Popular Science Monthly/Volume 40/December 1891/Correspondence

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Editor Popular Science Monthly:

SIR: The article What keeps the Bicycler Upright? in the Monthly for last April was a very interesting one, especially to wheelmen, but I think it needs a little supplementary statement to make it complete. Mr. Charles B. Warring, the author, states that the rider's lost equilibrium is restored by bringing his point of support under him, and gives the impression that this point can be moved square to the right or left, like the foot of Mr. Warring's A-frame, saying nothing about the forward movement of the wheel. While agreeing with the main part of this statement, I think the righting of a bicycle can be more clearly and accurately explained as follows:

It is one of the elementary laws of physics that the center of gravity of a body must be over some point in its base in order that the body may stand without outside support. Now, the base on which a bicycle rests is only a line about half an inch wide, which joins the point B, in my figure, where the front wheel rests on the ground, with the point C, where the rear wheel rests. (I adopt Mr. Warring's lettering.) So long as a vertical line dropped from the center of gravity of the machine falls on some point of the line B C, the bicycle is in stable equilibrium; but, when it falls outside this narrow base, as at the point D, the equilibrium becomes unstable. In order to keep the machine and rider from coming to the ground, D must be brought upon B C; or, what is equivalent, B C must be brought under D. The latter is what is actually done. As the rider can not slide his machine sideways over the ground, he steers it obliquely toward the side on which he tends to fall. Thus, if the bicycle were running in the direction C m, he turns it toward the right so as to go in the direction B p. The center of gravity of the machine and its rider, which had been moving parallel to the course of the machine, is now acted on by two forces: (1) its acquired momentum, which tends to carry it on in the direction D n, and (2) the force constantly being received from the moving bicycle, which tends to carry it along the line D o, parallel to the new course of the machine. The result is, that it takes an intermediate direction, D p, in accordance with the law of the composition of forces. Thus, by being made to follow converging lines, D and B C are brought together at the point p. As quick as this is accomplished the bicycle must be turned again parallel to its original direction, or D will pass over to the left of B C and make the machine tilt toward that side. Hence, it is seen that righting a falling bicycle in motion involves two movements: first, a turn of the machine toward the side on which it tends to fall, then a return to its original course. Gravity was not mentioned among the forces considered above, but its action does not vitiate my explanation. I will add that I ride a bicycle myself, and so am acquainted with this matter on the practical as well as on the theoretical side.

Very truly yours,
Frederik A. Fernald,
L. A. W., 12,996, N. Y. Division.

[Substantially the same explanation as that given above has also been received from Mr. Thomas Gary Welch, of Buffalo, N. Y.—Editor.]


Editor Popular Science Monthly:

Dear Sir: In this month's number of the Science Monthly, under the "Miscellaneous" head, you have a notice of the work now in progress for the preservation of the great glacial groove on Kelley's Island.

In that notice you speak of Prof. Wright and Dr. Sprecher as having "surveyed" the plot of land on which the groove is located. In this statement you are in error. They are not surveyors, and they did not survey the plot, and the suggestion of such an occupation for them must seem to those who know them very inappropriate. Prof. Wright is Professor of "New Testament Greek" at Oberlin, and the author of that noble book. The Ice Age in North America, published by the Appletons in 1890; and Dr. Sprecher is pastor of one of the largest Presbyterian churches in our city. And in that notice you make another error, which to me seems very absurd. You give my name as Young-blood. It is not Youngblood, as you may learn from your subscription list, where it has been recorded from the time that the first number of the Science Monthly was issued.

The facts are just these: my invitation to Prof. Wright and Dr. Sprecher to visit the island with me was wholly a matter of courtesy. While there I consulted them as to the best method of protecting the groove from the incursions of the Vandal curiosity-hunters, and also as to the best form of conveying the title, to be held in perpetuity for the benefit of science; and all of the surveying that was done by those gentlemen they did with their eyes, as they stood admiring that beautiful and wonderful work of Nature's laws.

I take pleasure in saying that I have completed the work of uncovering fifty feet of the groove, leaving fifty feet still covered to the depth of about twelve feet with clay, gravel, and fragments of the lime rock, just as it was left by Nature's laws when their work was finished, and the tools with which that work was done—granite bowlders—lie scattered over the island, and on the mainland, as far west as the Indiana line, there to rest, imperishable and unchanged, until Nature shall again take them up to do its work.

Were yon to see that groove at this time I feel sure that you would pronounce it to be the most beautiful and wonderful evidence of the glacial movement that has ever been brought to the notice of civilized man.

On the 237th page of Prof. Wright's Ice Age there is an engraving which gives an imperfect view of the easterly end of the great groove, as it appeared before it was uncovered. And on the 238th page of the same book there is an engraving of another grooved rock, which is a little north of the great groove, from which I had taken off about a hundred feet before the photograph was taken, and sent to various scientific institutions. This, too, you will see is a most perfect and beautiful specimen of Nature's work.

I beg that you will pardon me for troubling you with this letter, for I feel that it is due to my friends and also to myself that the errors which I have noted should be corrected.

And, now that I have nothing further to say on the subject which prompted this letter, I will add a few words regarding The Popular Science Monthly. I have been a subscriber from the time of the issue of the first number, and I now have thirty volumes bound; and I take pleasure in saying that I think that there are no other thirty volumes to be found which contain such a vast and varied amount of useful information, or which are so well calculated to educate men in matters which advance our civilization, as those.

And more—they are a most noble monument to "Edward L. Youmans," more beautiful and enduring than marble or granite.

I am, sir, very respectfully yours,
M. C. Younglove.
Cleveland, September 16, 1891.

[The paragraph noticed by Mr. Younglove was compiled from a slip which was sent to the Monthly from a Cleveland paper. The language of the slip was followed, without supposing that the word "surveyed" was meant to be used in a technical sense, but rather perhaps in its original sense of looked-over, or perhaps as meaning that Drs. Wright and Sprecher had the ground surveyed. The change of our correspondent's name to Youngblood was one that we much regret; but it was also one that might naturally occur in transcription or type-setting and be overlooked by a stranger to the person concerned; for to a stranger no suggestion of error would be likely to occur.]