THE USES OF THE WIRELESS. Wireless telegraphy, which only a fewyears ago was in its experimental stage,is now an accomplished fact, whilstday by day evidences of its practicalusefulness and of its demonstrated capacity for valuable service come to hand.
Two of such demonstrations have beenmade within the past week. The crewand passengers of the burning steamerMomus owe their rescue to the possibility of sending a wireless call forassistance from the doomed steamer. The arrest of the man Crippen, theLondon dentist accused of themurder of his wife, and, theyoung woman who is to be chargedas his accomplice, is due to theability of the captain of theMontrose to flash from mid-oceanto the police headquarters in Londonhis suspicions of two of his passengers. Thus we have the marvelous ethergram within the space of a few days placing society under two distinct and enormous obligations to it.Had there not been a wireless installation on board the fate of the crew and passengers of the Momus would have been almost certain death. A few might by some miracle have made their escape, but all the probabilities are that everyone on board the steamer wouldhave miserably perished. As it is as soon as the peril arose the news of it flashed into the air. The news was, of course, an appeal for help, and so prompt was the response tothis that all hands were taken safelyaway from the burning vessel, havingsustained no worse hurt than the fatigue and shock of a night of desperate fighting with the flames.
Short lived as the wireless telegraph yet is, the Momus rescue does not by any means represent its achievement in the way of averting tragedy at sea. Though we have only had wireless telegraphy at our disposal fora few years, it has already a fairly longlist of lives saved to its credit. Itis exasperating to think how largelythis list might have been added tohad shipowners shown a reasonableanxiety to avail themselves of the airtelegraph, for the protection of thoseworking their vessels and thosetravelling by them. As we read of the happy incident of the Mo-mus rescue, the reflection will immediately suggest itself that, for instance, had the ill-fated Waratah been equipped with a wireless installation, the hundreds of lives lost bywhatever misadventure overtook it, might possibly have been saved. Or even did the fate of the Waratah come so suddenly upon her that even a wireless appeal could not have evoked help in time to be effective, at least there would almost certainly have been the opportunity of flashing through theair a message of despairing farewellthat would have saved the long monthsof agonising suspense that as it washad to he gone through. A wireless installation should form theequipment of every passenger ship and inasmuch as the provision is not one that cansafely be left to the voluntary action of shipowners, it should be made obligatory by the law of every civilized country.
And so it was that the installation of wireless systems aboard all vessels became a legal obligation in due course. The Waratah was lost but her legacy did include this important lesson to be learned in pursuit of progress and safety at sea.