Popular Science Monthly/Volume 64/December 1903/Hertzian Wave Wireless Telegraphy VII




A NUMBER of more or less imperfect arrangements, having the isolation of communications for their object, have been devised or patented, which are dependent upon the use of several aerials, each supposed to be responsive only to a particular frequency; and attempts have been made to solve the problem of isolation by MM. Tommasi, Tesla, Jegon, Tissot, Ducretet and others.

We may then pass on to notice the attempts that have been made to secure isolation by a plan which is not dependent on electrical syntony. One of these, which has the appearance of developing into a practical solution of the problem, is that due to Anders Bull.[1] In the first arrangements proposed by this inventor, a receiver is constructed which is not capable of being acted upon merely by a single wave or train of waves or even a regularly spaced train of electric waves, but only by a group of wave trains which are separated from one another by certain unequal, predetermined intervals of time. Thus, for instance, to take a simple instance, the transmitting arrangements are so devised as to send out groups of electric waves, these wave trains following one another at time intervals which may be represented by the numbers 1, 3 and 5; that is to say, the interval which elapses between the second and third is three times that between the first two, and the interval between the fourth and fifth is five times that between the first two. This is achieved by making five electric oscillatory sparks with a transmitter of the ordinary kind, the intervals between which are settled by the intervals between holes punched upon strips of paper, like that used in a Wheatstone automatic telegraphic instrument. It will easily be understood that by a device of this kind, groups of sparks can be made, say five sparks rapidly succeeding each other, but not at equal intervals of time. One such group constitutes the Morse dot, and two or three such groups succeeding one another very quickly constitute the Morse dash. These waves, on arriving at the receiving station, are caused to actuate a punching arrangement by the intermediation of a coherer or other kumascope, and to punch upon a uniformly moving strip of paper holes, which are at intervals of time corresponding to the intervals between the sparks at the transmitting station. This strip of paper then passes through another telegraphic instrument, which is so constructed that it prints upon another strip a dot or a dash, according to the disposition of the holes on the first strip. Accordingly, taken as a whole, the receiving arrangement is not capable of being influenced so as to print a telegraphic sign except by the operation of a series of wave trains succeeding one another at certain assigned intervals of time.

An improvement has been lately described by the same inventor[2] in which the apparatus used, although more complicated, performs the same functions. At each station two instruments have to be employed; at the transmitting station one to effect the conversion of Morse signals into the properly arranged series of wave trains, and at the receiving station an instrument to effect the reconversion of the series of wave trains into the Morse signals. These are called respectively the dispenser and the collector. The details of the arrangements are somewhat complicated and can only be described by the aid of numerous detailed drawings, but the inventor states that he has been able to carry on Hertzian wave telegraphy by means of these arrangements for short distances. Moreover, the method lends itself to an arrangement of multiplex telegraphy, by sending out from different transmitters signals which are based upon different arrangements of time intervals between the electric wave trains. Although this method may succeed in preventing a receiving arrangement from being influenced by vagrant waves or waves not intended for it, yet an objection which arises is that there is nothing to prevent any one from intercepting these wave trains, and with a little skill interpreting their meaning. Thus, if the record were received in the ordinary way on a simple receiver, corresponding to a Morse dot would be printed five dots at unequal intervals, and corresponding to a Morse dash would be printed two such sets of five dots. A little skill would then enable an operator to interpret these arbitrary signals. On the other hand, the inventor asserts that he can overcome this difficulty by making intervals of time between the impulses in the series so long that the latter become longer than the intervals between each of the series of waves which are dispatched in continuous succession when the key is pressed for a dash. In this case, when telegraphing, the series of dots would overlap and intermingle with each other in a way which would make the record unintelligible if received in the usual manner, but would be perfectly legible if received and interpreted by a receiver adapted for the purpose.

Another way of obliterating the record, as far as outsiders are concerned, is to interpolate between the groups of signals an irregular series of dots, i. e., of wave trains, which would affect an ordinary coherer, and so make an unintelligible record on an ordinary receiver, but these dots are not received or picked up by the appropriate selecting instrument used in the Anders Bull system.

