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Patent Office, Dept. of Agriculture,
Ottawa, Canada.

Gentlemen: Below is submitted a general response to your valued letter of inquiry dated July 4, 1918. You may find it largely an extenuation of present comparative inaction.

The first definite steps toward the founding of our society were, in point of fact, taken by a group of assistant examiners more than a year since. Hon. Thos. Ewing, at that time commissioner of patents, lent some countenance to the movement, after ascertaining the favorable majority sentiment of the corps. The society and its work are still too undeveloped to justify much retrospect, but it is a matter of special gratification here that the membership has now been extended to include not only all chiefs of examining divisions, and the vast majority of assistant examiners, but also all chiefs of other divisions and all higher officials-thus including the present commissioner, Hon. J. T. Newton, First Assistant Commissioner Whitehead, and Assistant Commissioner Clay-whose paper reproduced in the Scientific American Supplement for January 9, 1918, is enclosed herewith.

Provision is made for associate membership on the part of those not members of the examining corps, the present fee being one dollar per annum; also for honorary membership, without fee. No honorary members have yet been elected.

The general objects of the society are perhaps best epitomized in the phrase "Devoted to the Improvement of the Patent System," which its stationery now bears. The society is of course interested in the promoting of mutual acquaintance within the office and with those who have business before it; in the elevating of standards of practise, information and efficiency; in the improvement of working conditions, methods and equipment; in better opportunities and incentives; in better organization and informative resources; and (by no means least) in meeting more than half way efforts toward patent reform on the part of any and all who may appreciate the predicament of the office and the possibilities and public importance of better patents and greater security therein.

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In conformity with a resolution adopted by the Patent Office Society and fully concurred in by Commissioner Ewing while in office, the National Research Council, with expanding offices now at 1025 16th St. in this city, appointed, in 1917, a committee for the preliminary study of Patent

Office problems. Under the chairmanship of Dr. Wm. F. Durand (now in France), several meetings of this committee were held, at two of which there were presented discussions arranged for by a special committee of the Patent Office Society—although responsibility for views expressed was, of course, entirely personal. The first paper pre

sented as referred to was that of Mr. M. H. Coulston, at that time a law examiner (now chief clerk, and also president of our society), and it related to patent appeals. That paper, with slight changes by its author, our committee in charge of the forthcoming Journal of the Patent Office Society has decided to print in an early issue-moved thereto perhaps equally by the spirit in which it was prepared, by a subordinate in the "system," and by the intrinsic importance of its topic. Other discussions presented at the meetings referred to were as follows:

Procedure and conclusions of the President's Commission on Economy and Efficiency in their investigation of the Patent Office in 1914; Needed legislation relating to assignments, or to the work of the assignment divisions; The needs of the Patent Office library; Suggested changes in the interference practise; Proper soliciting and adequate searches; The improvement of patent claims; The need of a secondary classification of patents, based on industrial arts;

The essentials of a proper Patent Office building; Incentives and opportunities within the Patent Office;

A proposed reorganization of the examining corps.

The mentioned committee of the N. R. C. (whose complete original membership, comprising some of the most noted of American scientists, engineers, inventors and authorities in patent law, was published in SCIENCE for December 26, 1917), is understood to have convened more recently at the New York offices of Mr. E. J. Prindle, the present chairman being Dr. L. H. Baekeland, of Yonkers, N. Y. Early enlargement of the committee was anticipated, and an additional committee of prominent engineers has in fact been appointed, under the chairmanship of Chas. A. Terry, E.E., by the United Engineering Societies, the last-named committee having authority to cooperate with the N. R. C., and others, in patent reform efforts.

As a consequence of the receipt of such information as the foregoing, and notwithstanding the fact that military and naval problems of the utmost urgency do seem to have foreclosed a first mortgage upon the present attention of all those men upon whom successful patent reform must depend, the "small beginnings'' mentioned are still believed here to afford some promise of real prog

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The movement toward a Washington location for that great International Institute for the history of science proposed by Dr. George Sarton and others (and coveted as an associate by the Patent Office) also appears here to await a more favorable moment for public attention-although the resolutions upon this subject adopted by the Patent Office Society have already been strongly seconded by the Washington Academy of Sciences, and the American Society of Civil Engineers, as well as by several of the powerful scientific bodies local to this city. At a suitable moment, this project may be again pressed, although leadership therein is understood to devolve upon Dr. Sarton. . . .


How intrinsically absurd must appear the complete duplication, within each nation, of all those facilities and technical qualifications prerequisite to the proper determination of such purely research questions as operativeness, and novelty of conception! Surely the possible economy in search-costs alone must appeal more and more

strongly not only to the inventors, who pay these particular bills, but to that increasing multitude now fortunately interested in the proposals looking toward a league of nations-or, at least, of democratic states! How much better the work of both could be done if the Canadian Patent Office and that of the United States could be coordinated at once, with united resources of men and means!

