D. S. (David Samuel) Margoliouth.

The Popular science monthly (Volume 19) online

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means need not be a machine or an apparatus ; it may be a process.
A machine is a thing. A process is a mode of action. The one is vis-
ible to the eye — an object of perpetual observation. The other is a


conception of the mind seen only by the effect it produces while per-
formed. But either may be the means of producing a useful result.
The mixing of certain substances together or the heating of a sub-
stance to a certain temperature is a process. If the mode of doing it
or the apparatus in or by which it may be done is sufliciently obvious
to suggest itself to a person skilled in the particular art, then pointing
out in the patent the process to be performed is sufficient, without giv-
ing directions, which would be supererogatory, as to the apparatus or
method to be employed. If the mode of applying the process is not
obvious, then to give a description of the process and of one particular
mode by which it may be applied is sufficient. It may be that the
process is susceptible of being applied in many modes and by the use
of many forms of apparatus ; but the inventor, if really the discoverer
of the process, is not bound to describe all these in order to secure his
exclusive right to it. What is required is, that he shall describe some
particular mode or apparatus so as to show that the process is capable
of being exhibited and performed in actual use. This is the latest
utterance of the Supreme Court on the lawfulness of a patent for a

A decision comes from England bearing upon the value of such
patents. The inventor of an improved process for making salicylic
acid obtained a patent in England ; but was soon undersold by an in-
ventor of a rival process, who established a factory in Germany and
brought the acid manufactured there into England for sale. The pat-
entee bi'ought suit. The counsel for the German manufacturer argued
that the patent forbade only manufacturing in England. It did not
forbid manufacturing in Germany, and any goods lawfully manufact-
ured in German)^ might be brought into England for sale. *' Sup-
pose," said he, " some one patents a process for making flour by crush-
ing wheat instead of grinding it, and French millers, generally, adopt
the mode. Is it thereafter unlawful to import flour from France ? "
But the Court of Appeal decided in favor of the patentee, saying that
the exclusive right secured by a patent for a process must be consid-
ered to include a monopoly of the sale in England of products made
according to the process, no matter where they are manufactured.
For these patents expressly forbid any person directly or indirectly to
use the process. Now, a person who procures the product to be made
in a foreign country and then brings it to England for sale is certainly
using the invention " indirectly."

Many illustrations are noticed in recent books of reports, of the
expense and loss sustained by inventors through obtaining patents for
trivial devices. They know, theoretically, that a patent, to be sus-
tained in the courts, must be for an invention which is " new and use-
ful " ; but fail, practically, to apply the test. Evidently the existing
system tends to betray an over-sanguine inventor. A solicitor of
patents will cheerfully take a fee and undertake to obtain letters.


