Death on the High Seas Act
Revised by United States Congress
Law Change Favours Flight 111 Families’ Case
Airplane Crashed Into Sea Off Nova Scotia
The relatives of people who died aboard Swissair Flight 111 stand to make millions in settlements because of two legal developments that remove limits on the damages they can seek. A lawyer for 82 of the 229 victims of the air crash says new American legislation and a recent decision from a U.S. Appeal Court will increase the money paid out to families suing the airline. “It’s going to make a tremendous difference,” Lee Kreindler, a Manhattan lawyer, said in an interview this week. “I mean, all of these new factors added together will add millions of dollars to the total recoveries.”
U.S. President Bill Clinton quietly signed into law last week a revised version of the Death on the High Seas Act. The new law, passed earlier by the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, will allow families to recover damages for loss of care, comfort and companionship, which could make the Swissair cases some of the priciest in aviation history. The previous act did not contain those provisions, limiting the amounts for which family members could sue. Relatives could only seek damage awards from US$100,000 to US$200,000 for pecuniary losses — those calculated from an estimate of future earnings and other factors. “This is a very important step,” Kreindler said of the case affecting relatives of those killed when the MD-11 crashed off Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, in 1998. “It’s a substantial victory.” The lawyer for Swissair and Delta, which has a ticket-sharing agreement with Swissair, said the new act adds weight to the claims and will have an impact on the size of settlements. “It gives the American passengers some additional non-pecuniary damages,” said Desmond Barry, a lawyer based in Manhattan.
Barry said the Swissair crash falls under the Act because it happened more than 22 kilometres from the U.S. coast. The jet crashed in Canadian waters, about 10 kilometres from shore. Relatives of the Swissair victims say the revised act will give them more clout when it comes to sitting down to negotiate settlements with the defendants. Myron Ratnavale, whose parents were killed in the crash, said the new statute is positive, but it doesn’t go far enough. “I think it’s a step forward,” Ratnavale said from Malaysia on his way home to Geneva. “I don’t think it went as far as it could have gone, but it certainly helps families.” [Halifax Daily News, 15 April 2000]
|It appears the statement “the Swissair crash falls|
under the Act because it happened more than
22 kilometres from the U.S. coast” is an error.
The U.S. Death on the High Seas Act (see below)
plainly states: “Whenever the death of a person
shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect, or
default occurring on the high seas beyond
a marine league from the shore of any State…”.
A marine league is three nautical miles,
about 5.557 kilometres, not 22 kilometres.
Act March 30th, 1920, chapter 111
popularly known as the
Death on the High Seas Act
Section 761 Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default occurring on the high seas beyond a marine league from the shore of any State, or the District of Columbia, or the Territories or dependencies of the United States, the personal representative of the decedent may maintain a suit for damages in the district courts of the United States, in admiralty, for the exclusive benefit of the decedent’s wife, husband, parent, child, or dependent relative against the vessel, person, or corporation which would have been liable if death had not ensued.
Section 762 The recovery in such suit shall be a fair and just compensation for the pecuniary loss sustained by the persons for whose benefit the suit is brought and shall be apportioned among them by the court in proportion to the loss they may severally have suffered by reason of the death of the person by whose representative the suit is brought.
Section 763a Unless otherwise specified by law, a suit for recovery of damagesfor personal injury or death, or both, arising out of a maritime tort, shall not be maintained unless commenced within three years from the date the cause of action accrued.
Chapter 21: Death On The High Seas By Wrongful Act
|“…occurring on the high seas|
beyond a marine league
from the shore of any State…”
So, how far is a “marine league”?
That’s a good question. This is a very obscure unit of length.
The most authoritative source I have been able to find is the
International Court of Justice judgment of 11 September 1992
in the case concerning the Land, Island and Maritime Frontier
Dispute between El Salvador and Honduras:
which includes several references such as “3 miles (1 marine league)”
“1 marine league (3 nautical miles)”
“3 marine leagues (9 nautical miles)”
Geoff Armitage of the British Library Map Library in
recent years has created a conversion table, into metric, of
measures appearing in the British Library map catalogues. Geoff Armitage’s Conversion table of measurements
one marine league = 5,556.7 metres
Assigning responsibility for onboard negligence was
a long-standing problem, but the Jones Act of 1920
(46 United States Court of Appeals §688 et seq.)
solidifies the right of sailors to recover from an
employer for injuries resulting from the negligence
of the employer, a master, or another crew member.
The 1920 Death on High Seas Act
(46 App. United States Court of Appeals §761 et seq.)
allows recovery by the decedents of a sailor’s estate
when the sailor dies by negligence, default, or wrongful
act on the high seas “beyond a marine league from
the shore of any state, territory or dependency.”
The marine league is still in active use for stating and
measuring distances, especially for locations near a shoreline.
For example, the Natural Resources Code which defines
the Gulfward Boundary of the State of Texas
refers several times to measures of distance stated
in marine leagues.
A Dictionary of Units of Measurement by Russ Rowlett
An excellent, and very comprehensive, online resource
supplying extensive information about measures of all kinds,
including nautical miles and marine leagues. Recommended.
