The Great Scientific Discoveries – Part 3

Everything is theoretically impossible until it is done.
Robert Anson Heinlein

“What’s Possible”, a film by Louie Schwartzberg for the UN Climate Summit (courtesy of Moving Art):

 

“Marie” by Alberto Giuroli, an homage to the concept of love in our lives. Love that we have forgotten, love towards someone close to us and love towards nature. Alberto’s inspiration comes from the love he felt in his life from experiences, people, animals and places such London – anything that made him feel that warmness inside his chest. Love that everyone needs especially in these times.

 

“Wings of Life” (courtesy of Happy Ending):

 

Invention characterises our effort to adapt to the environment. It is found in the animal kingdom as well as in humankind. In Africa monkeys have been seen to use a stick to get at food which is out of reach: they have invented a tool. This ability is not restricted to mammals: birds can be watched dropping thick shells on rocks in order to break them and then eating the molluscs inside. 

Courtesy of Nat Geo WILD:

 

However impressive, animal inventions are limited, and traditionally the history of inventions starts with the appearance of humans. Here are a few more great inventions and their inventors who we can call, with justification, geniuses.

GUGLIELMO  MARCONI

25 April 1874  –  20 July 1937

An excerpt from “The Wizard of the Waves” (courtesy of MarconiMagicBox):

The early history of the radio is complex, but one of the most important and successful inventors was the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, who helped bring radio into everyday use. He was born in Bologna, Italy to an Italian father and an Irish mother. From an early age, he took an interest in science and was particularly interested in electricity. In late 1894, Marconi became aware of the experiments of the German physicist Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894), who succeeded in proving the existence of radio waves during the late 1880s.

Hertz produced radio waves by sending a rapidly alternating current up and down a vertical antenna, and detected the waves up to 20 metres away. Marconi also read about a demonstration that the English physicist Oliver Lodge (1851-1940) had recently performed. Lodge sent Morse-code messages wirelessly, using ‘Hertzian’ waves. At the time, telegraph messages in Morse code could only be sent as electric pulses along wires, and Marconi was excited at the prospect of ‘wireless telegraphy’.

Marconi decided to carry out experiments of his own, with the aim of making wireless telegraphy a useful, practical technology. He set up a laboratory in the attic room of his family home and assembled the necessary components. He was soon sending and receiving Morse code wirelessly over increasingly large distances. In 1896 he patented his system. On being refused funding by the Italian government, he decided to travel to Britain to seek interest there.

Below is shown an example of Marconi’s telegraphic receiver.

Following a series of impressive demonstrations during 1887, Marconi got the support of the Post Office, which was in charge of Britain’s telegraph system at the time. In that year he formed the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company to expand his work. In 1900, he decided to try extending the range of his transmissions yet further: across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1901, he created a worldwide sensation when he announced the successful transmission of a Morse code letter ‘S’ (three short bursts of radio) from Poldhu, in Cornwall, England to St John’s, Newfoundland (then a British colony, now in Canada).

Below is the Marconi Memorial Monument in Poldhu, Cornwall.

After suggestions that he had faked the transmission, he carried out another, carefully monitored experiment the following year. Abroad a ship close to the Canadian coast, he received signals from Cornwall more than 3,200 kilometres away. During the years that followed, Marconi made several important improvements to his system of radio transmission, and in 1907 he instigated the first commercial trans-Atlantic radio service.

Below is Marconi’s Morse device.

He found fame again when the British ocean liner RMS Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in 1912. A Marconi-radio operator abroad the sinking ship managed to broadcast radio distress signals and summon help from nearby ships.

Shown below is the Titanic, on which Morse code was used and was instrumental in saving the people in life-rafts fleeing the sinking ship.

“My Heart Will Go On (Instrumental)” by James Horner, performed by David Abel:

 

During the 1920s, Marconi experimented with much higher-frequency radio waves. These short waves can be focused by a curved reflector behind the transmitter, like the parabolic dishes used to receive satellite communication. This arrangement made radio more efficient and less power-hungry since the waves were concentrated into a beam and not radiating in all directions. By this time, radio operators, including Marconi, were transmitting not only Morse code but also speech, music, and audio signals.

In 1931, Marconi experimented with even higher-frequency, shorter-wavelength radio waves-microwaves, and a year later, he installed a beamed, microwave radio-telephone system between the Vatican and the Pope’s summer residence.

From South Wellfleet station, Massachusetts, in 1903, Marconi sent a message from US President Theodore Roosevelt to King Edward VII, in London – a distance of more than 5,000 kilometres.

Marconi did not invent the radio, but he did make several important improvements to it, and his determination to turn a complicated laboratory curiosity into something useful and commercially successful helped make the world feel a bit smaller. In 1909, he received the Nobel Prize for Physics, for his contribution to wireless telegraphy, and in 1930, he became president of the Royal Italian Academy.

