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Light, Lighting, and Electricity Facts and Chicks!

I did this once before, but since then there have been a hell of a lot more facts posted.  Now the funniest thing for this post is… we expect more women than men to read it!

It is my pleasure to introduce some of the great Facts and Chicks’ Facts and ChicksLight, Lighting, and Electricity Edition!

(PS:  Ladies and Men, if you want men to look at with facts on them, let me know where they are!  We are equal opportunity expoloitationists for the sake of science!)

panic-mode-fps-facts-and-chicks

http://factsandchicks.com/post/41536251566/when-in-panic-mode-your-eyes-see-more-frames-per
Fact Source: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_frames_per_second_can_your_eyes_see

women-colors-facts-and-chicks

http://factsandchicks.com/post/41964531906/women-can-see-more-colors-than-men-can-source
Fact Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/09/120907-men-women-see-differently-science-health-vision-sex/

phosphenes-facts-and-chicks

http://factsandchicks.com/post/42593838699/the-flashes-of-color-you-see-in-your-eye-after-you
Fact Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phosphene

tractor-beam-facts-and-chicks

http://factsandchicks.com/post/44963953401/a-star-trek-style-tractor-beam-is-being-created
Fact Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-21187598

manhattanhenge-facts-and-chicks

http://factsandchicks.com/post/46693730393/twice-a-year-the-sun-perfectly-lines-up-with-the
Fact Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattanhenge

super-capacitor-facts-and-chicks

http://factsandchicks.com/post/47041887365/the-world-strongest-super-capacitor-was-recently
Fact Source: http://io9.com/5987086/meet-the-scientific-accident-that-could-change-the-world

LSD-facts-and-chicks

http://factsandchicks.com/post/48374445164/tripping-on-lsd-has-aided-at-least-2-nobel-prize
Fact Source: http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/01/70015?currentPage=all

blue-eyes-facts-and-chicks

http://factsandchicks.com/post/49941859378/all-blue-eyed-people-can-be-traced-back-to-one
Fact Source: http://occupycorporatism.com/blue-eyes-originated-10000-years-ago-in-the-black-sea-region/

star-trek-beam-gun--facts-and-chicks

http://factsandchicks.com/post/23879660724/a-man-has-built-a-real-star-trek-beam-gun-source
Fact Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2136184/Man-builds-Star-Trek-phaser-gun-powerful-defeat-Borg-pop-balloon.html

pickles-facts-and-chicks

http://factsandchicks.com/post/15411661442
Fact Source, unofficial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZieGLO9_ks

water-electricity-facts-and-chicks

http://factsandchicks.com/post/18618764196/submitted-by-puddle

solar-paint-facts-and-chicks

http://factsandchicks.com/post/24003901613/there-is-a-solar-paint-that-can-generate
Fact Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2135571/The-end-bulky-solar-panels-New-solar-paint-generate-electricity-roofs-walls-EVERY-home.html

road-charging-facts-and-chicks

http://factsandchicks.com/post/47378860715/scientists-are-working-on-a-technology-where-the
Fact Source: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20120312-wireless-highway-to-charge-cars

laser-facts-and-chicks

http://factsandchicks.com/post/21507663219/submitted-by-rthompson
Fact Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser

 

 

 

The Lightning Fantastic, Oklahoma City, August 8, 2011

I drove back from Arlington, Texas last night.  Long story short, I left around 8pm last night, and I spent the entire three hour drive just completely enamored with the sky lighting up with huge bolts of lightning.  I remembered seeing the Trinity test video, and so many other night-based explosions in movies; the sky last night reminded me of that type of phenomenon.  So many bolts of lightning piercing the darkness, it was just like watching that scene in the newest Harry Potter when all of the folks are casting the spells over the school campus.  Overwhelming; beautiful.

(Sorry folks, I’m not a Harry Potter person, I just saw the one…)

I got home and made this video, since I was blessed AGAIN with the lack of tiredness in my body after that drive.  I took about a half hour’s worth of lightning strikes in downtown and condensed them down to about two minutes.  I hope you enjoy!  I’m a great big goofball, just be forewarned.

The Lightning Fantastic in Oklahoma City, August 8, 2011 from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

Thanks, NatGeo and Tal Bachman!

Happy BELATED Birthday, Frank J. Sprague!

There were a few birthdays over the weekend that I totally missed, and now I feel horrible!  Oh wait, both of these people are dead.

Hmm.

Yeah.

HEY, so HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, Frank J. Sprague!  Check out this proper lookin’ military-turned-mucker dude!