The patent-office -will accept further fees ; will make an examination
for novelty, which is good, as far as it goes, and in some measure a pro-
tection against launching an unprofitable venture ; and will grant a
patent. A lawyer will readily spend a few hundred dollars in organiz-
ing a company, and Avill execute his task skillfully : he has no respon-
sibility for the mercantile value of the project. Two or three thousand
dollars more are easily expended in facilities for manufacture, in start-
ing a sales-room, and in advertising. And yet, after all this expendi-
ture, involving also the inventor's time, the moment the patent is con-
tested by an infringer, the courts may pronounce it void for want of
novelty. Notice recent examples. The " Perfection Window-Clean-
er " was in substance a rubber mounted on a long handle convenient
for reaching u}) to clean lofty windows and the like ; the peculiarity
of the device consisting in the way in which a cushion for rubbing
was adjusted so that it could be pressed against the surface to be
cleaned. The Court said that there was nothing new in this ; the im-
plement was only a mop or scrubbing-brush made of India-rubber.
" Improved Kindling- Wood " was patented, consisting of wood tied
in small bundles, each containing a lump of combustible matter which
would take fire from a common match. The Court said that there was
no more invention in this than there would be in selling a sherry-cob-
bler glass with a straw in it, or a can of food with a fork. As at first
devised, the " Fare-Box " used in city omnibuses and street-cars was
inefficient for want of an opportunity to the driver to see whether the
proper fare had been put in. Some one obtained a patent for the im-
provements of fitting a second window, and a reflector, in such manner
that the driver might, either by day or night, see the coin which had
been deposited. With these changes the fare-box became a success.
But the Court said that there was no invention in inserting an addi-
tional window, or in putting a reflector near a lamp. To relieve
drivers from the necessity of buying a new whip because the tip-end
had become frayed or broken while the stock remained good, an in-
ventor contrived " Whip-Tips " with sockets, so that a worn one might
be unscrewed and a new one screwed on in its place. The Court said
that he might sustain an exclusive right to his screw, but that the im-
portant feature of the device — making independent tips to be substi-
tuted for worn ones — was not new ; this is the principle upon which
fishing-rods in sections have been made for many years. The *' Rub-
ber-tip Pencil " has had an extensive sale ; but, when the j)atent for it
was contested, the Court said that there was no invention ; the device
was nothing but " a piece of rubber with a hole in it." Not many
years ago a patent was questioned for an article called " Comminuted
Glue." The device consisted in breaking glue into small particles, of
uniform size, to facilitate dissolving it for use. The Court said that
nothing was here involved other than grinding glue fine, and grind-
ing can not be called a new invention. A score of such decisions might



easily be gatliered from the court reports of the past two years, show-
ing very clearly that inventors need to be on their guard against so-
liciting patents for trivialities.

That an applicant for a patent must frankly and fully disclose his
invention, but that if his description is, through accident or mistake,
insufficient, he may have a " reissue " correcting the mistake, is famil-
iar, yet not so well understood but that new explanations have been
found needful. The volume published last summer of Justice Clif-
ford's decisions contains a case in which he assigns three reasons for
requiring fullness and accuracy in the description : 1, That the Gov-
ernment may know what they have granted, and what will become
public property when the term of the monopoly expires ; 2. That
licensed persons, desiring, during the term, to practice the invention,
may know how to make, construct, and use it ; 3. That other and sub-
sequent inventors may know what part of the field of invention re-
mains unoccupied.

The privilege of reissue has no doubt been abused. A glaring case
was presented in the Supreme Court. An inventor applied for a pat-
ent, but the Commissioner thought that he claimed too much, and
refused letters unless the applicant would omit a part. He did so, and
a patent was issued for the invention, the description being limited ac-
cording to the Commissioner's view. Several years afterward, he
applied for a reissue, to include the feature of his invention formerly
rejected, and, through some error, it was granted. The Supreme
Court Judges say that this, though it has often been done, is a fraud
on the public. Reissues can only be allowed to cure errors attribu-
table to inadvertence, accident, or mistake. What was omitted from
the first patent, because the inventor consented to abandon it, can never
be lawfully brought in afterward by a reissue.

Several lawsuits have culminated in a group of decisions which, if
they shall be sustained by the Supreme Court, will open the way to an
efficient judicial remedy, whenever Government officers assume to use
a patented invention. The English idea has long been that a patent
is a monopoly or privilege which the Crown — though forbidden to
grant monopolies as freely as might be done centuries ago — may give
to a favored person. Hence it is there considered that the privilege
does not prevail against Government. The Crown does not engage
not to use the improvement. Upon the American view, a patent is a
compact made with the inventor to induce him to disclose his inven-
tion for the public benefit ; as a reward for which he receives an ex-
clusive privilege which is in the nature of property. As respects
many important inventions, the privilege would have little value if
not good against Goveraraent, for the reason that the thing is only
useful in Government business. What would be the worth of a patent
for articles useful only in the army and navy, for a revenue or postage
stamp, or the like, if Government might use the invention free ? Offi-