The matter most interesting to the public at the present time is the long distance telegraphy by Hertzian waves to the accomplishment of which Mr, Marconi has devoted himself with so much energy of late years. Every one, except perhaps those whose interests may be threatened by his achievements, must accord their hearty admiration of the indomitable perseverance and courage which he has shown in overcoming the immense difficulties which have presented themselves. Five years ago he was engaged in sending signals from Alum Bay, in the Isle of Wight, to Bournemouth, a distance of twelve or fourteen miles; and to-day he has conquered twice that number of hundred miles and succeeded in sending, not merely signals, but long messages of all descriptions over three thousand miles across the Atlantic. Critics there are in abundance, who declare that the process can never become a commercial one, that it will destroy short distance Hertzian telegraphy, or that the multiplication of long distance stations will end in the annihilation of all Hertzian wave telegaphy. No one, however, can contemplate the history of any development of applied science without seriously taking to heart the lesson that the obstacles which arise and which prove serious in any engineering undertaking are never those which occur to armchair critics. Sometimes the seemingly impossible proves the most easy to accomplish, whilst difficulties of a formidable nature often spring up where least expected.

The long distance transmission is a matter of peculiar interest to the author of these articles, because "he was at an early stage in connection with it invited to render Mr. Marconi assistance in the matter.[3] The particular work entrusted to him was that of planning the electrical engineering arrangements of the first power station erected for the production of electric waves for long distance Hertzian wave telegraphy at Poldhu, in Cornwall. When Mr. Marconi returned from the United States in the early part of 1900, he had arrived at the conclusion that the time had come for a serious attempt to accomplish wireless telegraphy across the Atlantic. Up to that date the project had been an inventor's dream, much discussed, long predicted, but never before practically taken in hand. The only appliances, moreover, which had been used for creating Hertzian waves were induction coils or small transformers, and the greatest distance covered, even by Mr. Marconi himself, had been something like 150 miles over sea. Accordingly, to grapple with the difficulty of creating an electric wave capable of making itself felt at a distance of 3,000 miles, even with the delicate receiving appliances invented by Mr. Marconi, seemed to require the means of producing at least four hundred times the wave-energy that had been previously employed. The author was therefore requested to prepare plans and specifications for an electric generating plant for this purpose, which would enable electrical oscillations to be set up in an aerial on a scale never before accomplished.

This work involved, not merely the ordinary experience of an electrical engineer, but also the careful consideration of many new problems and the construction of devices not before used. Every step had to be made secure by laboratory experiments before the responsibility could be incurred of advising on the nature of the machinery and appliances to be ordered. Many months in the year 1901 were thus occupied by the author in making small scale experiments in London and in superintendence of large scale experiments at the site of the first power station at Poldhu, near Mullion, in Cornwall, before the plant was erected and any attempt was made by Mr. Marconi to commence actual telegraphic experiments. As this work was of a highly confidential nature, it is obviously impossible to enter into the details of the arrangements, either as made by the writer in the first instance, or as they have been subsequently modified by Mr. Marconi. The design of the aerial and of the oscillation transformers and many of the details in the working appliances are entirely due to Mr. Marconi, but as a final result, a power plant was erected for the production of Hertzian waves on a scale never before attempted. The utilization of 50 or 100 H.P. for electric wave production has involved dealing with many difficult problems in electrical engineering, not so much in novelty of general arrangement as in details. It will easily be understood that Leyden jars, spark balls and oscillators, which are quite suitable for use with an induction coil, would be destroyed immediately if employed with a large alternating current plant and immensely powerful transformers.

In the initial experiments with this machinery and in its first working there was very considerable risk, owing to its novel and dangerous nature; but throughout the whole of the work from the very beginning, no accident of any kind has taken place, so great have been the precautions taken. The only thing in the nature of a mishap was the collapse of a ring of tall masts, erected in the first place to sustain the aerial wires, but which have now been replaced by four substantial timber towers, 215 feet in height, placed at the corners of a square 200 feet in length. These four towers sustain a conical arrangement of insulated wires (see Fig. 26) which can be used in sections and which constitute the transmitting radiator or receiver, as the case may be. Each of these wires is 200 feet in length and formed of bare stranded wire.

