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  1. Carl Heinrich von Siemens
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Louis, Missouri railway worker to clean rail cars—consisted of a motor, a hose attachment, and a large box, into which pressurized air focused through jets blew dust and other debris. While the machine certainly stirred up dust, it ultimately proved ineffective in collecting and removing it.

Booth asked the man demonstrating the machine whether suction rather than pressure wouldn't work better. The demonstrator indignantly replied that suction had been tried on numerous occasions but didn't work. Several types of pressurized aspirators were already in use when Booth first witnessed the cleaning machine demonstration at the Empire. One such type required two operators: one to operate a suction-creating bellows mechanism and the other to move the suction tube across the surface to be cleaned of debris.

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Carl Heinrich von Siemens

McGaffey had patented one primitive version of this manual floor cleaner as early as Another early invention used manpower as well, the operator being required to turn a crank, which in turn caused pulleys to set into motion a cleaning apparatus, which in turn did little or nothing to remove dirt.

More imaginative was the Teeterboard, a teeter-totter-like contraption that required one person to generate suction by rocking while another positioned the cleaning nozzle. Booth's mind quickly went to work on the problem. Several days later, while discussing his thoughts on the subject during a dinner with friends at a London restaurant, he attempted to illustrate his idea by unfolding his handkerchief, placing it on the plush velvet seat of his chair, placing his lips upon the handkerchief, and inhaling.

Witnessing their friend choking on the quantity of dust he had managed to draw out from the chair, Booth's friends also witnessed an invention in the making. Booth patented his new invention, dubbed the Puffing Billy, that same year. Consisting of a suction pump attached to a hollow implement, the contraption also included a flexible tube open at one end and connected to an impurity collector that served as a filter.

Although the machine's description might bring to mind the twentieth-century canister vacuum, the suction pump in Booth's original Puffing Billy was so large and cumbersome that it was necessary to transport it from house to house in a horse-drawn cart. Its size was due to the fact that many houses in London were not yet wired for electricity, requiring the machine's power source to be either coal or oil. The machine's gasoline-powered generator had to be powerful and hence large— and loud. Because of its size, the bright red Puffing Billy remained outside the home to be cleaned atop its cart, attached to a hose measuring 82 feet in length.

As electricity gained in popularity, Booth went to work and developed a portable version of his contraption in Founding the British Vacuum Cleaner Company to market his new invention, Booth decided that operating it in front of an audience would result in sales. He approached a local restaurateur with his proposal to clean the dining room for free, and it was accepted. News of Booth's new contraption quickly reached the palace, and one of Booth's very first jobs was to clean the carpet running down the center aisle of Westminister Abbey in preparation for the coronation of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in A cleaning machine was eventually installed in Buckingham Palace, while another one was brought to Windsor Castle.

With the cost of each machine the equivalent of thousands of dollars, Booth's company earned profits by hiring out its cleaning services on a subscription basis, allowing uniformed vacuum operators to make regularly scheduled cleaning runs through the city. For 13 pounds—the annual wages of a scullery maid—a home could now be thoroughly cleaned. Booth's bright red Puffing Billy, hauled through the streets by its dapper operators, transformed the Edwardian home. The removal of years of accumulated dust from rugs, draperies, and furnishings established a new standard of cleanliness.

In fact, hiring Booth's machine soon became a status symbol among fashionable households, and the lady of the house would even host vacuum tea parties to entertain her friends while the white-coated Puffing Billy staff invaded her home with their hoses and Booth's invention roared on the street outside.


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In addition to homes, Booth and his machine were called into service for less typical jobs. During World War I fifteen Puffing Billys and their staff were dispatched to vacuum the huge iron girders of London's Crystal Palace, a huge, glass-walled public building that had been built to house the Great Exhibition of Requisitioned for use as a naval barracks, the building released over 26 tons of dust, accumulated in mounds over six inches high over the sixty years it had been standing.

The success of the Puffing Billy proved mixed for its inventor.

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His company was the recipient of numerous fines for illegal parking, having earned the ire of customer's neighbors who were irritated by the noise of Booth's machine and cabdrivers tired of having to calm frightened horses. He also spent the next two decades defending his patent from the infringement claims of dozens of other inventors who previously registered vacuum cleaner models. In every court battle, he ultimately won; his design was the only configuration of suction, filter, and collection box that actually trapped and captured dust and dirt.

As might be expected, the quest to perfect the vacuum cleaner went on, leaving Booth and his invention ultimately in the shadows. A woman named Corinne Doufour developed a device that sucked dust into a wet sponge—the first filtered vacuum system. David E. Kennedy elaborated on Booth's idea, as well as the innovations of a Missouri railroad worker, and created a mechanical monster: a machine that was installed in the basement with connections to each room via a sequence of pipes, rather like forced hot air heating systems are today.

Even with the success of the suction-cleaning method, others still persisted in finding a powerless way to clean, among them the inventor of 's Success Hand Pump, which involved an accordion and a hefty supply of arm strength in its so-called powerless cleaning process. Meanwhile, back in the United States, other minds were hard at work on the problem of accumulated dust. The firm of Chapman and Skinner developed a portable suction cleaner a year before Booth completed his own model. Featuring a suction system similar to Booth's, Spangler's machine incorporated rotating brushes powered by a small electric motor attached to a wood and tin frame, used an old pillowcase as a dust collector, and was pushed around using a broom handle.