cers have, however, influenced by what is said in English books, often
supposed that no royalty need be paid when Government authoi-izes
the use. Thus, a while ago, an army officer who contrived an improved
cartridge-box submitted it to the War Department, and the depart-
ment adopted it, but refused to pay the inventor. He sued in the
Court of Claims, which said that the case was to be treated as if Gov-
ernment had agreed to pay a reasonable price. More recently, when
Mr. James, the Postmaster of New York City, used a patented inven-
tion for canceling postage-stamps, with the result of saving to the
Government, through a term of years, some sixty thousand dollars,
the Circuit Court said that he must pay damages in the same light as
if he had been an infringer on his own account, and must obtain reim-
bursement from Congress as he might be able. Attorney-General
Devens gave an official opinion to the like effect. Upon the theory of
these decisions, if a patented invention is used in Government business
with the inventor's consent, the Court of Claims may award him com-
pensation upon an implied contract to pay ; or, if it is used against his
w'ill, he may prosecute the officer as an individual, nn<1 tlic intpiv^t r.f
Government in the matter will be no defense.



ADVANCES have been made, not so much in electric lighting
itself as in the pojiular favor with which it is regarded. The
public is becoming more accustomed to its use, and is acquiring more
confidence in it. The result of trials during the last year or two
has been to make the defects of the electric light better known. It
has been taken out of the experimental stage, and brought within
reach of the practical stage. The principal fact which has brought
the electric light to the front has been the substitution of machinery
for the direct conversion of mechanical energy into electricity for the
expensive batteries which were the only sources a i&vf years ago.
Machines, working with high velocity, great steadiness, and uniform
pressure, have solved the problem of cheap electricity. The amount
of coal required to produce one horse-power has been reduced from
seven and eight pounds to three and even two pounds. The gas-
engine — a very economical source of energy — has been successfully
applied to electric lighting in many places. Such an engine has been
used at the docks in Newport, South Wales, to produce a light of
eleven times the power that the same gas would give if used directly.

* Abstract of a lecture before the London Society of Arts.


Here is a sphere in which gas companies may maintain their dividends.
Water furnishes a convenient source of energy wherever it can be
found available. Sir William Armstrong makes his brook light his
house, producing from it, by the aid of a turbine, a force giving six
horse-power. The caloric-engine at the Lizard Lighthouse has been
found to be economical, useful, and very suitable for an isolated place
where it is hard to provide water.

The difference in the value of the several excellent machines em-
ployed for generating the current is not great. Each is especially
adapted for its own particular work, either by a variation in velocity
or by a variation in the manner in which the wire is wound, so as to
produce a variation in the current produced to suit the particular light
required. In both the Siemens and the Gramme machines ninety per
cent, of the power is converted into useful current. It is easily de-
monstrable that there is economy in the use of small machines. Trials
made for the Trinity House have shown that more efficiency is ob-
tained by joining small machines in multiple arc than by using a larger
machine, or joining the same small machines in series.

For conducting-wires the preference is given to copper, the purest
that can be got, and Avire of the largest dimensions consistent with
economy, so as to keep the resistance as low as possible and avoid
waste of energy. When it can be carried overhead, facility is given
for the radiation of the heat into the air, and the wire is kept cool and
conveys more electricity. Since the currents to be carried over these
wires ai-e three thousand times larger than those used in telegraphy,
the difficulties to be encountered in their safe transmission are greatly
magnified. The disturbing effects produced by the inductive influence
of such currents are so serious that apprehensions are entertained that
it will be impossible to maintain electric light and telegraph cuiTcnts
close together.

The electric light is coincident with electric heat ; the art of pro-
ducing a brilliant light is the art of producing a high temperature.
No greater illusion is extant than the idea that the electric light is a
cold light, for the electric arc is the greatest source of heat known.
This heat can be produced either by causing the electricity to fly
across an air-space, in which case we have light by the arc, or an arc-
light, or by causing it to flow through a small wire or a carbon fila-
ment, which offers obstruction to the flow and produces light by in-
candescence, or the incandescent light. The forms of arc-lamps are
very numerous. In eveiy case carbon rods ai'e opposed to each other,
and are disintegrated and consumed in the fierce blast to which they
are subjected. The lower pole — the negative — acquires a temperature
of 3,150^ C. (5,702° Fahr.), and is broken up and fired in a fierce bom-
bardment of white-hot molecules across the air against the upper pole
— the positive — which is beaten up by incessant impacts into a higher
temperature of 3,900° C. (7,052° Fahr.), the arc itself being 4,800° C.


