Puslapio vaizdai

Sprague, Frank J., 421 Canal Street, New York City, electrical engineergraduate United States Naval Academy. Inventor of electric railway devices, multiple unit control, train control, etc.

Thayer, B. B., 25 Broadway, New York City, mining engineer and executive— vice president, Anaconda Copper Mining Co.

Whitney, W. R., general electric Co., Schenectady, N. Y., chemist and physicist-manager, research department, General Electric Co.

Very truly yours,


Senator ODDIE: Are not those men anxious, individually and as a board, to render service to the Navy?'

Doctor HUTCHINSON. More than anxious.

Senator ODDIE. Have they been called on recently, to your knowledge?

Doctor HUTCHINSON. Individually, they may have been, but not the board collectively. I do not know of any instance at all-do you, Mr. Sprague, except as perhaps in their business capacities?

Mr. SPRAGUE. The only case I know of recently was the suggestion of Doctor Whitney, which was made as a member of the board which was proposed by Secretary Wilbur to be appointed by the President, but which I believe did not go through.

Doctor HUTCHINSON. A great number of those men are constantly in contact with the Navy Department through their business affiliations in the concerns with which they are associated or employedWhitney of the General Electric, Emmett of the General Electric, Sperry, and so forth. It is a board of experts, each in his own line, that you could not employ on a retainer basis for a large sum per


Senator ODDIE. It would seem to me that that board is a very valuable branch or arm of the national defense.

Doctor HUTCHISON. It was the first board formed by the administration. President Wilson formed it October 6, 1915, in anticipation of the then coming conflict. It originated in my house in October, 1914, when Secretary and Mrs. Daniels were visiting me. I made the suggestion that such a board should exist. Mr. Daniels took it up. I do not claim any particular credit for it, but it came up in conversation, and that is the way it originated.

Senator ODDIE. Mr. Sprague has commented on the work that it did during the war in assisting the Navy. Have you any statement to make in addition to what Mr. Sprague has said regarding the work it did during the war?

Doctor HUTCHINSON. I might mention that we had a whole floor or two in the Park Row Building, with a force of 100 or 200 men examining the submitted inventions. The chaff was taken from the wheat and the wheat passed on to the board. Then the board assigned each invention to the particular committee concerned. If the idea was worthy of development, money was appropriated therefor. A few things of service resulted: a dozen or two which were worth while. It requires a special aptitude to really get the wheat from the chaff in these things. A man has to be open minded. It is easy enough to discard anything. In the hundred thousand suggestions that were submitted probably ten thousand could have been developed to be of some use, but that is one of the factors you have to contend with. I believe in the development of an invention it is a mistake to not follow the same procedure that is followed in

building a bridge. For instance, in Albany they want a bridge across the Hudson. The man who designs the bridge simply supplies the aesthetic design to correspond with the environment. He does not put a Chinese bridge in Albany, or vice versa. Then the abutment man gets busy and designs the abutments; the steel man gets busy and designs the steel, and so forth, and when the bridges are built they seldom fail.

In my own line, if I were going to design a rotary valve for engines, I would get the best crank shaft expert to design the crank shaft, the same with the cylinders, and all the other parts that enter into the engine and then I would have some chance of my valves working. I would probably have 8 or 10 people consulting with me, and that valve would have built into it the best ideas that the most competent men could furnish. The Navy can have for the asking, the ideas of the entire personnel of the Naval Consulting Board. They would gladly tell anything they know in their willingness to serve our country. There is nothing selfish about them.

Senator ODDIE. All in the interest of national defense.

Doctor HUTCHISON. All in the interest of national defense, trying to keep the other fellow away from your back door.

Senator ODDIE. If you have any further statement that you believe will be helpful we will be glad to have you put it in the record.

Doctor HUTCHISON. I think that perhaps Mr. Sprague on the one part has covered it most exhaustively. I agree with everything he has said, and perhaps have added a few things to it. I do not think I should take any more of your time. It would be only reiteration. I would be very glad to assist in the common cause.

Senator ODDIE. I think you gentlemen have contributed a great deal of valuable and helpful material. On behalf of the committee I thank you heartily for coming before us and giving us this information.

