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Featured Young Edison, or Edison's cat

  1. Apr 3, 2018 #1

    anorlunda

    Staff: Mentor

    Today, I'm enjoying a very good book about the young Thomas Alva Edison when he was 10-15 years old.

    I just came across this fun anecdote that I can't resist sharing. It reminds me of the many threads we get here on PF asking about novel ways to generate electricity.

    By the way, that linked book is free on Amazon or Project Gutenburg.

    p.s. I couldn't decide whether to make the title of this thread sound like Young Frankenstein or Schrödinger's cat. .:wink:

    If anyone else has anecdotes about Thomas Edison, feel free to reply. Be sure to link your source.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2018 #2

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    There's a movie by the same name:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Tom_Edison

    With Mickey Rooney as Edison and then there's Spencer Tracy's portrayal in Edison the MAn:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edison,_the_Man

    These movies are available on Youtube for a measly $2.99 per movie:

    And there's several more recent documentaries on Edison on Youtube:

    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=edison+documentary

    My favorite anecdote was from the Young Tom Edison movie where he brings together many mirrors and lamps to make an operating room in his home for the doctor to operate on his mother for appendicitis. I've read that it's a fake story added to the movie for dramatic effect but it inspired me to this day.

    Lastly, an online version of a book about Edison by the people who worked with/for him (the English is classic 1900's writing):

    https://whitefiles.org/b2_h/3_edison/index.htm
     
  4. Apr 5, 2018 #3

    anorlunda

    Staff: Mentor

    Thanks @jedishrfu.

    He was a very colorful guy, as an engineer and as a businessman. However, he was somewhat anti-science (he hated calculations) and most of his business dealings failed.

    The book I referenced was by ex-employees : Frank Lewis Dyer General Counsel For The Edison Laboratory And Allied Interests And Thomas Commerford Martin President Of The American Institute Of Electrical Engineers
     
  5. Apr 5, 2018 #4

    anorlunda

    Staff: Mentor

    Another fun Edison story from the book, albeit not electrical:
     
  6. Apr 5, 2018 #5

    anorlunda

    Staff: Mentor

    Here is one more, very relevant to EE forums on PF. I am thinking of my own thread Wanted: B Level Explanation of Conduction and Resistance. Perhaps the most unwelcome of all answers to that question would be, "Never mind. You don't need to know that for an electrical or engineering career." Edison exemplified that very well. He yearned to know, but his lack of understanding did not impede his career.

     
  7. Apr 5, 2018 #6

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    My reference book is the same but from a different site.

    Yes, sometimes inventors can be brilliant and yet not really understand what they are working with. I think Faraday was that way as he explored and experimented with electromagnetism. However, in his case no one understood it really until Maxwell put it all together.

    You can see it with kids too as they learn to program. They don't understand the inner workings of the computer but have a clear mental picture of what it can do and they don't yet have the fear of failure or the sometimes hampering knowledge of the way professionals solve problems which allows their creativity to soar ie they solve a problem in a wackier way.
     
  8. Apr 5, 2018 #7

    anorlunda

    Staff: Mentor

    That's a very good analogy. Old timers like myself took pride in being able to program in binary without the aid of operating systems, languages, or assemblers. But for the vast majority of people programming today, it would be ridiculous to dig that deeply. Only a few specialists who design CPUs or write microcode, need such deep understanding.

    But Edison's yearn to know is still with us today. Almost all students taught Ohm's Law basics, yearn to know what is "really" going on in those wires. Unfortunately, the correct answer is really difficult and almost certainly over their heads. It is also true that except for a few specialists, nobody needs to know those details to make a career using electricity.
     
  9. Apr 22, 2018 #8

    Ibix

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    1 mew-A, you mean?
     
  10. Apr 22, 2018 #9
    "...Edison applied the little that he knew about static electricity, and actually experimented with cats, which he treated vigorously as frictional machines until the animals fled in dismay..."
    Edison's first wiring diagram:
    cat9.jpg

    Peace,
    Fred
     
  11. Apr 23, 2018 #10

    anorlunda

    Staff: Mentor

    Here is another interesting quote from that same Edison Bio
    Too bad many modern inventors don't follow the same devotion.
     
  12. May 7, 2018 #11
    Thanks for sharing this interesting fact! The two things I remember about Edison is that he supposedly made his own fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July and that he had a tattoo. He was a colorful guy indeed.
     
  13. May 7, 2018 #12
    I read once that since Edison was nearly deaf, communicating with his wife in public about private matters was difficult. So Edison taught his wife Morse code and they would tap out messages to each other on their wrists and the people around them thought they were simply holding hands.
     
  14. May 8, 2018 #13
    how cute :smile:
     
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