Page images
PDF

a thrifty grower, and a producer holding promise of a successful American future.

Cuttings of ten forms of olives of the hardiest kind known, have been sent from the far east to the gardens of the American Capital. It has been proved that these olive trees will stand a temperature of —2° Fahrenheit which kills American olives down to the ground. Apples, pomegranates, wild peas and hardy oranges are other introductions, some of them already acclimated, bearing juicy fruit, fine flavored and grateful to the eyes of the market man and the buyer.

Disappointment comes frequently and always painfully to the men of the Explorer's Division of the Bureau of Plant industry. Time after time attempts to bring to this country living seeds and living shoots from places far distant have failed, but the death of the plant does not bring death of hope. Five times attempts were made to secure from

Chili the seeds of a plant relative of the Alligator pear with the germ of life still in them, and five times failure came. Finally the explorer has planned to swing a cradle of moss underneath the fruit of the tree to catch it as it falls ripened from the stem, knowing that in this way he can be certain of an absolutely fresh seed supply.

The work of David Fairchild and his fellow scientists is one of propagation and distribution. The aim is to put new forms of plant life into the hands of the agriculturists of the country. It is the development of a new type of field work. It is experimental of course, but no experiment is tried without previous study to make certain that kindred conditions of soil and climate exist between the place of the species' origin and the place where it is to start life anew in an environment which, the anxious plant lover's constant prayer is, it will not find uncongenial.

LIGHT-PRODUCING ALLOYS

I ONG before the modern process of *-* using chemical preparations, fire was kindled by the use of flint stones which by concussion emit sparks.

This method of lighting inflammable materials has been restored by the use of other metals producing, under the action of a shock, sparks hotter than those obtained with the ordinary steel and flint. Metallic uranium will ignite a mixture of air and fire-damp; scientists have discovered that this mixture must remain a certain length of time in contact with the uranium before igniting. The phenomenon is its delay to take fire; this delay of 10 seconds at the temperature of 650 degrees, diminishes in proportion as the temperature increases, for a delay of only one second the temperature must be increased to 1,000 degrees.

The temperature of the sparks from uranium is then above 1,000 degrees.

Sparks forced from iron whether by an ordinary steel and flint or by the stroke of a miner's tool will not ignite the mixture of air and fire-damp.

Sparks from uranium readily ignite

cotton wicks saturated with alcohol or benzine. It was decided that this metal could be utilized for making very simple lighters, by placing a piece of uranium in a movable support pressed by a spring against a steel surface covered With points arranged in such a way that the sparks produced would be projected into the gas jet or on the wick to be lighted.

This very ingenious idea which was not applied because of the high price of uranium is now going to be realized because of the recent utilizing of the substance cerium.

In 1906 Dr. Auer of France attracted attention to cerium by a patent concerning an alloy of cerique metals with iron; by this alloy small pyrophoric sticks under slight shocks will emit very hot sparks.

A new alloy, the Kunheim alloy, is composed of cerique metals with the addition of iron and magnesia. It ignites more readily than the preceding alloy, and may be utilized for lighting gas jets, while the Auer metal is especially adapted to pocket lighters.

SUBSTITUTE

FOR SHORTHAND

By

ROBERT H. MOULTON

AFEW years ago an important law-suit was being tried in a court of one of our large cities. A dozen witnesses, representing each side of the case, had been heard and their testimony duly recorded. The most important witness, however, and the one upon whom the defense chiefly relied to support its contentions, was reserved until the last. When he finally took the stand, judge, lawyers and the other court attaches leaned eagerly forward in order not to miss a word of what might be said, and the official court stenographer prepared to take down his testimony. The examination began, and the witness proved to be such a rapid talker that the stenographer, one of the most expert in his line, was forced to exert himself to the utmost to keep pace with the questions and answers that were plied back and forth.

When the examination finally was concluded, the stenographer leaned back with a sigh and congratulated himself that he had made a record for speed and —accuracy? Well, he had passed successfully through similar experiences before and there was no reason why he should feel that he had made any errors in this instance, or doubt his ability to correctly transcribe the queer assortment of hieroglyphics that covered page after page of his note book. Besides, if there was any doubt in his mind, he could easily

[graphic]

Thk Machine Which Does Rapher's Pad

communicate his perplexity to the judge, who would re-examine the witness and —but just then a dramatic incident occurred. The witness was seen to sway in the chair and then topple forward, dead—a victim of heart failure.

