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facility than the mètre. But, as no measure is mathematically exact, an error in the original standard may at length become sensible in measuring a great extent, whereas the error that must necessarily arise in measuring the quadrant of the meridian (N. 155) is rendered, totally insensible by subdivision in taking its ten-millionth part. The French have adopted the decimal division, not only in time, but also in their degrees, weights, and measures, on account of the very great facility it affords in computation. It has not been adopted by any other country, though nothing is more desirable than that all nations should concur in using the same standards, not only on account of convenience, but as affording a more definite idea of quantity. It is singular that the decimal division of the day, of space, weights, and measures, was employed in China 4000 years ago; and that at the time Ibn Junis made his observations at Cairo, about the year 1000 of the Christian era, the Arabs were in the habit of employing the vibrations of the pendulum in their astronomical observations as a measure of time.
Forces that produce them
Origin and Course of Tidal WaveIts Speed-Three kinds of Oscillations in the Ocean - The Semidiurnal Tides Equinoctial Tides - Effects of the Declination of the Sun and Theory insufficient without Observation
Direction of the
Impossibility of a
ONE of the most immediate and remarkable effects of a gravitating force external to the earth is the alternate rise and fall of the surface of the sea twice in the course of a lunar day, or 24h 50m 28° of mean solar time. As it depends upon the action of the sun and moon, it is classed among astronomical problems, of which it is by far the most difficult and its explanation the least satisfactory. The form of the surface of the ocean in equilibrio, when revolving with the earth round its axis, is an ellipsoid flattened at the poles; but the action of the sun and moon, especially of the moon, disturbs the equilibrium of the ocean. If the moon attracted the centre of gravity of the earth and all its particles with equal and parallel forces, the whole system of the earth and the waters that cover it would yield to these forces with a common motion, and the equilibrium of the seas would remain undisturbed. The difference of the forces and the inequality of their directions alone disturb the equilibrium.
The particles of water under the moon are more attracted than the centre of gravity of the earth, in the inverse ratio of the square of the distance. Hence they have a tendency to leave the earth, but are retained by their gravitation, which is diminished by this tendency. On the contrary, the moon attracts the centre of the earth more powerfully than she attracts the particles of water in the hemisphere opposite to her; so that the earth has a tendency to leave the waters, but is retained by gravitation, which is again diminished by this tendency. Thus the waters immediately under the moon are drawn from the earth, at the same time that the earth is drawn from those
which are diametrically opposite to her, in both instances producing an elevation of the ocean of nearly the same height above the surface of equilibrium; for the diminution of the gravitation of the particles in each position is almost the same, on account of the distance of the moon being great in comparison of the radius of the earth. Were the earth entirely covered by the sea, the waters thus attracted by the moon would assume the form of an oblong spheroid whose greater axis would point towards the moon; since the columns of water under the moon, and in the direction diametrically opposite to her, are rendered lighter in consequence of the diminution of their gravitation; and, in order to preserve the equilibrium, the axes 90° distant would be shortened. The elevation, on account of the smaller space to which it is confined, is twice as great as the depression, because the contents of the spheroid always remain the same. If the waters were capable of assuming the form of equilibrium instantaneously, that is, the form of the spheroid, its summit would always point to the moon notwithstanding the earth's rotation. But, on account of their resistance, the rapid motion produced in them by rotation prevents them from assuming at every instant the form which the equilibrium of the forces acting upon them requires. Hence, on account of the inertia of the waters, if the tides be considered relatively to the whole earth and open seas, there is a meridian about 30° eastward of the moon, where it is always high water both in the hemisphere where the moon is and in that which is opposite. On the west side of this circle the tide is flowing, on the east it is ebbing, and on every part of the meridian at 90° distant it is low water. This great wave, which follows all the motions of the moon as far as the rotation of the earth will permit, is modified by the action of the sun, the effects of whose attraction are in every respect like those produced by the moon, though greatly less in degree. Consequently a similar wave, but much smaller, raised by the sun, tends to follow his motions, which at times combines with the lunar wave, and at others opposes it, according to the relative positions of the two luminaries; but as the lunar wave is only modified a little by the solar, the tides must necessarily happen twice in a day, since the rotation of the earth brings the same point twice under the meridian of the moon in that time, once under the superior and once under the inferior meridian.
