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164701.  Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:01 am Reply with quote

Some stuff on the history of batteries for the notes. This is the story of the guy who founded eveready:

Joshua Cowen was the inventor of the battery powered flashlight, but the only use he could think of for it was to stick it in plantpots and light-up flowers. Predictably it didn’t sell much so he sold the idea for a pittance to a friend Conrad Hubert, originally they went into business together but annoyed with the legalities of patent infringement Cowen opted out – the company would become Eveready, now selling more than a billion batteries every year.

This wasn’t the first idea which Cowen came up with, as a teenager he invented a device that ignited a photographer's flash – again it didn’t sell in its original form, but the US name took out a huge contract to use the technology to ignite mines.

However despite a couple of comparative failures he still became a very rich man thanks to the invention which followed. He invented a battery-powered fan which sold well in the summer but in the winter he was left with engines which no use – he put them to use in model trains and opened the of Lionel Corporation, a manufacturer of model railroads and toy trains. The most popular in the USA.


164977.  Wed Apr 11, 2007 3:07 pm Reply with quote

Should you happen to need photographs of Lionel trains, we have some of these trains in a box in the basement that we could photograph for you.

165050.  Thu Apr 12, 2007 1:54 am Reply with quote

Jenny, in the meeting I claimed the ubiquitousness of the Lionel brand in the US - but admitted that I had never heard of them, nor had any of the team. Were they the most popular brand of model train? And will most USAians have heard of them?

165291.  Thu Apr 12, 2007 9:45 am Reply with quote

My husband would like you to understand that there is a difference between model railroading and children's train sets. Lionel Trains were, along with American Flyer, extremely popular train sets for children, probably up until the 1960s or so. Lionel was the dominant brand, and the image associated with the train set under the Christmas tree.

Lionel Trains are still made, though not by the original company, and produced in the same 'O' scale as before. However, Syl believes they are now marketed more towards model railroaders. Other scales such as HO, N, and Z still tend to be the more dominant sizes for model railroaders, as well as G scale garden railways. These are common American scales, and the scales in England are slightly different.

Syl believes that because Lionel Trains are now more upmarket, they probably are not as widely known as they used to be in the 60s, because model railroaders are more of a niche market than children's toys. Before then, they were a very popular toy.

We have both O scale and HO scale ones, which we can photograph if you need a picture (assuming we can find the boxes in the basement!)

Molly Cule
165759.  Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:15 am Reply with quote

The Electronic Reactions of Albert Abrams

In the first quarter of the 20th century, Albert Abrams, M.D. devised what may be the greatest medical hoax of all time. His credentials as a medical man, combined with the public's fascination with and lack of understanding of the newly introduced radio set the stage for the marvelous theatrics which still play today in some bizarre corners of the "New Age" movement.

if you are interested it is here

166824.  Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:15 am Reply with quote

Have you heard of this bloke? Lewis Latimer, the son of escaped Virginian slaves, who oversaw the installation of electric lighting in London.

Molly Cule
167216.  Wed Apr 18, 2007 6:37 am Reply with quote

In the 16th C it was discovered that nitrogen from excreta could be used to make gunpowder. In the 20th C human faeces at incineration plants is turned into electricity, hundreds of thousands of megawatts of it a year.

Gold and platinum are puffed out of catalytic converters.

The first use of electric light in London was along the Embankment in 1878, followed by Holborn then a few theatres.

The first power station in the world was at 57 Holborn Viaduct and was constructed by Thomas Edison.

By 1914 there were 70 power station in the city. Each of the 28 boroughs of London was responsible for its own electric lighting, which meant that everywhere you went the lighting was different. In the 1920’s there were lots of car accidents as drivers moving at high speed would more from streets bathed in light to ones in comparative darkness. To deal with the problem lamp-posts were standardized with columns 25 feet high and 150 feet apart. This uniformity is hardly ever noticed but it is there.
S: - London the Biography, Peter Ackroyd.

Molly Cule
167274.  Wed Apr 18, 2007 8:09 am Reply with quote

Here is a photo of the stone next to the electric hill the guy at the radio show wanted to put in the museum of curiosity, I see there are already threads on the whole electric hills thing but just incase the illusions are worth a mention in the electricity show. I think its interesting that electricity was such a mad and crazy thing that people thought it was responsible for all sorts of things it couldn't really be.

167296.  Wed Apr 18, 2007 8:49 am Reply with quote

Since we now know Bill has been there I've asked Helen to see if there's any footage of a car running uphill there.

167362.  Wed Apr 18, 2007 10:59 am Reply with quote

Don't know whether this fits into "Electricity", but London's and possibly the word's smallest police station is located inside an electric lamp post in Trafalgar Square. It's big enough to accommodate a small desk. A possible question: what's the connection between London policing and electricity?

Frederick The Monk
171568.  Wed May 02, 2007 11:18 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
Since we now know Bill has been there I've asked Helen to see if there's any footage of a car running uphill there.

The Electric Brae question is now in the script in a form that would require footage if possible - i.e. what happened next?

172894.  Wed May 09, 2007 4:14 am Reply with quote

possible outro?

174075.  Mon May 14, 2007 3:40 am Reply with quote

No1 in a series of lots:

Things we found a week too late.

1. The world's largest Tesla coil:

180138.  Mon Jun 04, 2007 6:15 am Reply with quote

By law, new build properties have to have a certain number of plug sockets.

The National House Building Council's technical standards say that a three-bedroom house built today must have at least 38 sockets.

180556.  Tue Jun 05, 2007 11:26 am Reply with quote

Plug sockets are called 'receptacles' in the US.


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