TWA 800, Swissair 111, EgyptAir 990: three international airline flights that crashed into the ocean after departing New York’s JFK airport, killing all aboard. All three are (or soon will be) the focus of massive litigation by survivors of the crash victims. The rights of those survivors to recover damages from the airlines are limited by a veritable thicket of legal obstacles: the Warsaw Convention, the Death On The High Seas Act, the Foreign Sovereignty Immunities Act…
Death on the High Seas — The legal issues raised by the Titanic disaster continue to reverberate today. The Titanic disaster continues to capture the public’s imagination. When it collided with an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic on April 14, 1912, 1,523 people lost their lives. Interestingly, the disaster spawned lawsuits and legislation that have continued significance today. One Titanic suit went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where a decision written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes limited the shipowner’s liability. That decision, in turn, led to congressional passage of the Death on the High Seas Act, the scope of which was considered April 27, 1998, by the Supreme Court in a case involving the shootdown of Korean Air Lines Flight 007…
Changes to Death On High Seas Act
Must be Passed — McCain
17 November 1999
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona), Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today made the following statement on the Death on the High Seas Act Amendments that were set aside when negotiations between the House and Senate on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill broke down:
“Most unfortunately, it appears unlikely that House and Senate conferees will be able to reach agreement this year on a multi-year bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration. I am bitterly disappointed at Congress’ inability to act on this legislation because of a number of parliamentary budget fights which ignore the dire need to pass this bill. Yet one of my most prominent disappointments is the likelihood that Congress’ efforts to amend the Death on the High Seas Act will fall by the wayside in the short term. We will be forced to postpone our efforts to make damage recovery fair for all family members of aviation accident victims who have died.
“The Death on the High Seas Act is a 1920s-era law that was put in place to help compensate the wives of sailors who died at sea. The law allows survivors to recover pecuniary damages, or the lost wages of their relatives on whom they depended upon financially. Unlike modern tort law, the Death on the High Seas Act does not allow family members to recover for non-monetary damages, such as for pain and suffering, or to seek punitive damages.
“Despite its benevolent inception, the Death on the High Seas Act has been used to limit the recovery of damages among the families of airline passengers whose lives have been lost over international waters. The family members of those who died on TWA Flight 800 and EgyptAir Flight 990, for instance, will not be able to seek the same compensation that they would be entitled to if these accidents had occurred over land. The parents of children killed in these accidents cannot sustain a legal claim for damages, since they did not depend upon their children as the family breadwinners. That is an inequity and an unintended consequence that we need to fix.
“As I said earlier, Congress intended to fix these problems in the context of the FAA reauthorization bill, yet negotiations have stalled for unrelated reasons. Consequently, I want to pledge every effort to move Death on the High Seas Act legislation independently, as soon as possible next year.
“The Commerce Committee will hold additional hearings on this issue as soon as Congress reconvenes in 2000. I will take the lead in working with my colleagues to ensure that legislation to limit the application of the Death on the High Seas Act to aviation accidents moves as quickly as possible through Congress. I believe it enjoys enormous support within Congress. At the very least, it should not be bogged down in unrelated controversies.
“The families of aviation accident victims over international waters have waited far too long for Congress to make sure that their losses are accorded the same respect as those associated with accidents over land. Family members should know that their children have value in the eyes of the law. The recent aviation tragedies only highlight the need for prompt action.”
Senator John McCain press releases at
2000 April 15
NDP Uses Website to ‘Ferret Out’ Info
Ferret motif suggested by Premier John Hamm
Who knows who’s going to be laid off, what programs are being axed or what new fees are being charged by the Hamm government? The ferret knows. That’s who — with a little help from the NDP and the public. The party is using its website, featuring a ferret graphic, to share what it has learned and what it hears from Nova Scotians. The NDP is inviting anyone looking for information to log on at https://www.ndpcaucus.ns.ca and then click on the ferret. Anyone with information can e-mail it to [email protected]. Earlier this week when asked which government programs would be cut or merged, Premier John Hamm said it was up to the opposition parties to “ferret out” the information during budget debate or in committee. Yesterday, the New Democrats learned 55 people will be laid off at the production technology branch of the Department of Agriculture. “This is a devastating blow to farmers and to the civil servants who helped farmers and the farm community, people who worked with farmers every day,” said NDP critic John MacDonell, a farmer. The combined work experience of those to be laid off is 948 years, many with more than 20 years service with the department. Those losing their jobs are specialists in such areas as berry crops, maple, dairy, swine, poultry and crop management. There are also engineers, drafting technicians, managers and secretaries.
The Halifax Daily News, 15 April 2000
NDP Caucus website at
2000 April 16
Calculators for High School Math
In the last four years, the Strait Regional School Board has acquired over 600 graphing calculators for the high school mathematics program.
[Source: A four-page colour leaflet published by the Strait Regional School Board and distributed as an insert in the Guysborough County Journal, 13 April 2000]
The Strait Regional School Board operates the P-12 public schools in Antigonish, Guysborough, Richmond, and Inverness Counties in Nova Scotia.
2000 April 19
Activist Groups Use Law to Pry Sulphur Info
from Reluctant Oil Companies
Sulphur in gasoline causes increased emissions of sulphur dioxide and sulphate particles from cars. Sulphate particles cause asthma symptoms, respiratory problems, hospital admissions and premature deaths.