The periodic motions of the waters of the ocean, on the hypothesis of an ellipsoid of revolution, entirely covered by the sea, are, however, very far from according with observation. This arises from the great irregularities in the surface of the earth, which is but partially covered by the sea, from the variety in the depths of the ocean, the manner in which it is spread out on the earth, the position and inclination of the shores, the currents, and the resistance which the waters meet with causes impossible to estimate generally, but which modify the oscillations of the great mass of the ocean. However, amidst all these irregularities, the ebb and flow of the sea maintain a ratio to the forces producing them sufficient to indicate their nature, and to verify the law of the attraction of the sun and moon on the sea. La Place observes, that the investigation of such relations between cause and effect is no less useful in natural philosophy than the direct solution of problems, either to prove the existence of the causes or to trace the laws of their effects. Like the theory of probabilities, it is a happy supplement to the ignorance and weakness of the human mind.
Since the disturbing action of the sun and moon can only become sensible in a very great extent of deep water, the Antarctic Ocean is the origin and birthplace of our tides. A succession of tidal waves from that source follow one another in a north-westerly direction down the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, modified as they proceed by the depth of the water and the form of the coasts. For when the sun and moon are in the same meridian, and pass over the mass of waters lying east from Van Diemen's Land, New Zealand, and the South Pole, the resulting force of their combined attraction, penetrating to the abyss of the deep and boundless circuit of the Southern Ocean, raises a vast wave or ridge of water, which tends to follow the luminaries to the north and west, and continues to flow in that direction long after the bodies cease to act upon it; but it is so retarded by the rotation of the earth and by the inertia of the water, that it does not arrive at the different parts of the coasts till after the moon's southing (N. 156). When this tidal wave leaves the Antarctic Ocean and enters the Pacific, it rushes along the western coast of America to its farthest end, but it is so much obstructed by the number of islands in the middle of that ocean that it is hardly perceptible among them; while on the east it
enters the Indian Ocean, strikes with violence on the coasts of Hindostan and the shores at the mouths of the Ganges, and causes the terrific bore in the Hoogly. The part of this tidal wave that enters the Atlantic passes impetuously along the coasts of Africa and America, arriving later and later at each place. It is modified, however, by a tide raïsed in the Atlantic, which is deep and free from islands; and this combined tidal wave, still coming northward, pours its surge into the Gulf of Fundy to the height of fifty feet; then being deflected by the coast of America at right angles, it rushes eastward, bringing high water to the western coasts of Ireland and England. It then goes round Scotland, brings high water to Aberdeen and the opposite coasts of Norway and Denmark, and, continuing its course to the south, arrives at the mouth of the Thames and fills the channels of that river on the morning of the third day after leaving the Antarctic Ocean.
Thus the tides in our ports are owing to an impulse from the waters of the Antarctic seas raised by the action of the sun and moon. No doubt a similar action raised that tide in the North Polar Ocean which Dr. Kane saw rolling on the northern coast of Greenland in 820 N. latitude, but which, in the present state of the globe, is imprisoned by bars of ice and ice-bound lands.
The tidal wave extends to the bottom of the ocean, and moves uniformly and with great speed in very deep water, variably and slow in shallow water; the time of propagation depends upon the depth of the sea, as well as on the nature and form of the coasts. It varies inversely as the square of the depth-a law which theoretically affords the means of ascertaining the proportionate depth of the sea in different parts. It is one of the great constants of nature, and is to fluids what the pendulum is to solids—a connecting link between time and force.
For example: the tidal wave moves across the Southern Ocean with the velocity of 1000 miles an hour, and in the Atlantic it is scarcely less on account of the deep trough which runs through the centre of that ocean; but the sea is so shallow on the British coast that it takes more time to come from Aberdeen to London than to travel over an arc of 120°, between 60° S. lat. and 600 N. lat.
In deep water the tidal wave is merely a rise and fall of the surface; the water does not advance, though the wave does. In