At the outset, there was much uncertainty as to the effect of the curvature of the earth on the propagation of a Hertzian wave over a distance of many hundreds of miles. In the case of the Atlantic transmission between the station at Poldhu in Cornwall and that at Cape Cod in Massachusetts, U. S. A., we have two stations separated by about

PSM V64 D160 Wooden towers supporting marconi aerial at cornwall england.png
Fig. 26. Wooden Towers Supporting the Marconi Aerial at Poldhu Power Station, Cornwall, England.

45 degrees of longitude on a great circle, or one eighth part of the circumference of the world. In this case, the versine of the arc or height of the sea at the halfway point above the straight line or chord joining the two places is 300 miles.

This question has recently attracted the attention of several eminent mathematical physicists. The extent to which a free wave propagated in a medium bends round any object or is diffracted depends on the relation between the length of the wave and the size of the object. Thus, for instance, an object the size of an orange held just in front of the mouth does not perceptibly interfere with the propagation of the waves produced by the speaking or singing voice, because these are from two to six feet in length; but if arrangements are made by means of a Gallon whistle to produce air waves half an inch in length, then an obstacle the size of an orange causes a very distinct acoustic shadow. The same thing is true of waves in the ether. The amount of bending of light waves round material objects is exceedingly small, because the average length of light waves is about one fifty-thousandth part of an inch. In the case of Hertzian wave telegraphy, we are, however, dealing with ether waves many hundreds of feet in length, and the waves sent out from Poldhu have a wave-length of a thousand feet or more, say one fifth to one quarter of a mile. The distance therefore between Poldhu and Cape Cod is only at most about twelve thousand wave-lengths, and stands in the same relation to the length of the Hertzian wave used as does a body the diameter of a pea to the wave-length of yellow light. There is unquestionably a large amount of diffraction or bending of the electric wave round the earth, and proportionately speaking it is larger than in the case of light waves incident on objects of the same relative size.

Quite recently Mr. H. M. Macdonald (see Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond., Vol. LXXI., p. 251) has submitted the problem to calculation, and has shown that the power required to send given electric waves 3,000 miles along a meridian of the earth is greater than would be required to send them over the same distance if the sea surface were flat in the ratio of 10 to 3. Hence the rotundity of the earth does introduce a very important reduction factor, although it does not inhibit the transmission. Mr. Macdonald 's mathematical argument has, however, been criticized by Lord Rayleigh and by M. H. Poincaré (see Proc. Roy. Soc, Vol. 72, p. 40, 1903).

The accomplishment of very long distances by Hertzian wave telegraphy is, however, not merely a question of power, it is also a question of wave-length. Having regard, however, to the possibility that the propagation which takes place in Hertzian wave telegraphy is not that simply of a free wave in space, but the transmission of a semiloop of electric strain with its feet tethered to the earth, it is quite possible that if it were worth while to make the attempt, an ether disturbance could be made in England sufficiently powerful to be felt in New Zealand.

Leaving, however, these hypothetical questions and matters of pure conjecture, we may consider some of the facts which have resulted from Mr. Marconi's long distance experiments. One of the most interesting of these is the effect of daylight upon the wave propagation. In one of his voyages across the Atlantic, when receiving signals from Poldhu on board the S. S. Philadelphia, he noticed that the signals were received by night when they could not be detected by day.[4] In these experiments Mr. Marconi instructed his assistants at Poldhu to send signals at a certain rate from 12 to 1 a. m., from 6 to 7 a. m., from 12 to 1 p. m. and from 6 to 7 p. m., Greenwich mean time, every day for a week. He has stated that on board the Philadelphia he did not notice any apparent difference between the signals received in the day and those received at night until after the vessel had reached a distance of 500 statute miles from Poldhu. At distances of over 700 miles, the signals transmitted during the day failed entirely, while those sent at night remained quite strong up to 1,551 miles, and were clearly decipherable up to a distance of 2,099 miles from Poldhu. Mr. Marconi also noted that at distances of over 700 miles, the signals at 6 a. m., in the week between February 23 and March 1, were quite clear and distinct, whereas by 7 a. m. they had become weak almost to total disappearance. This fact led him at first to conclude that the cause of the weakening was due to the action of the daylight upon the transmitting aerial, and that as the sun rose over Poldhu, so the wave energy radiated, diminished, and he suggested as an explanation the known fact of the dissipating action of light upon a negative charge.