This incident so unnerved the stenographer that when he set to work a few hours later to transcribe his notes he found more than the usual difficulty in deciphering them. Still he finished his work with the consciousness that he had performed his task well. The half dozen or so of words about which he had been in doubt could not affect the result of the trial materially anyway—at least that is what the stenographer thought. But when a few weeks later the case was decided by the judge, it went, very much to the surprise of all concerned, against the defense. In reading his decision the judge dwelt with some emphasis upon certain words in the testimony of the chief witness and which, he declared, had led him to arrive at his conclusions. The stenographer recognized in these particular words the very ones about which he was in doubt when transcribing his notes, and he was troubled. If he had been absolutely sure of himself, might not the whole case have been decided differently? But now it was too late to do anything in the matter.

This is only one of many instances wherein the inability of stenographers to read their shorthand notes correctly has re

Away With The StenogAnd Pencil.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

ThlB
is
a

spaa

1

men of the work r'wrlt I en

To
red

aa veil as
to

write

It

n

haf
to
no
a

fa

kod

sins

To

red

thee

words

lh

short

hand

u

W

to

na

the
hoi
thing

If
u

writ
short
hand
u

no

hou

hard

It

la

to

red

it

[ocr errors]

The New Stenographic Code And Its Key. EU equals I; PH equals M (initial); PB equals N (final); BG equals K (final): final T equals T or D (context invariably distinguishes): S equals Is or As—in phrases initial or final): TPH equals N (initial): TP equals F (initial). The following letters, when appearing on the same line with asterisk, become figures instead, as: S with the asterisk equals 1: T with the asterisk equals 2: P with the asterisk equals 3: H with the asterisk equals 4: E with the asterisk equals 5; Fwith the asterisk equals 6: P with the asterisk equals 7: L with the asterisk e.quals 8: T with the asterisk equals 9; O with the asterisk equalsO.

suited in much trouble and confusion. This defect in a marvelous system of taking down the words of a speaker verbatim is one which numerous inventors have labored to correct. Mechanical aid of some sort seemed the only solution of the problem, because there are limits beyond which even the swiftest hand and the keenest and most accurate mind cannot go. So these inventors set to work to perfect a device that would replace shorthand. But none of the many machines on which patents were claimed seemed capable of fulfilling all the requirements that would be exacted of them.

There has recently been put upon the market, however, a dictating machine, called the Stenotype, which its inventor claims will do for shorthand what the typewriter has done for longhand. It is not intended to replace the typewriter, but to be a companion machine to it. It is said to eliminate the greater part of brain work in taking dictation, and to make this work a matter of practice rather than mental strain. This claim certainly makes it look rosy for those who have heretofore found the stenographic pace too fast. Instead of learning stenography the student will only need to learn to operate the dictating machine.

Shorthand is difficult to master and many students of it never become proficient, while those who may be termed experts are comparatively few. This is proved by the number of those who fail in taking the Civil Service examinations for Uncle Sam. The speed required to pass is only eighty words per minute, which probably defines the speed limit of the average experienced stenographer. The trouble is that in shorthand there are too many mental operations to be performed—six for every word, in fact. It is claimed that the dictating machine will cut this in two.

• The training and practice necessary to be able to make all the characters in any system of shorthand— the dots and dashes, big and little circles, long and short characters, the curved and straight lines, and the light and shaded lines—accurately and while going at any speed requires months and often years. And then there is the serious question, already referred to, of legibility in transcribing these characters after they are once made; for often the same character will mean different things when above, below or on a line, different things when shaded, and still other things when lengthened or shortened.

The dictating machine is said to do away with this question of legibility entirely, since it writes in plain type-letters, so that no matter how fast one writes the letters are always properly executed. For this reason one person can read what another has written just as easily as he can his own work, a thing which is practically impossible in shorthand. It also leaves a permanent record, which can be transcribed at any time; and this is another advantage over shorthand, for every stenographer knows that the longer the time that elapses between the taking of shorthand dictation and its transcription, the more difficult the task becomes.

