Born: 18 September 1858, Dundrum, Dublin
Entered: 10 June 1885, Loyola House, Dromore, County Down
Professed: 01 March 1901
Died: 22 May 1929, St Ignatius College, Riverview, Sydney, Australia
by 1893 at St Aloysius Jersey Channel Islands (FRA) studying
by 1894 at Enghien Belgium (CAMP) studying
by 1895 at St Aloysius Jersey Channel Islands (FRA) studying
by 1900 at St Joseph, Yang Jin Bang, Shanghai, China (FRA) teaching
by 1904 in St Ignatius, Riverview, Sydney (HIB)
by 1905 at ZI-KA-WEI Seminary, Shanghai, China (FRA) teaching
by 1910 in Australia
◆ Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University online
Pigot, Edward Francis (1858–1929)
by L. A. Drake
L. A. Drake, 'Pigot, Edward Francis (1858–1929)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/pigot-edward-francis-8048/text14037, published first in hardcopy 1988
astronomer; Catholic priest; meteorologist; schoolteacher; seismologist
Died : 22 May 1929, North Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Edward Francis Pigot (1858-1929), Jesuit priest, astronomer and seismologist, was born on 18 September 1858 at Dundrum, near Dublin, son of David Richard Pigot, master of the Court of Exchequer, and his wife Christina, daughter of Sir James Murray, a well-known Dublin physician. Descended from eminent lawyers, Edward was educated at home by tutors and by a governess. The family was very musical and Edward became a fine pianist; he was later complimented by Liszt. He studied arts and medicine at Trinity College, Dublin (B.A., 1879; M.B., B.Ch., 1882) and also attended lectures by the astronomer (Sir) Robert Ball. After experience at the London Hospital, Whitechapel, he set up practice in Dublin.
In June 1885 Pigot entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Dromore, County Down. He began to teach at University College, Dublin, but in 1888, on account of ill health, came to Australia. He taught at St Francis Xavier's College, Melbourne, and from August 1889 at St Ignatius' College, Riverview, Sydney. Returning to Europe in 1892 he studied philosophy with French Jesuits exiled in Jersey, and theology at Milltown Park, Dublin. He was ordained priest on 31 July 1898. In 1899 he volunteered for the China Mission and was stationed at the world-famous Zi-Ka-Wei Observatory, Shanghai. In 1903, again in poor health, he spent some months working in Melbourne and at Sydney Observatory, and taught for a year at Riverview before returning to Zi-Ka-Wei for three years. Tall and lanky, he came finally to Sydney in 1907, a frail, sick man. He had yet to begin the main work of his life.
On his way back to Australia Pigot visited the Jesuit observatory in Manila: he was beginning to plan an observatory of international standard at Riverview. He began meteorological observations there on 1 January 1908. As terrestrial magnetism could not be studied because of nearby electric trams, he decided to set up a seismological station as the start of the observatory. The Göttingen Academy of Sciences operated the only fully equipped seismological station in the southern hemisphere at Apia, Samoa: a station in eastern Australia would also be favourably situated to observe the frequent earthquakes that occur in the south-west Pacific Ocean. Assisted by the generosity of L. F. Heydon, Pigot ordered a complete set of Wiechert seismographs from Göttingen, and visited the Apia observatory. Riverview College Observatory opened as a seismological station in March 1909. Seismological observations continue to be made there.
A great traveller despite his teaching duties, Pigot visited Bruny Island, Tasmania (1910), the Tonga Islands (1911) and Goondiwindi, Queensland (1922), to observe total solar eclipses; and observatories in Europe in 1911, 1912, 1914 and 1922 and North America in 1919 and 1922. He made observations of earth tides in a mine at Cobar (1913-19), collaborated with Professor L. A. Cotton in measurements of the deflection of the earth's crust as Burrinjuck Dam filled (1914-15) and performed Foucault pendulum experiments in the Queen Victoria Market building, Sydney (1916-17). On 1 September 1923 F. Omori, a leading Japanese seismologist, observed with Pigot a violent earthquake being recorded in the Riverview vault; it turned out to have destroyed Tokyo, with the loss of 140,000 lives.
Fr Pigot was a member of the Australian National Research Council from 1921, president of the State branch of the British Astronomical Association in 1923-24 and a council-member of the Royal Society of New South Wales in 1921-29. On his way back from the Pan-Pacific Science Congress in Tokyo (1926), he visited the observatory at Lembang, Java, where he planned a programme of study at Riverview Observatory of variable stars. Between 1925 and 1929 Pigot measured solar radiation at Riverview and Orange, particularly in relation to long-range weather forecasting. He was seeking a site of high elevation above sea-level for this work, when he contracted pneumonia at Mount Canobolas. He died at North Sydney on 22 May 1929 and was buried in Gore Hill cemetery.
Sir Edgeworth David paid tribute to Pigot:
It was not only for his profound learning that scientists revered him. They could not fail to be attracted by his magnetic personality, for though frail and often in weak health, he ever preserved the same charming and cheerful manner, and was full of eagerness and enthusiasm in discussing plans for the better pursuit of scientific truth. Surely there never was any scientific man so well-beloved as he.
Royal Society of New South Wales, Journal, 49 (1915), p 448
Riverview College Observatory Publications, 2 (1940), p 17
S.J. Studies, June 1952, p 189, Sept-Dec 1952, p 323.
◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
Paraphrase/Excerpts from an article published in the “Catholic Press” 30/05/1929
“The late Father Pigott, whose death was announced last week in the ‘Press’, was born at Dundrum Co Dublin 18/09/1858, of a family which gave three generations of judges to the Irish Bench. He himself adopted the medical profession, and having taken his degree at Trinity, he practiced for a few years in Dublin and at Croom, Co Limerick. While studying at Trinity he made his first acquaintance with astronomy, when he heard a course of lectures by the famous Sir Robert Ball, then head of the Observatory at Dunsink, and Astronomer Royal of Ireland.
In 1885 the young Doctor, already noted for his charming gentleness and self-sacrificing charity entered the Novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Dromore. he made his first visit to Australia as a Scholastic in 1888, and he taught for four years at Xavier College Kew, and Riverview Sydney. Naturally his department was Science.
In 1892 he was sent to St Helier in Jersey to study Philosophy with the French Jesuits who had been expelled from France. It was here that he began his long battle with frailty and illness, during which he achieved so much for scientific research over his 70 years. He did his Theology at Milltown and was Ordained 1899. Two years later he volunteered to join the French Jesuits in China, and this required of him not only his scientific zeal, but also his spiritual and missionary ones. he did manage to master the Chinese language for his work, and he used to tell amusing stories of his first sermons against himself and his intonations. His health was always threatening to intervene, and so he went to work at the Zi-Kai-Wei Observatory near Shanghai. The work he did here on the Chinese Mission was to reach his fulness in the work he later did over many years in Australia, and where he went to find the climate which suited his health better. He received much training at Zi-Kai-Wei and in photography and study of sunspots at Ze-se, which had a twin 16 inch telescope.