Mr. SPRAGUE. I would like to add a comment, if I might, Senator. Senator ODDIE. Certainly.

Mr. SPRAGUE. I spent the interval between the morning and afternoon sessions mostly down at the Naval Research Laboratory. That was the outcome of the Naval Consulting Board's work. Appropriations for it are matters that must come up before the Senate and the House, and I do not think the necessity for the work this laboratory is doing is fully appreciated by those who are not familiar with research work. I wish, therefore, to express the opinion here and I think the submarine question is one which is very pertinent at the present moment-that there is no money which the United States Government can spend with greater satisfaction of possible return than in liberal support of the Naval Research Laboratory.

I was astounded to-day in seeing what had been done there, the scope of the work they are undertaking, not alone for the Navy, but for the Army as well. I believe that they have some matter of appropriation up this year. I do not know anything about the details of it, but I want to add my testimony as to the efficiency with which that laboratory is being conducted, and the very great possibilities of good which lie within its power provided they have sufficient money back of it to continue the work.

They are going to need expansion of buildings and equipment. They are training a very high grade of men. They have heads of departments devoting themselves to research work the immediate result of which is not always definable in such definite terms as perhaps an appropriation committee might like, but which results are of the utmost possible consequence. There is work being done there in that laboratory which I do not believe is touched by any concern in the world.

Doctor Hutchison spoke of Doctor Whitney, of the General Electric Co. That company has an enormous laboratory in which a very great amount of money is spent, in which the members of the laboratory, under general direction, are given very great latitude of work, not because of what they may get to-day or to-morrow, or a month from now, not the concrete results, but to get precisely what that man Whitney did get, for example, in discovering a method of making the tungsten metal used in the filaments of incandescent lamps ductile so it could be drawn readily. For a long time those researches meant nothing, except to his immediate scientific associates, but the practical result to the General Electric Co. was not only an enormous saving in manufacturing, a very great profit in their business, but a saving in the economical use of electricity running into scores of millions of dollars to the people of the United States. That is so in any research laboratory. You can not always put your finger upon the concrete results which are going to be obtained; but I reiterate that money could not be better spent than on precisely that kind of research.

Senator ODDIE. Mr. Sprague, you have touched on something that is very close to me, and I am going to comment a little from the standpoint of the Navy and of other branches of our Government, because you gentlemen are engineers, and I want you to know something of the difficulties we have to face.

An important part of our system of government to-day is the Budget Bureau. The Budget Bureau passes on all the appropriations. I have been, for some time, personally trying to get increased appropriations, or half-way adequate appropriations, for the Bureau of Mines, to enable that bureau to do more scientific, technical, and economic research work, and the Budget Bureau will not allow it. They do not understand what it means. They in general understand only pure bookkeeping or ledger balances. They can not comprehend the importance of scientific and economic research work.

Doctor HUTCHISON. Yes.

Senator ODDIE. They refused to allow a few additional thousand dollars of appropriations which would have saved millions of dollars to the economic and industrial resources of the country, and large numbers of human lives. The man in the Budget Bureau who determines what the Navy can or,can not have is an ex-quartermaster sergeant of the Army. He naturally knows very little about the Navy. This shows what those of us who are trying to secure adequate appropriations for these important Government functions have to contend with.

- Mr. SPRAGUE. I think, Senator Oddie, that you have touched the very heart of the trouble regarding appropriations.

Doctor HUTCHINSON. Yes, undoubtedly.

Mr. SPRAGUE. It is that the Budget people do not know, and do not appreciate, what is meant by the expenditure of money in certain ways. They are simply experts in bookkeeping, as you put it. Senator ODDIE. Yes.

Doctor HUTCHISON. A million dollars looks large to them, and at other times a hundred dollars looks small to them.