Although the facts seem to support this view, another explanation may be suggested. It has been shown by Professor J. J. Thomson that gaseous ions or electrons can absorb the energy of an electric wave, if present in a space through which waves are being transmitted.[5] If it be a fact, as suggested by Professor J. J. Thomson, that the sun is projecting into space streams of electrons, and if these are continually falling in a shower upon the earth, in accordance with the fascinating hypothesis of Professor Arrhenius, then that portion of the earth's atmosphere which is facing the sun will have present in it more electrons or gaseous ions than that portion which is turned towards the dark space, and it will therefore be less transparent to long Hertzian waves.[6] In other words, clear sunlit air, though extremely transparent to light waves, acts as if it were a slightly turbid medium for long Hertzian waves. The dividing line between that portion of the earth's atmosphere which is impregnated with gaseous ions or electrons is not sharply delimited from the part not so illuminated, and there may be therefore a considerable penetration of these ions into the regions which I may call the twilight areas. Accordingly, as the earth rotates, a district in which Hertzian waves are being propagated is brought, towards the time of sunrise, into a position in which the atmosphere begins to be ionized, although far from as freely as is the case during the hours of bright sunshine.

Mr. Marconi states that he has found a similar effect between inland stations, signals having been received by him during the night between Poldhu and Poole with an aerial the height of which was not sufficient to receive them by day. It has been found, however, that the effect simply amounts to this, that rather more power is required by day than by night to send signals by Hertzian waves over long distances.

Some interesting observations have also been made by Captain H. B. Jackson, R.N.,[7] on the influence of various states of the atmosphere upon Hertzian wave telegraphy. These experiments were all made between ships of the British Royal Navy, furnished with Hertzian wave telegraphy apparatus on the Marconi system. Some of his observations concerned the effect of the interposition of land between two ships. He found that the interposition of land containing iron ores reduced the signaling distances, compared with the maximum distance at open sea, to about 30 per cent, of the latter; whilst hard limestone reduced it to nearly 60 per cent, and soft sandstone or shale to 70 per cent. These results show that there is a considerable absorption effect when waves of certain wave-length pass through or over hard rocks containing iron ores. It would be interesting to know, however, whether this reduction was in any degree proportional to the dryness or moisture of the soil. Earth conductivity is far more dependent upon the presence. or absence of moisture than upon the particular nature of the material which composes it other than water.

