Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 34, 1901
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2. “Notes on the Sydney Chain Standard.” by C. E. Adams, B.Sc.

Mr. Martin Chapman said that in order to be able to tell whether a thing was done properly its actual working had to be gone into. He once happened by accident to be concerned in a matter which enabled him to see how the testing of weights was worked practically. As members of the society probably knew, there were Inspectors of Weights and Measures all over the colony. These Inspectors were generally policemen. Sometimes they were retired policemen. An Inspector bad a set of standard weights with which he had to compare weights submitted to him to be tested, or weights which were suspected to be untrue and which he had secured in order to test them. An important question, therefore, was how nearly the standard weights in the possession

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of the Inspector agreed with the proper standard weights in the hands of the Government. Some time ago a circular was sent to certain persons in Wellington asking them to state the price at which they would furnish the Government with iron ingots. The respective weights required were specified, and it was also stated that the ingots had to have handles by which they could be lifted. One tender, sent in by a person of thoroughly good character, gave a price which amounted to a few pence per pound. His tender was at once accepted, with a condition, “Please let them be accurate.” He replied that that was not exactly what he tendered for—that in the iron trade an inaccuracy of 4 or 5 per cent. in the weight of ingots was not thought to be worth considering, and that the ingots might be from a fraction of an ounce to several ounces out, according to their size. The conditions of contract were amended so as to require that the ingots should be accurate in weight, and a few pence per pound was added to the amount of the tender. The ingots were cast at a foundry, and they were weighed on the machine on which all metal arriving at the factory was weighed. They were passed by the gentleman who was appointed to pass them. The Government, however, then wrote to say that the “standard weights” which had been sent in had been found to be inaccurate. Previously they had used the word “ingots” These “standard weights” were accordingly adjusted, some by being planed down and others by being plastered up. And that was how the standard weights used by Inspectors were made. So it would be seen that an Act of Parliament might be perfect, and the standard weights obtained from England might be perfect, but if the manner in which the Act was worked was not perfect there would be inaccuracies as to weights and measures.

Mr. R. C. Harding said the weights in use in the post-offices apparently needed to be brought into uniformity, as he had known several cases where parcels which had been weighed and passed as correct in the office where they were posted had been surcharged and fined at the office of delivery.

3. “On the Vapour Densities of the Fatty Acids,” by Professor Easterfield and P. W. Robertson. (Transactions, p. 499.) This paper, read at a previous meeting, was discussed.

Sir James Hector said the discovery was of great importance, and showed how admirably the professor was leading his students in original research. He deplored the lack of proper apparatus and appliances in the University for the prosecution of valuable work of this kind.

Mr. Tregear spoke of the hopeful prospects of the Philosophical Society. For years, as the pioneers fell out of the ranks, they had deplored the lack of younger men to fill the gaps. Now all this was changed. Young men of the greatest promise—–

A Member: And young women too.

Mr. Tregear said, Yes, young women too—were taking a prominent place in the scientific field. He congratulated the professor and students on the energetic work—work of permanent value—they had already accomplished. We need have no fears as to the future of the Society.