1907 saw him back in Australia and he set about founding the Observatory at Riverview, while teaching Science. By his death, this Observatory had a range and capacity, in terms of sophisticated instruments, which rivalled the best Government-endowed observatories throughout the world. Whilst he had the best of equipment, he lacked the administrative personnel necessary to record all the data he was amassing. His great pride towards the end was in his spectroscope for the work on Solar Radiation where he believed that ‘Long-distance weather forecasts will soon be possible, though not in my time’ (Country Life, 29/04/1929). Current farmers and graziers will owe him a lot in the future.
The scientific work at Riverview has received recognition in Australia. Edward’s interests in the Sydney Harbour Bridge, his experiments in earth tremors at the construction of the Burrenjuck Dam, geophysics at the Cobar mines, pendulum experiments in the Queen Victoria Markets of Sydney. In 1910 he took part in a solar eclipse expedition to Tasmania, and in 1911 on the ship Encounter a similar trip to the Tongan Islands, and the Goondiwindi Expedition of 1922.
In 1914 he was appointed by the Government to represent Australia at the International Seismological Congress at St Petersburg, though war cancelled that. In 1921 he was a member of the Australian National Research Council and sent to represent them to Rome at the 1922 first general assembly of the International Astronomical Union and the International Union of Geoditics and Geophysics. He was president of the NSW branch of the British Astronomical Association, and a member of the Royal Society of NSW. In 1923 the Pan-Pacific Science Congress was held in Australia, and during this Professor Omori of Japan was at Riverview watching the seismometers as they were recording the earthquake of Tokyo, Dr Omori’s home city. In 1926 he went to the same event at Tokyo, and later that year was elected a member of the newly formed International Commission of Research of the Central International Bureau of Seismology.
From an early age he was a passionate lover of music, and this came from his family. he gave long hours to practising the piano when young, and in later life he could play some of the great pieces from memory. He was said to be one of the finest amateur pianists in Australia. It often served as a perfect antidote to a stressful day at the Observatory."
Many warm-hearted and generous tributes to the kindness and charm for Father Pigott’s personal character have been expressed by public and scientific men since his death. Clearly his association with men in all walks of life begot high esteem and sincere friendship. Those who knew him in his private life will always preserve the memory of a kindly, gentle associate, and of a saintly religious.”
◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Edward Pigot's family was of Norman origin and settled in Co Cork. Ireland. The family was a famous legal family in Dublin. He was the grandson of Chief Baron Pigot, son of judge David Pigot, brother of Judge John Pigot. He was the fourth of eight children, and was educated at home by a governess and tutors. The family was very musical, Edward playing the piano.
Pigot went to Trinity College, Dublin, and graduated BA in science in 1879. His mentor at the university in astronomy was Sir Robert Ball, then Royal Astronomer for Ireland and Professor of Astronomy. Pigot then studied medicine and graduated with high distinction in 1882, and after postgraduate studies practiced in Baggot Street, Dublin.
However, Pigot gave up this practice to join the Society of Jesus, 10 June 1885, at the age of 27.
After a short teaching period at University College, Dublin, Pigot was sent to Australia in 1888 because of constant headaches, and he taught physics and physiology principally at St Ignatius College, Riverview, 1890-92. He returned to Europe for further studies, philosophy in Jersey with the French Jesuits, 1892-95, and theology at Milltown Park, Dublin, where he was ordained priest in 1898. Tertianship followed immediately at Tullabeg.
At the age of 41 and in ill health, Pigot volunteered for the Chinese Mission in 1899, and was stationed at Zi-ka-Wei, near Shanghai, working on a world famous observatory, where
meteorology, astronomy and terrestrial magnetism were fostered. Pigot specialised in astronomy and also studied Chinese. Like other missionaries of those days, he grew a beard and a pigtail. However, his health deteriorated and he was sent to Australia in 1903 for a few years. He then returned to Shanghai, 1905-07, before returning to Riverview in 1908.
After visiting the Manila Observatory, he formulated plans for starting an observatory at Riverview, an activity that he believed would bring recognition for the excellence in research that he expected at the Riverview observatory He believed that seismology was best suited to the location. Pigot obtained the best equipment available for his work, with the gracious benefaction of the Hon Louis F Heydon, MLC. He personally visited other observatories around the world to gain ideas and experience, as well as attending many international conferences over the years. One result of his visit to Samoa was the building and fittings for the instruments in the half-underground, vaulted, brick building at Riverview. Brs Forster and Girschik performed the work. Some instruments, called the Wiechert Seismographs, came from Germany.
He became a member of the Australian National Research Council at its inception in 1921, and foundation member of the Australian Committee on Astronomy, as well as that on Geodosy and Geophysics. He served on the Council of the Royal Society of NSW, and was President of the British Astronomical Association (NSW Branch), 1923-24.
The upkeep of the Riverview observatory was borne by the Australian Jesuits and Riverview. Family and friends also gave funds for this work. When he died from pneumonia, he left at the Riverview observatory five double-component seismometers, two telescopes fully equipped for visual and photographic work, a wireless installation, clocks specially designed for extreme accuracy, an extensive scientific library, a complete set of meteorological instruments, and a solar radiation station, possessing rare and costly instruments.
Pigot's work at Riverview included working on scientific problems of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, experiments at the construction of the Burrenjuck Dam, geophysics at the Cobar mines, and pendulum experiments in the Queen Victoria Market Buildings in Sydney In 1910 he took part in a solar eclipse expedition to Tasmania. In April 1911 he went with the warship Encounter on a similar expedition to the Tongan Islands in the Pacific, and was prominent in the Goondiwindi Solar Eclipse Expedition in 1922.
Pigot was appointed by the Commonwealth Government to represent Australia at the International Seismological Congress at St Petersburg in 1914. He was secretary of the seismo-
logical section of the Pan-Pacific Science Congress in Sydney, 1923, and in 1926, once more represented the Commonwealth Government as a member of the Australian Delegation at the Pan-Pacific Congress, Tokyo. In 1928 he was elected a member of an International Commission of Research, which was part of the International Bureau of Seismology, centered at Strasbourg.
He was highly esteemed by his colleagues for his friendship, high scholarship, modest and unassuming demeanour, and nobility of character. Upon his death the rector of Riverview received a letter from the acting-premier of New South Wales, describing Pigot as one of the state's “most distinguished citizens”, and Sir Edgeworth David praised his magnetic personality and eagerness and enthusiasm in discussing plans for the better pursuit of scientific truth.
