was made. I know there was, ‘cause father says so. And

time: 2023-11-30 16:07:47laiyuan:toutiaovits: 6

Going to another extreme, we find Edison grappling with one of the biggest problems known to the authorities of New York--the disposal of its heavy snows. It is needless to say that witnessing the ordinary slow and costly procedure would put Edison on his mettle. "One time when they had a snow blockade in New York I started to build a machine with Batchelor--a big truck with a steam-engine and compressor on it. We would run along the street, gather all the snow up in front of us, pass it into the compressor, and deliver little blocks of ice behind us in the gutter, taking one- tenth the room of the snow, and not inconveniencing anybody. We could thus take care of a snow-storm by diminishing the bulk of material to be handled. The preliminary experiment we made was dropped because we went into other things. The machine would go as fast as a horse could walk."

was made. I know there was, ‘cause father says so. And

Edison has always taken a keen interest in aerial flight, and has also experimented with aeroplanes, his preference inclining to the helicopter type, as noted in the newspapers and periodicals from time to time. The following statement from him refers to a type of aeroplane of great novelty and ingenuity: "James Gordon Bennett came to me and asked that I try some primary experiments to see if aerial navigation was feasible with `heavier-than-air' machines. I got up a motor and put it on the scales and tried a large number of different things and contrivances connected to the motor, to see how it would lighten itself on the scales. I got some data and made up my mind that what was needed was a very powerful engine for its weight, in small compass. So I conceived of an engine employing guncotton. I took a lot of ticker paper tape, turned it into guncotton and got up an engine with an arrangement whereby I could feed this gun- cotton strip into the cylinder and explode it inside electrically. The feed took place between two copper rolls. The copper kept the temperature down, so that it could only explode up to the point where it was in contact with the feed rolls. It worked pretty well; but once the feed roll didn't save it, and the flame went through and exploded the whole roll and kicked up such a bad explosion I abandoned it. But the idea might be made to work."

was made. I know there was, ‘cause father says so. And

Turning from the air to the earth, it is interesting to note that the introduction of the underground Edison system in New York made an appeal to inventive ingenuity and that one of the difficulties was met as follows: "When we first put the Pearl Street station in operation, in New York, we had cast-iron junction- boxes at the intersections of all the streets. One night, or about two o'clock in the morning, a policeman came in and said that something had exploded at the corner of William and Nassau streets. I happened to be in the station, and went out to see what it was. I found that the cover of the manhole, weighing about 200 pounds, had entirely disappeared, but everything inside was intact. It had even stripped some of the threads of the bolts, and we could never find that cover. I concluded it was either leakage of gas into the manhole, or else the acid used in pickling the casting had given off hydrogen, and air had leaked in, making an explosive mixture. As this was a pretty serious problem, and as we had a good many of the manholes, it worried me very much for fear that it would be repeated and the company might have to pay a lot of damages, especially in districts like that around William and Nassau, where there are a good many people about. If an explosion took place in the daytime it might lift a few of them up. However, I got around the difficulty by putting a little bottle of chloroform in each box, corked up, with a slight hole in the cork. The chloroform being volatile and very heavy, settled in the box and displaced all the air. I have never heard of an explosion in a manhole where this chloroform had been used. Carbon tetrachloride, now made electrically at Niagara Falls, is very cheap and would be ideal for the purpose."

was made. I know there was, ‘cause father says so. And

Edison has never paid much attention to warfare, and has in general disdained to develop inventions for the destruction of life and property. Some years ago, however, he became the joint inventor of the Edison- Sims torpedo, with Mr. W. Scott Sims, who sought his co-operation. This is a dirigible submarine torpedo operated by electricity. In the torpedo proper, which is suspended from a long float so as to be submerged a few feet under water, are placed the small electric motor for propulsion and steering, and the explosive charge. The torpedo is controlled from the shore or ship through an electric cable which it pays out as it goes along, and all operations of varying the speed, reversing, and steering are performed at the will of the distant operator by means of currents sent through the cable. During the Spanish-American War of 1898 Edison suggested to the Navy Department the adoption of a compound of calcium carbide and calcium phosphite, which when placed in a shell and fired from a gun would explode as soon as it struck water and ignite, producing a blaze that would continue several minutes and make the ships of the enemy visible for four or five miles at sea. Moreover, the blaze could not be extinguished.

