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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (July 5, 1914)
PAGES ONE TO TWELVE
lJi UMAHA SUNDAY olK
PAGES ONE TO TWELVE
VOL. XLIV-NO. 3.
OMAHA, SUNDAY MORNING, JULY 5, 1914.
SINGLE COPY FIVE CENTS.
V 71 T '
mana nan w no laws
J I T J
mnuu ii n -amain :rj& wa
lather Rtggeme Cfeighton University
Astronomer-a Man of Many Parts
'To him who, in the love of nature, holds'
Communion Lxoith her visible fonm
She speaks a various language. '
O, THE pootdid not have Father .Wil-
N Ham P. Rlggo in mind when ho
B penned tlioso lines. Crcightou uni
B a. I i . 1 J 1 . i 1 T . 1 . 1m
vurouy, in which ruiuer uisb" '
professor of physics and astronomy,
was unheard of until many years
rlier Bryant wrote this opening sentence.
Yet if this had been written later and Bryant
ldd been acquainted with Father William Rlggo,
it would be a simple matter to say where the poot
feot his inspiration for the thought.
For nature indeed speaks a various language
to Father Rlgge. Most of this is a silent language,
spoken In varl colored light rays through a high
For Father Rigge lives with his telescopo
among tho stars.
Few perhaps are capable of appreciating as
Father Rigge can appreciate the lines of Carlyle,
But I, I am alone with the stars."
To bo alone with tho stars, to Father Rigge,
means to bo amid a swarm of friends that smile,
beckon, and speak a million languages all of which
ho understands. To bo alone with tho stars, to
rather Rlgge, moans to bo seated in the amphi
tlieater of the firmament, it means to view tho
worlds, and flaming suns, as they leap, and plunge
and play in the spanless mystery of space. It
means to be far from the sordldness of things that
belong only to the one little planet known as
earth. It means to watch other green worlds
gyrating through the depths of space, boasting
their men and vegetation. It means to watch
other worlds cycling by, barren as burnt brick,
where men and vegetation have long since been
choked. It means to be able to turn a powerful
Inns upon gigantic nebulae, majestically waltzing
Into view, huge, fragmentary, gaseous, chaotic,
where all the grandiose tragedy of life is yet.un
siaged. To be alone with the stars to Father Rigge
means to see what the naked eye cannot see,
white-heated comets with ten-fold rifle-ball speed
sweeping toward him. It means to watch them
swerve at the sharp turns, crashing again into the
For while other men hoe potatoes and look
for the stars only to determine whether rain clouds
are gathering, Father Rlgge looks at the stars be
cause he loves them. He looks because there are
things every moment to be seen far, far more
wonderful than all the grand panorama that met
his gaze at the circus as a lad of eight. For, far
above his little observatory is being enacted the
crushing of worlds. Chariots of the zodiac are
vrccked In tho purplo zenith'. Cosmic pollots
crash constantly through spaces fragments of
forgotten comets crushed by unrecorded collisions.
Kpattorlng through the voids of Infinity, through
t lllows of nothingness.
Viewing thes unknown wonders, Father Wil
liam Rlgge realizes the iusignlflcanco of human
beings, and well might he exclaim, "I am but man
In this churning insanity of elements."
For eighteen years Father William P. Rigge
has been professor of astronomy at tho Crelghton
university. For eighteen yoars he has viewed tho
heavens from his vantage point in the little ob
pervatory on the heights of the Crelghton campus.
"Ah, thero are gorgeous sights in the heavens,"
is his explanation when someone asks why he
studios the heavens so much. "There are the
various phases of tho moon; there are tho comets,
and there are the various colored stars, and there
are a thousand things to be soon nightly that are
Father Rlg.se deplores the fact that so few
people tako an interest in astronomy. "With all
the wonders in tho heavens," he says, "you would
be surprised to know how many people of even
above average intelligence, still know almost noth
ing about the neavens. People who como here to
visit the observatory, are often completely lost
hen they get '.n here, for thoy'do not know what
to say. They do not know hpw to aBk a Question
nbout tho work. Tlioy do nbt know, what to ask
NoIhlngoccurs to lfehi- "m- cpqrtectlon . - with
But tho littlo priest does not worry about tho
lack of popular interest In astronomy. Astronomy
is his business, and whether ho is followed by tho
popular mind or not, astronomy leads him into the
Infinite firmament he loves.
But, sad to relate, practical astronomy some
times leadB him into less poetic pursuits tem
Oh well for two weeks he had to chaso spiders .
around the. campuB of the university. Many and
of various species were tho spiders ho caught and
carried to the laboratory, but none would do. Tho
patience-of Job was exhibited by the little priest
as he chased spiders, bought spiders, traded for
spiders, and if a priest can bo oyor said' to stoal,
perhaps Father Rlgge could be pardoned if he evon
went bo far as to steal spiders.