Edward Pigot, tall and lanky, frail and often in weak health, was also a fine priest, always helper of the poor, and exemplary in the practice of poverty. He did pastoral work in a quiet way. On his scientific expeditions, he was always willing to help the local clergy and their scattered flocks. He was genuinely modest, humble, and courteous to all. Yet he was naturally a very sensitive and even passionate man, with a temperament that he did not find easy to control. He disagreed strongly with Dr Mannix on the issue of conscription - the Pigots were decidedly Anglo-Irish - and positively refused to entertain the idea of setting up an observatory at Newman under the archbishop's aegis.
His extremely high standards of scientific accuracy and integrity made it difficult for him to find an assistant he could work with, or who could work with him. George Downey, Robert McCarthy, and Wilfred Ryan, all failed to satisfy. However, when he met the young scholastic Daniel O'Connell he found a man after his own heart. When he found death approaching he was afraid, not of death, but because O’Connell was still only a theologian and not ready to take over the observatory. Happily, the Irish province was willing to release his other great friend, William O'Leary to fill the gap.
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 2nd Year No 2 1927
Fr Pigot attended the Pan-Pacific Science Congress in Tokyo as a delegate representing the Australian Commonwealth Government. He was Secretary to the Seismological Section, and read two important papers. On the journey home he spent some time in hospital in Shanghai, and later touched at Hong Kong where he met Frs. Byrne and Neary.
Irish Province News 3rd Year No 1 1927
Lavender Bay, Sydney :
Fr. Pigot's great reputation as a seismologist was much increased during the present year by his locating of the Kansu earthquake within a few hours of the first earth tremors. “Where he deserted medicine,” the Herald writes, “that profession lost a brilliant member, but science in general was the gainer. Dr Pigot is one of the world's leading authorities on seismology, and can juggle azimuths and seismometers with uncanny confidence”.
Irish Province News 4th Year No 4 1929
Fr Edward Pigot
Fr Pigot died at Sydney on May 21st. He caught a slight cold which in a few days developed into T. B. pneumonia. He was very frail, and had no reserve of strength left to meet the attack. The Archbishop presided at the Requiem. The Government sent a representative. The papers were all very appreciative.
Fr Pigot was born at Dundrum, Co. Dublin on the 18th September 1858, educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied medicine, and took out his degrees - MB, BCh, in 1882. For the three following years he was on the staff of Baggot St Hospital, Dublin, and was Chemist with his uncle, Sir James Murray, at Murray's Magnesia works. He entered the Society at Loyola House, Dromore, Co. Down on the 10th June 1885. He spent one year at Milltown Park as junior, and then sailed for Australia. One year at Kew as prefect, and three years at Riverview teaching chemistry and physics brought his regency to an end. Fr. Pigot spent three years at Jersey doing philosophy, as many at Milltown at theology, and then went to Tullabeg for his tertianship in 1898. At the and of the year a very big event in his life took place. He applied for and obtained leave to join the Chinese Mission of the Paris province. For a year he worked in the Church of St. Joseph at Yang-King-Pang, and for two more at the Seminary at Zi-Kai-Wei, but the state of his health compelled a rest, and in 1913 we find him once more at Riverview teaching and trying to repair his shattered strength. He seems to have, in some measure, succeeded, for, at the end of the year he returned to his work at Zi-kai-wei. The success however was short lived. He struggled on bravely for three years when broken health and climatic conditions forced him to yield, and he asked to be received back into the Irish Province. We have it on the highest authority that his reasons for seeking the Chinese Mission were so a virtuous and self-denying, that he was heartily welcomed back to his own province. In 1907 he was stationed once more at Riverview, and to that house he belonged up to the time of his happy death in 1929.
It was during these 22 years that Fr. Pigot's greatest work was done - the founding and perfecting of the Riverview Observatory. The story is told by Fr. Dan. O'Connell in the Australian Jesuit Directory of 1927.
Fr. Pigot's first astronomical training was at Dunsink Observatory under the well known astronomer “Sir Robert Ball”. Then, as mentioned above, many years were passed at the Jesuit Observatory at Zi-kai-wei.
For some years previous to his return to Riverview, earthquakes had been receiving more and more attention from scientists, Excellent stations had been established in Europe and Japan, but the lack of news from the Southern Hemisphere greatly hampered the work of experts. It was the very excellent way in which Fr. Pigot supplied this want that has won him a high place amongst the worlds scientists.
Thanks to the kindness of relatives and friends, and to government help, Fr. Pigot was able to set up at Riverview quite a number of the very best and most up-to-date seismometers, some of which were constructed at government workshops under his own personal supervision. At once, as soon as things were ready, Fr Pigot entered into communication with seismological stations all the world over. When his very first bulletins were received in Europe, Riverview was gazetted as a “first-order station”, and the work done there was declared by seismologists everywhere as of first-rate importance. At the time of his death Fr Pigot had established telegraphic communication with the International Seismological Bureau at Strasbourg.
The study of earthquakes was only one of Fr. Pilot's activities, He was able, again through the generosity of his friends, to put up at Riverview, a first class astronomical observatory. It has four distinct lines of research :
- The photography of the heavens.
- Photographs of sunspots
- Study of variable stars.
- Micrometre measurements of double stars.
Fr Pigot also took part ill a number of solar eclipse expeditions to Tasmania in May 1910, in April 1911 to Tonga, and to Goondiwindi in 1922.
Finally, and perhaps most difficult of all, he established at Riverview a solar radiation station. The object of such a station is to determine the quantity of heat radiated out by the sun. This quantity of heat is not constant, as was thought but variable. The work is expensive, and of a highly specialised nature. It was hoped that in course of time it would have very
practical results, amongst them being the power of being able to forecast changes in climate and weather over much longer periods than is at present possible. The necessary funds were collected by a Solar Radiation Committee formed at Sydney, Supplemented by a legacy from a relative of Fr Pigot's.
Fr Pigot's ability as a scientist is shown by the number of important positions he held, and by the number of missions entrusted to him. He was elected President of the N. S. W. branch of the British Astronomical Association in 1923 and 1924.
He was a member of the Council of the Royal Society of NSW for several years. On the occasion of the International Seismological Congress to be held at. St. Petersburg in l914 he was appointed by the Commonwealth Government as delegate to represent Australia. Owing to the war the Congress was not held. It was on this occasion that Fr Pigot was sternly refused permission as a Jesuit to enter Russia. Even the request of the British ambassador at St Petersbourg for a passport was of no avail. It was only through the intercession of Prince Galitzin the leading Seismologist in Russia and a personal friend of the Russian Foreign Minister that the permit was granted.
He went to Rome in 1922 as delegate from the Australian National Research Council to the first General Assembly of the Astronomical Union.
He was Secretary of the Seismological Section at the Pan-Pacific Science Congress in Australia 1923.