The observations of Captain Jackson, however, only confirm the already well-known fact that Hertzian waves, as employed in the Marconi system of wireless telegraphy, within a certain range of wave-length, are considerably weakened by their passage through land, over land or round land. In some cases he noticed that quite sharp electric shadows were produced by rocky promontories projecting into the line of transmission. His attention was also directed (loc. cit.) to the more important matter of the effect of atmospheric electrical conditions upon the transmission. The effect of all lightning discharges, whether visible or invisible, is to make a record on the telegraphic receiver. On the approach of an atmospheric electrical disturbance towards the receiving station on a ship, the first visible indications generally are the recording of dots at intervals from a few minutes to a few seconds on the telegraphic tape. Captain Jackson states that the most frequent record is that of three dots, the first being separated from the other two by a slight interval like the letters E I on the Morse code, and this is the sign most frequently recorded by distant lightning. But in addition to this, dashes are recorded and irregular signs, which, however, sometimes spell out words in the Morse code. He noted that these disturbances are more frequent in summer and autumn than in winter and spring, and in the neighborhood of high mountains more than in the open sea. In settled weather, if present, they reach their maximum between 8 and 10 p. m., and frequently last during the whole of the night, with a minimum of disturbance between 9 a. m. and 1 p. m. Another important matter noted by Captain Jackson is the shorter distance at which signals can usually be received when any electrical disturbances are present in the atmosphere, compared with the distance at which they can be received when none are present. This reduction in signaling distance may vary from 20 to 70 per cent, of that obtainable in fine weather. It does not in any way decrease with the number of lightning flashes, l)ut rather the reverse, the loss in signaling distance generally preceding the first indications on the instrument of the approaching electrical disturbance. It is clear that these observations fit in very well with the theory outlined above, viz., that the atmosphere when impregnated with free electrons or negatively charged gaseous ions is more opaque to Hertzian waves than when they are absent. Captain Jackson gives an instance of ships whose normal signaling distance was 65 miles, failing to communicate at 22 miles when in the neighborhood of a region of electrical disturbance. These effects in the case of wireless telegraphy have their parallel in the disturbances caused to telegraphy with wires by earth currents and magnetic storms.

Another effect which he states reduces the usual maximum signaling distance is the presence of material particles held in suspension by the water spherules in moist atmosphere. The effect has been noticed in the Mediterranean Sea when the sirocco wind is blowing. This is a moist wind conveying dust and salt particles from the African coast. A considerable reduction in signaling distance is produced by its advent.

Another interesting observation due to Captain Jackson is the existence of certain zones of weak signals. Thus, for instance, two ships at a certain distance may be communicating well; if their distance increases, the signaling falls off, but is improved again at a still greater distance. He advances an ingenious theory to show that this fact may be due to the interference between two sets of waves sent out by the transmitter having different wave lengths.

Finally, in the paper referred to, he emphasizes the well-known fact that long distance signaling can only be accomplished by the aid of an aerial wire and a 'good earth.' Summing up his results, he concludes: (1) That intervening land of any kind reduces the practical signaling distance between two ships or stations, compared with th which would be obtainable over the open sea, and that this loss in distance varies with the height, thickness, contour and nature of the land; (2) material particles, such as dust and salt, held in suspension in a moist atmosphere also reduce the signaling distance, probably by dissipating and absorbing the waves; (3) that electrical disturbances in the atmosphere also act most adversely in addition to affecting the receiving instrument and making false signals or strays, as they are called; (4) that with certain forms of transmitting arrangement, interference effects may take place which have the result of creating certain areas of silence very similar to those which are observed in connection with sound signals from a siren.

It is clear, therefore, from all the above observations, that Hertzian wave telegraphy taking place through the terrestrial atmosphere is not by any means equivalent to the propagation of a wave in free or empty space; and that just as the atmosphere varies in its opacity to rays of light, sometimes being clear and sometimes clouded, so it varies from time to time in transparency to Hertzian waves. The cause of this variation in transparency probably being the presence in the atmosphere of negatively charged corpuscles or electrons. If there are present in the atmosphere at certain times 'clouds of electrons' or 'electronic fogs,' these may have the effect of producing a certain opacity, or rather diminution in transparency to Hertzian waves, just as water particles do in the case of sunlight.

