September 5, 1902: Death of Rudolph Virchow; 1908: Boonton Dam Leaks

0905 Rudolf VirchowSeptember 5, 1902:  German physician Rudolf (Carl) Virchow dies.  “He was famed for cell theory, founded the medical journal Medical Reform (Medicinische Reform), and wrote “Report on the Typhus Epidemic in Upper Silesia.” Later in life, Virchow fought for improving the health and welfare service, meat inspections, and the first four urban hospitals in Berlin. He encouraged water and sewage system development.”

As a cofounder and member of the liberal party (Deutsche Fortschrittspartei) he was a leading political antagonist of Bismarck. He was opposed to Bismarck’s excessive military budget, which angered Bismarck sufficiently to challenge Virchow to a duel in 1865. Of the two versions, one has Virchow declining because he considered dueling an uncivilized way to solve a conflict. The second has passed into legend, but was well documented in the contemporary scientific literature. It has Virchow, having been the challenged and therefore entitled to choose the weapons, selecting two pork sausages, a normal sausage and another one, loaded with Trichinella larvae. His challenger declined the proposition as too risky.”

Leaks in Boonton Dam, 2006 (Photo by author)

Leaks in Boonton Dam, 2006 (Photo by author)

September 5, 1908: Engineering Record article. Temperature Observations at the Boonton Dam. “The Boonton dam of the water-works of Jersey City, N. J., was described in this journal on July 21, 1901, and Aug. 8, 1903. It is 3,100 ft. long, of which length 2,150 ft. is constructed of masonry. Its maximum height is 114 ft., and the average height of the masonry portion is 90 ft., the heights at the ends of this portion being 39 and 67 ft. The axis of the dam bears 12° west of north, and the water lies against the west face. The structure contains 247,800 cu. yd. of masonry, which was laid during the working seasons of 1902, 1903 and 1904 by methods described in the previous articles in this journal. The structure has a unique interest because eleven Whipple-Warren thermophones were bedded in the masonry at various points in one of the deepest cross-sectional planes, and it was hoped that these would furnish valuable information regarding the temperature changes within the dam….

Mr. Merriman gave a diagram showing the location of the cracks observed in the Boonton dam, including those that appeared before the structure was finished. It was noticed that the cracks which were largest during one winter might be smaller the following winter, and be exceeded in width by some which were small up to that time….

No very large quantity of water has passed through any except the main cracks. Through them, however, considerable seepage occurs. This seepage is greater in winter than in summer, and at some of them it is more or less visible during the entire year. In consequence of this seepage, the face of the dam is wet in the immediate vicinity of the crack through which it occurs, and in winter huge masses of ice are formed, so that a view of the face of the dam during the cold season presents a very interesting picture.”

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