How early electric experiments destroyed the University of Missouri's main academic hall

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13 Responses to “How early electric experiments destroyed the University of Missouri's main academic hall”

  1. Yurko says:

    well, it is Missouri….

    Oh, and Rock Chalk!!

  2. Alan Zisman says:

    I was a physics student at Montreal’s McGill University in the late 1960s… at the time, the physics building was an old, stately, granite building in the south-east corner of the university quadrant. The top floor was sealed-off; the story was that famous physicist Ernest Rutherford worked there in the early years of the 20th century – at the time, folks were relatively unaware of the dangers of radioactivity, and as a result of his experiments, the top floor remained a radiation hazard 60 or so years later. Might be an urban myth, though!

    • Andrew Dalke says:

      http://cac.mcgill.ca/campus/buildings/Macdonald-Stewart_Library.html says “Some of the equipment and personal effects of the famous scientist until recently resided in a museum on the top floor.  … In 1930, a meteorology station was added to the top of the building and in 1941 a fourth floor was added.” What I found neatest was “Knowing the nature of Physics experiments and the current needs of the field, he built the entire edifice using only wood, masonry, and copper, bronze and brass for the nails and fixtures. No iron or steel was used throughout, even in the radiators, to keep magnetic interference at a minimum.”

  3. Jorpho says:

    Apparently Michael Faraday’s demonstrations of electromagnetism ultimately influenced the layout of Piccadilly Circus  in London – because of the immense crowds the demos tended to draw.

  4. digi_owl says:

    Heh, i read a book a while back about early experiments with rocket fuels. Quite a few colorful descriptions of “energetic reactions” and the accompanying destruction of equipment (and remarkably few deaths).

  5. Nadreck says:

    Tesla probably had the best Mad Scientist Mishap moments.  I believe that at one point he melted most of the generators in a hydro-electric dam.

  6. Roy Trumbull says:

    Up until Edison no one had done a systematic testing of core materials and windings for dynamos (generators) . A typical dynamo of the period was less than 20% efficient. Edison made dynamos that were 90%+ efficient. Until he built his generating station in lower Manhattan, generators hadn’t been run in parallel. There were telephone polls but everyone had loaded them with countless cables already. Edison opted to go underground. The hot spot in the street story is true. It was discovered by horses as they passed over it. Every piece of hardware for carrying cables and even the insulation on the cables themselves was devised by Edison as were all the connectors and a chemical reaction meter used to measure kilowatt hours. He started from zip. The light bulb was the least of it. His greatest invention was the research lab. Having never gone to college, degrees didn’t impress him. He was more impressed by people who could get things done.

    • bcsizemo says:

      He was more impressed by people who could get things done.

      Explains why he didn’t like Tesla so much.

  7. Roy Trumbull says:

    Faraday never went to college yet by experiment he derived much of electrical theory. His lab journal was published as a two volume set in 1845. If someone has found it on the web please post a link. It is a model of clear writing and, with the diagrams, would permit one to duplicate his experiments.

  8. klotz says:

    Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland, according to the book The Northern Lights, famously blew up the rail gun he invented in a room of generals and kings, noticed the smell, and went on to invent the process of fixing nitrogen to make fertilizer. He then took the proceeds from those sales, bought water rights to Norway’s rivers, and built the first hydro electric power plant, using the electricity to fix Nitrogen to make and sell fertilizer.  He then took the profits from that enterprise and mounted yet another expedition to discover the source of the aurora borealis.

  9. folioinfours says:

    On a related note, here is a collection of books about the early history of electricity that have been digitized and are available on line, free to all.

    https://cms.www.countway.harvard.edu/wp/?p=5631

  10. ocker3 says:

    I just love this guy and his expression as he finishes the story!

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