“Burning high-sulphur gasoline puts pollutants in the air that contribute to disease and death, especially among people with asthma or chronic heart or lung disease,” said Trevor Hancock, MD, Chair of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
“Because of sulphur in gasoline’s demonstrated impact on human health, Friends of the Earth struggled to obtain the information from the companies, ultimately in the courts,” said Beatrice Olivastri, Chief Executive Officer of FOE.
If Canadian cars were fueled by low-sulphur gasoline, an estimated 60,000 asthma symptom days, and 39 premature deaths could be avoided in Toronto alone next year, according to a 1998 joint industry-government study done for the federal government. In Ontario, Imperial Oil’s Sarnia refinery reported the highest sulphur level in regular grade gasoline — 810 parts per million (ppm) in the summer smog season (July-Sept.) of 1998. Sulphur content for the previous three smog season quarters were 840 ppm (spring1998); 760 ppm (summer 1997), and 810 ppm (spring 1997).
Information on high sulphur levels in gasoline was recently obtained through a successful court action by Friends of the Earth (FOE), represented by the Sierra Legal Defence Fund (SLDF), which forced Canada’s six major oil companies to release this data.
“Motorists who care about their family’s health should send a message to Imperial Oil by avoiding ESSO gasoline during the summer smog season,” said Beatrice Olivastri, Chief Executive Officer of FOE.
While all four of Imperial Oil’s refineries produce high-sulphur regular gasoline, the dirtiest gas refined in the country is produced at Imperial Oil’s two Ontario refineries at Sarnia and Nanticoke, according to the oil companies’ own reports, which they have fought to keep from the public.
Imperial Oil’s Nanticoke, Ontario, refinery reported 740 ppm sulphur in the third quarter of 1998. Sulphur content in the previous three smog season quarters were 550 ppm, 660 ppm, and 680 ppm. These two refineries reported the highest sulphur content in Canada. By contrast, the world-leading California standard limits sulphur content to an average of 30 ppm. This standard must be met in Canada in 2005, under a regulation adopted by the Government of Canada in 1999. Imperial Oil and other oil companies still oppose early phase-in of this health-protection regulation.
“The public has a legitimate interest in knowing which companies are producing high-sulphur gasoline — because it ends up polluting the air we all breathe. People should be able to choose the cleanest gasoline — especially during smog season,” said Ms. Olivastri.
|Sulphur Content of Gasoline|
Regular-Grade Gasoline Produced by Individual Refineries
Data received by
Friends of the Earth
1997-1998 smog season
Atlantic Company Sulphur content (parts per million) 1998
(spring) Imperial Oil
Nova Scotia 604483530270 North Atlantic Refining
Come By Chance
Newfoundland 100100120120 Irving Oil
New Brunswick 263735040
Quebec Company Sulphur content (parts per million) 1998
(spring) Shell Canada
Montreal 480460500500 Petro-Canada
Montreal 370340310540 Ultramar
Ontario Company Sulphur content (parts per million) 1998
(spring) Imperial Oil
Sarnia 810840760810 Imperial Oil
Nanticoke 740550660680 Shell Canada
Sarnia 700300580600 Petro-Canada
Oakville 700500580600 Sunoco
West Company Sulphur content (parts per million) 1998
(spring) Imperial Oil
Alberta 400360390480 Husky Oil
British Columbia 330300300260 Chevron Canada
British Columbia 220140420420 Consumers’ Cooperative
Regina, Alberta 11720780110 Shell Canada
Alberta <50<50<50<50 Parkland
Friends of the Earth, 260 St. Patrick Street, Ottawa K1N 5K5
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 20 May 2000
and the Friends of the Earth website at
Average Sulphur Content for Six Canadian Refineries Reported to Environment Canada
Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association, Auto Industry Gasoline Surveys of Canadian Cities
Legal Victory Defends Public Right to Know About Harmful Air Pollutants
Six of Canada’s major oil companies had tried to block the release of information on sulphur levels in their gasoline. It took a legal action by FOE, represented by the Sierra Legal Defence Fund (SLDF) to finally force this data to be made public.
“We fought a year-long court battle with Canada’s six major oil companies and won,” said SLDF lawyer Stewart Elgie. “This is a legal victory of breathtaking importance. It forces the oil giants to disclose information about high sulphur levels in their gas. And it establishes that the public’s right to know about hazards to their health and the environment outweighs corporate secrecy interests under access to information laws.”
Canada’s 18 oil refineries must report the sulphur levels in gasoline they refine to Environment Canada. FOE requested that Environment Canada release this information in1998 under access to information laws But the big oil companies objected, claiming the information was confidential. Six companies brought an action in Federal Court to stop the release. SLDF represented FOE in the action, and after twelve months of legal proceedings, the companies recently decided to drop the case, which meant the data had to be given to FOE. FOE released this information to the public today (April 19th, 2000).
