Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/227

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213
HOW STANDARD TIME IS OBTAINED.

Perrot considers the best methods of giving the desired instruction. However interesting and valuable his suggestions may be in communities where the instruction has already been established, it is evident that there must first be a conviction of the value and necessity of such studies and the determination to have them started. Methods are not difficult to devise, and will vary with national and individual tastes. That American colleges of thirty, forty, or fifty years ago should have objected to the introduction of the history of the fine arts into their curricula is easily understood. Art in any form was regarded by the New England mind as an emanation of the devil, and the New England mind controlled American colleges. Why the repugnance continues to exist is harder to understand. It may subsist from ignorance, from prejudice, or from conservatism. Conservatism may still regard all information to be derived from art as objectionable. Prejudice may still be strongly fixed in the notion that written and spoken words are the only vehicles of instruction, and that the arts are useless and idle vanities, while ignorance may be awaiting demonstration which will have to be strong and conclusive to awake it from self-satisfied apathy. May the good words of Perrot help on the cause and accelerate the time when the best and the fullest education will be offered by the American university!

 
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HOW STANDARD TIME IS OBTAINED.
By T. B. WILLSON, M. A.

ALMOST everybody knows that observatories are the places from which standard time is sent out and corrected daily or hourly. But comparatively few have more than the vaguest idea of the means used at the observatories for obtaining it.

Probably the majority of people suppose that the observatories obtain the correct time from the sun. When the average man wishes to give his watch the highest praise he says, "It regulates the sun," not being aware that a watch which would keep with the sun around the year would have to be nearly as bad as Sam Weller's. The farmer may safely decide when to go in to dinner by the sun, but if the mariner was as confident that the sun marked always the correct time as the farmer is he would be sure to be at times two or three hundred miles from where he thought he was. In other words, the sun—that is, a sundial—is only correct on a few days in each year, and during the intervening times gets as far as a whole quarter hour fast or slow.