National Geographic : 1896 Feb
GEOGRAPHIC LITERATURE not the same in all places. That it is not always the same at any one place is said to have been discovered by Columbus; so that the variation of the variation is a discovery four centuries old. That the needle, if free to move in any direction, would not "hang level," but that one end would decline or dip below the horizon, is also an old discovery, having been discovered by Georg Hartmann in 1544; and, lastly, that the force that acts upon the needle to make it point north and south is not the same in all places has been long known. The true cause of the behavior of a compass needle has been a field for speculation and study ever since its peculiar behavior was observed, and a few students had up to the time of Gauss proposed and laboriously worked out ingenious theories to explain the phenomena observed. The publication of Gauss' great work in 1838, however, marked a great ad vance and gave a new and powerful impulse to the subject. The Mag netic Union, formed in the third decade of the present century, chiefly owing to the researches of Gauss, caused the establishment in various parts of the world of magnetic observatories, founded and maintained by various governments. Of those so founded in the forties, several have maintained a series of almost uninterrupted observations to this day. This period of 60 years has seen progress in our knowledge of terrestrial magnetism, but without any epoch-marking event. A vast number of observations have been accumulated, the 24 constants in Gauss' funda mental formula have been more accurately determined, and a number of minor phenomena observed and explained, but the subject is far from being exhausted. The modern applications of electricity to practical affairs is not without its effect upon the subject of terrestrial magnetism. Is not the journal before us, then, to mark a new epoch in our knowl edge of this subject? It seems strange that, when almost every other branch of science has long had its special journal or organ, we should have waited almost for the dawn of the twentieth century for the first number of the first journal devoted to a matter of such great practical moment and for four centuries known by all civilized men to be important. We welcome this journal, then, as a needed one, rightly conceived and giving promise of usefulness. It enters, and enters under favorable au spices, a field not hitherto occupied by any scientific journal. The names of the editors, the laboratory, and university from which it comes all combine to promise excellent results. It will be strange indeed if dis tinct gains in human knowledge do not result from this enterprise. The editor, Dr Bauer, though a young man, is a most enthusiastic student in his chosen field. After several years of service in the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, devoted chiefly to magnetic computa tion, he went to Europe and devoted his energies to magnetic studies. His doctor's degree was obtained last year, as the outcome of these studies. To him more than to any other belongs the credit of founding the first journal given wholly to the subject of terrestrial magnetism, and patriotic Americans will perhaps derive some satisfaction from the fact that the journal was founded in the United States. To the editor and his associates and to the University of Chicago we tender our congratulations and hope for them a large measure of success.