Friends of the Earth website at
2000 April 19
Mahone Bay Town Council Exploring Railway Ownership
Mahone Bay wants to own the abandoned railway rights-of-way in the town, but it doesn’t want to buy them. Councillors voted last month to ask the provincial Department of Natural Resources to reserve at least 50 of the 100 foot 30m right-of-way of abandoned railways in the town for the possible future construction of public streets. But last week, the planning advisory committee, chaired by councillor Peter Millet, recommended the town explore ownership instead. “It was felt the town would have better control of what went on,” he said April 11th.
The committee made that motion after a presentation from Bob Douglas, the council liaison for the Bay to Bay Trails Association which hopes to develop a trail between Mahone Bay and Lunenburg. The presentation, which included aerial photographs, demonstrated how important those railways are to the future development of the town, said Mr. Millet.
While council agreed to investigate the matter, some members say they would never support buying the property from the Department of Natural Resources. “I think we’re looking at taking on another burden here,” said deputy Mayor Karl Nauss. “I don’t feel the town has any money to throw into those types of projects.” Mayor Virginia Uhlman agreed. “I couldn’t support buying land because we don’t have the money,” she said. However, the department may be interested in turning it over or setting it aside for future use, she said.
The Bay to Bay Trail Association has applied for a management agreement with the DNR. There have also been proposals for trails from Mahone Bay to Bridgewater and Chester. The trails would merge near the site of the former Mahone Bay railway station. Transfer of ownership would not affect those agreements. [Lunenburg Progress-Enterprise, 19 April 2000]
2000 April 25
Street Painting Contract
A two-year-old Dartmouth firm, Provincial Pavement Markings, has been awarded a $19,803 contract to paint the street line markings on Bridgewater streets this year. The firm offered the lowest of four bids on the project which is to be carried out within thirty days of notification. Town engineer Harland Wyand recommended the contract be awarded at the April 25 council meeting of the Bridgewater Town Council.
[Bridgewater Bulletin, 3 May 2000]
2000 April 26
Post Office Refuses to Recognize
Nova Scotia Mathematician
N.S. math whiz won’t appear on Canadian stamp
Newcomb decision hypocritical, councillor says
Canada Post’s failure to recognize a great Canadian mathematician and astronomer has upset Cumberland County Councillor Gerald Langille. “Simon Newcomb is the finest scientist Canada has ever produced,” Mr. Langille said of the Nova Scotian native who set many mathematical and astronomical standards that are still used today. “Yet, Canada Post (won’t) place his image on a stamp. That is a terrible decision.” Mr. Langille, the Wallace and Area Museum Society and the Cumberland Municipal Council are writing the post office, asking it to reconsider.
They feel Mr. Newcomb should be recognized by his native country. Born in Wallace, Cumberland County, in 1835, Newcomb had little formal education. Yet, at 22, he enrolled at Harvard University’s school of science. He graduated in 1858 and three years later was commissioned into the corps of professors of mathematics in the United States navy. He was initially assigned to the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. Sixteen years later he headed the American Nautical Almanac office and in 1884 was appointed as a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University.
While at the observatory, Newcomb spent ten years working out methods of determining the positions of planets and other astronomical objects. His calculations were phenomenal for their accuracy and were in use as daily references all over the world for more than fifty years. He also worked with Arthur Downing, the superintendent of the British Nautical Almanac, to create a universal system of astronomical constants that is still the standard today.
His work was praised by Albert Einstein and he was honoured by several countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Japan and Russia. He died in 1909 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia. The fact that Newcomb’s work was done in the United States is why Canada Post will not honour him. Its criteria states that suggested subjects should be related to Canada and its national interest, evoke Canadian history, traditions or accomplishments and illustrate the social, cultural, political or economic life of Canada.
“Unfortunately, in light of these criteria, (Mr. Newcomb) would not be eligible for consideration,” Canada Post president Andre Ouellet said in a March 6 letter to Wallace Museum curator David Dewar. “While I understand that Simon Newcomb was born in Canada, I noted from the information provided … that his achievements and contributions were made in the United States.”
That statement is hypocritical, Mr. Langille said, noting that Canada Post has honoured hockey legend Gordie Howe with a stamp. “Most of his work was done in the United States, too,” Mr. Langille said, pointing out the hockey hero played most of his great career in Detroit. [Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 26 April 2000]
|In this story, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald made one of|
its characteristic blunders, which readers see frequently
whenever the subject deals with science or technology.
This time, the newspaper confused astronomy with astrology
by reporting that Newcomb worked out a system of
“astrological constants”. That error has been corrected in
the above rendition.
Simon Newcomb (1835-1909)
Rear Admiral, United States Navy
Simon Newcomb’s work is still used, in 2000, as the basis of important astronomical calculations. See:
5000-Year Catalogue of Solar Eclipses, -1999 to +3000
This catalog contains predictions for every solar eclipse occurring during this five millenium period. These NASA calculations — for 11,897 eclipses — “are based on j=2 ephemerides for the Sun [Newcomb, 1895]…”
— Fred Espenak, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Ten decimal places of pi are sufficient to give the circumference of the earth to a fraction of an inch one centimetre and thirty decimal places would give the circumference of the visible universe to a quantity imperceptible to the most powerful microscope.