But at last he was rewarded. At last he found
n spider of tho right species. At last ho found a
spider with a web both tough and extremoly fino.
He drew from this spider many yards of web
which ho carefully preserved.
The transit micrometer depends upon spiders'
webs for Its accuracy in measuring diameters of
stars, and distance traversed by stars In tho
heavens. No other flbro known to man Is so fine
as the spider wob, and so scierico has long em
ployed spider webs stretched across the high power
lenses in tho transit micrometer.
Well, a student In one of the classes pushed
a Ions in too far and gave tho spider web frame a
shock and broko the flbros.
That was why Fatner Rlggo had to chase spid
ers for a fortnight. It was to repair tho transit
micromotor. And ho repaired it, thus saving a
great many dollars of expense it would have re
quired to have an expert come from tho east to
Father RigGo does not thrlvo alono on tho
Kqrgoous colors in tho heavens. Ho. knows prac
tical astvonomy as well as "poetic" astronomy. Ho
knows tho mathematics or astronomy ns ho once
know tho way to tho droits grounds as a boy.
"I couldn't llvo without logarithms," he said,,
r.nd smiled enthusiastically, whon asked If tho
mathematical part of astronomy was not very dif
ficult and tiresome.
Something of a Joker Is this littlo priest star-f-ludeut.
Whon Chief Hollow Horn Boar of tho
Sioux trllio visited Omaha a few years ago on his
way to Washington, bo was taken to the obsorva
tory to s6o the sights. The seven-foot telescopo.
makes an excollcnt sun glass when tho sun shines
down through tho various lenses. It will set flro
to a piece of paper whon tho sun's rays aro
focused just right. Some of the vsitlng party let
tho focused light touch their hands and Immedi
ately jerked them away with a shriek. Pathor
Rlggo invited Hollow Horn Bear to bold out his
hand to tho focussed light. Tho chlof hold his
hand under tho point of light, throw his hoad back,
ond stared blankly at tho wall without flinching.
Ho held bin hand thero for a minute and gavo no
sign of pain
"And tho Joke was on us," said Father Rigge,
' for Indian like, that fellow would let it burn a
holo .In his hand boforo ho would cry out like a
AH tho physical sciences are of intense Interest
to Father' Rlggo. He has equipped a wireless
tolograph Btatlon on top of tho Crelghton uni
versity building, and it didn't cost him a cent. "I
found some wiro lying around and I strung it on
top of the building. I did all tho wiring myself,
eo there would bo no expense. I did it all, I say,
oxcept right around tho highest oaves, It was a littlo
too dangerous for me. I had ono of the Janitors
do it thoro"
Then, too, this little prlost with a keen senso
a' humor, thought what a Joko it would bo it there
could bo found to be a lot of red tape about tho
"Wanted -Better Behavior at Funerals
By ADA PATTERSON.
.ECENTLY I paid a littlo visit of con
dolence to a newly-made widow. Sho
is a woman whoso name you will
know and reverence. Although sho
has tho altitude of fame on this day,
she was of tho stature of a little
child, for she pressed her head
ncainst my shoulder and wept as a babe that would
not bo comforted.
"The bitter thing is not that I miss him so,"
she said In her sob-muffled voice. "Though we
were together for forty years, and it's like missing
food and air and sunshine, all needful things, to
know he's gone. AndJt Isn't that so few friends
came for a last look at his face or to comfort me.
That's because he was a reserved man who made
fw friends, and they on'y superficial ones. But
It was the way his family behaved.
"He had always loved his family. But when
ho went away there was only one near relative who
cume to bid him godspeed on his long Journey.
That one was his sister, and my heart swells to
breaking when I tell you how she acted. She
came straight to my room without ever asking
where the poor boy was lying. Her maid was with
her, and while she was talking to mo she inter
rupted herself every other sontonco to say . some
thing quite Irrelevant to tho maid.
" 'You know, dear, how much I'vo alwayB
thought of you,' she said, 'but I can't stay long.
I hope you understand that I can't stay long. I
couldn't well loavo home. Besides I'm staying
with a friend,' and she mentioned the noisiest,
most garish hotel in town. 'You know I don't
often have a chance to stay in the city. So I'm
going over there as soon as It's over.' It was the
burial of my husband and her brother.
