« PreviousContinue »
JAI ALAI, the great gambling game of Cuba, is unique among all other gambling contests in, that it calls for as high a degree of bodily skill as mental. One who has seen the game describes it as "a superb display of human agility and high training." The successful Jai Alai contestant must accustom himself to sustain a strain of continuous violent exercise. "The Jai Alai player," says the same authority quoted above, "dies young."
In Havana, the contests are scheduled for every Tuesday and Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons. Thousands of spectators, the most of whom are there to gamble, often witness the game at one time. The prices of admittance range from $2.50, each person, down to $1.00, according to the fame of the contestants. High walls of stone enclose the Jai Alai court on three sides; the floor also being paved with stone. Metal markers against the wall designate the limits within which the ball must strike. The ball used is one of India rubber covered with leather, and weighs
about one-quarter of a pound. The ball is thrown to the wall from a small curved basket attached to the wrist of the player, and is caught again in the rebound by means of the basket. A failure to catch the ball on the rebound, or the throwing of it outside the proscribed limits is counted a miss, and scores one for the opposing side. The scores, as fast as made, are registered in sight of the spectators. The score runs to thirty. When it is nearing completion, the spectators go into a frenzy of excitement. Some have gone insane on the spot from losses; others have committed suicide. It is now played under police restrictions, but still many scenes of horror occur. The more morally inclined Cubans have made frequent attempts to have the game suppressed by law. In a speech in the Cuban Senate some time ago, Senator Sanguilly scathingly pronounced Jai Alai "a social cancer, whose results are the ruin of many persons, the cause of commercial failures, and of the suicides of fathers of families and of youths of brilliant promise."
TO STOP AEROPLANE
AND AUTO ACCIDENTS
HENRY M. HYDE
WHAT makes an automobile skid? What is the cause of the terrible accidents to machines running at high speed, occurring chiefly on the curves of race tracks?
Why is it that most of the fatal acci
dents in aeronautics have occurred just as the aeroplanes were turned into the horizontal plane, after a long sweep down from the heights on a sharply inclined plane?
In all these cases the accidents are most frequent and most dangerous just
at the moment when the direction is suddenly changed. What is the nature and the cause of the force which tends so strongly to resist this change of direction that, often, the whole fabric is upset or even torn to pieces in the conflict?
Studying this problem, Thomas Preston Brooke, the well-known musician and band-master, has been led to certain radical conclusions. In defense of these conclusions Mr. Brooke has prepared certain experimental apparatus which seems to demonstrate the truth of his contentions. He has also invented and built an eighty horse-power motor, for Use in automobiles and aeroplanes, in which the danger of such accidents is— in the opinion of the inventor, at least— entirely eliminated.
In brief, then, Mr. Brooke claims that a majority of automobile and aeroplane accidents of the destructive type are due to the gyroscopic force exerted by the revolving fly-wheels and clutches of their motors. When, in obedience to the steering wheel, the direction of a fast-moving car or flying machine is suddenly altered, the gyroscopic force of the fly-wheels and clutches continues to be exerted in the old direction. Hence the whole machine skids or even turns a somersault.
For the purpose of demonstration, Mr. Brooke has mounted a couple of gyroscopic tops on a small-wheeled framework, which may represent the chassis of an automobile. The two tops are set to spinning on their axles in a plane at right angles to the direction of the little car. The slightest attempt to change the direction of the car invariably results in its rearing up on its hind wheels like a bucking broncho. So strong is the force exerted by this upward leap that it takes a pressure of twelve or fifteen pounds to put the front wheels back on the ground.
How, Mr. Brooke asked himself, would it be possible to neutralize this destructive force of the necessary fly-wheel and clutches?
In the course of his experiments he one day set the two tops mounted on their small framework spinning in opposite directions—one from right to left, the other in the opposite direction. To his surprise the problem—from an experimental standpoint, at least—seemed
to be thus simply solved. With the tops spinning in opposition it became at once possible to alter the direction of the machine as suddenly as one wished without developing the slightest inclination to skid or somersault. The gyroscopic force exerted by each of the spinning tops was exactly balanced by that of the other.
In his effort to prove the practical force of this discovery Mr. Brooke made many experiments and built a large number of models. He has finally constructed a large motor on this principle, which develops about eighty horse-power and which, in actual operation, seems to give the final proof of the correctness of his theory.
