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of the relative motion is comparable with that of light. Such speeds cannot be produced in the laboratory, except in the case of the particles discharged from radium and from the cathode of a vacuum tube in action. In these cases the change of mass with speed has been observed and to that extent the theory has been verified; but these results and also the failure to detect the earth's motion optically may be explained equally well by other theories, less revolutionary than relativity, though less comprehensive. Experiments are still to be devised which will decide with certainty between relativity and its rivals.
J. M. A.
[Further notes by other members of the Physics department will appear in a later number.]
THE RECENT DISASTERS ON THE LAKES.
The great storm of November 9th and 10th was the most disastrous to life and property in the history of the Great Lakes, resulting in the total destruction of nineteen steamers valued at $2,500,000, and damage to seventeen others estimated at $439,000, with a loss of life now placed at two hundred. The appalling magnitude of the calamity has created a widespread sympathy, and directed earnest attention to the exceptional conditions and dangers of our inland navigation. Every fall these waters claim their deadly toll of life and ships, but this last has exceeded all past experience.
Saturday, November 8th, the storm signals were hoisted, indicating a gale, but in the course of the night the wind fell, and captains and owners thought the worst was over, and many steam vessels ventured out. The meteorological stations knew better, and that yet heavier weather was impending, and the signals were kept up, but the absence of wireless on the lake marine prevented communication with the outbound and inbound vessels.
Sunday, the storm broke out again, and with unwonted violence, and continued without abatement all that day and Monday, sweeping over all the lake region,, but with exceptional severity on Superior and Huron. At the same time, conditions were aggravated by a sharp fall in the temperature, and blinding flurries of snow. The wind, said to have reached a velocity of eighty miles, or more, an hour, first blew from the nor'west, and then shifted to the sou'west. Ashore fear of grave results was prevalent, but without wireless nothing could be immediately known of the fate of the brave men on the deep. Soon, however, the sad tale began to unfold itself. Tuesday and Wednesday some vessels were overdue, and some wreckage and bodies came ashore in the neighborhood of Goderich, and other Lake Huron ports, and these waters have been casting up wreckage and dead ever since.
That masters and men were not taken unawares, that they realized their danger, and met it bravely and calmly, is evident from the fact that the bodies recovered were warmly clad and wore life-belts. The captains who survived those dreadful days tell us of the terrific force of the storm, and how, when shelter could not be reached, all that skill and endurance could do was required, with plenty of room, to navigate the boat in the besetting waters, benumbing cold and blinding snow. Their escape was a marvel.
Just what directly caused the loss of so many vessels, some of them the largest, newest, strongest of their class, can only be conjectured. Expert opinion is not at one. The Titanic went down in mid-ocean, April 14, 1912, in collision with an iceberg, revealing structural defects which in all great ships, subsequently built, will be avoided. It is equally certain that a better design for the big steel carriers of the lakes will result from our recent and terrific adversity. The experience is valuable, but gained at a tremendous cost.
No doubt, looking at the matter in the light of facts, and from the marine architect's point of view, the type of the boats that went down in the November storm, and in open water, must be faulty in many ways. And yet, that type is the only one fitted for the pressure of traffic, and the limitations of our inter-lake connections, canals and harbors: the largest carrying capacity with comparatively shallow draft. In the late storm, the bigger boats fared worse than the medium-sized. And discussion has since brought to light some of the defects which probably helped them to the bottom. In any weather, of not ecessivxe violence, and in open water, the prevailing type has proved seaworthy enough. Of course there are catastrophes possible which no design, and no human foresight can provide against, for the elements are in other hands than ours.
It is conceded that the length of the freighters is too great for their draft. For ocean service, say in a vessel of 10,000 tons, the proportion is seventeen drafts to the length. For the upper lakes, and for the same tonnage, the proportion is twenty-seven drafts to the length, and with little more than half the indicated horse power. If this be so, it is plain at a glance how severe, in a heavy sea and in a strong wind, must be the strain on the lake type whether loaded or empty. They are very long, ill-braced shells, and, as events have proved, very much at the mercy of the worst weather. Under
the severe strain and vibration rivets and other fastenings loosen, and then the hull may buckle or break in two. As a matter of history, this was what happened to some of the first iron-built American freighters, and in a comparatively moderate sea. Less length to the draft, and more bulkhead and bracing seem to be demanded.
More engine power is also indicated. What chance of escape in a sudden gale has one of the immense steamers, without load, its average speed under favorable conditions nine miles an hour, its propeller one-third to one-half out of the water, and the hull, from amidships forward, merely sitting on the surface? True, the ballast tanks can be filled, giving a better trim, but even that takes some time. Once I went up the lakes on a staunch steel freighter of canal size, and light. And the trim, even to a landsman, was ridiculous. The stern was down, immersing about two-thirds of the screw, and her nose was up scraping the sky. Ascending the Welland, any puff of wind blew her this way and that, and made control difficult. On Lake Huron, opposite Saginaw Bay, with a smart breeze from the sou'west, she wallowed so that we were all sick, even the captain absenting himself from dinner. In mid-Superior we encountered a strong beam wind from the north, and the ballast tanks had to be pumped full to give her some grip and seaway, and to keep her from being blown anywhere. So that more powerful engines and neater trim will be conducive to comfort and safety in future.
Again it has been pointed out that higher hatch combings and stouter and better secured coverings would be helpful to safety. In a heavy sea the bigger freighters make "bad weather,” shipping heavy quantities of water which in its rush, may rip off ill-secured hatch coverings and flood the hold. When a vessel is heeled over on her beam ends, there is little chance of righting even when the hatch coverings hold fast; absolutely none when they give way. And in a squall, one of the terrors of lake navigation is the shifting of coal, ore and grain cargoes. This may have been a significant factor in the recent losses.
Three things more need attention. First the general use of wireless communication on the lakes. Secondly, improved fog signalling. On all hands the "siren" at Goderich has been pronounced useless. Thirdly, harbors of refuge must be made at suitable points, large enough and deep enough for any lake boat and accessible in the worst kind of weather. In this matter also the harbor at Goderich has been unanimously condemned. A Commission of Inquiry has been suggested to deal with all the questions of construction, power, equipment, inspection, loading, manning and life-saving appliances of lake freighters. The preventable should not again happen.
THE CANADIAN NAVY.
There is one thing that we must all regret, viz., seeing there is a general conviction that Canada ought to take some share of the Empire's burdens, it has not been found possible for the two great political parties to agree upon the broad lines of a national naval policy. Proposals were made by influential leaders of public opinion that the question should be "taken out of politics." Such proposals are much easier to make than they are to carry out. The defeated party naturally thought that they had made a good beginning in the line of Canadian naval defence and were irritated by the ironical references to “the tin pot navy" and the warships that were useful only for “political picnics." The temper for compromise was lacking even if the differences of opinion had been less radical than they appear to be. For the present then Britain must struggle along under an increasing burden without any help from Canada. Instead of an unanimous offer with its. corresponding moral effect springing from a display of Canadian unity and imperial sentiment we have a miserable discussion which seems likely to last some time. The suggestion that temporary action might be taken and then a permanent policy worked by common agreement does not seem to stand any chance of immediate acceptance. What action will be taken by the government when Parliament meets is at present unknown to the general public. The result of the bye-elections so far gives little comfort to the Opposition, and Mr. Hawkes, who after saving the Empire at the last election now attempts to save Canadian autonomy, did not meet with much success at the polls. Mr. Hamar Greenwood, M.P., himself a Canadian,