Simon Newcomb, quoted in D. MacHale, Conic Sections (Dublin 1993)
Pi is the famous number 3.1415927… Its best-known occurrence is in the mathematical formula for calculating the circumference of a circle, given the radius. References (all valid and available on 30 May 2000):
Albert Einstein acknowledged the importance of Newcomb’s work in the development of his own theory of relativity. Simon Newcomb was one of the great scientists of the 19th century. He was a giant in the field of celestial mechanics, and his work on the orbital motion of the planets of the Solar System was the cornerstone of the nautical and astronomical almanacs of the United States and Great Britain until as recently as 1984…
Astronomical Society of the Pacific
website of the School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland
MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, by the School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, University of St Andrews
The Internet Modern History Sourcebook
The Simon Newcomb Award, given by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
Simon Newcomb’s Problem
Wolfram Research Incorporated
The Concise Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Third Edition
AGS-14 USS Simon Newcomb
Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1940-1945
SchoolNet Digital Collections, Industry Canada
Simon Newcomb — on the fourth dimension…
“Modern Mathematical Thought,” Nature 49 (February 1, 1894)
A Scientist’s Voice in American Culture: Simon Newcomb and the Rhetoric of Scientific Method (book), by Albert E. Moyer, University of California Press, 1992, ISBN 0520076893
Bruce Medal, 1898
Astronomical Papers Pepared For The Use Of
The American Ephemeris And Nautical Almanac
Published By The Nautical Almanac Office, U.S. Naval Observatory, Washington, D.C.
V.1 No.1 1882 — Newcomb, Simon
On The Recurrence Of Solar Eclipses, With Tables Of Eclipses From B.C. 700 To A.D. 2300
V.1 No.2 1882 — Newcomb, Simon aided by Meier, John
A Transformation Of Hansen’s Lunar Theory, Compared With The Theory Of Dulaunay
V.1 No.3 1882 — Michelson, Albert A.
Experimental Determination Of The Velocity Of Light Made At The United States Naval Academy, Annapolis
V.1 No.4 1882 — Newcomb, Simon
Catalogue Of 1098 Standard Clock And Zodiacal Stars, prepared under the direction Of Simon Newcomb
V.1 No.5 1882 — Hill, George W.
On Gauss’s Method Of Computing Secular Perturbations, With An Application To The Action Of Venus On Mercury
V.1 No.6 1882 — Newcomb, Simon
Discussion Of Observed Transits Of Mercury, 1677 – 1881
V.3 No.1 1891 — Newcomb, Simon
Development Of The Perturbative Function And Its Derivaties, In Sines And Cosines Of Multiples Of The Eccentric Anomalies, And In Powers Of The Eccentricities And Inclinations
V.3 No.3 1891 — Newcomb, Simon
On The Motion Of Hyperion: A new Case In Celestial Mechanics
V.3 No.5 1891 — Newcomb, Simon
Periodic Perturbations Of The Longitudes And Radii Vectors Of The Four Inner Planets Of The First Order As To The Masses, Computed Under Direction Of Simon Newcomb
V.5 No.1 1895 — Newcomb, Simon
Development Of The Perturbative Function In Cosines Of Muliples Of The Mean Anomalies And Of Angles Between The Perihelia And Common Node And In Powers Of The Eccentricities And Mutual Inclination
V.5 No.2 1895 — Newcomb, Simon
Inequalities Of Long Period, And Of The Second Order As To The Masses, In The Mean Longitudes Of The Four Inner Planets
V.5 No.3 1895 — Newcomb, Simon
Theory Of The Inequalites In The Motion Of The Moon Produced By The Action Of The Planets
V.5 No.4 1895 — Newcomb, Simon
Secular Variations Of The Orbits Of The Four Inner Planets
V.5 No.5 1895 — Newcomb, Simon
On The Mass Of Jupiter And The Orbit Of Polyhymnia
V.6 No.1 1898 — Newcomb, Simon
Tables Of The Motion Of The Earth On Its Axis And Around The Sun
V.6 No.2 1898 — Newcomb, Simon
Tables Of The Heliocentric Motion Of Mercury
V.6 No.3 1898 — Newcomb, Simon
Tables Of The Heliocentric Motion Of Venus
V.6 No.4 1898 — Newcomb, Simon
Tables Of The Heliocentric Motions Of Mars
V.8 Part 1 1905 — Newcomb, Simon
A New Determination Of The Precessional Constant With The Resulting Precessional Motions
V.8 Part 2 1905 — Newcomb, Simon
Catalogue Of Fundamental Stars For The Epochs 1875 And 1900 Reduced To An Absolute System
V.9 Part 1 1912 — Newcomb, Simon
Researches On The Motion Of The Moon
Simon Newcomb — The Maritimes’ Greatest Scientist
Department of Physics, Seminar Series, Dalhousie University, Halifax
Maximilian Hell, S.J. and the Transit of Venus, 3 June 1769
Maximilian Hell died 200 years ago in 1792, after falling victim to the defamation of Jesuits during the Suppression of the Society. Accused of altering his data during the 1769 transit of Venus, he was not exonerateed until a century later when the renowned American astronomer Simon Newcomb found Hell’s readings to be correct, his scholarship above suspicion and his accusers guilty of slander. The damage done his reputation, however, survived him because of historians who failed to report his rehabilitation…
Simon Newcomb and the Transit of Venus, 6 December 1882…
1884: The Extent of the Universe by Simon Newcomb
A collection of Newcomb links
Arlington National Cemetery website
Pictures of Simon Newcomb’s gravesite
Section 1, Lot 527, Grid KL-34/35,.Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, USA
2000 April 26
South Shore Libraries Get Computerized Circulation Records
Faster, more accessible library service is just a card swipe away now that all five South Shore Regional Library branches have automated circulation. The local library system is the fifth of nine Nova Scotia regional libraries to be automated. The project, which began in 1996, has cost more than $259,000, approximately 70 per cent of which came from the province with local municipalities picking up the rest. It has also been a lengthy one.