PS There is something, in my view, important, about Theodore Roosevelt that many people are not aware of, that the teddy bear was invented in his honour. Here is the story: he was invited by the Mississippi Governor to a hunting trip taking place on November 14, 1902, near Onward, Mississippi. It was noticed that unlike other hunters, President Roosevelt had not located any bear. His assistants cornered and tied a young bear to a willow tree and summoned the President and suggested that he shoot it. Theodore Roosevelt (bless him!) refused to shoot the little bear. 

Clifford Berryman’s cartoon in 1902 gave the idea to a New York shopkeeper to create a stuffed toy of the bear. He asked Theodore Roosevelt permission to call his toy ‘Teddy Bear’. The toy gained rapidly worldwide popularity, and most people had a teddy in their childhood; many kept their teddy forever.

“Piano Concerto in A Minor II. Adagio” by Edvard Grieg (courtesy of Lilianna):

 

WILBUR  AND  ORVILLE  WRIGHT

16 April 1867 – 30 May 1912 and 19 August 1871 – 30 January 1948

 

Courtesy of Discovery Channel Southeast Asia:

At the dawn of the twentieth century, two brothers from a small town in the USA became the first to achieve sustained, powered flight. The key to their success was the combination of their inventive, mechanical skill with the application of scientific principles to flight. Prudently, they learned to become pilots in a gradual, thoughtful way, rather than risking everything on one short trial, like so many other pioneers.

The brothers grew up in Dayton, Ohio, in a family of seven children, although two died in childhood. They were mechanically minded from an early age: in 1886, they built their own lathe; in 1888, they built a printing press, which they used to produce their own local paper; and in 1892, they opened a bicycle repair shop. They used the profits of the shop to finance their efforts in aviation. The dream of human flight stretches back to antiquity  – Icarus’s tragic attempt at flying on wings that were glued with wax and had fallen apart when the sun melted the wax.

“Icarus” by Bastille (courtesy of marcteam):

In the late 18th century people finally took to the air with the help of the invention of ‘lighter-than-air’ balloons. In the nineteenth century, scientists and inventors began giving serious consideration to the idea of flying. During the 1880s and 1890s, people flew in unpowered gliders and kites. In 1899, the Wright brothers built a large box kite. Wilbur hit on the idea that by twisting the box shape, it would be possible to change the airflow over the wings and make the kite bank and turn. He called this ‘wing warping’, and it would be crucial to the brothers’ later success.

It was Wilbur who was first struck by the desire to build a powered flying machine, after reading a magazine article about Otto Lilienthal (1848-1896), a German gliding pioneer. Lilienthal realized that to develop successful flying machines, any inventor needed to understand the scientific principles behind flight but also needed first-hand experience of flying. The Wright brothers took the same approach and paid tribute to Lilienthal as their inspiration.

Lilienthal began his quest to fly by studying birds, and then carried out a huge amount of research into aerodynamics. In the 1890s, he made nearly 2000 flights, mostly from an artificial hill near Berlin, in gliders he had designed and constructed. During what was to be his last flight, a gust of wind made him stall at an altitude of 15 metres. He crashed to the ground and died the next day from his injuries. According to legend, his last words were: “Sacrifices must be made.”

Courtesy of Paul Dinning:

After their kite performed well, the brothers decided to build full-size, piloted gliders, with wing warping effect via control cables. They constructed their first glider in 1900, and also added a front ‘wing’, called an elevator, for pitch control. They chose an open area on the coast, near the tiny fishing village of Kitty Hawk in North Carolina, for its steady on-shore winds.

Vintage photo of an old bi-plane.

For powering their aeroplane, they designed and built large wooden propellers, and, with the mechanic from their bicycle-shop, Charlie Taylor, they built in 1903, a lightweight, powerful engine. It was relatively light, thanks to the fact that the cylinder block was made of aluminium. In December 1903, at Kill Devil Hills, the Wright brothers were ready to put all their ideas, experiments, and calculations to the test. The first successful flight took place on December 17. There were four flights that day, two by each brother. The first, with Orville piloting, lasted 12 seconds and covered 37 metres. The final flight of the day, with Wilbur as the pilot, lasted 59 seconds and covered 260 metres, By 1905, the Wright brothers’ flying machines were routinely staying in the air for several minutes at a time, taking off, landing, and manoeuvering with ease. At first, the world was slow to recognize the Wrights’ achievement, despite the fact that there were several witnesses on the day. This was partly because the media and the public were unwilling to believe that the age-old dream of flight had finally come true, but also because the brothers became secretive about their work, hoping to sell their invention to a government or large corporation.