We may therefore in conclusion review a few of the outstanding problems awaiting solution in connection with Hertzian wave wireless telegraphy. In spite of the fact that this new telegraphy has not been accorded a very hearty welcome by the representatives of official or established telegraphy in Great Britain, it has reached a point, unquestionably owing to Mr, Marconi's energy and inventive power, at which it is bound to continue its progress. But that progress will not be assisted by shutting our eyes to facts. Many problems of great importance remain to be solved. We have not yet reached a complete solution of all the difficulties connected with isolation of stations.' In the next place, the question of localizing the source of the signals and waves is most important. Our kumascopes and receiving appliances at present are like the rudimentary eyes of the lower organisms, which are probably sensitive to mere differences in light and darkness, but which are not able to see or visualize, in the sense of locating the direction and distance of a radiating or luminous body. Just as we have, as little children, to learn to see, so a similar process has to be accomplished in connection with Hertzian telegraphy, and the accomplishment of this does not seem by any means impossible or even distant. We are dealing with hemispherical waves of electric and magnetic force, which are sent out from a certain radiating center, and in order to localize that center we have to determine the position of the plane of the wave and also the curvature of the surface at the receiving point. Something therefore equivalent to a range-finder in connection with light is necessary to enable us to locate the distance and the direction of the radiant point.

Lastly, there are important improvements possible in connection with the generation of the waves themselves. At the present moment, our mode of generating Hertzian waves involves a dissipation of energy in the form of the light and heat of the spark. Just as in the case of ordinary artificial illuminants, such as lamps of various kinds, we have to manufacture a large amount of ether radiation of long wave length, which is of no use to us for visual purposes; in fact, creating ninety-five per cent, of dark and useless waves for every five per cent, of luminous or useful waves, so in connection with present methods of generating Hertzian waves, we are bound to manufacture by the discharge spark a large amount of light and heat rays which are not wanted, in order to create the Hertzian waves we desire. It is impossible yet to state precisely what is the efficiency, in the ordinary sense of the word, of a Hertzian wave radiator. How much of the energy imparted to the aerial falls back upon it and contributes to the production of the spark, and how much is discharged into the ether in the form of a wave.

Nothing is more remarkable, however, than the small amount of energy which, if properly utilized in electric wave making, will suffice to influence a sensitive receiver at a distance of even one or two hundred miles. Suppose, for instance, that we charge a condenser consisting of a battery of Leyden jars, having a capacity of one seventy-fifth of a microfarad, to a potential of 15,000 volts; the energy stored up in this condenser is then equal to 1.5 joules, or a little more than one foot-pound. If this energy is discharged in the form of a spark five millimeters in length through the primary coil of an oscillation transformer, associated with an aerial 150 feet in height, the circuits being properly tuned by Mr. Marconi 's method, then such an aerial will affect, as he has shown, one of Mr. Marconi's receivers, including a nickel silver filings coherer tube, at a distance of over two hundred miles over sea. Consider what this means. The energy stored up in the Leyden jars cannot all be radiated as wave energy by the aerial, probably only half of it is thus radiated. Hence the impartation to the ether at any one locality of about half a foot-pound of energy in the form of a long Hertzian wave is sufficient to affect sensitive receivers situated at any point on the circumference of a circle of 200 miles radius described on the open sea. Hertzian wave telegraphy is sometimes described as being extravagant in power, but, as a matter of fact, the most remarkable thing about it is the small amount of power really involved in conducting it. On the other hand, Hertzian wave manufacture is not altogether a matter of power. It is much more dependent upon the manner in which the ether is struck. Just as half an ounce of dynamite in exploding may make more noise than a ton of gunpowder, because it hits the air more suddenly, so the formation of an effective wave in the ether is better achieved by the right application of a small energy than by the wrong mode of application of a much larger amount. If we translate this fact into the language of electronic theory, it amounts simply to this. It is the electron alone which has a grip of the ether. To create an ether wave, we have to start or stop crowds of electrons very suddenly. If in motion, their motion implies energy, but it is not only their energy which is concerned in the wave-making, but the acceleration, positive or negative, i. e., the quickness with which they are started or stopped. It is possible we may discover in time a way of manufacturing long ether waves without the use of an electric spark, but at present we know only one way of doing this, viz., by the discharge of a condenser, and in the discharge of large condensers of very high potentials it is difficult to secure that extreme suddenness of starting the discharge which we can do in the case of smaller capacities and voltages.

How strange it is that the discharge of a Leyden jar studied so profoundly by Franklin, Henry, Faraday, Maxwell, Kelvin and Lodge should have become an electrical engineering appliance of great importance!