It is possible for an expert user of the typewriter to take slow dictation directly on the machine, the average speed in this connection being about sixty words per minute, which means that the typewriter is given about four hundred strokes, including spacing, in this length of time. As the new dictating machine is designed to write over a word a stroke, the spacing being done automatically, it will be seen that even if it is struck only half the number of times that is required in ordinary use on the typewriter, it will

[graphic][merged small]
[graphic][merged small]

still be writing almost four times as many words as the latter, and more than twice as many as the average stenographer can take down in shorthand in the same length of time.

The most remarkable feature of this machine is the keyboard, which contains only twenty keys. All of the missing letters on the keyboard are secured by combining certain other letters. These combinations form what is called a code, and it comprises the entire brain work in connection with the machine. The code is so small—there are only eight combinations for letters and ten for figures—that it can be memorized in a couple of hours. It has been figured, however, that the average boy or girl, just out of school, can memorize it and read fluently in a week or two any matter that may be written on the machine.

The keys are built to fit the fingers, and as each finger has but two keys to operate, the keyboard is always under immediate control. At the top of the machine is a bar, which may be struck in conjunction with the top row of letters and with any finger. This is called the figure bar and prints an asterisk in the centre of the piece of paper on which the writing is done. The code tells that whenever any of the top row of letters arc printed on the same line with the asterisk, they become figures instead of letters.

Another interesting feature of the machine is the rewinder, which automatically rewinds the paper as fast as it leaves the keys. The power generated by striking the keys, or any set of keys, is also the power that operates the rewinder. The paper is wound upon a spool, which is removable for the purpose of placing on the copy holder. The copy holder is a separate contrivance designed to facilitate the transcription of notes. By pressing a key on one side of the copy holder the paper is fed forward page by page, so to speak, as fast as may be desired.

In business offices where speed is an essential factor the dictating machine should result in a great saving of time. One person can transcribe while another

is taking dictation, thus having mail ready for the dictator to sign almost as fast as the dictation is finished. It has been figured that four operators on the dictating machine can do the work of five in shorthand—a clear saving of twenty per cent. And time is money. Consider what this would mean in offices where from twenty to a hundred, and sometimes even as many as three hundred stenographers are employed.

The dictating machine should also be the means of reducing the cost of tuition to students of shorthand very materially. Probably a quarter of a million of new students are turned out by the shorthand schools of this country each year. As the time required to learn to use the dictating machine should not exceed two weeks, while a course in shorthand may run anywhere from as many months to a year—well, figure it out for yourself.

MOVING-PICTURE PEOPLE TO TALK

LJEREAFTER the phonographic discs * *■ of popular songs will be accompanied by picture-discs to illustrate them, when the device of a California inventor is placed on the market. The song illustrator is a very ingenious device which can be attached to an ordinary talking machine and its principles may be briefly explained as follows: a disc about the size of a song record contains sixteen lantern slides which are set in small circular openings near the circumference. This picture-disc is adjusted so that the motor of the phonograph causes it to revolve, a couple of inches or so at a time, stopping for a brief interval as each picture is brought before the lens. The 1 e n s and light which are designed on the principle of the stereopticon, can be adjusted to the ordinary type of horn, and electricity, gas or kerosene may be used to project the pic

Talking Machine \V Moving

ture upon the screen. The latter is a hoop of about 16-inch diameter over which a piece of thin, white cloth is drawn taut. It is attached to the flare of the horn by an adjustable bracket so that the screen hangs in front of the large opening.

The"machine shown in the accompanying illustration is equipped with a 16 candle-power electric light and is designed for parlor entertainment, but by using a more powerful light the pictures can be projected on a much larger screen at a distance, thus serving for use in a hall or auditorium. ~ -. By using a larger song-disc, fifty or more slides can be set at the circumf erence, and it would serve for advertising purposes. This ingenious device is the invention of a clerk in a Los Angeles music store, Mr. Marry Clubb, who has spent two years in perfecting his invention.

[graphic]

Hich Will Accompany Pictures.

« PreviousContinue »