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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/210

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

oped to a great extent in Germany and France. We see the same tendency to concentration of talent on the business end in the management of our railroads. Can any one doubt that these are now managed with far less energy than twenty years ago? Our railroads are now in the hands of financial magnates, and the attempt to do more business takes precedence of everything else. The great increase in the number of fearful accidents bids fair to open the eyes of our good-natured public to this tendency.

I believe I am justified in the generalization that the American talent has made its success rather in business organization and in invention that did not require great learning than in those lines that require deep thinking and solid study. This is the line characteristic of Germany. For instance, we build great steam engines, but it remains a solemn fact that the finest engines are to-day built in the Swiss town of Winterthur, by the firm of Sulzer Brothers. At the Paris Exposition, in 1900, one did not need to be a great expert to perceive that American engines played but a small part there, and that in originality of design and perfection of construction, those of Switzerland, Germany and Belgium were more worthy of consideration. The notion that we are always ahead in mechanical matters receives several rude shocks on careful examination. Some years ago when the power of Niagara was to be developed on a grand scale, it was determined to install turbines of five thousand horse-power each, larger than had ever been built. For the development of this plant the best talent in the world was obtained, and the dynamos were finally built after the combined suggestions of several American and English engineers. The turbines, on the contrary, were built after designs by a firm in Geneva. And yet this is the country of great rivers and water-powers, and at Holyoke turbines of all sorts have been built and tested for years. The reason that the Swiss were appealed to was that they had made such a study of the theory as well as the practise of turbines that they were prepared to design a turbine of any magnitude. As another example we may take the case of the most important subject now before the engineer in the steam turbine. It is true that there is now on the American market one successful American turbine, but it was brought out years after the Parsons turbine in England, and the de Laval in Sweden, and any treatise on the subject now bristles with the names of German, French and Swiss turbines. As an example of the German versus the English method, if we open one of the two or three English books on the steam turbine we shall find a very little theory, some specifications and a large number of examples of turbines built by various makers. Opening the chief German treatise, a huge volume by a professor in the Polytechnic in Zurich, we find at first a treatise on the thermodynamics of steam, then applications to the flow of