Small and lightweight—the 0 model weighed in at only 40 pounds-Spangler's upright design proved to be practical as well. Calling his company the Electric Suction Sweeper Company, Spangler went into business with his cousin, a saddle and harness manufacturer named William H. Hoover, and began producing their product— redesigned in aluminum and including wheels—in The result of their ability to mass-produce Spangler's design and their continued improvements resulted in a machine that bears Hoover's name even today. Advances in vacuum-type cleaners continued. Air Way began marketing the first disposable paper filter in In Swedish inventor Axel Wenner-Gren opened the Electrolux Company to sell a canister vacuum that incorporated sled-like runners to allow it to be dragged rather than pushed across the floor.

Rexair marketed the first bagless cleaner in While innovative, the Rexair cleaner was also expensive due to its hydro-technology, and by Electrolux had become the largest manufacturer of vacuum cleaners in the world. He died in Croyden, England, on January 14, , at the age of eighty-four.

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Farnsworth was a technical prodigy from an early age. An avid reader of science magazines as a teenager, he became interested in the problem of television and was convinced that mechanical systems that used, for example, a spinning disc would be too slow to scan and assemble images many times a second. Only an electronic system could scan and assemble an image fast enough, and by he had worked out the basic outlines of electronic television. In , while still in high school, Farnsworth also entered Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, as a special student.

Farnsworth had to postpone his dream of developing television. In he went to work for charity fund-raisers George Everson and Leslie Gorrell.

He convinced them to go into a partnership to produce his television system. Farnsworth moved to Los Angeles with his new wife, Pem Gardner, and began work. Farnsworth made his first successful electronic television transmission on September 7, , and filed a patent for his system that same year. Farnsworth continued to perfect his system and gave the first demonstration to the press in September He rejected the offer.

Instead, Farnsworth joined forces with the radio manufacturer Philadelphia Storage Battery Company Philco in , but their association only lasted until Production of radios began in Zworykin had developed a successful camera tube, the iconoscope, but many other necessary parts of a television system were patented by Farnsworth. Finally, in , RCA agreed to pay Farnsworth royalties for his patents. The years of struggle and exhausting work had taken their toll on Farnsworth, and in he moved to Maine to recover after a nervous breakdown.

In he returned to Fort Wayne, and that same year Farnsworth Television produced its first television set. However, the company was in deep financial trouble. Farnsworth was retained as vice president of research. Farnsworth became interested in nuclear fusion and invented a device called a fusor that he hoped would serve as the basis for a practical fusion reactor.

He moved to Brigham Young University, where he continued his fusion research with a new company, Philo T. Farnsworth Associates, but the company went bankrupt in Hopkins, and then to the University of Oxford, where he worked with Florey on penicillin. He then joined the faculty of Imperial College, University of London, where he was professor of biochemistry —73 , professor emeritus and senior research fellow —76 , and fellow — Chain was knighted in In addition to his work on antibiotics, Chain studied snake venoms; the spreading factor, an enzyme that facilitates the dispersal of fluids in tissue; and insulin.

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Donna Strickland, in full Donna Theo Strickland, born May 27, , Guelph, Ontario, Canada , Canadian physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for her invention of chirped pulse amplification CPA , a method of making pulses of laser light of high power and short duration. She went to the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, for graduate school, where Mourou was her doctoral supervisor.

She received her doctorate from that institution in By the mids the intensity that a short laser pulse could deliver hit a plateau because it was impossible to amplify such a pulse any further without damaging the laser system. Strickland and Mourou devised a method in which a short laser pulse was stretched so its peak power was reduced.

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When the pulse is stretched, the frequency of the laser light undergoes a change called a chirp, hence the name of the technique. This stretched pulse could then be safely amplified because of its low peak power. The pulse was then compressed back into a short pulse, thus increasing its intensity.


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Such short intense laser pulses are now used in industry for precise cutting and in medicine for LASIK surgery. Strickland was a research associate at the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa from to She then worked at the laser division of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, from to From to she was on the technical staff of the Advanced Technology Center for Photonics and Opto-electronic materials at Princeton University. She joined the physics department of the University of Waterloo in , where she became an associate professor. Edwin H.

Armstrong was from a genteel, devoutly Presbyterian family of Manhattan.

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His father was a publisher and his mother a former schoolteacher. Armstrong was a shy boy interested from childhood in engines, railway trains, and all mechanical contraptions. At age 14, fired by reading of the exploits of Guglielmo Marconi in sending the first wireless message across the Atlantic Ocean, Armstrong decided to become an inventor. Except for a passion for tennis and, later, for fast motor cars, he developed no other significant interests. Wireless was then in the stage of crude spark-gap transmitters and iron-filing receivers, producing faint Morse-code signals, barely audible through tight earphones.

Armstrong joined in the hunt for improved instruments. In his junior year at Columbia, Armstrong made his first, most seminal invention. Among the devices investigated for better wireless reception was the then little understood, largely unused Audion, or three-element vacuum tube, invented in by Lee De Forest, a pioneer in the development of wireless telegraphy and television.

Armstrong made exhaustive measurements to find out how the tube worked and devised a circuit, called the regenerative, or feedback, circuit, that suddenly, in the autumn of , brought in signals with a thousandfold amplification, loud enough to be heard across a room. As a radiowave generator, this circuit is still at the heart of all radio-television broadcasting. Supreme Court, and finally ending—in a judicial misunderstanding of the nature of the invention—in favour of De Forest.