Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/193

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feasible and very desirable for all railways to be operated by one common time, and the first step toward this is plainly the certainty that the time-signals which are now regularly sent from the Naval Observatory shall reach each railway-station once daily, at least.

It should be remarked that this change, as well as the changes it would imply, and which would follow as natural consequences, is not by any means so violent as the change from the English system of measures (feet, pounds, bushels, etc.) to the metric system (metres, grammes, litres, etc.) often proposed, and now partially adopted. In the latter case, the units are altered, and for the first generation, at least, continual reference will have to be made from the old system to the new; whereas, in the first case, the units remain the same, and the point of reference only is changed. Once familiarize a citizen of Detroit with the fact that his local mean noon is to be called 12h 24m instead of 12h 0m, and the transition would hardly be noticed. If by any chance all watches, clocks, and time-keepers in New York City could simultaneously be turned back 12m 10.5s (i. e., to Washington time) unknown to their owners, it is probable that the number of people who would be aware of the change would be extremely small.

Besides sending the signals which regulate the New York clock of the Western Union Telegraph Company, the Naval Observatory at Washington has for several years sent daily (except Sundays) a telegraphic signal at Washington noon over the lines of the Western Union, which signal is already widely distributed.

To increase the usefulness of this signal. Admiral Davis entered into arrangements with the officials of the Western Union Telegraph Company by which they will contract to deliver such a signal daily to subscribers (for a year) at extremely low rates. The company will connect the house, office, or manufactory of the subscriber with its local office (for the present the arrangement is confined to offices in towns having 20,000 inhabitants or over) in his town for a sum to be settled according to the length of wire required, etc., and will furnish him with a telegraphic sounder, or such other form of apparatus as may be suitable.

The price of such a connection is to be settled according to the various circumstances of each case, and each subscriber will of course bear the necessary expense, which will be met in the form of an annual rental. Besides this charge peculiar to each subscriber, the company will charge a certain small sum for transmitting the Washington noon signal to its own office for distribution; and this sum, if there is but one subscriber in any town, must be paid by him. Two subscribers halve the expense, for three each pays one-third, and so on. For New York and other large cities this expense will be almost nothing, so that the real cost of a transmission of the Washington noon signal will practically be the annual rental of the wire used to connect the subscriber's premises with the telegraph-office. By the method of