Senator ODDIE. I will give you one illustration of how it works. Last year the Budget refused a few thousand dollars to the Bureau of Mines to carry on investigations in what is called the "falls-inroof" in coal mines. Accidents of this kind are responsible for the loss of over 1,200 lives every year, besides thousands of casualties. This last year the Bureau of Mines scraped together a few hundred dollars, and carried on an intensive campaign with the State of West Virginia for three months in investigating these accidents and their causes. The result of that intensive work for three months was in reducing the number of deaths from 75 to 35 or 50 per cent, and increasing the production of coal by a million and a half tons; and that was done on just a few hundred dollars.

That same policy could be carried on with the Navy. If the Navy Department were allowed more money for scientific investigational work such as you suggest it would result in the savings of lives and the increasing of efficiency to a very large extent.

Doctor HUTCHISON. Do you remember "Uncle Ben" Tillman, chairman of the Senate committee? He had the habit, whenever he had anything of importance to consider, of calling me down here and talking it over with me. On one occasion there was up the construction of submarine boats, and he said: "Do you mean to tell me that there is $300,000 worth of stuff in one of those boats?"

I said: "Uncle Ben, give them $400,000. They do not have an even break; you always cut them down so low that you do not give the manufacturers enough latitude to build a boat worth while. Add a hundred thousand dollars instead of taking off anything." He said: "I'll do it!" and he put it through.

Those who have had service in submarines know what the service is up against. You can not even buy a match unless you get three or four lines of red tape first. It is a terrible thing. A few accidents of this kind ought to bring the matter before the American people. It comes home pretty close when it pulls on your individual family. It is like railroad work and the introduction of what is called the automatic train control. Everyone is very reluctant to go ahead with it until some official has his specially constructed private car on the rear of the train run into, and he perhaps loses his life. Then on that particular road it is installed. But in this disaster it seems to me it was brought home in so many poignant ways that it ought to be a lesson to the Budget committee, or anyone.

The trouble is they did not strike quickly enough after the accident. There was a wonderful lot of advertising-if you want to use that term-in the newspaper publicity that was given the work accompanying the rescue of that boat and the way it lay there on the bottom of the bay for a long time, whereas if there had been salvage ships available for the purpose probably you could have gotten it up much quicker.

Mr. SPRAGUE. The trouble has been to get the appropriation from the Budget to provide for salvage equipment.

Doctor HUTCHISON. You could have put through five million or ten million dollars worth of salvage equipment right then at that time; it would have gone through like a streak of greased lightning right then; but not three or six months afterwards.

Senator ODDIE. One trouble we have is the lack of engineering talent and advice in Congress and in certain branches of our Government. We need more of it.

Mr. SPRAGUE. I quite agree with you, Senator. I think there are too many people who know nothing about engineering or science.

Senator ODDIE. My comments may seem to be somewhat far afield in this investigation, but I want you gentlemen to know some of the difficulties that the various branches of our Government have to contend with; and I hope that your organization will study this matter and possibly be in a position to put in a word here and there of wholesome advice where it can do some good and which I hope will result in helping us get more support from the Budget for technical and scientific investigational work in various branches of our Government.

Doctor HUTCHISON. I do not think there is any doubt whatever but what every member of the board will be delighted to serve in a consulting capacity to both the House and the Senate at any time.

Mr. SPRAGUE. I would be very glad to appear before any committee and do anything I can to assist; and I know the other members of the board would, too. They are all men who are connected with enterprises which require enormous expenditures to arrive at solutions. They could not live if they did not.

Senator ODDIE. You gentlemen are connected with the business organizations which believe in spending an adequate amount of money for such work.

Doctor HUTCHISON. Yes.

Senator ODDIE. As a means of saving lives and preventing losses and increasing our industrial efficiency.

Doctor HUTCHISON. They are not connected with politics and do not have to cut down taxes in anticipation of elections, and things of that kind. I think if we quit cutting down taxes and started spending some of that money toward the evolution of labor-saving and safety-giving features on all of our military and other departments, it would be money well invested.

Senator ODDIE. Yes. I am glad to hear that statement. If there is nothing further we will recess until tomorrow morning at 10.30. I thank you gentlemen very much for the assistance you have given this committee.

(Thereupon, at 3.40 o'clock p. m., the committee adjourned to 10.30 o'clock a. m. to-morrow, Friday, March 25, 1928.)

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