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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/569

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

largest amount of work is being done by the chemists, to whom the question is of extraordinary interest as to whether these substances are or are not real chemical elements. Béla von Lengyel, of Budapest, as Dr. Bolton explained, has attacked the problem from the synthetic side, and by fusing inactive barium nitrate with uranium nitrate, he has obtained a barium sulphate which has more or less radio-activity. From this he concludes it is probable that the radio-activity is due rather to a peculiar state of the barium than to a new chemical element. On the other hand, Becquerel has in a somewhat analogous way mixed inactive barium chlorid with uranium chlorid, and from the solution has obtained likewise a radio-active barium. But he finds that the increased activity in the barium salt is attended by a corresponding decrease in the radio-activity of the uranium. Hence it cannot be settled from these experiments whether the uranium salts possess a radio-activity of their own, which can by certain methods be communicated to barium salts, or whether the radio-activity is due to an impurity in the uranium which has thus far eluded isolation.

 

The director of the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory, Mr. A. Lawrence Rotch, writes to 'Science' that the highest previous kite-flight was exceeded on July 19, when, by means of six kites attached at intervals to four and three-quarters miles of steel wire, the meteorograph was lifted 15,170 feet above Blue Hill, or 15,800 feet above the neighboring ocean. At the time that the temperature was 78° near the ground, it was about 30° at the highest point reached, the air being very dry and the wind blowing from the northwest with a velocity of twenty-six miles an hour. The altitude reached in this flight probably exceeds the greatest height at which meteorological observations have been made with a balloon in America. The highest observations that have been published were made by the late Professor Hazen, of the Weather Bureau, in an ascent from St. Louis, June 17, 1887, to a height of 15,400 feet.

 

The U. S. consul at St. Gall, Mr. Du Bois, sends to the Department of State the following account of the trial of the Zeppelin air-ship: At the invitation of Count Zeppelin, I was present at the trial ascent of his air-ship on the afternoon of July 2, at Manzell, on Lake Constance. At seven o'clock the great ship, 407 feet long and 39 feet in diameter, containing seventeen separate balloon compartments filled with hydrogen gas, was drawn out of the balloon house securely moored to the float. At the moment of the ascent the wind was blowing at a rate of about twenty-six feet per second, giving the operators a good opportunity of testing the ability of the air-wheels to propel the great ship against the wind. The cigar-shaped structure ascended slowly and gracefully to about thirty feet above the raft. The balances were adjusted so as to give the ship an ascending direction. The propellers were set in motion, and the air-ship, which has cost considerably over $200,000, started easily on its interesting trial trip. At first the ship moved east against the wind for about two miles, gracefully turned at an elevation of about 400 feet, and, making a rapid sail to the westward for about five miles, reached an altitude of 1,300 feet. It was then turned and headed once more east, and, traveling about a mile against the wind blowing at the rate of twenty-six feet per second, suddenly stopped; floating slowly backwards three miles to the west, it sank into the lake, the gondolas resting safely upon the water. The time of the trip was about fifty minutes; distance traveled, about ten miles; fastest time made, five miles in seventeen and one-half minutes. The cause of the sudden stoppage in the flight of the ship was proved to be a slight mishap to the steering apparatus, but the colossus floated gently with the wind until it settled upon the surface