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Happy Columbus Day, Selbstüberschätzug!

  1. Oct 11, 2004 #1


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    Selbst and I decided we would celebrate Columbus Day this year by
    thinking about what makes people discover things and what comes of it--the good and the bad as well.

    today is the anniversary of columbus sailors first sighting land, an island in the bahamas

    but the real impact was when they told about it back in europe, it was around 1 March 1493.
    columbus had a meeting with the King of Portugal shortly after making harbor
    it was the reporting back that helped to set modern Europe in motion,
    the surprise and the so-to-speak optimism encouraged people to think and behave with somewhat more originality than was usual.
    so, whether it is for good or bad, I want to take notice that people can do this----make really fundamental new discoveries. it is a kind of self-respect for our species---to recognize what our kind of monkey can do, or our kind of fish-with-legs

    hello Selbstüberschätzug! if you are still there. and I will think of you as
    not überschätzung but simply as einfach Selbstschätzung.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 11, 2004 #2


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    this was the post I wrote back several months that prompted the idea
    to observe Columbus Day

    maybe someone else was going to celebrate with us, maybe Evo!
    Whoever remembers, my cordial and affectionate best wishes that
    you have a good Columbus Day and enjoy lots of discoveries now
    and henceforth!

    ----earlier post---
    Columbus report of another continent helped to create a
    widespread state of mind in which things are discovered.

    An epidemic of bold optimism and imagination ensued (at first primarily
    in Europe)

    Of course there was a downside---the Europeans got syphillis and
    the Aztecs and Incas got their civilization wiped out and so on---a long
    litany of woes. But the electric motor was invented. Get it?

    Columbus didnt just discover America he also invented the electric motor.
    You and I benefit because after supper we dont have to do the dishes---the electric motor does them. A lot of repetitive drudgery is taken care of that way. So we should be thankful for this and have some respect for the bold optimism and determination that causes discovery.

    It isnt just finding something, it is reporting. We shouldnt celebrate that he sighted one of the Bahamas in October 1492. We should observe the date March 9 which was when, the next year, he was received by the King of Portugal soon after making safe harbor in the Tagus.

    What matters is reporting back.

    If the Chinese had had some guy sail across the Pacific and discover
    San Francisco and come back and tell them about it, then they probably would have gotten so excited they would have invented the steam engine and had the Industrial Revolution in 1350.

    Then they would have invented the electric motor and by 1450 they would have all had dishwashers. But the Chinese did not have a Columbus experience, as it happens, when technically they could have rather early on.

    Actually it was Benjamin Franklin who built the first electric motor and he used it to turn a chicken. Roasting a chicken could be very tedious because you had to keep turning the spit. So he connected a chemical battery to his electric motor and made it turn the chicken. That lunatic optimism comes straight from Columbus and it is why you have a dishwasher. So be thankful.

    This thread is in Social Sciences forum. That is where it belongs because it is about the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution is very important and people dont understand it well enough. They think it has to do with intelligence. Either the IQ of a gifted few or the educability of the masses or whatever. It doesnt. it has to do with imagining that you can do something and being willing to try. Columbus helped to ignite this, initially of course in Europe but eventually for everybody anywhere who joined in the scientific and technological quest.
  4. Oct 11, 2004 #3


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    Can you give a citation for this story? Franklin died before the Voltaic pile, ancestor of the chemical battery, was invented.
  5. Oct 11, 2004 #4


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    Happy Columbus Day Marcus, I did not forget!!!! :smile:

    Here is the information on Franklin's electric rotisserie.

    Franklin took an interest in electricity in 1747 after receiving an "electric tube" from a friend. Over the next few years, he conducted experiments sporadically and collected examples of the latest electrical instruments. Like other scientists, he explored the ability of various materials to accumulate charges and the curious attractions or repulsions these charged bodies had for each other.

    By 1748, however, he had come up with an invention of his own. Calling it the "electric wheel," Franklin's machine consisted of a vertical shaft that was free to rotate, from which several glass bars extended like spokes. Each bar was tipped with a brass thimble. Placing the terminal of a "negatively charged" (as Franklin understood it) Leyden jar near the wheel allowed the thimble/glass assemblies to act as capacitors; as each assembly charged up, it tended to be repelled from the Leyden jar. A second, "positively charged" jar set nearby had the opposite effect, pulling the spokes toward it. The result was that the wheel would begin to rotate, and it would remain in motion until the charges on the Leyden jars dissipated.

    The motor was only strong enough to continue turning at 12 to 15 rpm when loaded with 100 Spanish dollars. Franklin probably suspected that even a full-scale version of his electrostatic motor could not compete with steam engines or water wheels as a practical source of power for industry. However, he suggested that if a turkey were mounted on the shaft and the whole thing placed before a fire, the wheel could be used as a sort of automatic spit. Unfortunately, he never reduced this proto-rotisserie idea to practice.

    A few others did try to put the wheel to work, including an unknown toymaker who constructed a small, motorized carousel in about 1830 (an example of which resides in the Bakken Museum and Library, www.thebakken.org). Published in Franklin's well-received 1751 book on electricity, the wheel was overshadowed by his other findings, including his famous proposal to use lighting rods to protect houses from damage.

    Later practitioners found little use for the electrostatic devices invented in the late 18th century. According to historian Michael Schiffer, the invention of the voltaic pile (an early form of battery) in 1800 dampened enthusiasm for electrostatic generators, while the development of the electromagnetic motor by Michael Faraday and others a few years later permanently turned the course of electric motor development away from machines like Franklin's. So while Franklin is remembered as one of the greatest electrical experimenters of his day, his electric wheel has faded into obscurity.


    David Morton is a research historian at the IEEE History Center at Rutgers University. Visit the IEEE History Center's Web page at: www.ieee.org/organizations/history_center/[/URL]

    Another related story is the attempt by Franklin to kill a turkey with leyden jars. (this was a quiz question in GD a couple of months ago)

    Here from the Massachussetts Historical Society.

    [COLOR=Navy][B]Benjamin Franklin Tries to Electrocute a Turkey[/B]

    "I have lately made an Experiment in Electricity that I desire never to repeat. Two nights ago being about to kill a Turkey by the Shock from two large Glass Jarrs containing as much electrical fire as forty common Phials, I inadvertently took the whole thro' my own Arms and Body."[/COLOR]

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  6. Oct 12, 2004 #5


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    we turkeys believe that it served the old boy right,
    Evo you are a dear, thanks for finding such an
    interesting source
    I wasnt thinking and wrote too hastily---I should have said hooked it up to a capacitor

    Leyden jar was a high voltage capacitor.
    He probably charged his jars mechanically
    rubbing fur on glass or whatever---I forget what works.

    I saw a working model of his static electric rotary motor
    at a science museum some years back, really impressed
    electric motor circa 1750? whoah
    Named our son Benjamin.
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