In the Brooke "non-gyro" motor there are ten cylinders. They are mounted in sets of five on two circular bases, which revolve in opposite directions when the motor is in operation. The essential point in this motor, wherein it differs from all other revolving cylinder motors, is the fact that the bases carrying the cylinders revolve in opposite directions, the gyroscopic force developed by each being thus exactly neutralized by that of the other. In this way, while the fly-wheel of the ordinary motor is entirely eliminated and all the advantages of the revolving cylinder type retained, there is absolutely no danger from what Brooke calls the destructive action of gyroscopic force.
The Brooke motor, which is now apparently perfected, develops about eighty horse-power when all the ten cylinders are in operation. But, at the will of the operator, either half—containing five cylinders—may be disconnected, the remaining section developing forty horsepower, which is quite sufficient for the ordinary aeroplane or motor car. It is to be noted that when the gasoline is cut off from one section it still continues to revolve, thus still serving to neutralize the gyroscopic force of the other. At the same time the disused section is being thoroughly cooled, thus eliminating the danger of overheating and furnishing a motor which should be almost ideal for long-distance flights or runs.
As an engine for airships, especially, Mr. Brooke makes many other important claims for his new motor. It is said to be the lightest motor ever constructed in proportion to the horse-power developed and to be stronger, at the same time, than any of its rivals. It is also fitted with new devices for delivering gasoline under an absolutely constant pressure and through a straining mechanism which insures the perfect cleanliness of the fluid. The carburetor, electric and lubrication systems also contain many novel features, as was recognized by the Patent Office at Washington, when twenty-two broad claims were allowed to go to patent, without a single existing patent being cited against them.
Mr. Brooke's career has been picturesque and interesting. When a boy he ran away from home and joined a circus. Connected with the show was one of the old-fashioned aeronauts, who after ascending to a considerable height in a balloon, daily thrilled the natives by cutting loose from his support and dropping back to earth with the aid of a
parachute. Being of a daring and reckless disposition Mr. Brooke occasionally took the place of the aeronaut and did the parachute leap on his own account. Thus early did he get an interest and some practical experience in the problems of aeronautics.
In later years he turned his attention to music and for fifteen years he was the conductor of a well known band and orchestra in Chicago. During this period, also, he composed the music of a couple of comic operas and more than a hundred quick-steps and waltzes. But all the time he retained his interest in mechanics as applied to rapid transportation. When the internal-combustion engine was invented, bringing in its train the aeroplane and automobile, more and more of his attention was given to the resulting problems. Finally, with a number of profitable contracts in sight, he deliberately gave up his career as a band conductor and has since then spent every energy in the perfecting of his "nongyro" motor.
Mr. Brooke's theories and discoveries as to the dangers of gyroscopic force in aeroplanes and automobiles do not conflict at all with the views held by Brennan, inventor of the famous mono-rail gyroscopic railroad system. Mr. Brooke points out that there is a great difference between a vehicle running free in the air or on the road and in one which is anchored in one plane by the grip of its wheels on the rail.
That there has been a widespread popular delusion about the almost mirac
ulous effect of the gyroscope as a safety appliance in vehicles of all descriptions there can be no doubt. Mr. Brooke's views as to the dangers of this popular superstition have recently received high endorsement by M. Bouchaud-Praecig, an eminent French engineer, who in recent lectures and magazine articles has taken exactly the same position.
Mr. Brooke has invented and is now completing the construction of a new aeroplane, which will be fitted with his "non-gyro" engine and in which he hopes and, in fact, expects, to fully demonstrate the correctness of his radical views in mechanics.
,T BY PRINTER
Pasadena, a number of Pasadenans have made eight-inch replicas of the great sky searchers, and with them are doing much research work. An organization with a membership of about a dozen has been formed.
E. H. Morse, a linotype operator, whose telescope is pictured herewith, made a complete set of machinery, with the aid of which his eight-inch mirror was ground to a degree of perfection in a few months. His experience seemed to disprove the contention of a colleague, Wendell P. Hoge, a railroad man, that it is impossible to construct a machine which will not, in the course of grinding a mirror, repeat the same motions at intervals, thus working the inch-thick plate of glass into zones which would destroy the efficiency of the mirror. Mr. Hoge began his mirror a dozen years ago in the East and completed it entirely by hand, placing the glass on an upturned barrel and walking around and around it as he rubbed the glass with fine emery and jeweler's rouge, to secure the desired parabolic surface.
Other small telescopic mirrors are now in process of construction, while Prof. G. W. Ritchey, expert of the solar observatory, who directed work on the fivefoot mirror from which results were secured, said by scientists to be the best yet recorded, has made a nine-inch reflecting telescope for the students of the Pasadena High School.