Popular Science Monthly/Volume 79/July 1911/The Progress of Science
THE CATSKILL AQUEDUCT
The supply of water for New York City is an engineering and economic problem of the greatest possible importance. The supply from the Croton watershed is at present just about equal to the consumption; if the rainfall during the present year should be small, there is danger lest there be an actual water famine in New York City, the harmful results of which would be almost incalculable. The consumption could be considerably lessened by requiring meters in each house measuring the amount of water used, and it would doubtless be desirable to introduce this system, though it would not give permanent relief. The average daily consumption of Croton water in New York City is over 350,000,000 gallons and the increasing population causes an annual increase of fifteen million gallons a day. Unless an interstate agreement could have been made by which water should have been obtained from Connecticut, the Catskill region is the only source that will give an adequate supply for a long period of years. The engineering problems of bringing the water a hundred miles from the Catskill Mountains are of great magnitude; the construction of the aqueduct is nearly equal to that of the Panama canal in difficulty and in cost.
The geology of the region and to a large extent the engineering problems are reviewed in a bulletin issued by the New York Education Department and prepared by Professor Charles P. Berkey, of Columbia University. The facts and illustrations for this note are taken from this report. The surface of the Ashokan reservoir in the Catskills will be 590 feet above the sea, and the High View reservoir within the limits of New York City will have an elevation of 295 feet. The length of the aqueduct between the two reservoirs will be approximately 92 miles and the main distributing conduit in
New York City will be eighteen miles long. The Ashokan reservoir is at a sufficient elevation to permit water to flow down to the Hill View reservoir, but a number of valleys and streams must be crossed, the most striking, from the point of view of the outsider at least, being the gorge of the Hudson River. More than two hundred borings were made at various points, and it was finally decided to construct the aqueduct under the Hudson between Storm King and Breakneck mountains at the north entrance to the Highlands.
It would be possible to bring the water in iron pipes through the mud and silt, as has been done in the case of. the Pennsylvania Railway in New York City, but a tunnel through the rock will give great strength and permanence. The accompanying illustration shows the borings which have been made at Storm King, revealing the extraordinary depth of the Hudson gorge. It has been known through the maps of the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey that the Hudson River is continued by a submerged gorge more a hundred miles across the continental shelf to the deep sea. This gorge at its deepest part is 3,800 feet in depth, and must apparently have been formed
A Composite Diagrammatic Cross Section of the Hudson Gorge at the Storm King Crossing, showing the method of making the vertical borings, the direction of the first two inclined borings, the positions of the shafts and the extent of explorations. (Adapted from drawings of the Board of Water Supply.)
during an epoch of great continental elevation. The borings in the Highlands have been carried to a depth of 750 feet without reaching the bottom. This is more than twice as great a depth as has been found at any other point either above or below, though even at Pegg's Point and at New York City it is possible that there is a narrower gorge in the middle of the river. The great width and depth of this gorge must have been due to glacial erosion when a stream of ice was forced down from the wide bay that then existed north of the mountains. The syphon tunnel under the Hudson is only one of a number of great syphons and aqueducts that must be constructed between the Catskills and New York City. Owing to the present
Cathedral Gorge, a postglacial entrenchment of Esopus Creek at the Tongore site. The preglacial gorge lies at the north side of the valley buried beneath 250 feet of drift. (Photograph by Board of Water Supply.)
need of the watershed, it is proposed to develop at first only the Esopus watershed by the construction of the great Ashokan dam at Olive Bridge and to carry the water to the present Croton system, the aqueducts of which are somewhat in excess of the Croton supply in dry years. It is hoped that this part of the undertaking may be completed within three years.
THE AMHERST IDEA
The class of 1885 of Amherst College at its twenty-fifth reunion a year ago appointed a committee to present to the trustees an address on the future development of the college. It is an interesting fact that the alumni of a college should concern themselves with scholarship rather than with athletics, and the address is a document of such considerable moment that it has attracted wide attention. The committee signing the report points out that the conditions for a college such as Amherst have changed in the course of the past twenty-five years. The great universities, especially the state universities, take students from the high school and graduate them prepared for a technical career. A college such as Amherst can not compete with these institutions. According to the committee it ha.i or should have other objects. It should demand a preparation not within the tendencies of the high schools, and give a course which postpones preparation for a profession. Amherst should retain, or return to, a liberal or classical education and confine its work to this. The committee makes to the trustees five definite propositions:
1. That the instruction given at Amherst College be a modified classical course.
2. That the degree of bachelor of science be abolished.
3. That the college adopt the deliberate policy of devoting all its means to the indefinite increase of teachers' salaries.