To get ready for the new system, staff, summer students and volunteers had to place bar code labels on all library material, then enter the records for the more than 100,000 items into the SSRL bank of the Nova Scotia Provincial Library data base. The final step was to place bar code scanners in each of the library branches, including its two mobile units.
Now when library members visit one of these branches, library staff simply scan the bar codes on the back of both their library cards and the material they wish to take out. This brings up all the necessary information right on the computer. “It saves a lot of time,” says Lunenburg librarian Patrice d’Entremont, who formerly had to take a lot of the information down by hand. “Now rather than writing (it) down, I can just zap it in.”
To offer the same services as the three town branches, the library’s mobile branches required special cellular telephone modems and antennas, paid for by the provincial library. The SSRL board then purchased new laptop computers for the units. [Bridgewater Bulletin, 26 April 2000]
2000 April 27
Lighthouses Facing Collapse
Preservation society warns of neglect
Nova Scotia’s Lighthouse Preservation Society released a “Doomsday list” yesterday of lighthouses facing “demolition, collapse, serious neglect, and decay.” The inventory of seventeen structures includes the keeper’s home on George’s Island in Halifax Harbour; the rare, hip-gabled dwelling for the light on Devil’s Island off Eastern Passage; and the abandoned and vandalized houses beside Sambro Island lighthouse, Canada’s oldest. “They won’t all be gone at any stroke of midnight, but the use of the word doomsday is just to show that they are all in danger,” said Chris Mills, a Ketch Harbour resident who wrote a book about the scandalous condition of Canada’s lighthouses called Vanishing Lights. “And that list is not anywhere near complete. It’s sort of a begining of a list, but there are many more lights in this province and across the country that should be included.”
Of all the sites on the list, the lighthouse at Grand Manan Island’s Fish Fluke Point, on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy, is in the worst condition, said Mills. “It’s a wooden structure that’s been abandoned for decades,” he said. “And it’s just about to, literally, fall over.” That lighthouse, as well as at least two others others on the list, are privately owned, said Mills, co-chairman of the society’s committee lobbying the federal government for a lighthouse protection act that would keep the beacons in the public domain and let local people take care of them. “Most of them are still owned by the coast guard. The problem is, when you look at keepers’ dwellings, many of them are surplus to the coast guard’s use.” But the homes are also historically and architecturally important, said Mills.
“A lighthouse is not just a lighthouse; it is the associated buildings,” he said. “Let’s say a community wants to make use of a lighthouse station. What are they going to do with just a tower? If there are no houses there, there’s no opportunity there for development by a local group or a museum.” While modern technology has all but obviated lighthouses, Mills said they will never be completely outdated. “You can’t entirely depend on global positioning systems or other electronic means of navigation because everything breaks down at some time or other,” he said. “At best, visual aids might be a second check now, but they’re still important.”
- Here is the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society’s list of 17 threatened structures — 13 are in Nova Scotia:
- Seal Island, Clark’s Harbour, Shelburne County
lighthouse, barn, and wireless operator’s dwelling
- St. Paul’s Island, Victoria County, Cape Breton
wireless operator’s dwelling
- Port Medway, Queens County
- Sambro Island, Halifax County
- Cape Roseway, Shelburne County
dwellings and old fog alarm building
- Queensport lighthouse on Rook Island
- Liscomb Island, Guysborough County
- Country Island, Guysborough County
- Margaree Island, Inverness County, Cape Breton
defunct lighthouse and dwelling
- Mosher’s Island, Dublin Shore, Lunenburg County
- Devil’s Island, in the entrance to Halifax Harbour
rare hip-gabled dwelling
- George’s Island in Halifax Harbour
- Man of War Point, Cape Breton
- Fish Fluke Point, Grand Harbour, Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick
- Point Abino, Fort Erie, Ontario
lighthouse and keeper’s dwelling
- Shampiers Wharf lighthouse, Belleisle Bay, New Brunswick
- Southwest Point, Anticosti Island, Quebec
[Halifax Daily News, 27 April 2000]
Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society website
The Doomsday List
List of Nova Scotia Lighthouses
2000 April 27
Tom Long Launches Website
On this day, Tom Long announced his candidacy for the position of national leader of the new Canadian Alliance. At the same time, he announced the launch of his new website at https://www.tomlong2000.com/.