He was appointed by the Commonwealth Government as one of an official delegation of four which represented Australia at the Pan-Pacific Congress in Tokyo 1926.
Fr Pigot was a great scientist he was also a fine musician an exquisite pianist and a powerful one. He was said Lo be amongst the finest amateur pianists in Australia. Once during a villa he was playing a piece by one of the old masters. In the same room was a card party intent on their game. Fr Pigot whispered to a friend sitting near the piano “mind the discord
that's coming”. It came, and with it came howl and a yell from the card players. In the frenzy of the moment no one could tell what was going to come next. But, as Fr Pigot continued to play a soothing bit that followed, a normal state of nerves was restored, and the players settles down to their game.
He was a great scientist, and a fine musician, but, above all and before all, he was an excellent religious. In the noviceship too much concentration injured his head, and he felt the effects ever afterwards. It affected him during his missionary work and during his own studies. His piety was not of the demonstrative order, but he had got a firm grip of the supernatural, and held it to the cud. He knew the meaning of life, the meaning of eternity and squared his life accordingly.
His request for a change of province was in no way due to fickleness or inconstancy. He had asked a great grace from Almighty God, a favour on which the dearest wish of his heart was set, and he made a supreme, a heroic sacrifice to obtain it. That gives us the key note to his life, and it shows us the religious man far better than the most eloquent panegyric or the longest list of virtues that adorn religious life could do. Judged by that sacrifice he holds a higher and a nobler place in the world of our Society that that which his genius and unremitting hard work won for him in the world of science.
A few extracts to show the esteem if which Fr. Pigot was held by externs :
Father Pigot's death “removes a great figure not only from the Catholic world but also from the world of science. His fame was world-wide. He was one of the worlds' most famous seismologists”.
“By his death Australian science and the science of seismology have sustained a loss that is almost irreparable. He initiated what now ranks among the very best seismological observatories in the world”.
“He was able to secure the best instruments for recording the variations in heat transmitted from the sun to the earth for his Solar observatory at Riverview, and to make observations, which science in time will rely upon to put mankind in the possession of long range forecasts as to future rainfall and weather in general”.
“Dr. Pigot told me that after some years it would be possible to forecast the weather' two seasons ahead”.
“ Dr. Pigot was one of the brightest examples of simple faith in a Divine purpose pervading all the universe”.
“It was not only for his profound learning that scientists reverenced him. They could not fail to be attracted by his magnetic personality, for though frail and often in weak health he ever preserved the same charming and cheerful manner, and was full of eagerness and enthusiasm in discussing plans for the pursuit of scientific truth. Surely there never was any scientific man so well beloved as he”
“Those who knew him in his private 1ife will always reserve the memory of a kindly, gentle associate, and of a saintly religious”.
Irish Province News 5th Year No 1 1929
Obituary : Fr Edward Pigot
The following items about Fr. Pigot's youth have been kindly supplied by his brother.
“He was born the 18th Sept. 1858 at Meadowbrook, Dundrum, Co. Dublin His first tuition was at the hands of governesses and private tutors, after which he attended for some years a day school kept by H. Tilney-Bassett at 67 Lower Mount St.
Concurrently, under the influence of his music Master, George Sproule, his taste for music began to develop rapidly. Sproule had a great personal liking for him, and took him on a visit to Switzerland. Many years afterwards Fr. Pigot heard that Sproule (who had taken orders in the Church of England) was in Sydney. He rang him up on the telephone, without disclosing identity, and whistled some musical passages well known to both of them. Almost at once Sproule knew and spoke his name.
Even as a schoolboy, I can recall how he impressed me by his superiority, by his even temper, command of himself under provocation, his generosity, his studiousness and his steadiness generally.
He entered Trinity about 1879. In the Medical School, he had the repute of a really serious student. He was especially interested in chemistry and experimental physics. Astronomy was outside his regular course, but I remember visits to Dunsink observatory, His studies seemed to he regulated by clockwork.
Before setting up as a doctor in Upper Baggot Street, he was resident medical attendant at Cork Street Fever Hospital, and the Rotunda Hospital, and at the City of Dublin Hospital. When in private practice at Baggot Street, he was not financially successful. I have the impression that his serious demeanour and grave appearance were against him, But I have better grounds for believing that his work amongst the poor, his unwillingness to charge fees to the needy, operated still more in the same direction. We often heard, but not from him, of his goodness to the poor. This was the time that he announced to us his desire to join the Jesuit Order. May I add that if there was one event in Ned’s life for which I have long felt joy and thankfulness, it was his desire to enter your Order.
Years after he had left Dublin, one of his prescriptions had become locally famous, and was ordered from the chemist as “a bottle of Kate Gallagher, please”, Kate having been one of his poor friends”.
Irish Province News 22nd Year No 1 1947
In 1923 Fr. Pigot built a Solar Radiation Station at Riverview, and started a programme of research on the heat we receive from the sun. This work has now been finally wound up. The valuable instruments, which are the property of the Solar Radiation Committee, were offered on loan to Commonwealth Solar Observatory, Mt. Strombo, Canberra. The offer was accepted and the instruments were sent by lorry to Mt. Strombo on February 7th. The results of the work have been prepared for publication and are now being printed. This will be the first astronomical publication to be issued by the Observatory since December 1939. Shortage of staff and pressure of other work during the war were responsible for interrupting that branch of our activities. Another number of our astronomical publications is now ready and about to be sent to the printer. We have started a new series of publications: Riverview College Observatory Geophysical Papers." The first three numbers are now being printed and will be sent to all seismological Observatories and to those scientists who may be interested.
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Edward Pigott 1859-1929
Fr Edward Pigott was born in Dundrum Dublin on September 18th 1858, of a family which gave three generations to the Irish Bench. Edward himself became a Doctor of Medicine, taking a degree at Trinity College, and practising first in Dublin, then in Croom County Limerick. In 1885, the young doctor entered the Society at Dromore, and made his first visit to Australia in 1888, where he spent four years teaching at Xavier College.
Ordained in 1899, two years later he volunteered for the Chinese Mission. He learned the Chinese language in preparation for his work, and for a while tested the hardships of active service with the French Fathers of the Society. He used recall afterwards with a wry smile his efforts to preach in Chinese, and how he hardly avoided the pitfalls on Chinese intimation. I;; health, which dogged him all his life, sent him to the less arduous work of Assistant at Zi-Kai-Wei Observatory, near Shanghai. This was the beginning of his brilliant career as an astronomer.
After six years in Shanghai, during which he mastered his science, he returned to Australia in 1907 and started the Observatory at Riverview. He started with a small telescope and a few elementary instruments for recording weather changes, and finally made of Riverview, one of the leading Observatories of the world. Honours and distinctions were showered on him. He was appointed by the Government to represent Australia at St Petersburg in 1914, in Rome in 1922, at the International Astronomical Union, and the Pan Pacific Science Congress in 1923, held in Australia.
