Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/668

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

jects" for dissection, their bodies were sent to Windmill Street, and the popular notion was that, being old and faithful servants of the doctors, they were galvanized to life, and again set up in their old business.

It is amusing to read some of the treatises on medical galvanism that were published at about this period, and contrast their positive statements of cures effected and results anticipated with the position now attained by electricity as a curative agent. Then came the brilliant discoveries of Faraday, Ampère, etc., demonstrating the relations between electricity and magnetism, and immediately following them a multitude of patents for electro-motors, and wild dreams of superseding steam-engines by magneto-electric machinery.

The following, which I copy from "The Penny Mechanic," of June 10, 1837, is curious, and very instructive to those who think of investing in any of the electric-power companies of to-day: "Mr. Thomas Davenport, a Vermont blacksmith, has discovered a mode of applying magnetic and electro-magnetic power, which we have good ground for believing will be of immense importance to the world." This announcement is followed by reference to Professor Silliman's "American Journal of Science and the Arts," for April, 1837, and extracts from American papers, of which the following is a specimen: "1. We saw a small cylindrical battery, about nine inches in length, three or four in diameter, produce a magnetic power of about three hundred pounds, and which, therefore, we could not move with our utmost strength. 2. We saw a small wheel, five and a half inches in diameter, performing more than six hundred revolutions in a minute, and lift a weight of twenty-four pounds one foot per minute, from the power of a battery of still smaller dimensions. 3. We saw a model of a locomotive-engine traveling on a circular railroad with immense velocity, and rapidly ascending an inclined plane of far greater elevation than any hitherto ascended by steam-power. And these and various other experiments which we saw convinced us of the truth of the opinion expressed by Professors Silliman, Renwick, and others, that the power of machinery may be increased from this source beyond any assignable limit. It is computed by these learned men that a circular galvanic battery about three feet in diameter, with magnets of a proportionable surface, would produce at least a hundred horsepower; arid therefore that two such batteries would be sufficient to propel ships of the largest class across the Atlantic. The only materials required to generate and continue this power for such a voyage would be a few thin sheets of copper and zinc, and a few gallons of mineral water."

The Faure Accumulator is but a very weak affair compared with this, Sir William Thomson notwithstanding. To render the date of the above fully appreciable, I may note that three months later the magazine from which it is quoted was illustrated with a picture of the