This is Frank J. Sprague and Rear Admiral S. S. Robinson (I told you he was military, he was Navy).  This particular photograph is actually kinda neat, a bunch of folks presented him with a six-volume set of letters and papers on his 75th birthday.  I think back in that time people expressed their pleasure for birthday gifts by taking pictures that look terribly uncomfortable, as you can see here.  Fads change, I suppose, I guess you had to be there.

Thomas Edison and Frank Sprague were friends through a business partner of Edison’s, a guy named EH Johnson.  Edison, in all of his wisdom, actually convinced Sprague to give up his Navy commission and come work in Menlo Park as a technical assistant.  From the Elevator Museum (I’ll explain that later):

Graduating seventh in a class of 36 in 1878, Sprague was assigned to the USS Richmond, flagship of the Asiatic Fleet, where he filled a notebook with detailed drawings and descriptions of devices that evidenced his urge for invention. Among these were a duplex telephone, quadruplex and octoplex telegraph systems, a motor and a means of transmitting pictures by wire. Later, Sprague was ordered to the USS Minnesota. While his ship was in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1881, Sprague invented the inverted type of dynamo. Also in 1881, Spraque transferred to the USS Lancaster, flagship of the European Squadron, on which he installed the first crude electrical call-bell system in the Navy.

Sprague took leave to attend the Paris Electrical Exhibition and the Crystal Palace Exhibition in Sydenham, England, where he served as the only American member and as secretary of the jury of awards for gas engines, dynamos and lamps.

Meanwhile, Sprague’s ideas about motors and lamps had so impressed E.H. Johnson, a business associate of Thomas A. Edison, that he convinced Sprague to resign from the Navy in 1883 to become a technical assistant to Edison. While on Edison’s staff, Sprague assisted in the installation and operation of Edison’s pioneer three-wire electric light systems. Sprague also revised and corrected the Edison system of mains and feeders for central station distribution and developed a formula for determining the ratio of wire size to current amperage.

Now, the weird thing about celebrating Frank J. Sprague is not necessarily due to his contributions to the electric light bulb or electric light in general; Sprague’s contributions were to the electrical systems and main busses in Edison’s laboratory, as well as some of the three-wire lighting systems.  Sprague did a lot of correcting of Edison’s power distribution mains and feeders, and he also did a lot of mathematical “updating” to Edison’s methods.  Sprague knew that if he could do some math beforehand, Edison’s Muckers would have to do a lot less “noodling” and “fooling around” in the lab which would save time.  Seems like pretty good sense, right?

Frank Sprague didn’t last very long at Edison Power and Light – about a year and change.  Edison’s main interest was in light and lighting, but Sprague was more of a motor guy.  So, in a move that I would have loved to see firsthand as it happened (as I have to believe there were some wonderful words exchanged), Sprague left Edison’s employ and went off to start the Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Company.  Suck on THAT, Edison.  What’s funny is that Edison actually DID suck on that, and he spoke very highly about Sprague’s electric motor to the world, and Sprague did pretty well.  From the NNDB archives:

After several years of theoretical work and experiments, it took Sprague and his men only about 90 days to plan the route, lay a dozen miles (19 km) of track, construct the 375 horsepower steam and electric plant, and motorize 40 formerly horse-drawn cars. The first test runs were made in November 1887, and regular service began on 2 February 1888. The first runs were not without difficulties, including frequent mechanical and electrical problems, the indignity of a horse reigned to the trolleys for the additional pulling power needed to climb the tracks’ steepest incline, and the further embarrassment of seeing broken-down trolleys towed away by mule. With some tinkering, though, the system was soon made reliable, and came to be seen as far superior to horse or horse-drawn transport.

Within two years, Sprague had contracts to construct 113 street rail systems, and the within a decade horse-drawn streetcars had virtually disappeared from America’s cities, replaced by an estimated 13,000 miles of urban streetcar tracks. He designed a multi-unit train control system in Chicago, where he built the first of the city’s elevated “L” electric railways. He engineered the electrification of New York’s Grand Central Station, and with William Wilgus he co-invented the “third rail” system of powering electric trains for the New York Central Railroad. Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Company was eventually merged into Edison General Electric, which subsequently became General Electric.

Sprague’s talent lied in railways and motors, both electric, as well as a good bunch of other inventions.  One of my favorites is the elevator – yep, good ol’ Frank J. Sprague here invented the elevator.  I have to believe that he was sitting at a bar one day and realized that if he turned a train on its end and made it run vertically, BOOMelevator.  Done.

Bring me another ale, Bitterman.

Happy Birthday, Frank J. Sprague!  (Frank’s actual birthday is July 25.  Sorry, Frank!)