In spite of his prominence in the scientific world, Fr Pigott remained always to his brethren a kindly and gentle associate and a saintly religious.
He died on May 22nd 1929, aged 70 years, battling with ill health all his life. A strong spirit housed in a frail body.
◆ Our Alma Mater, St Ignatius Riverview, Sydney, Australia, 1912
Father Pigot’s Return
On April 11th, the Community and boys went down to the College Wharf to welconie Father Pigot SJ, back to Riverview, after his extended tour through Europe. He had been absent about seven months, and during that time visited most of the leading seismological observatories on the Continent and in the British Isles. He had purposed visiting also some other observatories in the United States, Canada and Japan, on his return journey to Sydney; but a severe attack of pleurisy in Italy, during the trying mid-winter season, obliged him to hasten back to the warm Australian climate, without even being able to accept the kind invitation of Prince Galitzin to spend a few days as his guest at St Petersburg. All have heard of Father Pigot's application to the Foreign Office, London (on hearing accidentally, a day or two before, of the existence of a Russian law prohibiting members of the Jesuit Order. from entering Russia) to obtain from the Russian Government the necessary permission, in view of a short visit to Prince Galitzin's Seismological Observatory at Pulkovo. The request of the Foreign Office was refused, as everyone knows, but apparently the sequel of the story is not so generally known.
It was during liis stay at Potsdam (Berlin) that Father Pigot received the unfavourable reply from Westminster. He at once acquainted Prince Galitzin with the refusal, whereupon the distinguished seismologist made a strong representation, resulting in his Government inimediately withdrawing the prohibition. His kind letter to Father Pigot acquainting him with the Russian Government's concession, and a formal communication to the same effect from the British Foreign Office, arrived during Father Pigot's convalescence, but a delay in Europe of three months would have been necessary to allow the severe winter in St. Petersburg to pass before he could, without risk of relapse, have availed himself of the concession and kind invitation.
Father Pigot has asked us to record his deep feeling of appreciation of the cordial greetings of the Community and boys, when they most kindly came down to welcome him at the wharf,
We give a photograph of Father Pigot, and another of a group of distinguished seismologists assembled together from various parts of the world, at Manchester, for the International Seismological Congress (1911).
◆ Our Alma Mater, St Ignatius Riverview, Sydney, Australia, 1922
Fr Pigot’s Visit to Europe : The InternationalAstronomical Union - First General Assembly, Rome, May 1922
The First General Assembly of the Inter national Astronomical Union commenced its deliberations in May this year, in the Academy of Science (the old Corsini Palace), at Rome. That Australia in union with the other nations, might be represented at the two main conferences (Astronomy, and Geodesy and Geophysics), the Commonwealth Government having paid the necessary subscriptions, three delegates - Dr T M Baldwin (Government Astronomer for Victoria), Mr G F Dodwell (Government Astronomer for South Australia), and Father Pigot represented the Australian National Research Council at the General Assembly.
The purpose of the Union, as set forth in this report, is - (I) “To facilitate the relations between astronomers of different countries where international co-operation is neces sary or useful; and, (2) To promote the study of astronomy in all its departments”. Each country adhering to the Union has its own National Research Council, which forms the National Committee for the promotion and co-ordination of astronomical work iul the respective countries, especially regard ing their international requirements. The countries at present adhering to the Union are Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czecho-Slovakia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, · Itály, Japan, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, Spain, and the United States.
When Father Pigot left us suddenly in March, we felt that indeed there must be “something on” in the scientific world to draw him away at short notice from his beloved observatory. But the meetings of the Astronoinical Union, despite their international importance, were not his only objective. His itinerary, as we shall see, was a long one, and one of his chief aims while in Europe and America, was to inspect the principal Astronomical, Seismological and Solar Radiation observatories, and to get in personal touch with the foremost scientists. of the northern hemisphere.
Upon arrival in Europe he spent some time, successively, in the observatories of Marseilles, Nice, Geneva, and Zurich, In April he attended the Seismological Congress at Strasbourg, and then went on to Rome, taking in on his way, the Arcetri Observatory at Florence (situated, by the way, a stone's-throw from Galileo's house). While in Rome at the Conferences of the Astronomical and Geophysical Unions, he was, of course, in constant touch with Father Hagen S J, the Director of the Vatican Observatory, and though he does not say so, we may well imagine that his feelings were not untinged with sadness as he ascended the great staircase of the Government Observatory-the great Roman College of the Jesuit Order, before a Ministry more sectarian than honest usurped it.
Before the Conferences of the General Assembly were over, the delegates were in vited by His Holiness the Pope to a special audience in the Throne Room of the Vatican. It was accepted by all. Before congratu lating themselves on the splendid success of their meetings, His Holiness spent some time in chatting freely with most of those present, shook hands with them all, and be fore their departure, had a photo taken by the Papal photographer in the Court of St. Damasus.
The Roman Conferences over, Father Pigot lost no time in getting on his way. His first call was at the Geophysical Institute of Göttingen. Then on to Munich, and to Davos Platz for a private meeting on Sky and Solar Radiation with Dr Dorno (Head of Davos Observatory), Professor Maurer (Head of the Swiss Weather Bureau), and Professor Kimball (of the Solar Radiation Station of the Washington Weather Bureau).
The Paris Observatory - one of the largest in Europe - came next, and after spending some time here, he went on to the Royal Observatory at Brussels. Before leaving Beigium, he had time to run down to the Jesuit Observatory at Valkenberg, near the Dutch frontier, after which he returned to Greenwich. At a dinner of the Royal Astronomical Society, at which nine of the delegates were entertained, Father Pigot's health was proposed by Father Cortie SJ, of the Stonyhurst Observatory.
After a brief visit to Ireland, Father Pigot started out on his return journey, via America. One of his first visits on the other side was to the Jesuit Seismological Observatory at Georgetown University, Washington. While in the Capital, he spent some time at the Carnegie Observatory (Terrestrial Magnetisın), the Weather Bureau Solar Radiation Station, the Astro-physical Observatory of the Smithsonian Institute (where he renewed acquaintance with a valued friend, Dr Abbot, the President), the Bureau of Standards, and the Office of the Geodetic Survey. He was much impressed, as in 1919, with the up-to-date appliances of the Americans, and with the thoroughness of their scientific work.
Leaving Washington, he called at The Observatory of Harvard University (Boston, Mass.), and at the University of Detroit, where he found Professor Hussey, who knows Riverview well and has been in Australia more than once on scientific work. Yerkes Observatory, near Chicago, where is installed the largest Refractor in the world, claimed him next, after which he proceeded to the famous Mt Wilson Observatory at Pasadena (near Los Angeles, Col.). Here Father Pigot was in his element, for it is with Dr. Abbott, more especially than any one else, that he has discussed the details of the projected Solar Radiation Observatory at Riverview, and from him received the most valuable assistance.