"She went out on the lawn and looked over the
old place and her laugh camo to me now and then
through the window. When she came back to my
loom sho told me how my changes In the old house
had Improved it in some respects and taken from
Its beauty and comfort in others. Altogether she
was In high spirits. I could see that a funeral
was an event to her that is savored of a merry
making." I have never met this apparently heartless sis
ter. I know not what strango quirk of brain may
have caused behavior so unseemly, but I do know
that too many persons regard a funeral as a place
and time of reunion.
"I had not seen Mary James for two years until
I met her at Mrs, Alston's funeral. Sho is tho
same old Mary. Told mo the funniest story I had
heard for a blue moon. I laughed until I ached."
I heard this choice bit of confidence on a street
An aged woman told mo that In tho short si
lence between tho heart-straining sounds of the
clods falling upon her sister's coffin, across the
opon wound in tho earth, so like the resounding
void In her own heart, she heard a shrill voice
"I haven't been to New York for three years.
I'm Just dying to go."
The carriage that took me from the train to
my old home In which lay tho comforter of my
childhood, the counsellor of my youth, tho strong
lock of refuge In my llfe'B high moon, my aunt
who had been as a cherished mother took also a
high-voiced woman, who talked all tho way,
"It's been two years since I've seen her," went
or the thin, nervo-tearing voice. The monologue
continued until wo had reached tho door of the
house to which silence had come, from which the
light had gone oue. And In the houBO I doubt not
she countod noses to her shallow heart's contont
and registered minutely the costumes worn by
I wish the society for the suppression of
nuisances in every community would keep fools
away from funerals.
Installation of a wireless tolagraph apparatus. Oh,
yes, ho know all' tho rules and regulations for In
stalling thq plant,. But ho had some tlm'o and ho
Hd not havo all tho equipment.soIlij lust expert-
montod to see whether all tho dotafls waro really
To bogjn with ho had no copper plate. Tho di
rections say to Install such a plant, ono must have
an enormous copper plate of hundreds of 'square
feet. That this must bo burled In tho ground;
tl.at It must roflt on a bed of charcoal; that tho
copper plato must be covered with another bod of.
cljOfcoah ' Ho had neither. He. .had no appro
priation to. draw from to buy these things. So ha,
Jtist grounded his wlro as ho would ground a tele
phone' wiro. Ho disregarded the whole proposition,
uf grounding In a great copper plate. Imbedded in,
"I'll Just boo, V' he said. "If I can't hear any
Messages that way, thero will be time enough to
chango It when wo have money to. buy. all thla
Thon, too, thB regulations say the wires must
t parallel. "Well, what will It do If they are'
not," said Fathor Rlggo to himself. "I've Just got
a notion that If they are not parallel, and that Iff
they run in various directions and In various'
pianos, they will catch messages from tho various,
directions ' the bettor." ' So his wires, are strung
in awkward directions over the roof of tho build
ing. "If they don't work, we'll change 'em some-i
time," he mused.
So with a cost of somo 7 cents' In all and a
good deal of climbing, tacking, nailing and shin
(craping, for tho little prlpst, tho wireless station,
such as it was, was complete
Why the first thing he knew the Instruments
I cgan to tick, and ho caught tho official announce
ment of the time of day sont out by Washington
daily. He net the clock accordingly. The tolo
craphy company had boon charging the university
something like $100 r year for flashing tho time
cr.co or twlco a day. Tho Rlggo wireless was much
cheaper. Father Rlggo was Just grabbing It out of
the etherlal waves as thoy passed over Nobraska
.caring tho message to tin coast.
Tho littlo priest smiled.
Then the ticker began again, and the priest
heard a steamship In the Qulf of Mexico calling for
He smiled again. This tlmo not because he
was getting information for which the telegraph
company bad been charging good money, but
merely because It assured him that his instruments
wore working so perfectly as to catch stray mes.
a.'ges oven from the Qulf of Mexico that were sent
vlth the Intention of traveling perhaps less than
Father Rlgge likes a good time. He is not the
silent, smileless, scientist, who wears a face soured
by mathematics. When a caller looked for him at
the university a few days ago, he found him In a
circle of twenty convent girls on the fourth floor.
It was a day off for the girls and they went to the
university to be entertained by Father Rlgge. The
twenty laughing girls hand In hand formed a
circle. Two of them held wires from an electric
battery. Fathor Rlggo was turnln the crank,
Thero were shrieks and shouts, much laughter,
and the scientist kept busy finding new ways of
manifesting tho shock-power of electricity.
"Oh, I couldn't possibly see you today," said
the scientist-priest. Come around at 10 o'clock In
the morning. These girls of thq convent have this
afternoon off. It Is the chance of their life, and I
am entertaining them."
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