Edison has always been deeply interested in "conservation," and much of his work has been directed toward the economy of fuel in obtaining electrical energy directly from the consumption of coal. Indeed, it will be noted that the example of his handwriting shown in these volumes deals with the importance of obtaining available energy direct from the combustible without the enormous loss in the intervening stages that makes our best modern methods of steam generation and utilization so barbarously extravagant and wasteful. Several years ago, experimenting in this field, Edison devised and operated some ingenious pyromagnetic motors and generators, based, as the name implies, on the direct application of heat to the machines. The motor is founded upon the principle discovered by the famous Dr. William Gilbert--court physician to Queen Elizabeth, and the Father of modern electricity--that the magnetic properties of iron diminish with heat. At a light-red heat, iron becomes non-magnetic, so that a strong magnet exerts no influence over it. Edison employed this peculiar property by constructing a small machine in which a pivoted bar is alternately heated and cooled. It is thus attracted toward an adjacent electromagnet when cold and is uninfluenced when hot, and as the result motion is produced.

The pyromagnetic generator is based on the same phenomenon; its aim being of course to generate electrical energy directly from the heat of the combustible. The armature, or moving part of the machine, consists in reality of eight separate armatures all constructed of corrugated sheet iron covered with asbestos and wound with wire. These armatures are held in place by two circular iron plates, through the centre of which runs a shaft, carrying at its lower extremity a semicircular shield of fire-clay, which covers the ends of four of the armatures. The heat, of whatever origin, is applied from below, and the shaft being revolved, four of the armatures lose their magnetism constantly, while the other four gain it, so to speak. As the moving part revolves, therefore, currents of electricity are set up in the wires of the armatures and are collected by a commutator, as in an ordinary dynamo, placed on the upper end of the central shaft.

A great variety of electrical instruments are included in Edison's inventions, many of these in fundamental or earlier forms being devised for his systems of light and power, as noted already. There are numerous others, and it might be said with truth that Edison is hardly ever without some new device of this kind in hand, as he is by no means satisfied with the present status of electrical measurements. He holds in general that the meters of to-day, whether for heavy or for feeble currents, are too expensive, and that cheaper instruments are a necessity of the times. These remarks apply more particularly to what may be termed, in general, circuit meters. In other classes Edison has devised an excellent form of magnetic bridge, being an ingenious application of the principles of the familiar Wheatstone bridge, used so extensively for measuring the electrical resistance of wires; the testing of iron for magnetic qualities being determined by it in the same way. Another special instrument is a "dead beat" galvanometer which differs from the ordinary form of galvanometer in having no coils or magnetic needle. It depends for its action upon the heating effect of the current, which causes a fine platinum-iridium wire enclosed in a glass tube to expand; thus allowing a coiled spring to act on a pivoted shaft carrying a tiny mirror. The mirror as it moves throws a beam of light upon a scale and the indications are read by the spot of light. Most novel of all the apparatus of this measuring kind is the odoroscope, which is like the tasimeter described in an earlier chapter, except that a strip of gelatine takes the place of hard rubber, as the sensitive member. Besides being affected by heat, this device is exceedingly sensitive to moisture. A few drops of water or perfume thrown on the floor of a room are sufficient to give a very decided indication on the galvanometer in circuit with the instrument. Barometers, hygrometers, and similar instruments of great delicacy can be constructed on the principle of the odoroscope; and it may also be used in determining the character or pressure of gases and vapors in which it has been placed.

In the list of Edison's patents at the end of this work may be noted many other of his miscellaneous inventions, covering items such as preserving fruit in vacuo, making plate-glass, drawing wire, and metallurgical processes for treatment of nickel, gold, and copper ores; but to mention these inventions separately would trespass too much on our limited space here. Hence, we shall leave the interested reader to examine that list for himself.

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