REVIEW of REVIEWS

Here’s a Help to a Million

Statistician Sketches Inventions Which Are Badly Needed and Ought to Make Their Creators Wealthy.

ROGER W. BABSON June 15 1929
REVIEW of REVIEWS

Here’s a Help to a Million

Statistician Sketches Inventions Which Are Badly Needed and Ought to Make Their Creators Wealthy.

ROGER W. BABSON June 15 1929

Here’s a Help to a Million

REVIEW of REVIEWS

Statistician Sketches Inventions Which Are Badly Needed and Ought to Make Their Creators Wealthy.

ROGER W. BABSON

BABSON, the statistician and plotterextraordinary of business curves, has confessed to a hobby. It seems that he amuses himself by “jotting down hunches about what might be called ‘things waiting to be discovered.’ ” Some of his “hunches” he has revealed in an artiele printed by The Forum, which bears the tempting title of “Twenty Ways to Make a Million.” The title alone should be sufficient to ensure a large audience for Mr. Babson’s prophecies. Space does not permit the recital of the total twenty of the statistician’s forelookings, but here are some of the most interesting of them.

“i. A new automobile which will use a rotary engine, go sidewise as well as forward and backward, and be gearless. The automobile of twenty-five years hence will be very different from the automobile of today. It will use a rotary engine on the principle of the turbine; but before this point is reached, it will adopt the standard airplane engine with cylinders located in the form of a circle. The motor and gears will be in one unit, and eventually the crude device of the gear-shift will be dispensed with altogether. To facilitate parking, the automobile of the future will be able to move sidewise when it is desired, and its exhaust pipe will extend up through the roof, to avoid discharging its fumes in the face of the driver in the car behind it.

“2. A Diesel engine for automobiles. I have already indicated the important part played by the internal combustion engine in making the automobile possible. Those who first developed the gasoline motor-are entitled to as much credit as was Watt for inventing the steam engine," or Franklin for calling the world’s attention to electricity. But why bother to refine the oil? Why not use crude oil directly band avoid the waste and expense of refining gasoline? We don’t run steamships or locomotives by gasoline. We use crude oil. The time is coming when it will also be possible to use crude oil for automobiles and airplanes.

“3. A practical and fool-proof helicopter for airplanes. At last the airplane industry has arrived and commercial aviation is growing rapidly. But the general use of airplanes by the public is waiting upon the invention of a practical helicopter. Landing fields are all right for commercial aviation, but if you and I are to have private airplanes, we cannot bother to keep them on a public landing field. We must keep them on our own roof or in our own yard. To do this we must have a helicopter to enable us to raise and lower our machine vertically, without the necessity of inclined take-offs and landings. Some day a practical helicopter will be invented, and then aviation will go forward by leaps and bounds.

“4. A light that will pierce fog. Fog is the great bugbear of aviators, and next to the helicopter, the greatest need of the airplane industry is a searchlight powerful enough to pierce through the thickest fog. The new NeonTamp is a step in this direction, and I am sure that it will only be a short time before every airplane will carry a fog-piercing headlight. Until that time comes, however, com-

mercial aviation will be dangerous and flying schedules will be at the mercy of the weather.

“5. Gliders as toys for children. Our grandfathers had toy wagons when they were boys, and we had bicycles; our grandchildren will have gliders to play with. Gliders will become the popular toy for the children of tomorrow, and when this device is perfected, little boys and girls will fly around their yards as safely as they now play in their sand piles.

“6. New sources of power—from the sun, the tides, and the heat of the earth. Today the world’s two principal sources of power are coal and falling water. Both

of these are secondary sources, deriving their energy from the sun. Coal is nothing but a reservoir of energy stored up by the sun ages ago. Water power also comes from the sun, because the sun makes flowing water possible by drawing up moisture from the oceans, so that when it is deposited on mountain tops in the form of rain or snow, it can flow down again to the sea. Some day we shall learn how to use the heat of the sun directly, and then we shall be able to generate power without the enormous wastes that are now necessary. The regular movements of the tides offer another great source of unused power, and they will eventually be harnessed for man’s uses. Moreover, borings into the earth show that the temperature increases with the depth, and this fact, plus the evidence of boiling and steam springs, such as those in Yellowstone Park, suggests the possibility of drawing upon the heat of the earth as a third source of power.

“7. A new electrical development exploiting the short wave lengths. Up to the present time the practical uses of electricity have been largely confined to wired electrical waves. Within the last few years experiments in radio broadcasting and radio telegraphy have given us some inkling of the vast potentialities of those electrical waves which are transmitted without the use of wires. Even here, however, we have been dealing with the so-called long wave lengths. As yet, almost nothing has been done with the very short waves, though the Radio Commission is now in the process of allocating certain of the short wave channels for experimental purposes. Scientists tell me that these short waves possess almost miraculous properties, and that when we learn more about them, we may develop with them an entirely new electrical industry, quite apart and totally different from anything we have yet witnessed. For example, it may be possible, through the use of the short waves, to revolutionize our heating systems in such a way that our bodies can be kept economically and efficiently warm, no matter how cold the atmosphere is around us. The blessings this would confer upon aviation are obvious, not to think of the countless other possible uses of such a heating system.

“8. Fireless cities. Nowadays we ship coal a thousand miles across the country by railroad and distribute it throughout our cities by trucks. It would be hard to devise a more cumbersome and costly method, but we are so accustomed to it that we take it as a matter of course. But the time will come when we shall abandon this system. In fact, the day may not be so far away when it will be as illegal to keep a coal fire burning in our cellar as it now is to have a cesspool or an old-fashioned well in our yard. The local sale and delivery of coal is destined to become obsolete, and this will happen as soon as we learn how to transmit electricity over long distances without serious losses of current. When this discovery is made, it will then be practical to develop all electricity at the coal mines, and some universal plan of central heating will be adopted so that heat will be distributed to all the buildings in a city—just as water is now distributed—from a central power plant.

“9. Cold light. At the present time about ninety-five per cent of the electricity which comes into our homes for lighting purposes is wasted as useless heat and only five per cent is developed into light. This is because no practical way has yet been found to produce cold light, such as the firefly uses. Some day, however, someone will invent an electric lamp which throws out no heat at all, but uses all the current for making light. Then it will be possible to light our houses as we do today for one-twentieth of the present cost.”