(8,672° Fahr.). A number of ingenious appliances have been adopted
to obtain steadiness and uniformity in the action of the arc, which is
liable to variations arising from the irregularity in the character and
consequently in the consumption of the carbon, and from variations in
the strength of the current. "We want brilliancy combined with abso-
lute steadiness, and a durability equal to the length of a winter's night.
All the improvements that have been made in the arc have not given a
silent and steady light.

The incandescent light is free from many of the defects of the arc-
light. In it we have something that is beautifully soft, absolutely
noiseless — a light that brightens up Nature in all her true colors and
purity. It, however, requires a considerable expenditure of power,
and is at present an expensive luxury. Sir William Armstrong finds
that six horse-power will supply thirty-seven lights, giving altogether
the illumination of nine hundred and twenty-five candles. The same
power applied to arc-lights would give more than six thousand candles.
But rapid progress has been made in this field. Maxim, Edison, etc.,
in America — Swan, Lane-Fox, and others, in England — are working
hard ; while Gordon and Joel are working in an intermediate field, in
which a prospect appears of a happy compromise being effected be-
tween the arc and incandescence.

Some wild statements, involving wonderfully divergent estimates,
have been made about the light-giving power of the different lights.
A standard sperm-candle, although it may be a good unit to measure
gas by, is a very poor standard for the electric light. None of the
various modes of measurement in use seem to apply exactly to this
light, and the standard of measurement of the future has yet to be
found. Much is said about the subdivision of the electric light by
certain gentlemen, who hope to distribute it throughout our houses
from one central spot, and furnish it cheaply and abundantly in our
cities. I am one of those who do not believe in the impossible, but
I say that, with our present knowledge, this problem is unsolvable.
Sir William Armstrong can only keep thirty-seven lamps going ; Lane-
Fox could only show twelve lights.; Professor Adams could only pro-
duce from the most powerful dynamo-electric machine, by calculation,
one hundred and forty lamps. Where is the subdivision ? The advo-
cates of subdivision assume an inexhaustible source of electricity.
Their opponents reply that there is but a very limited source of energy
in every dynamo-electric machine. It may be that more powerful
machines and lamps of lower resistance may enable us to light up a
greater number on one circuit, but this is not subdivision, it is multi-

For application to external illumination, we have, first, the central-
ized system of Dr. Siemens, in which one machine works one powerful
light, raised like a small moon on the top of a high mast ; and, secondly,
the distributed system of the Brush Company, who utilize the existing



sti'eet lamp-posts, one machine working many lights. The former
system appears to be the best for symmetrical spaces and large areas,
tlie latter for long and narrow streets and thoroughfares ; so, in inter-
nal illumination, the central system is preferable for lofty, spacious
rooms, the distributed for long and low ones.

An eventful feature in practical lighting is the proper scattering or
diffusion of light, by shades, screens, and reflecting surfaces. We want
to emulate the diffusion of daylight. It is marvelous how white-
washed surfaces do this. Well-selected globes act as though they
were self-luminous ; they scatter light and produce shadows. The
power of the light, however, to penetrate fogs does not appear to be
any greater than that of gaslight. This is because the shorter- waved
rays that give the light its violet tint are checked by the vapors, in the
same manner as the like rays in the sun are checked, and it is made to
appear red. The same cause operates to give the electric light a
greater illuminating power in its immediate neighborhood, for the
checked rays are reflected back to add their intensity to that of the
direct rays.

