Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/543

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
539
THE TIDES

Attention has been called to these local details for the purpose of showing how varied the tidal phenomena may be within a comparatively limited region, and that detailed cotidal maps can be constructed with accuracy only after tidal observations have been made at a great number of points along the shores and upon the islands included in the area to be represented. The gauging of the tide away from land has seldom been undertaken; but there are indications that in the future such work will be carried out on an extensive scale.

 

Concluding Remarks

From the cotidal maps of the world, the reader can draw his own conclusions concerning the resemblance between the tides as they must approximately occur in nature and the hypothetical tides progressing westerly around the globe according to the popular conception of today and which, as we have seen, existed at the time when the Ptolemaic System held sway over the astronomy of medieval times. He will find no indications of tide waves having crests coincident with meridians and progressing westward at the rate of fifteen degrees of longitude per lunar hour. He will see that even a general westerly progression of the tide around the globe has no existence in fact.

The dictum of Aristotle, Pliny, Newton and others, that large tides are found in large seas, can be tested by means of these charts. The truth of this is manifest when the tides of the Mediterranean Sea are compared with those of the North Atlantic Ocean, but no such rule applies when the tides of the North Atlantic Ocean are compared with those of the Pacific Ocean and especially with those of the South Pacific Ocean.

The reader may ask. How does it happen that even rude approximations to the tides in nature have been so slow in their development? The answer is, Definite or applicable theories concerning the causes of existing tides were impossible before the depths of the oceans had become generally known. And so, before a few decades ago, tidal theories were developed with reference to certain assumed or hypothetical cases. This remark is no disparagement of the labors of such men as Newton, Laplace and Airy, and which compel the admiration of all persons interested in tidal matters. In fact, the comparative simplicity of the hypotheses upon which their theories were founded, placed tidal work squarely upon a scientific basis and enabled these intellectual giants to press their investigations a long way towards completion.

As to the construction of cotidal lines for the various oceans, it may be said that this implies, not only a rational approximate theory, but also a multitude of carefully-made tidal observations; such observations are, even to-day, either wanting or defective in many portions of the globe despite the efforts of individuals, expeditions, learned societies, institutions and governments.