Wilbur and Orville were awarded a patent in 1906, for a ‘Flying Machine’. Three years later they founded The Wright Company, to take advantage of the patent. Unfortunately, Wilbur died within three years, from typhoid. Orville went on to become a long-time advisor to the US Government’s National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and was able to appreciate the incredibly rapid developments in aviation that took place within a few decades of those first flights.

Above is shown Henri Farman in the Voisin 1907 biplane winning the Archdeacon Prize for the first closed-circuit kilometre flight in Europe.

“Jazz Suite No. 2 VI: Waltz 2” by Dmitri Shostakovich, performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra (courtesy of BearJune Selection):

 

BRICK

A brick has been also found in Sumer dating from the 3rd millennium BC. It was an unfired brick, which was left to harden in the sun and with which thick walls were built, using clay or bitumen as mortar. This material apparently resisted the rain better than the action of the sun, which resulted in it becoming crazed. The bricks were prepared in wooden moulds.

More recent findings were discovered in Southern Turkey at the site of an ancient settlement around the city of Jericho.

In India, there are remains of a 3rd-century Hindu brick temple in Tamil Nadu. 

This was the only type of brick known in antiquity until the Greeks invented the fired brick in the 4th century BC. The Roman legions operated mobile kilns, and built large brick structures throughout the Roman Empire, stamping the bricks with the seal of the legion. 

“Earth” by Hans Zimmer (courtesy of Elliot Walsh):

The use of the brick, unfired or fired, depended firstly on what other materials were available in the area in which the building was taking place. In the whole of Mesopotamia, there was no wood or stone, and so the brick was widely used since it constituted the principal building material.

 

Courtesy of CGTN Africa:

In Egypt, where stone was available, brick was only a secondary material used to build people’s dwelling houses. The Greeks themselves did not make much use of the fired brick. The increase in population and the rising cost of stone nevertheless assured the growing success of the fired brick. It even found its place in certain parts of noble buildings like the cathedrals at Lubeck and Ratzeburg in the Middle Ages.

And the rest is history….. and thus I decided to devote a small part of this post to the invention that helped to create the cities and magnificent world of today’s architecture.

Some final thoughts:

Courtesy of TED-Ed, 

 

Courtesy of Gerd Leonhard:

 

 

 

 

 

 

39 thoughts on “The Great Scientific Discoveries – Part 3

  1. What another extraordinary piece Joanna. I will be back to fully explore this further!
    💖💖💖

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  2. You’re so welcome and it’s so deserved! 💖

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  3. It is quite amazing how quickly technology has accelerated since WW2 and I confess I find it all rather terrifying…where it could take us, I mean. I hate to think of our beautiful planet and all other life overtaken by artificial intelligence.But I suppose people have always resisted change. I didn’t know about Teddy Roosevelt, for some reason, but bless him for not shooting the bear. I still have my bear, given to me somewhere around 1955. I love all the music and information. Always delightful. Thank you.

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  4. How powerful the “What’s Possible” video is. At the very least it should be seen by every single politician on the planet! A marvellous collection of interesting and informative words and pictures as always Joanna. Thank you.

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  5. Hello. My wife and I vacation on Cape Cod each year. Wellfleet is one of the 15 townships that comprise Cape Cod. A large section of Wellfleet is named after Marconi. It includes the spot from which he did the radio transmission in 1903.

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  6. Wonderful stories. I knew about TR and the naming of teddy bears, but you added detail that I was not familiar with. I was a librarian at Ft Myer, where the Wright brothers did the first military test flights in 1909. Wilbur was piloting the plane for the final test flight with LT Selfridge as his passenger. The flight crashed severely injuring Wilbur and killing Selfridge (the first but not the last military flight casualty.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Of course, I’ve heard of Macroni but didn’t know this many insights and experiments he continued to do with a radio that had so much impact on everyday life. It’s so interesting to know. Thanks, Joanna for bringing this up.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yet another collection of mind-blowing inventions that we all take for granted today. What I also liked about your post is how you included thought-provoking videos to accompany it.

    The one that interested me the most this week was the section about Marconi and particularly his exploits in Cornwall. I don’t know if too many people realise the importance of Cornwall in the world of communications, but it’s quite significant.

    I also liked the Teddy Bear connection. I knew that the idea was connected to Theodore Roosevelt, but didn’t know the story behind it, so thanks for that – and yes I did have one 😊

    I also enjoyed your choice of music again. I thought there was a touch of Einaudi in Alberto Giuroli’s “Marie” and I always find Grieg’s music so soothing and nostalgic. Great stuff Joanna!

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  9. WONDERFUL! Joanna, you leave me speechless! 💖💝💖💝🌹🙋‍♂️

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  10. It’s amazing how you were able to gather all this pieces of information and share it with us. Keep going!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for your kind comment! I will! Keep on writing!