Thanks Wikipedia, The Elevator Museum, NNDB, the Edison Tech Center, and the Chapin Library!

Happy Birthday, Arthur E. Kennelly!

WHOA!  Is that —  is that Arthur E. Kennelly?!  DUDE!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Arthur E. Kennelly (17 December 1861-18 June 1939)!

What a crazy mustache, mandingo!

Arthur E. Kennelly was a self-taught physicist, which is pretty awesome among itself.  Art started off his career as an office boy for the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEEE) when he was in his teenage years – which I am assuming sparked the love of voltage and electrons.  I mean, I gotta believe that Arty-Boy here was a pretty smart dude, and growing into his own around the people that were shaping the Electrical Engineering world at the time was good for him.  After all, education back in the 1880’s was probably a sight better than it is now.  What a shame, huh?

After working for the Institute for Electrical Engineers, Art worked as a telegraph operator for a little while, and then he met Thomas Alva Edison, who hired him as one of his Mucker electricians.  From 1894 and 1901, Kennelly was a consulting engineer for Edison General Electric Company of New York – Kennelly and a guy named Harold P. Brown then worked as a team that invented an alternating current version of the Electric Chair.  Yep.  All because Edison wanted to show how dangerous Westinghouse’s alternating current really was.

At least Art went on to make more contributions to science.

After his time at Edison’s place, Kennelly formed Houston and Kennelly in Philadelphia with Edwin J. Houston.  In 1902, the government of Mexico retained Houston and Kennelly to oversee the laying of the Veracruz-Frontera-Campeche cables.

Kennelly also dabbled in academia — as a Professor of Electrical Engineering both at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and as a research associate at the Carnegie-Mellon Institute.  Kennelly was said to be an awesome teacher too – from a biography of his life and work:

All who were his students remember him as a remarkable teacher, whose clarity and precision of expression made smooth the path of those struggling with the often abstruse intricacies of electrical phenomena. Moreover, there was always a bit of humor to relieve the tedium.

Pretty cool.  A teacher who was smart AND funny?  LAWS YES!

Arty Boy did a lot with complex analysis of electrical theory and study.  Have you ever heard of the E-Region in the Ionosphere?  It used to be called the Kennelly Heaviside Layer, after him and a guy named Oliver Heaviside.  It’s the region of the ionosphere that reflects medium-strength radio waves, allowing them to be propagated past the horizon.  He also holds (or held, rather) patents on the Electric Meter and the Electrostatic Voltmeter.

Kennelly wrote a LOT of material, including the famous paper entitled “Impedance,” which he developed after applying some complex math to Ohm’s calculations.  I think I want to buy Kennelly a beer.  Wait, no, he’s dead.

Happy Birthday, Arthur E. Kennelly!  You are truly one of the not-quite-publicized-yet-ridiculously-important members of Electric History.

Thanks EOEarth, NNDB, IEEE, and Wikipedia!

Happy Birthday, James Bowman Lindsay!

Who’s that dude with the crazy curly coif? It’s James Bowman Lindsay! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, James Bowman Lindsday!

Good ol’ Jimmy BL here is a lesser known but still influential figure in the history of light and electricity.  What’s funny about Jimbo here is that he, like many of his contemporaries across the ages, wasn’t a d-bag bent on world domination and capitalistic tendencies like Edison or Westinghouse.  James was a good person with morals and values and all of those things people have told me about in my life.

(bwa, ha ha ha)

How James became involved in the industry was on two fronts – he invented an early version of an incandescent lamp, and he developed a system of wireless telegraphy that preceded Guglielmo Marconi‘s radio telegraphy devices.  James Bowman Lindsay claimed that his electric incandescent lamp gave him the ability to read a book at “a distance of one and a half feet,” and he displayed it at a public meeting in Scotland in July of 1835.  Unfortunately for Lindsay, his lack of being a ruthless scientist and businessman allowed Edison to take over the patent some 38 years later.

What was cool about Jimmy B here is that he was passionate about his work.  I mean really passionate about it – to the point where he never married, gave his whole life to the industry for the better, and died while still conducting his own research.  Now that is dedication.

We can thank James Bowman Lindsay for arc welding, submarine telegraphy, and an early form of the incandescent lamp (in addition to just being a hell of a guy and incredible astronomer, scientist, and developer).  Thanks Jimbo, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DUDE!

Thanks Wikipedia, Dundee, and Google!

How It’s Made – High Voltage Pole Transformers

Happy Tuesday, everybody!