4. That the number of students attending the college be limited.
5. That entrance be permitted only by competitive examination.
The committee does not make clear just what a modified classical course should be. They say that all would agree that some knowledge of science is part of a liberal education and that no one would advocate the adoption of the unchanged classical course of fifty years ago. They also say that a classical education is a training in civics, the history of government, etc. The difficulty is that if students are to be thoroughly trained in Latin and Greek, they must specialize quite as much as students preparing for the professions. Now that we have admirable technological schools, it would apparently be desirable to have schools that would specialize to the same extent in the languages, on the one hand, and in history and political science, on the other. This is not because, as the committee argues, technical education teaches devices instead of principles, and is one of the causes of the increased excitability of American politics. This is little short of nonsense. But it would be desirable for one college to give a thorough classical education for the training of scholars in this direction and as a basis for work in literature, in law and in other professions. It is an advantage for men to enter on their professions with diverse training in order that they may specialize in different directions. Such a college should have a graduate department, which the Amherst committee apparently regards as superfluous, in order to maintain the scholarship both of its professors and of its students.This, however, is presumably not at all what is wanted by the committee; it would let Amherst College give a liberal education on the lines, for example, advocated by President Lowell, teaching those things which a cultivated gentleman should know. If such an education is desirable there is much to be said for giving it at a small college rather than in a great university. If a college is limited to some three hundred students, it is possible for all the students to attend the same courses, to know each other and all the
professors, and for the professors in turn to teach and know all the students, and to feel personally responsible for the work of the whole institution. It is, however, somewhat difficult to decide how the number of students shall be limited. According to the committee it should be done by competitive examinations. This, however, is a doubtful expedient, as the preparation for a competitive examination is not necessarily the best educational method, and young students who can pass such an examination with the highest grades are not always those who will be successful in their later work. It would apparently be a better plan to admit all promising students and to drop a considerable percentage at the close of the first year. Under these conditions students are likely to work well at the start, whereas if they pass a competitive examination of which they do not particularly approve they may feel that they deserve some relaxation. It would probably be desirable for Amherst to decrease the number of students by giving up the degree of B.S., unless the college is prepared to offer adequate courses in the natural and exact science. The degree of B.S. at certain colleges is scarcely more reputable than the degree of B.E.—bachelor of the elements—which is given by one college to the students who fail to obtain any other degree.
The third recommendation of the committee will certainly be approved by college professors. The maximum salary at Amherst is $3,000 and the committee finds that, on the average, professors spend a thousand dollars in excess of their salary. This fact is in itself not significant, for it might mean that one or two professors had large incomes. To make the figures of value the committee should give the number of professors who spend on their living more than three thousand dollars. It is, however, well known that college and university professors receive relatively smaller salaries than men at the head of the other professions, and if a college such as Amherst wishes to obtain and retain for its faculty men of the highest ability, the salaries must be increased.
We record with regret the deaths of Dr. Samuel H. Scudder, of Cambridge, eminent for his contributions to entomology; of Dr. Stanford Emerson Chaillé, for forty-one years professor of physiology and pathological anatomy in the medical department of Tulane University; of Dr. Edward Burnett Vorhees, professor of agriculture at Rutgers College and director of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station; of Professor William Russell Dudley, professor of botany in Stanford University; of Nathaniel Wright Lord, professor of mineralogy and metallurgy in the Ohio State University; of Mrs. Williamina Paton Fleming, curator of astronomical photographs in the Harvard College Observatory, and of Dr. N. Story Maskelyne, from 1856 to 1895 professor of mineralogy at Oxford.
Professor E. C. Pickering, director of the Harvard College Observatory, has been created knight of the Prussian order Pour le mérite. Simon Newcomb and Alexander Agassiz are the only other American men of science on whom this honor has been conferred.—At its annual meeting the American Academy of Arts and Sciences voted to award the Rumford premium to Professor James Mason Crafts "for his investigations in high temperature thermometry and the exact determination of new fixed reference points on the thermometric scale.'
During his recent visit to Washington at the time of the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, Sir John Murray presented a fund of six thousand dollars to the academy for the purpose of founding an Alexander Agassiz gold medal which shall be awarded to scientific men in any part of the world for original contributions to the science of oceanography.