Source: Tom Long Launches Leadership Bid at
|ICS Comment (written 4:40pm 1 May 2000)|
This website appears to have the best content of the three websites operated in support of the three main candidates in this leadership contest — Preston Manning, Stockwell Day, and Tom Long. However, I was able to view only a small portion of the site. I ran into a problem with an “invalid security certificate” at page six https://www.tomlong2000.com/TomLong_HTML_English6.html. I had been viewing this series of pages by clicking on the Next button at the bottom of each, but when I clicked on the Next button at the bottom of page six a window popped up: “You are about to view pages over a secure connection.” This led to another popup window: “Information you exchange with this site cannot be viewed or changed by others. However, there is a problem with the site’s security certificate…” I was unable to go any further in exploring this website.
This seems to me to be a peculiar way to design a website intended to reach the public at large. What kind of content could there possibly be, that has to be protected from the public view by a security certificate, while at the same time being intended to reach the general public? How can such a feature promote the candidacy of Mr. Long?
I’m unable to comment on the content of this website because I was prevented from seeing it.
By the way, I’m using a brand-new copy — bought just two weeks ago — of the Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.00.2614.3500 browser, running on Windows 98 Second Edition on a Pentium III 600 MHz computer. I doubt the access problem is attributable to my using an antiquated system.
Internet Becomes Political Attack Arena
The Honourable Sinclair M. Stevens, a minister in the federal cabinet under Prime Minister Mulroney, has started up a website attacking Canadian Alliance leadership candidate Tom Long. Mr. Stevens is upset at Mr. Long for deserting the Tories.
[National Post, 10 June 2000]
Wednesday, April 26, 2000 — “…a group of concerned citizens, myself included, has decided to set up a website named StopTom.com. It will be launched shortly…”
Hon. Sinclair M. Stevens.
The website has been active since May 31st.
“StopTom.com is dedicated to disseminating information about Tom Long and the leadership race for the Canadian Alliance Party. It is a place where concerned Canadian citizens, voters, and taxpayers from ALL POLITICAL PARTIES can get to the bottom of Tom Long’s run for the Leadership of the Canadian Alliance Party. StopTom.com was started by Hon. Sinclair M. Stevens.”
Tom Long purchased the domain name www.canadianalliance.com, which points to his own personal site. The official site for the Canadian Alliance is www.canadianalliance.ca.
Sinclair M. Stevens is presently a lawyer and entrepreneur with a number of corporate directorships. During the 1970s and 1980s, as a Conservative member of the Canadian Parliament, he was President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion.
“The Real Winners of Our Participation in NATO’s War,” by Sinclair Stevens
The Toronto Star, 15 July 1999
2000 April 30
Dial C for Competition
Three phone book publishers battle for advertising revenue
by Stephen Bornais
The Sunday Daily News
Telephone service was once so simple. One company with one phone book. But just as phone-service providers have proliferated, so have the book publishers. Three phone books will compete for use, attention and — more importantly — advertisers in metro Halifax by the time the first tall ship blows into port in July. For the better part of a century, MT&T, now MTT, had the market all to itself. For a business that wanted to advertise in the phone book, the Yellow Pages were the only game in town.
The rules have changed.
Back for its second year is the metro edition of the Easy to Read Telephone Directory from Cameron Publications. Versions for the South Shore and Annapolis Valley will soon be on the streets, all printed at Cameron’s plant in New Minas, Kings County.
In July comes the third, a splashy entry from Phone Directories Co. Inc., one of the largest phone directory publishers in North America. The Canadian subsidiary of the Utah-based company started in 1995 and now has sixty books in Canada. The Halifax book is its first foray in Atlantic Canada.
MTT spokeswoman Kelly Gallant insists competition is nothing new for the company, which has faced tough fights from more traditional publications for those advertising revenues found in the lucrative Yellow Pages. “That form of advertising is open to all,” she said.
MTT, wholly owned by Aliant, contracts out the book to Tele-Direct Atlantic, which is also owned by Aliant. It printed more than 320,000 copies of the metro book last year.
Ad rates for the Yellow Pages are the most expensive of the three books, but Gallant said advertisers get value for their money. She touts the book’s market penetration and the completeness of its listings and information. “(We) reach a large audience … and there’s an opportunity for advertisers to ensure that they’re there for their customers to take a look at what they have to offer,” she said. With increased competition, advertisers will have to decide where they are going to spend their money, she said. “For some, perhaps that means having to spend additional funds because they want to ensure they are in as many areas as they can be,” she said.
Robert (Red) MacKean, manager of directories for Cameron, thinks those advertisers are better off spending less to be in his large-print book even though it only contains business listings. MacKean, former owner of the Auto Trader magazine, said Cameron saw CRTC deregulation of the book business as an opportunity. The company bought the Easy to Read franchise and published its first books in the South Shore and Valley. Cameron plans to distribute 225,000 of the metro book, 52,000 of the South Shore edition and 57,000 of the Valley one. The latter two contain residential as well as business listings in one book.
MacKean said the metro book, with its business listings, was meant to challenge the Yellow Pages, which have since been merged with the residential listings. Next year Cameron will include residential listings. Cameron plays on the fact it is the only local company in the phone-book business, MacKean said. “I would think the other people — without saying anything negative against them — would find it difficult being outsiders coming into this market,” he said. “I know the first year we were considered outsiders because we were from the Annapolis Valley.”
The big type is what sets its book apart from competitors, MacKean said, a move designed to cater to the province’s aging population.