Passing on to the Lick Observatory (Mt Hamilton, N Cal), he just missed Professor Campbell, who had left for Australia four days before as a member of the Wallal (WA) Eclipse Expedition. Professor Tucker, however, the locuin tenens, showed hiin every kindness.
Father Pigot's final visit before embarking for Australia was to the Canadian Government Observatory (Victoria, BC), which possesses the most powerful telescope in the British Empire (73in. Reflector). In the realm of instrumental astronomy Canada has outstripped all the other Dominions, and even the Mother Country herself.
It is superfluous to emphasise the im tiense value Father Pigot derived from his visits to the leading scientific men of the world, picking up hints, seeing new methods, and the most modern appliances for the subject nearest and dearest to his heart.
That the Riverview Observatory will gain by his experiences, and that the new Solat Radiation Observatory will receive a new fillip, goes without saying:
◆ Our Alma Mater Riverview 1929
Edward F Pigot
Father Pigot was born at Dundrum, County Dublin, on September 18, 1858. He adopted the medical profession, and practised for a few years in Dublin. In 1885 he entered the Novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Dromore, County Down. He made his first visit to Australia as a Jesuit scholastic in 1888, and taught for four years at Xavier College, Melbourne, and St Ignatius' College, Sydney. Naturally, his department was science. He completed his theological studies in Milltown Park, Dublin, and was ordained in the summer of 1899. Two years later he volunteered for the arduous China Mission, where the French Fathers of the Society of Jesus were endeavouring to Christianise the vast pagan kingdom - an act revealing fires of missionary zeal and personal devotion probably unsuspected by those who knew only the retiring scientist and scholar of later years. His sacrifice was accepted, and recompensed in a striking manner. He did, indeed, master the Chinese language in preparation for missionary labours, and for a while tasted the hardships of active service.
He returned to Australia in 1907, and immediately set about founding an observatory at Riverview, while teaching science on the college staff. When death called him he had gathered at Riverview five double-component seismometers, two telescopes fully equipped for visual and photographic work, a wireless installation, clocks specially designed for extreme accuracy, an extensive scientific library, a complete set of meteorological instruments, and what he most valued in his later years, a solar radiation, station, possessing rare and costly instruments, such as are possessed by only a few other, and these Government-endowed, stations throughout the world.
Fr. Pigot's in terest in the scientific problems of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, his experiments at the construction of the Burrenjuck Dam, in geophysics at the Cobar mines and elsewhere, his pendulum experiments in the Queen Victoria Market Buildings in Sydney, are well known. In 1910 he took part in a solar eclipse expedition to Tasmania; in April, 1911, he went with the warship Encounter on a similar expedition to the Tongan Islands in the Pacific, and was prominent in the Goondi windi Solar Eclipse Expedition in 1922.
Father Pigot was appointed by the Commonwealth Government to represent Australia at the International Seismological Congress at St. Petersburg in 1914. The outbreak of war prevented the Congress being held. In 1921 he was chosen as a member of the Australian National Research Council, and in 1922 went to Rome as its representative at the first general assembly of the International Astronomical Union, and of the International Union of Geodetics and Geophysics. He was elected President of the NSW branch of the British Astronomical Association in 1923 and 1924. For many years he was a member of the Council of the Royal Society of NSW.
At the Pan-Pacific Science Congress, held in Australia in 1923, Father Pigot was secretary of the seismological section. In 1926 Father Pigot was once more chosen by the Commonwealth Government as a member of the Australian Delegation at the Pan-Pacific Congress, held in Tokyo, in October, 1926. In December of last year he received word from the secretary of the Central International Bureau of Seismology, Strasburg, that he had been elected member of an International Commission of Research, formed a short time previously at a congress held in Prague, Czecho-Slovakia.
Many warm-hearted and generous tri butes to the kindliness and charm of Father Pigot's personal character have been expressed by public and scientific men since his death. Clearly his associa tion with men in all walks of life begot high esteem and sincere friendship. Those who knew him in his private life will always preserve the memory of a kindly, geritle associate, and of a saintly religious. RIP
The Solemn Office and Requiem Mass were celebrated at St Mary's North Sydney in the presence of a large congregation. His Grace the Archbishop presided, and preached the panegyric, and a very large number of the priests of the Diocese were present. Representatives of all classes were amongst the congregation, as may be seen from the list, which we cull from the “Catholic Press”.
The Government was represented by Mr J Ryan, MLC, and the Premier's Department by Messrs. F C G Tremlett and C H Hay. Other mourners included Professor Sir Edgeworth David, Professor C E Fawcitt (Dean of the Fa ulty of Science in Sydney University), Professor H G Chapman, Professor L A Cotton (president of the Royal Society of NSW), Professor T G . Osborn (chairman of the executive committee of the Australian National Research Council), Dr and Mrs Conrick, Dr P Murray, Dr Noble, Dr Murray Curtis, Dr H Daly, Dr Armit, Dr G H McElhone, Dr Wardlaw (president of the Linnean Society), Dr Robert Noble, Dr James Hughes, Messrs Cecil O'Dea, M J Mc Grath, H W and J N Lenehan, Austin Callachor (St Aloysius' Old Boys' Union), J Boylan (St Ignatius' Old Boys' Union), K Ryan, J Hayes, I Bryant, G E Bryant, K Young, R W Challinor (Sydney Technical College), James Nangle (Government Astronomer), O J Lawler, V J Evans, K E Finn, F W Brennan, J and I McDonnell, J Burfitt, and W S Gale, E Wunderlich, Dr Bradfield, Messrs L Campbell, L Bridge jun, Harold Healy, J Edmunds, E P Hollingdale, T Thyne, H Tricker (German Consul, representing the German Scientific Societies), W H Paradice, J. J. Richardson, W Poole (representing the Council of the Royal Society), K M Burgraaff (German Geographical Survey), E W Esdaile, A P Mackerras, E Gardiner, F S Manse (Under-Setretary for Mines), E C Andrews (Mines Department), W S Dun (Geological Survey), E H Matthews, F K Du Boise, Herbert Brown, R H Bulkeley, FRAS, M B Young, O S Cleary.
Letters of condolence were received from the following :The Old Boys' Union, NSW Chamber of Agriculture, The Shires Association of NSW, Dr C J Prescott (Headmaster, Newington Coll ege), Lane Cove Municipal Council, British Astronomical Association (NSW Branch), Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Chemical Society of the Sydney Technical College, the Royal Society of New South Wales, The Hon Sir Norman Kater, Kt, MLC, and many others.