Another light-related How It’s Made video – this time of the process of fabricating high-voltage pole transformers.  You know, the things that go POP when the power goes out?  Yeah.  I’ll never forget the hellacious ice storm from the winter of 2007 in Oklahoma City that killed transformers all over the city – the power went out for days, and in the dark night time sky, you could see the green lightning of these things popping all over the place.

Amazing.

Check out the How It’s Made video on these things – I had no idea!

Also, not to be outdone – videos of transformers EXPLODING!

How It’s Made – Residential Load Centers (or Electrical Panels for the, uh, Normal Person)

Another installment for this week of the How It’s Made videos from the web that deal with lighting and electricity – electrical panels!  I’m sorry, I mean residential load centers.  *Ahem*

Yes, residential load centers.

Um – uh – yeah.

Cool video, check it:

How It’s Made – Electrical Wire!

Okay, this is WAY too awesome.  Once I started looking through those How It’s Made videos I posted a while ago, I found some new ones.  Check THIS out – how ELECTRICAL WIRE is made!

The insulation and testing parts are my favorite!  The first video wasn’t enough for me, so I found this one to supplement.  Check it out, ridiculously informative – which is what I love!

Green VS. Red Hot – The Question of Antique Filament Lamps

A New York Times article posted last week brought up an interesting topic – antique incandescent lamps, the old Edison style filaments, being used in restaurants and other places.  The article brought up some interesting points, and had lots of interesting comments from people like Noah Horowitz, Ken Friedman, and Charlie Palmer.  Check out this comment from Noah Horowitz, from the article:

“It boggles the mind that in these times of economic hardship and interest in environmental sustainability that restaurant owners would choose the light bulb that uses 5 to 10 times more power than the other bulbs on the market,” Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist at the environmental group, wrote in an e-mail message. “You can’t on the one hand brag how green you are by serving organic beer and locally grown produce while you are lighting your business with the least efficient light bulbs available in the world.”

You know the lamp they’re talking about?  The Edison filament?

I’m a huge supporter of energy advocacy.  HUGE.  I love LEDs, period.  I do hate CFLs, mostly because they look like total crap and are filled with Mercury.  I love solar power, wind power, and other forms of sustainable energy production.  I am always looking for new ways to help the LED industry grow in tune with my industry, lighting design.  In the future, I see LED sources becoming the next light source in mass usage, and eventually they’ll be as cheap as incandescent lamps are now.

What really gets me kinda frustrated at critics of incandescent lamps is that most of them aren’t lighting designers, but since everyone else likes to bash incandescent lamps, critics hop on the blame game of incandescent lamps just because they won’t find much opposition.  Incandescent lamp critics, do you just feel good to criticize because most people will agree with you?  It’s true that it’s not an efficient source – but how many are you still using in your houses, where no one can see what you do on your own time?

Yeah.  That’s what I thought.

In the case of these old Edison-style filaments, I think that if critics knew what exactly they were criticizing and WHY designers are using these old inefficient lamps, the critics might have more of an understanding of what they’re criticizing.  In this case, I view this subject like iceberg lettuce – sure it has about no nutritional value, but lordy, people love it.  Why?  Well, it’s cheap, it has its place, and, well, it’s cheap.  In the case again of these Edison lamps, lighting designers are using them to get an atmosphere that most LEDs cannot recreate, and certainly not by a fluorescent lamp.  Charlie Palmer said that these old incandescent Edison lamps are twenty years ago, and Ken Friedman said “no exposed bulbs!”  Well, why?  Is it because you’re worried about energy consumption?  Is it because you’re worried about people commenting on energy consumption?  That doesn’t really seem like a good reason to me to criticize something that you just might not understand.

Now before you call me a troglodyte or some other important people word that you feel better using in order to insult a critic of critics, as a lighting designer, I have a problem being told that incandescent lamps have to be banned.  What that says to me is that you don’t think that lighting designers can effectively utilize the light from incandescent lamps, so you have to go ahead and make people believe that they’re just the worst thing since the electric chair.  I just have to simply say “BS.”  You can tell me how to do my job when you’re better at it than me.

I have a hard time believing that the best next step for improving our worldwide use of electricity is to ban the incandescent lamp.  Before you make huge claims like trashing decorative use of incandescent lamps, you should criticize our nation’s electrical grid, the development of Smart Meters, and the fact that energy companies make it nearly fiscally impossible for homeowners to put solar panels on their house in a financially effective way.

The almighty dollar stands in the way of effective and revolutionary changes to the way we light.  I think that sucks.  Next thing we know, fellow lighting designers, is that we’re not gonna be able to use HPLs, BTNs, FELs, or any other incandescent lamp because people other than lighting designers think they aren’t good for us.