Popular Science Monthly/Volume 59/August 1901/Scientific Literature

Scientific Literature.


'Tunneling: A Practical Treatise,' by Charles Prelini, of Manhattan College, is a well-printed book, just published by D. Van Nostrand Company, which appears to fill a real need, since no American work on the subject has appeared during the past twenty years. The various methods of driving tunnels through earth are fully illustrated, especial attention being given to the shield process which has been so thoroughly developed in recent years. Submarine tunnels are discussed fully, with illustrations of those in New York, Chicago and Milwaukee. Tunnels in rock occupy nearly one-half the volume, the modern methods used in the St. Gothard and Simplon tunnels receiving detailed notice. Subway construction in Boston and New York is also discussed. Interesting historical information regarding ancient tunnels is given, while methods of surveying, centering, blasting and ventilating are explained in a manner which sets forth principles as well as facts. The book is one that shows much painstaking work on the part of the author, and it deserves high commendation.

In ancient times it was the custom for the title page of a book to give a full account of its contents. This plan is followed in a work by James D. Schuyler, published by Wiley & Sons, whose title is 'Reservoirs for Irrigation, Water Power, and Domestic Water Supply, with an account of various types of dams and the methods and plans of their construction, together with a discussion of the available water supply for irrigation in various sections of arid America; the distribution, application and use of water; the rainfall and run-off, the evaporation from reservoirs, the effect of silt upon reservoirs, etc' The volume is a large octavo of 400 pages with numerous full-page half-tones and several folding plates. It is mostly devoted to constructions west of the Rocky mountains; here hydraulic-fill dams and rock-fill dams originated, and the book contains descriptions of all that have been built, as well as accounts of the most important masonry and earthen dams. The treatment is descriptive and statistical rather than scientific, and the work is hence mainly one of reference for the use of engineers.

'The Cement Industry,' published by the 'Engineering Record,' is an octavo volume of 235 pages which gives detailed descriptions of numerous cement plants in Europe and America. The production of natural cement in the United States has been somewhat checked during the last decade by the rapid improvements in the manufacture of the Portland product, particularly by the introduction of rotary kilns. From 1895 to 1900 the production of Portland cement increased from one to seven million barrels per year, and the price suffered a reduction of nearly fifty per cent. The great deposits of argillaceous limestone in the Lehigh Valley form the principal source of Portland cement, but in the west it is made by mixing clay and marl in proper proportions, and there are also two or three plants where blast-furnace slag is used. The book, which is well illustrated, gives full details of the methods of manufacture of both natural and Portland cements.

A monthly journal called 'Revista de Construcciones y Agrimensura' is published monthly at Havana by Aurelio Sandoval. It contains many excellent plans and illustrations of buildings, articles on road and railroad construction, surveying, mechanics and technical education, and appears to be edited with much care. The last number contains the questions propounded to the candidates for chief of the mechanical laboratory in the engineering department of the University of Havana, and these indicate that a high scientific and technical standard is demanded as a qualification for a professorship. The University of Havana was completely reorganized in 1900, under an order issued by Gen. Chaffee, and the previously independent school of engineering made one of its departments under the faculty of letters and sciences. The university recently conferred its first degree of Civil Engineer upon Sr. Andrés Castella, who had the highest rank in an examination held for an assistant professorship in engineering.

'The Economic Disposal of Towns' Refuse,' by W. Francis Goodrich, is one of the 'Engineering Times' Library, published by King & Son, London. The author holds that garbage and street sweepings should be destroyed by fire and in no other way, and he presents facts and figures from all countries showing the great growth of processes of cremation. Dumping street refuse at sea, sorting it out into parts which may be utilized, and the processes of reduction by boiling are summarily dismissed as unworthy of consideration. The volume contains a large amount of information regarding different kinds of crematories, with results of comparative tests, and also a lengthy discussion as to the best kind of chimneys and boilers to utilize the hot waste gases for the purpose of generating power. Cremating furnaces are now in operation at 106 towns in England, there being 18 in London alone, and at 12 towns in Scotland and Ireland. At Bradford, Canterbury, Fleetwood, Oldham and a few other places, the waste gases are utilized for producing electric power for street lighting.

'Public Water Supplies,' by Professors F. E. Turneaure and F. H. Russell (John Wiley & Sons), is a comprehensive work covering the entire range of the subject, sanitary as well as constructive. That certain diseases are communicated through water is now thoroughly established, and the demonstration that the water can be rendered harmless by proper filtration is complete. Hence purity as well as quantity is an important factor in the consideration of a modern water supply. The chemical and bacteriological part of such works has heretofore been generally kept aside from the engineering part, but by the cooperation of two authors, both specialists in their respective lines, the difficult task of coordination has been here attempted. The book is mainly designed for engineering students in technical schools, but it cannot be said that the chapters on the chemistry and bacteriology of water are written in such a manner as to produce the best results. The engineering discussions relating to filter beds, walls, reservoirs, mains, standpipes and other details seem, on the other hand, to be clear and complete and likely to be of interest and value to all engaged in planning water supplies. The volume is the largest yet published on this subject in this country, is well printed with the exception of some of the cuts, and contains many carefully prepared descriptions of constructed plants. That the authors have not been completely successful in combining the sanitary and constructive elements is not surprising, in view of the difficulty of the task, but they deserve great credit for their painstaking work and the valuable volume produced.