Jeanette Jones, district manager with Phone Directories, is counting on more than big print to find market share. With both commercial and residential listings, Jones said her book is “the only full, legitimate competition to MTT right now. We don’t consider Easy to Read competition because it’s not a full phone book, it’s a business directory,” she said. Phone Directories’ plans call for about 150,000 copies and ad rates about 50 to 70 per cent cheaper than the MTT book, Jones said. It will be printed outside the region.
Phone Directories’ book will include a feature that created a buzz when the company introduced its product at a Halifax business show last year: the restaurant listings will include menus, complete with prices. “The dining guide is certainly something that makes people pick up the book a lot,” she said.
The first year in a new market is always tough, Jones said, especially since MTT and Easy to Read arrived first. Her salespeople have just completed their work and will have some time off before hitting the streets again in August to sell next year’s book. “The second-year market is usually very successful,” she said.
All three companies say they will be the one that succeeds if the market decides three books is too much. “We’re just trying to provide added value to the customer and a service to the consumer with the large-print format and, hopefully, it works,” MacKean said. Jones said it comes down to who has the best mix. “We believe our quality and our pricing will certainly not kick us out of the market.” [Halifax Sunday Daily News, 30 April 2000]
2000 April 30
Students Shine in Robotics Contest
Robotics East Contest in Fredericton
Pugwash District High School
J.L Ilsley High School
Auburn High School
Nova Scotian competitors at yesterday’s Fifth Annual Robotics East Contest in Fredericton were really motoring with several new awards under their belts. Fredericton schools have traditionally won top honours, but Pugwash District High School made it to the finals yesterday before losing out to one of the host teams. “We really didn’t expect to get to the finals, to even get this far,” said Scott Matheson, 14, whose team placed second. J.L Ilsley and Auburn High Schools placed first and second, respectively, in the multimedia category, which required students to make a video of the contest. Dr. Peter Gregson, who designed the robotics contest, is pleased with how all the teams performed and, as a professor at DalTech, enjoys seeing the Nova Scotia students do well. “The whole idea for designing this contest was to get kids interested in maybe going into an engineering career,” said Gregson. Between 200 and 300 students from Atlantic high schools competed in the event. Teams squared off by making a functioning robot, beginning with a motor and a remote control.
[Halifax Sunday Daily News, 30 April 2000]
Pugwash District High School (7-12), Pugwash, Cumberland County
The Eh Team, PDHS students with an interest in engineering…
J.L. Ilsley High School (10-12), Halifax
Auburn Drive High School (10-12), Cole Harbour, Halifax County
Auburn Drive H.S. Robots East 1999 website
Auburn Drive H.S. Robots East 1998 website
2000 April 30
Highway 101 Deadliest, Stats Show
One-third of 100-series deaths occurred on Valley road
Highway 101 accounted for more than one in three deaths on Nova Scotia’s 100-series highways last year, statistics from the Department of Transportation show. There were ten deaths on the 101 last year, including nine between Mount Uniacke and Coldbrook. The province’s nine other 100-series highways accounted for eighteen deaths. The other 101 fatality was in Yarmouth County.
Overall, highway fatalities in the province were up to 97 last year from 84 in 1998. These include accidents involving vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles.
The 101 accounted for more than 10 per cent of those fatalities and 12.5 per cent of people killed in vehicles. The section of the highway between Mount Uniacke and Coldbrook — 75 kilometres long — accounts for just four per cent of the province’s 1,848 kilometres of 100-series roads, but this section had one-third of all fatalities on all of these roads.
The provincial government has come up with a four-phase construction plan for the 101 that includes twinning the section from Mount Uniacke to Ellershouse for $25,500,000, then to Windsor for $19,500,000, to Avonport for $28,500,000 and to Coldbrook for $19,500,000.
The plan also includes $2,000,000 for passing lanes between Coldbrook and Kingston. Long-range plans call for upgrading the road between Digby and Weymouth to a controlled access highway for $70,500,000. But the department says no work can start without a cost-sharing agreement from Ottawa, which provided only $30,000,000 in infrastructure funding for the province in its last budget. That money, to come over the first three years of a six-year plan, is also to cover roads, housing and environmental technology.
Transportation Department spokesman Hugh Fraser said twinning the highway is the province’s top highway priority. “We believe a twinned highway would greatly reduce accidents and fatalities on the road,” he said. “The minister is very much aware of this, and he’s making it his number one job to get a funding agreement in place … for all highways.”
Of last year’s 97 fatalities, 72 were occupants of vehicles, 13 were pedestrians and seven were motorcyclists. Four cyclists and one all-terrain-vehicle driver were also killed. The number of deaths linked to alcohol was 22, which is 22 per cent of the total. The total death count was the highest since 1996 but is still better than the 199 of twenty years ago. Mr. Fraser said that while the numbers were up, some fluctuation is to be expected. “It’s going to change from year to year, but we’d like to see the graph go down,” he said. “The five-year average is 98, so it’s pretty much in line with that.” He said the overall decrease can be attributed to a number of factors, including increased use of seatbelts and child seats, airbags and better-engineered vehicles. “All of that is certainly encouraging.” he said.