National Geographic : 1916 Mar
cial business, and besides that every ship of the Navy is herself a commercial sta tion, as all private messages handled are paid for by the senders In addition to the paid commercial business carried on by the naval radio stations, the system renders a free serv ice of inestimable value in the daily transmission from Arlington and other stations of the time signals from the Naval Observatory, thus enabling ships at sea, even though far beyond the range of transmission of their own equipment, to determine their exact chronometer correction. Even sailing vessels, which habitually make long voyages and which have no power with which to operate a radio station of their own, may at trifling expense be equipped to catch this signal. Our own naval ships have carried it far into the Mediterranean. In addition to this, over 300 jewelers throughout the country are now receiv ing the Navy's time signal by radio, and there is little doubt but what this number will grow to 3,000. WHEN WAR'S LIGHTNINGS FLAME THE SKY During the war in Mexico, when all land wire and cable communication be tween the United States and the south ern part of Mexico was interrupted, the naval vessels on the west coast afforded the only means of communication. The air has been put under contribution and is now the fleet-assigned servant of man. The S. O. S. call has reduced the terrors of the deep. Another interesting feature of this free radio service, which should be of incalculable benefit to shipping, is found in the radio compass now under con struction at the Fire Island station, near the entrance to New York harbor. This device is intended to send out radio sig nals of such a character that a vessel in a fog may get a close approximation of her "bearing," or compass direction, from the station. By means of observa tions taken 5 or Io miles apart, it should be possible for the vessel to determine her actual position with fair accuracy. This is the first installation of this type to be made in this country; but a second installation of different type, though an swering the same purpose, is undergoing tests at Cape Cod. THE WIDE WORLD TO COME WITHIN EAR SHOT The signals sent out by the radio com pass at Fire Island will necessarily be limited as to range; but the Cape Cod installation will allow of a coasting ship calling the station in the usual manner from any distance within the ship's ordi nary range and receiving a definite reply as to her bearing from the station. In the case of Fire Island the ship will de termine her bearing from the character of the signals continuously emitted; for Cape Cod the station determines the bearing of the ship from her calling sig nal and sends the information back. If these installations prove as successful as anticipated, the radio operators of ships will become an important part of the navigating force. In the fall of last year the human voice was successfully transmitted by radio from the Naval Radio Station at Arling ton clear across the continent to the sta tion at Mare Island, Cal., 2,500 miles away; and several months later, sitting at his desk in the Navy Department, the Secretary of the Navy sent the first order ever issued by the Navy by wireless telephony to Rear Admiral Usher, com mandant of the New York Navy Yard. The radio system of the Navy has been so thoroughly and completely organized and the Navy's system of communica tion, under the efficient organization of the Office of Naval Operations by its present chief, Rear Admiral Benson, is now so effective that messages to every part of the world can be sent at any time of the day or night; and this division has been put under the supervision of a thoroughly trained naval officer, within 50 feet of the desk of the Secretary of the Navy, and in immediate touch with the officers and officials of every depart ment. NOTE TO MEMBERS Owing to unprecedented conditions in the importation of special inks for color work, together with the very large increase in the edition of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, due to its continually growing popularity, it has been necessary to postpone until the April number the thirty-two pages of four-color work, illustrating the article on "America's Playgrounds," which was announced for the March number.