Whilst there are many matters connected with the commercial aspect of Hertzian wave telegraphy with which we are not here concerned, there is one on which a word may properly be said. The ability to communicate over long distances by Hertzian waves is now demonstrated beyond question, and even if all difficulties are not overcome at once, it has a field of very practical utility, and may even become of national importance. Under these circumstances, we may consider whether it is absolutely necessary to place the signaling stations so near the coast. The greater facility of transmission over sea has already been discussed and explained, but in time of war, the masts and towers which are essential at present in connection with transmitting stations could be wrecked by shot or shell from an enemy's battleship at a distance of five or six miles out at sea, and would certainly be done within territorial waters. Should not this question receive attention in choosing the location of important signaling stations? For if they can, without prejudice to their use, be placed inland by a distance sufficient to conceal them from sight, their value as a national asset in time of war might be greatly increased.

It has been often contended that whilst cables could be cut in time of war no one can cut the ether; but wireless telegraph stations in exposed situations on high promontories, where they are visible for ten to fifteen miles out at sea and undefended by any forts, could easily be destroyed. The great towers which are essential to carry large aerials are a conspicuous object for ten miles out at sea; and a single well-placed shell from a six-inch gun would wreck the place and put the station completely out of use for many months. Hence if oceanic telegraphy is ever to be conducted in a manner in which the communication will be inviolable or, at any rate, not be capable of interruption by acts of war, the careful selection of the sites for stations is a matter of importance. A small station consisting of a single 150-foot mast and a wooden hut can easily be removed or replaced, but an expensive power station, the mere aerial of which may cost several thousand pounds, is not to be put up in a short time.[8]

Meanwhile, whatever may be the future achievements of this new supermarine wireless telegraphy conducted over long distances, there can be no question as to its enormous utility and present value for intercommunication between ships on the ocean and ships and the shore. At the present time, there are some forty or more of the transatlantic ocean liners and many other ships equipped with this Hertzian wave wireless telegraph apparatus on the Marconi system. Provided with this latest weapon of applied science, they are able to chat with one another, though a hundred miles apart on the ocean, with the ease of guests round a dinner table, to exchange news or make demands for assistance.

Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing—
Only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness;
So, on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again, and a silence.

Abundant experience has been gathered to show the inexpressible value of this means of communication in case of accident, and it can hardly be doubted that before long the possession of this apparatus on board every passenger vessel will be demanded by the public, even if not made compulsory. Although the privacy of an ocean voyage may have been somewhat diminished by this utilization of ether waves, there is a vast compensation in the security that is thereby gained to human life and property by this latest application of the great energies of nature for the use and benefit of mankind.

  1. See The Electrician, Vol. XLVI., p. 573, February 8, 1901.
  2. See Electrician, Vol. I., p. 418, January 2, 1903.
  3. See Mr. Marconi's Friday evening discourse at the Royal Institution, June 13, 1902: also The Electrician, Vol. XLIX., p. 390.
  4. See Proc. Roy. Soc, June 12, 1902. 'A note on the Effect of Daylight upon the Propagation of Electromagnetic Impulses Over Long Distances,' by G. Marconi.
  5. See Phil. Mag., Vol. IV., p. 253. Series 6, August, 1902. J. J. Thomson, 'On Some Consequences of the Emission of Negatively Electrified Corpuscles by Hot Bodies.'
  6. The opinion that ionization of the air by sunlight is a cause of obstruction to Hertzian waves propagated over long distances has also been expressed by Mr. J. E. Taylor. See Proc. Roy. Soc., Vol. LXXI., p. 225, 1903. 'Characteristics of Earth Current Disturbances and their Origin.'
  7. See Proc. Roy. Soc., May 15, 1902. 'On Some Phenomena affecting the Transmission of Electric Waves over the Surface of the Sea and Earth,' by Capt. H. B. Jackson, R.N., F.R.S.
  8. Mr. Marconi has informed the writer that these strategic questions have received attention in selecting the sites for large Marconi power stations in Italy.