    Joanna

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  12. Thank you, Dear Ashley, for such fantastic comments! After counting all the hearts, you left me speechless! Thank you!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you, Malc, for your fantastic comment! As you are an expert on Cornwall you could write about the places in Cornwall in your beautiful and witty posts.
    I am happy that you have enjoyed the music!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you, Ritish, for your kind comments! There are many more posts with interesting innovations to follow this one!

    Joanna

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  15. Thank you, Pat, for your interesting comments! Greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

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  16. Thank you for your interesting addition and your comments! Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you, Peter, for your generous comments! Greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thank you, Carolyn, for your interesting comments! I think it will take us to Mars! Although, I would expect us to tidy Earth first!

    Joanna

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  19. Like the previous two parts, the part-3 is also amazing. Whether it was the use of sticks by monkeys or dropping thick shells by birds or making bricks by humans, the ideas crop up from the necessity which is said to be the mother of invention.

    But what Marconi, Lilienthal and Wright Brothers did was their ingenuity taking inspiration from different sources and persons. Right from lathe to printing press to bicycle repair shop to flying machine their story shows the incredible passion and perseverance of Wright Brothers.

    The tragic death of Lilienthal, who took inspiration from flying birds, during his flight in gliders is unfortunate, but sacrifices have to be made, as he rightly said. But they have made their names alive for all days to come.

    The story of invention of teddy bear in the honour of President Roosevelt is interesting, and so are the music and videos, as always. Thank you so much, Joanna for one more interesting piece on discoveries and inventions.

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  20. Thank you, Kaushal, for your wonderfully encouraging comments! Your detailed and analytical praise makes me strive to write more interesting posts, Thank you!
    I hope there is a little teddy in your family! Thank you again, Kaushal. Greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Your comments are fantastic too Joanna and thank you so much for that. As you say, I do know Cornwall well, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert – in fact I’m not an expert on anything 😊 I have written plenty of posts on the county and you can easily find them from my Home Page.

    To be honest, I’m not one to promote my blogs very much, but if you haven’t already come across my Cornwall page, it’s best to scroll across from the Home Page to My Westcountry, then down to Cornwall and across to the part of Cornwall that you want to take a look at.

    Apologies if you’ve already taken a look, but I always like to know that people who are interested can find what I do 😊

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  22. You’re always welcome, Joanna!

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  23. Another amazing compilation of info and great read! Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Thank you for your kind comments! Greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

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  25. I”m in the middle of part 2. I have to take a quiet evening with a cup of tea and read it all. It’s like curling up with a good book! 📖 ❤️ 📕! Thx Gabby…you are marvelous to share these wonderful experiences! 🎟️ I got my ticket to the Gabby show! 😃 🦄 🎉 💎

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Thank you for reading my posts and for your wonderful comments!

    By the way, my name is Joanna. What is yours, may I ask?

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Another magnificent piece, Joanna. The monkey picture and the little bear truly made my day. Thank you so much. 💕💕💕💕

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  28. Thank you, Grace, for your wonderful comments and all the hearts! I loved the story of the little bear so much, that I just had to include it in my post.
    Greatly appreciated, Grace, your praise!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Glad you did.💕

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  30. Thank you Joanna for another interesting piece on discoveries and inventions. Interesting story of the teddy bear in honour of President Theodore Roosevelt. Great post, I enjoyed all the other interesting facts, the music and videos.

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  31. Joanna, this post was off to a very strong start with the inspiring video, “What’s Possible,” made for the UN Climate Summit and marvelously narrated by Morgan Freeman. I appreciate that it is a presentation of how a better world is possible, not merely a series of dire warnings. We need to use both a carrot and a stick in solving environmental problems.

    Who could resist the story of the Teddy bear? My late husband was a big fan of President Theodore Roosevelt and collected memorabilia. My daughter still has a commemorative Teddy bear.

    The story of the Wright Brothers was very interesting, and I learned a lot of new information about how they methodically developed their airplane. I visited their monument in Kitty Hawk many years ago.

    I found the history of bricks fascinating. I especially enjoyed the demonstration of mud bricks being made in Egypt. It was admirable how the journalist got personally involved in every step of the process.

    From start to finish in this science series, you have presented enlightening and informative content in an accessible and entertaining manner. Many thanks! ❤

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  32. Thank you, Cheryl, for your wonderfully analytical comments! More parts in this series are going to follow, and I hope you will like them all.

    Joanna

    Like

  33. Thank you, Henrietta, for your kind comments! Greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Have a great week Joanna! 😺

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  35. Hi, Joanna, I enjoyed reading the story about the teddy bear, too! The info you present is always enjoyable & insightful. Thanks for continuing to share your gifts! 🌞

    Like

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