Salary resolutions, calling attention to the fact (ascertained by a questionnaire sanctioned by Commissioner Newton) that the great numbers of men annually leaving the office commonly double their incomes within three years; to the lack of satisfactory recruits, or of means for retaining properly qualified men; to the rapid consequent rate of resignation even for non-military employment; and to the corresponding jeopardy of inventor's rights entrusted to unqualified and inexperienced men, were duly approved by the executive committee of the Patent Office Society, but have been withheld from publicity-apparently because of misgivings lest shouting while cannon roar may be misunderstood-if it happens to be noticed at all!

Meager as they are, the assets of the society have proved sufficient to enable it-meeting as it does in the Patent Office Building-to purchase a projection apparatus adapted for motion pictures, of which notable use has already been made in showing the development and practise of particular arts; and also to tempt it, under the active leadership of President Coulston, into an essay at the publication of the mentioned Journal. For the first year, the price of this is fixed at $2.50, and its columns are intended to contain not only expositions of the present somewhat complicated practise, but also material deemed to deserve further consideration whenever the day for real patent reform shall dawn. These activities, for which some manuscripts are already at hand, may, of course, pave the way to a still wider field of usefulness: for in scientific and technical fields, as well as in legal, the possibility of suitable publication of historical studies must, of course, be accounted a legitimate incentive to study.

Possibly indeed any society centering in a government office must consider itself limited forever to an opportunist policy, making real advances, other than those of self improvement, only when the breath of a very genuine and generous official approval undisturbed by the anxieties of a period of war-shall accord, during some constructive period, with a current of awakened public interest. Yet it is not without confidence that our society

now hoists its modest banner, believing that the administration of Secretary Lane under President Wilson affords a peculiarly favorable moment for the initiation of cooperative efforts of which the justification may be rational, rather than merely traditional. Obviously, those patent reform efforts which the National Research Council is understood to have deferred (in so far as they have been deferred) only by unavoidable necessity can reach the largest effects only as a result of a very comprehensive movement-in regard to which all interested and competent parties should be heard. And (if every other special qualification be disputed who so well as examiners and assistant examiners can tell how distressing a thing it is for men charged with exhaustive research, and with judicial responsibilities therein, to be obliged to act hastily and superficially upon matters involving the largest public and private interests?

Lightly tossing a very broad challenge, one might ask "Do not the prospects of democratic government, in competition with more centralized forms, ultimately depend on the capacity to initiate, to organize, to present and to utilize criticism. Within a republic, does not the duty of utterance devolve upon all who possess special information? But we now press only the more specific question: Is it not reasonably possible that manufacturers, investors, practitioners, jurists, publicists, scientists and engineers, as well as inventors of every field and grade, conferring under the coordinating influence of so disinterested and competent a body as the National Research Council, will, from this time forward, work more and more effectively to insure the prompt grant of proper patents-only; and to make the genuine inventor, the investor and the public alike really secure by a very clear and a very just definition of rights? Upon the determination of this one fundamental question we do urge an early test-before still more complete failure of the patent system shall bring it into utter contempt-even though in the execution of such a test we, the "proponents,'' may be able to undertake only a very subordinate part.

At least, we of the Patent Office Society hope we simplify the situation by inviting-for possible publication, and by no means in a spirit of challenge -criticism of any phase or feature of the present patent system. May we not soon hear again from yourselves?

Sincerely and fraternally,

BERT RUSSELL, Secretary, Patent Office Society



IN connection with other wo I incidentally came upon the following phenomenon which I have not found clearly stated anywhere; though from the enormous amount of work done on polarization, I can hardly suppose it to be new. In part it might be surmised from Hittorf's researches on the migrations of the ions.

In order to keep the resistance of the circuit constant, bright zinc electrodes, facing each other diametrically, and set tangentially to the arc of motion, were rotated around a vertical axis midway between, in an electrolyte of dilute brine. A small electromotor and pulleys, collector rings and brushes made up the remainder of the apparatus. Special care was taken that all parts of the circuit, except the free zinc surfaces to be tested, were thoroughly insulated; for the effects produced by splashing of liquid may be misleading and the brush contacts must be good.