The following letter was received from: the New South Wales Cabinet:
Premier's Office, Sydney, N.S.W.
22nd May, 1929.
At a meeting of the Cabinet this morning mention was made of the sad loss this State has sustained in the death of Reverend Father Pigot, one of its most distinguished citizens. I was invited by my colleagues to convey to you, as Principal of the eminent educational establishment, with which Father Pigot had the honour to be associated, an. expression of the deepest sympathy from the Members of the New South Wales Ministry.
The memory of Father Pigot, who was a per sonal friend of many of us, will be kept ever green by reason of his high scholastic and scien tific attainments, modest and unassuming demean our, and ni sy of character.
E. A. BUTTENSHAW,
The Rev Father Lockington SJ, StIgnatius' College, Professor
H, H. Turner, of the British Association and the International Seismological Summary, speaks of “the splendid work done by Father Pigot in seismology; Riverview has been for many years our standby in the discussion of earthquakes near Australia”.
Professor Sir Edgeworth David, quoted in the “Catholic Press”, writes:
“By his death Australian science and the science of seismology have sustained a loss that is almost irreparable. He initiated what now ranks among the very best seismological observatories in the world. He was able to secure the best in struments for recording the variations in heat transmitted from the sun to the earth for his solar observatory at Riverview, and to make observa- . tions. This science in time we will rely upon to put mankind in possession of long range forecasts as to future rainfall and weather in general.
He was well known to all leading physicists and astronomers, and entirely because of his great reputation the University of Sydney was able to borrow for a period of six years some extremely valuable pendulums from Germany for measuring small displacements of the earth's crust at the great reservoir at Burrenjuck.
It was not only for his profound learning that scientists reverenced him. They could not fail to be attracted by his magnetic personality, for though frail and often in weak health, he ever preserved the same charming and cheerful man ner, and was full of eagerness and enthusiasm in discussing plans for the better pursuit of seien tific truth. Surely there. never was any scientific man so well beloved as he”.
◆ Our Alma Mater, St Ignatius Riverview, Sydney, Australia, Golden Jubilee 1880-1930
The New Seismographs at Riverview
That Seismology, and especially Seismographs, are in the air at pres ent, there can be no doubt. We have recently experienced in Sydney such a series of earthquake tremors, some of which have been usually large, and all coming on top of one another, as it were, that the subject was a common topic of conversation for several weeks. But the greatest interest centred not so much on the earthquakes as on the Riverview Seismograph that recorded them. When, a few weeks ago, the papers announced that a big and destructive earthquake had occurred so many thousands of miles away, "A big earthquake somewhere," one Melbourne Daily headed the re port-the safe announcement following that it was possibly in the sea somewhere, did much, we are sure, to nullify any exciting effect the tid ings might have had on even unsceptical readers. The news two days later, however, that a severe earthquake had taken place in Sumatra, and that 250 people had been killed, made the Riverview Seismograph not only known, but famous. With Father Pigot's permission (or, shall I say, with out Father Pigot's permission?) I purpose giving a short account of the Seismographs to accompany our illustrations,
The idea, as a mere remote possibility, of starting a Seismographical Observatory at Riverview, occurred to Father Pigot a few years ago at Zi ka-wei (Shanghai), just when leaving for Australia, where he was oblijed by ill-health to return, and received a fresh impetus when he was passing through Manilla on the voyage south. The splendid seismographical work done by the Fathers for many years at these two great Jesuit Observator ies of the Far East (not to speak of all that they have achieved in their other departments, viz., Meteorology, Terrestrial Magnetism, and Astro nomy, above all, of the tens of thousands of lives saved by their typhoon warnings during the last thirty years), was a sufficient incentive to Fr Pigot, who had been on the staff of the former Observatory for some time, to attempt a small beginning of at least one branch of similar high class work in Australia. No doubt excellent records had been obtained for several years in Australia and New Zealand by the well-known instrument of the veteran Seismologist, Professor Milne; but it was interesting to see what results would be obtained by a more modern type of Seismograph of one or other of the recent German models. Those of Professor Wiechert, of Gottingen University, were decided upon, if funds would per mit. The decision was most unexpectedly confirmed by the arrival in Syd ney shortly after, on his way home to Germany, at the expiration of his term of office as Director of the Samoa Observatory, of Dr Linke, who showed his Wiechert earthquake records to Father Pigot, at Riverview. Dr Linke, who now, by the way, is Director of the Geophysical Institute in Frankfort (Germany), has since taken the kindliest interest in our embryo Observatory.
But where was all the necessary money to come from? Needless to say, a lot of expense was involved. As two of the principal instruments are now installed, we may say that nearly the whole of the expense of the larger (horizontal) Seismograph was defrayed by our kind and generous friend and neighbour, the Hon Louis F Heydon, MLC - a man whose charity is equalled only by his love of learning and scientific progress ad majorem Dei gloriam. To the Hon Mr Heydon, therefore, for the great pioneer part he played in giving Seismology a foothold in Riverview, not Father Pigot's alone, but Riverview's warmest thanks are due. But though Seismology has certainly got a foothold in Riverview, it must be remembered that at present our Observatory is only in an embryonic con dition. Space has been provided in the building for other Geophysical re search work, to be carried out later on, when, like the Hon. Mr. Heydon, other lovers of scientific research shall have recognised in the Riverview Observatory, a work deserving of their patronage and generosity.
In July, 1908, Father Pigot paid a visit of three weeks to Samoa, where, through the kindness and courtesy of the Director of the Observa tory, Dr. Angenheister, and his assistants, he was able to study the con struction and working of the various instruments, the methods for the reduction of the records, etc. On his return, he set about erecting the building and fittings for the instruments the half-underground, vaulted, brick building (not as yet covered with its protecting mantle for tem perature), and woodwork fittings. These were admirably constructed respectively by Brother Forster SJ, and Brother Girschik SJ, with their usual indefatigable care. In the early autumn the instruments arrived from Germany, and soon afterwards they were recording tremors and earthquakes. The instruments are amongst the most modern in use at the present day, and are known as the Wiechert Seismographs or Seis mometers, named from their designer, Professor Wiechert. Until quite recently they were not numerous, being confined, with the exception of the Samoa instrument, to European Observatories. Now, however, they are being installed in various regions of the globe. The extreme delicacy of the instruments is almost incredible; an unusual weight on the floor of the Observatory (a party of visitors, for example), even at some dis tance from the instruments, would be sufficient to cause serious derange ment of the recording pens; the ocean waves dashing on the coast six miles away on a rough day are frequently recorded. It is in this extreme delicacy that the value (and, incidentally, the trouble) of the instruments consists. As a consequence they demand the most careful handling, and almost constant attention.
