ne of the amazing facts of progress is that in very many instances, science develops a goodly amount of inventions which were ever even dreamt of by the most imaginative type of fiction writers. Science has the trick of springing continuous surprises, which ery often are far more amazing than the most amazing piece of scientifiction.
Not long ago, the Kodak people announced a brand new system of colored motion pictures. Now colored motion pictures are a novelty no longer. They were usually produced by means of ordinary films, hand-painted, or colored by other processes. The wholly astonishing thing about the new Kodacolor process, however, is the fact that the film is black and white. The light that strikes the film is white; yet, we get the most gorgeous colored motion pictures imaginable and entirely true to life in all of the colorings. You will see thrown on the screen a bowl of goldfish in the most marvelous colors imaginable; and yet, the film itself is in black and white. The process in which the final result is achieved is intensely interesting, and is the subject of a detailed article, fully illustrated, in the October issue of SCIENCE AND INVENTION.
Suffice to say, the process is made possible by embossing the film lengthwise in such a way that the film itself becomes a mass of lenses, which are microscopic in size; yet which provide an entirely new optical system by which the final colors become possible.
Here then, is another invention which would have been denounced as extravagant fiction only a few short years ago.
And when we come to television, which has been the favorite subject for exploitation by our scientific writers, we are no longer astonished, because this imaginary television has now become an accomplished fact. The marvel of present television, crude as it is, lies in the fact that it is given by a revolving disc with a few holes in it, which faithfully brings a distant event to us, by wire or by radio.
But even few of our scientifiction writers thought that it would ever be possible to transmit color television; yet, recently this also has been accomplished by Mr. Baird of London, with a comparatively simple system. All Mr. Baird does is to divide his television disc into three parts, then he coers the spiral holes with red, blue and yellow transparent strips and exposes his subject in the usual way. He thus transmits impulses in various intensities, due to the color ranges. At the receiving end, we have a duplication of the transmitter, with a similar disc, and as we look at this disc in a darkened room, we obtain actual television images in colors. So here we have another great scientific triumph, which was not expected for at least fifty years.
Again, our best scientists, who seem to know all about television, predicted only last Fall that outdoor scenes could not be transmitted by television for at least five to ten years. They contended that it would not b epossible to transmit anything better than a human face or a moving hand by television impulses. Yet, only last July, the Bell Telephone Laboratories sent out television images of a tennis player, while he was playing in broad daylight. So the time is not distant when it will be possible for us to witness a ball game a thousand miles away. Nor will it be long before every radio enthusiast, sitting in his home, will be able to see a prizefight, in all its interesting and brutal details, while it is being fought.
So we see that science is catching up with fiction and prediction rather quickly, and our imaginative fiction writers will soon be hard pressed for new ideas in order to keep in the swim.
For a number of years, imaginative writers have been busy exploiting the Goddard rocket. Of course, most of them exploited the rocket for interplanetary travel. The time seems close at hand when such a machine will actually be launched. At this very moment, in Germany, extensive tests and experiments are being made along these lines. The Germans, von Opel and Sander, have already constructed automobiles propelled by rockets, which were used both on railroad tracks and the ordinary cement roads. Speeds as high as 160 miles an hour have been reached on rails, which is faster than any car ever traveled on rails before. And this is only a beginning.
This generation will see rocket-propelled aerial conveyances negotiating the trip from Berlin to New York in three hours. In order to do so, the machine will have to fly partially in a vacuum. The rocket machine will be directed heavenward and will have to climb up two or three hundred miles to reach the outer confines of the atmosphere, then it will straighten out and will begin descending in a great curve, with New York as its next objective.
Naturally, so as not to freeze and kill the passengers, they will have to be in airtight compartments. As a matter of fact, the entire inside of the machile will have to be airtight. The machine will carry its own air and oxygen and will generate its own heat.
The interesting point to remember is that at these tremendous speeds, entirely new and unforeseen things happen. A German engineer recently pointed out that at such speeds-that is 1,000 miles an hour-the usual airplane wings would be useless. At such a speed an ordinary hailstone would go clean through a thin metal airplane wing as though it were shot through by a high-speed bullet. Consequently, these new aerial monsters of the future will have to be built of entirely new metals, tougher than steel, to withstand even the shocks of large dust particles, which, encountered at a speed of a thousand miles an hour, will raise havoc, due to their impact upon the machine.
All surprising facts, and as interesting as they seemed astonishing and impossible, only a few short years back.