The electrodes at practically the same potential were now charged by a single storage cell for 30 sec., the charging current being .16 am. for electrodes of about 26 sq. cm. each. On breaking, the polarization was naturally enormous (needle off scale); but it vanished rapidly in the well-known way, being counter to the charging current. When this polarization had fallen to about -0.010 volt, the electrodes were rotated. At once the polarization changed sign and was again enormous (needle off scale) and in its turn fell off in the usual way. When it had fallen to +0.004 volt the electrodes were stopped, leaving +0.003 volt, about.1 Subsequent motion increased the electromotive force slightly in the direction of the charging current. In other words this second or residual polarization observed during the motion of the electrodes is astonishingly strong and in the direction of the charging current. To test this further, the latter was reversed many times, always reversing the phenomena as a whole, while in character they remained the

1 Different experiments give different data, without changing the character of the values.

same. The electrodes must be bright, as otherwise the phenomenon becomes very complicated. Furthermore the original polarization must often surpass a certain value if the residual polarization is to be contrary in sign; and there are other differences in detail for which there is no room here. Thus the rotational effect may proceed gradually to a maximum; an electromotive force zero may imply a very large residual polarization appearing on motion. The charging of moving electrodes is an interesting case; etc.

To elucidate this phenomenon, it suffices here to assume the occurrence of paired double layers a a' and b' b, one double layer at each electrode. One element, a', b', of each double layer is localized in the liquid and the other element a, b in the solid electrode, both of the double layers having the same direction; i. e., being two condensers in series. Hence there are two interpenetrating electrostatic fields,


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+ a a'





b' b



b' a' localized in the liquid and the other a b in the electrodes. These fields are in a contrary direction and the liquid field must be very much stronger to correspond with the initial counter polarization. On rotating the electrodes, the field localized in the liquid b' a' is set free and its ions dissipated. The field localized in the solid, a b, however, remains and this constitutes the residual polarization in the direction of the charging current. Both fields decay in the lapse of time in the usual


When rotation ceases a liquid field is reestablished, but usually, though not always, to a smaller degree. Eventually a probably discharges a' and b, b', one of the fields passing through zero first, so that the effect of rotation finally vanishes. I have met both with marked polarization which on rotation vanished, as well as with an apparent absence of polarization which on rotation became very marked.

To obtain moving electrodes as free from polarization disturbances at the contact with

a liquid, it is therefore prudent to capture both fields; i. e., to leave the electrodes entirely without interferences. This may be done by surrounding each with a porous cup, closed and completely filled with an electrolyte, the terminals passing out through an insulating tube. The electrodes should moreover be fixed rigidly to the cup. Again since zinc electrodes soon tarnish in brine but remain bright in concentrated zinc sulphate solution, the latter is a preferable electrolyte and the cups may be submerged in brine or any other solution.

I therefore constructed two cup electrodes of the kind in question and placed them in the rotational apparatus as before. The original potential difference of the zincs was about .4 millivolt. After keeping the circuit closed over night this fell off to below .05 millivolt, and could be eliminated by exchanging the cup electrodes. Rotation of the appartus, i. e., an external current in the brine surrounding the cups, produced no appreciable effect. The electrodes were then charged with a current of .2 am. for 30 sec. The polarization remaining was now much less than above, throughout, beginning with about 5 millivolts which fell to .5 m.v. in 5 minutes and to .05 in a few hours. Rotation was ineffective through all stages of the decay. No doubt the simple electrode in which both the original and the residual polarizations have vanished would often suffice, but with greater uncertainty, because such electrodes can not be exchanged without danger as to modifying their value. CARL BARUS



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JUST at the close of last July, not only personal friends, but geologists in general in America were shocked and grieved to learn of the death of Captain John Duer Irving of the 11th U. S. Engineers, professor of economic geology in the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, on leave. Alike as active and productive geologist, as successful and devoted teacher, and as managing editor of the magazine Economic Geology from its beginning in 1905, Professor Irving was known and esteemed by a very wide circle. He was born August 18, 1874, in Madison, Wis., where his father Roland Duer Irving was professor of geology in the State University, and was just starting his fruitful investigations in Lake Superior geology. John, the son, lived in Madison until his father's all too early death in 1888. Mrs. Irving removed to the east and was prepared for Columbia College, which he entered in 1892, representing the fourth generation of his family in the direct line, to be registered on the college rolls. He graduated in 1896 and took his doctor's degree in 1899.

Beginning in the vacation following his junior year, he had field experience each summer, and worked successively in the Uinta Mountains of Utah; the Adirondacks in New York; the San Juan region of Colorado; and in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Partly from the example of his father and partly from the writer's influence, economic geology became the branch which he specially followed. On taking his Ph.D. Dr. Irving joined the U. S. Geological Survey, and was assigned to a party in the Black Hills, and in time under the oversight of S. F. Emmons completed the professional paper on the ore deposits of the northern hills. His association led to his becoming in later years Dr. Emmons' closest associate in the revision of the famous Lead

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