occurred simultaneously, there was a distinct tendency for the latter to precede the former. More recent examinations of the Greenwich records by W. Ellis (11), and of the Parc St Maur curves by Moureaux, have not confirmed this result, and it is now believed that the two phenomena are practically simultaneous.
There has also been a conflict of views as to the connexion between magnetic and earth current disturbances. Airy’s observations tended to suggest that the earth current was the primary cause, and the magnetic disturbance in considerable part at least its effect. Others, on the contrary, have supposed earth currents to be a direct effect of changes in the earth’s magnetic field. The prevailing view now is that both the magnetic and the earth current disturbances are due to electric currents in the upper atmosphere, these upper currents becoming visible at times as aurora.
9. There seems some evidence that earth currents can be called into existence by purely local causes, notably difference of level. Thus K. A. Brander (12) has observed a current flowing constantly for a good many days from Airolo (height 1160 metres) to the Hospice St Gotthard (height 2094 metres). In an 8-km. line from Resina to the top of Vesuvius L. Palmieri (13)—observing in 1889 at three-hour intervals from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M.—always found a current running uphill so long as the mountain was quiet. On a long line from Vienna to Graz A. Baumgartner (14) found that the current generally flowed from both ends towards intervening higher ground during the day, but in the opposite directions at night. During a fortnight in September and October 1885 hourly readings were taken of the current in the telegraph cable from Fort-William to Ben Nevis Observatory, and the results were discussed by H. N. Dickson (15), who found a marked preponderance of currents up the line to the summit. The recorded mean data, otherwise regarded, represent a “constant” current, equal to 29 in the arbitrary units employed by Dickson, flowing up the line, together with the following diurnal inequality, + denoting current towards Fort-William (i.e. down the hill, and nearly east to west).
There is thus a diurnal inequality, which is by no means very irregular considering the limited number of days, and it bears at least a general resemblance to that shown by Weinstein’s figures for an east-west line in Germany. This will serve to illustrate the uncertainties affecting these and analogous observations. A constant current in one direction may arise in whole or part from plate E.M.F.’s; a current showing a diurnal inequality will naturally arise between any two places some distance apart whether they be at different levels or not. Finally, when records are taken only for a short time, doubts must arise as to the generality of the results. During the Ben Nevis observations, for instance, we are told that the summit was almost constantly enveloped in fog or mist. By having three earth plates in the same vertical plane, one at the top of a mountain, the others at opposite sides of it, and then observing the currents between the summit and each of the base stations, as well as directly between the base stations—during an adequate number of days representative of different seasons of the year and different climatic conditions—many uncertainties would soon be removed.
10. Artificial Currents.—The great extension in the applications of electricity to lighting, traction and power transmission, characteristic of the end of the 19th century, has led to the existence of large artificial earth currents, which exert a disturbing influence on galvanometers and magnetic instruments, and also tend to destroy metal pipes. In the former case, whilst the disturbance is generally loosely assigned to stray or “vagabond” earth currents, this is only partly correct. The currents used for traction are large, and even if there were a perfectly insulated return there would be a considerable resultant magnetic field at distances from the track which were not largely in excess of the distance apart of the direct and return currents (16). At a distance of half a mile or more from an electric tram line the disturbance is usually largest in magnetographs recording the vertical component of the earth’s field. The magnets are slightly displaced from the position they would occupy if undisturbed, and are kept in continuous oscillation whilst the trams are running (17). The extent of the oscillation depends on the damping of the magnets.
The distance from an electric tram line where the disturbance ceases to be felt varies with the system adopted. It also depends on the length of the line and its subdivision into sections, on the strength of the currents supplied, the amount of leakage, the absence or presence of “boosters,” and finally on the sensitiveness of the magnetic instruments. At the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey’s observatory at Cheltenham the effect of the Washington electric trams has been detected by highly sensitive magnetographs, though the nearest point of the line is 12 m. away (18). Amongst the magnetic observatories which have suffered severely from this cause are those at Toronto, Washington (Naval Observatory), Kew, Paris (Parc St Maur), Perpignan, Nice, Lisbon, Vienna, Rome, Bombay (Colaba) and Batavia. In some cases magnetic observations have been wholly suspended, in others new observatories have been built on more remote sites.
As regards damage to underground pipes, mainly gas and water pipes, numerous observations have been made, especially in Germany and the United States. When electric tramways have uninsulated returns, and the potential of the rails is allowed to differ considerably from that of the earth, very considerable currents are found in neighbouring pipes. Under these conditions, if the joints between contiguous pipes forming a main present appreciable resistance, whilst the surrounding earth through moisture or any other cause is a fair conductor, current passes locally from the pipes to the earth causing electrolytic corrosion of the pipes. Owing to the diversity of interests concerned, the extent of the damage thus caused has been very variously estimated. In some instances it has been so considerable as to be the alleged cause of the ultimate failure of water pipes to stand the pressure they are exposed to.
EARTH-NUT, the English name for a plant known botanically as Conopodium denudatum (or Bunium flexuosum), a member of the natural order Umbelliferae, which has a brown tuber-like root-stock the size of a chestnut. It grows in woods and fields, has a slender flexuous smooth stem 2 to 3 ft. high, much-divided leaves, and small white flowers in many-rayed terminal compound umbels. Boswell Syme, in English Botany, iv. 114, says: “The common names of this plant in England are various. It is known as earth-nut, pig-nut, ar-nut, kipper-nut, hawk-nut, jar-nut, earth-chestnut and ground-nut. Though really excellent in taste and unobjectionable as food, it is disregarded in England by all but pigs and children, both of whom appreciate it and seek eagerly for it.” Dr Withering describes the roots as little inferior to chestnuts. In Holland