Thomas Edison Museum
Thomas Alva Edison Museum
Our touristy bit for the morning was to visit the winter home of Thomas Alva Edison (11th of February 1847 – 18th of October 1931). Now to us Tom is long lasting light bulb man and as we have been to the first street he illuminated in New York we can stretch to harnessing electricity; we can go along with the fact he was an American inventor and businessman, no problem so far.
OK we’re ok so far - he developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, mmmm, heaters, fans, waffle makers !!, sandwich makers !!!, but the first talking doll !!!!!!!! and Christmas lights !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Also the phonograph (Tom’s personal favourite invention). He said “Music next to religion is the mind’s greatest solace, and its greatest inspiration. The history of the world shows that lofty aspirations find vent in music, and that music, in turn, helps to inspire such aspirations in others.” The motion picture camera and the fluoroscope. After the discovery of x-ray by Roentgen in 1895 Edison tested over 1,200 different materials and in the spring of 1896 he invented the calcium tungstate intensifying screen which he dubbed the fluoroscope. This is a significant invention because it enabled an x-ray radiograph to be made at 1/20 to 1/100 second exposures to the patient, which is much less than would otherwise be required. The calcium tungstate screen is still the most widely used device for this purpose. Dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" (now Edison, New Jersey) by a newspaper reporter, he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large teamwork to the process of invention and therefore is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.
Edison is the fourth most prolific inventor in history, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as many patents in the UK, France and Germany. He is credited with numerous inventions that contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications. These included a stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder and the electric car battery. His 1090th was a specialised grinding process for extracting rubber from plants.
His advanced work in these fields was an outgrowth of his early career as a telegraph operator. Edison originated the concept and implementation of electric-power generation and distribution to homes, businesses, and factories – a crucial development in the modern industrialised world. His first power station was on Manhattan Island, New York. General pictures we took in the museum.
Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone were concerned about America’s dependence on foreign sources for rubber for its industrial enterprises. As a result, the three men formed the Edison Research Corporation (EBRC) in 1927. Under Edison’s leadership, the corporation sought a source of rubber that could be grown and produced quickly in the U.S. in the event of a shortage in the foreign supply and in the event of relations failing during war a major hurdle could be avoided. After testing over 17,000 plants, Edison eventually discovered a source in the plant Goldenrod.
This laboratory, built in 1928, was the headquarters for Edison and his staff and was operational until 1936 (five years after Edison’s death) when the project was transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Once the plants were dried, they were brought into the plant grinding room to prepare the plant material for chemical testing. Next, specimens were brought to the chemical processing area which contained seven tables outfitted with water, gas and electricity. Test conducted in an assembly line process were used to determine the amount of latex in each plant. Edison’s work on this project helped advance research and development methods that are still used today. The distillation apparatus was a prototype for mass rubber production. Not only did it extract latex from large quantities of plant material, it also purified and recycled the solvents that were used. We could call this Green Chemistry – by recycling his solvents, acetone and benzene.
In the machine shop, a five horsepower motor turned a centralised belt shaft that powered the drill press, lathe, grinder and metal shaper. This allowed Edison’s staff to create, modify and repair metal tools and laboratory equipment necessary for the rubber research process. Edison employed a research superintendent, linguist, machine shop manager, chemist, plant collectors and a part time glass blower. Edison’s work on plant hybridisation contributed to the Plant Patent Act of 1930, which allowed for the first time scientists to file for patents for the hybridisation process.
Edison was famous for keeping meticulous records of experiments. The dark room was used to develop photographs of plant specimens that were part of the rubber experiments. Some of the photographs developed are on show in various museums.
Just a few of Thomas Edison’s awards
Just a few of Thomas Edison’s awards
ALL IN ALL THE MAN WAS A GENIUS