Nearly three hundred Gramme machines are in use in England
generating light ; there are many more Siemens machines, and the
Brush people have installed many machines and lights. Nearly all the
ironclads in the navy are supplied with the electric light. In libraries,
while reading by gaslight is irksome, reading by the electric light is
simply delightful. Railway-stations are gradually adopting the lights ;
seaside resorts are illuminating their parades with them. It would be
impossible to make any summary of the numerous manufacturing es-
tablishments that have been supplied with lights worked successfully.

Notwithstanding these great advances in its use, it must not be for-
gotten that the electric light has its defects and its disadvantages. The
intense shadows that it occasions are troublesome. The unsteadiness
of the light is at times wearisome. The hissing which impurities in the
carbon and irregularities in the current produce is tantalizing, and the
light has an unfortunate habit of misbehaving itself when it is most
wanted. Moreover, the problem of durability remains yet to be solved.
Many have tried the light and abandoned it. In some cases its econ-
omy is unquestionable, but there are places where careful persons
have shown that gas, as regards economy, surpasses it. It is question-
able whether, in some cases, the electric light does not affect the eye.
The arc-light produces, also, nitrous acid and other deleterious gases,
but the incandescent lamp is free from this trouble. The powerful
currents that it requires can not be carried over buildings and rooms
without incurring danger from fire and to life. Nevertheless, the light
has great and manifold advantages. The brilliancy of a well-lighted
room is simply enchanting. The purity of the light for the transaction
of business, the selection of colors, and the ordinary daily avocations of
life, is simply superb. Its cleanliness is one of its great merits. It


emits no smoke. Probably its greatest advantage is to be found in
the influence it exerts on health. At Glasgow, where the light has
been applied, all causes of trouble arising from the vitiation which was
occasioned by other lights have ceased. Health has been engendered,
and more work has been got out of the men ; and experience has
shown that the electric light will pay for itself in the superior return
it makes in this point alone.

JMr, Proece has published in a separate paper some facts bearing
upon the economy of the electric light. The Loan Court of the South
Kensington Museum, a room not favorably arranged for the diffusion
of light, has been lighted for nine months with sixteen Brush lamps,
at a cost for working of 3s. lOf?. per hour of light. Had gas been used,
a consumption of sixteen hundred cubic feet per hour would have been
required, at a cost of 16s. Considering that the museum is lighted
up for seven hundred hours every year, the total saving effected by
the use of electricity is at the rate of £426 or $2,130 a year. It is fair,
however, to add something for the use of the capital, wear and tear,
etc., to the annual expense. Reckoning this at five per cent, all around,
the annual saving is still £316 10s., or 81,580. The reading-room of
the British Museum is lighted by the Siemens electric light, at a cost
of Ss. ^d. per hour, one third of what would be required for gas, were
it used. A shed at the sugar-refinery of Messrs. Henry Tate <fe Sons,
Silvertown, is lighted by a Crompton lamp in the ceiling, assisted by
a canvas reflector. The whole of the shed is well lighted — four or five
times more strongly than with gas — and the light penetrates an ad-
joining shed. The cost for fourteen hours of illumination is Is. 9^^?.,
or \\d. an hour ; the cost of illumination by gas was 3s. 6c/., or 3c?. an
hour. At the ship-building dock, Barrow-in-Furness, a work-shed is
lighted by Brush lights at £4 14s. a week, where oil blast -lamps were
formerly used at £8 9s. a week ; and the erecting-shop, formerly dimly
lighted by gas at £22 a week, is now efficiently lighted by electricity
at half the cost.



IX groups of the animal series, both nearly allied to the crustacean
class and far removed from it in structure, equally interesting and
often curious examples of degradation may be found. The class of
insects and the nearly related group, including the mites, spiders, and
scorpions as its representatives, number in their ranks instances of
degraded and degenerate forms. Among the insects which are par-
asitic in habits a notable absence of wings is discernible, and this



latter wajit is seen even in those cases in which one sex alone of a
l»articular insect species assumes the habit in question. An excellent
illustration of such a fact, and also of the extreme modification of

Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthThe Popular science monthly (Volume 19) → online text (page 46 of 110)