There are two instruments: a Horizontal Seismograph and a Vertical Seismograph, to receive, as the names suggest, the horizontal part (or component, as the scientists call it), and the vertical part respectively of the earth-waves set up by any seismic disturbance. The Horizontal Seismo graph, however, consists practically of two Seismographs in as much as it separates the waves it receives into two directions; NS and EW, giving a separate record for each, as may be seen from the two recording rolls hang ing down in front.
The horizontal is an inverted pendulum whose bob is a large iron cylindrical (or drum-shaped) mass of 1000 kilograms, or a little over a ton weight. This mass is supported on a pedestal which is poised on four springs set on a large concrete pillar built on the solid rock, and separated from the surrounding floor by an air-gap one inch wide. When an earth quake occurs in any place, that place becomes the centre from which earth waves travel in all directions, through the earth and round the earth (surface waves). These waves on reaching Riverview disturb our concrete pillar, and set the pendulum in motion. The iron mass is reduced to a "stable equilibrium” by a system of springs, so that when the base is disturbed, the large mass will not fall over, but will oscillate or swing backwards and for wards till it comes to rest again. Now, a very ingenious air-damping arrangement (the two drum-like structures over the mass) destroys the oscillation or swing set up in the mass by the first wave, so that the second and third and succeeding earth-waves will not be affected by the oscillation of the mass itself, but each wave, no matter how quickly it comes after the others, will have its own effect on the mass. Consider, for illustration sake, one of those now-antiquated punching-ball apparatus that consist of a heavy leaden circular base, into the middle of which is inserted a stout four or five-foot cane, on the top of which is fixed the punching ball. When you punch this ball it and the cane oscillate, or swing backwards and forwards (the heavy base remaining stationary). If you determine to hit out at this ball at a fixed rate, say thirty punches a minute, you cannot be certain that every blow will have its full effect on the ball-in many cases you may not hit the ball at all. But if you contrive to make the ball stationary, so that it keeps still, or moves very little, when you punch it, every punch, no mat ter at what rate you punch it, will catch the ball and have its full effect upon it. In somewhat the same way our large iron mass is kept as station ary as possible, by the damping cylinders, while each earth-wave has its full effect upon it. This effect is received by the arrangement of levers above the mass, and magnified enormously, which magnified effect is traced by the recording stylus or pen--a tiny platinum pin-on the smoked re cording roll of paper, Waves coming in a N or S direction are recorded on one of the rolls; those in an E or W direction are recorded on the other, while waves coming in any other direction are recorded on both.
The Vertical Wiechert Seismograph is a Lever-Pendulum, consisting of an iron mass of 160lbs. weight at the end of an arm (under the wooden temperature-insulation box), and a spiral spring (enclosed in the box) be tween the weight and the fulcrum, the weight and the spring keeping the arm of the lever in equilibrium. Hence this pendulum can move only up and down, only by the vertical part of the earth-waves. The effect, as before, is highly magnified and recorded by the stylus. The damping (drum-like) arrangement in this instrument is seen at the left-hand back corner of the table. The temperature-insulation box is simply a double-walled wooden jacket packed with carbon, to protect the spiral, as well as a zinc-steel grid iron compensation, from change of temperature. One of the greatest diffi culties with these instruments is keeping the instrument room at the same temperature always. For this reason the brick building is not yet nearly completed, as it will have to be covered by a thick layer of protecting material, which will finally have to be covered by a proper roofing. Again, scientifically inclined and generously disposed friends, please note!
To lessen any disturbance from the room itself (visitors, etc.) the floor of the building is covered with sand to the depth of a few inches, and in the case of the Horizontal, an air gap to the depth of a few feet sepa rates the instrument from the surrounding floor.
The records, which are changed every twenty-four hours, are traced on specially-prepared smoked paper, and can be fixed at once with a suitable varnish. On the instruments, the records are stretched by drums which, by a very nice clock-work device (c.f, weight and escapement) are rotated once every hour, and moved to the right at the same time. Fur thermore, by an ingenious electro-magnetic contrivance connected with a Wiechert contact-clock (seen with the Vertical Seismograph), the hours and minutes are accurately recorded on the earthquake tracing itself, and not at the side. Consequently, the exact second almost at which a distur bance begins is known. The rate of tracing is about fourteen millimetres per minute for the Horizontal, and ten millimetres per minute for the Vertical Seismograph.
To the uninitiated, at least, the results in the matter of records are really marvellous. They are worth the trouble they entail, and they do en tail lots of trouble. So far, there have been records of at least four con siderable earthquakes (one of which has been already identified), as well as eight or nine smaller ones. Some of these have probably been subma rine, and can be localised when reports come in from other distant Obser vatories. There is one more point to be treated in this rather crude explanation, and it will explain the last sentence. How is the distance of the earthquake ascertained? Well, in a large seismic disturbance, if situ ated at a considerable distance, preliminary earth tremors or short waves precede the long earthquake-waves. The distance of the centre of the dis turbance (which usually lasts for an hour or two) can be calculated from the time elapsing between the first preliminary tremors, and the beginn ing of the long waves. Consequently when three Observatories sufficiently distant and suitably situated calculate the distance of a particular shock, say, in mid-ocean, the actual centre can be found by simple geometry.
I have tried to give a simple, straightforward, unscientific explanation of the instruments, without going into more detail than was absolutely necessary. In fact, it would be unwise to go into much detail, for, if I did, I should probably become helpless very soon, and should require a kind and helping hand from Father Pigot to extricate me. But the calculations in volved are terrific—a fact that will appear plausible when we say (I have it on Father Pigot's word) that the pressure of the stylus on the record, equivalent to a weight of one milligram, must be allowed for in the reductions of the observations.
◆ The Mungret Annual, 1902
Letters from Our Past
Father Edward Pigot SJ
Father Pigot SJ, whom our past students of late years will remember, writes from the Shanghai district: to somewhat the same purport :
“Oh, if we only had a few thorough-going Irish priests here, how many more poor Chinese could be received into the Church! In some parts, as in the North, and in Father Perrin's section, one priest more would nean the certain conversion of hundreds and hundreds of Pagans. But Father Superior is at the end of his tether and can not send any more men just now; for the Christian villages around here cannot be left without their missionaries”.
In another letter, dated October of present year, Father Pigott writes :
“Here in our mission, as indeed throughout nearly the whale of China, things are quiet enough : how long it will last I do not know, The Boxers have lately broken out again in the south-west. We had many deaths this past year among our missionaries, and are badly in want of men, especially in the newly opened up districts in the north and in parts of the west of our mission. I send you the lately published yearly “Resumé” of the Kiang Nan. It is, above all, in the Sin-tchcou-fou (Western) Section that the greatest movement of conversion has taken place recently among the people whole villages sometimes asking to be received for instruction for baptism. But how receive them? The means are wanting - above all men. If Fathe