLANEOUS. Daily Telegraph, Issue 9070, 22 January 1898, Supplement

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