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3 Inventors and How Their Inventions Changed the World P1

Aug 1, 2017 12:00 AM

Science is a field that is constantly changing and evolving (pun intended). Many ingenious inventors have developed a host of inventions that have impacted humanity. From the invention of the wheel to discovering medicines and vaccines that protect people from diseases, to the technological advances of today that allow people to see each other on a screen while they have a conversation hundreds or thousands of miles away from each other. What’s next, smell-o-vision?

This post is the beginning of a series recognizing different inventors and how they contributed not only to science but also to the betterment of mankind. The three inventors that will be discussed are Charles Babbage, Thomas Edison, and Guglielmo Marconi.

Charles Babbage does not seem to be a well-known inventor; however, he is one of the first inventors to create a working “computer.” Mr. Babbage was born in 1791 in London, England. Primarily, Charles was a mathematician. His other areas of study included economics and astronomy. One of Mr. Babbage’s inventions was the Difference Engine which he designed in the 1820’s. According to the website, this machine was designed to calculate a set of logarithms automatically. This device proved to be very useful in navigation. Charles was in the process of building the Difference Engine and decided to appeal to the British Government to supplement him financially. The government did so for a while, but eventually, they ran out. Mr. Babbage was one of the first individuals ever to receive financial support from the government.

Mr. Babbage is also known for the Analytical Engine which he was in the process of building when he died in 1871. The Analytical Engine took the Difference Engine to another level. This machine, not only computed complex mathematical equations, but it also had a “memory,” and a “printer.” This contraption had the four main parts of our present day computers. Charles was also the first person to suggest that the rings of a tree determine its age.

Thomas Edison is well-known in the realm of science. Thomas is an American inventor who was born in 1847. He was a youngster when he started losing his hearing, but he still was able to hear the tap, tap, tap of the telegraph as he took down messages for the US Army. It is ironic that he was hearing impaired, yet he invented one of the first recording devices, the phonograph. This machine recorded an individual’s voice and played it back to them. Although Mr. Edison made modifications to the phonograph, it became the foundation for all recording devices to date.

Thomas Edison is the person who has been recognized as the inventor of the light bulb; however, he is not the only person who was working on this invention. Many men invented different light bulbs. However, none of them gave off enough light for a stretch of time. Through other inventors trial and errors, Edison developed the first incandescent light bulb. This kind of lamp was significant particularly because the blub stayed illuminated for approximately 1200 consecutive hours. Therefore, Mr. Edison is viewed as the inventor of the light bulb. Thomas was a talented man, and he lead an interesting, full life. He died at 84 years old in 1931.

Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian inventor and physicist who was born in 1874. Mr. Marconi had a lavish childhood, and his parents were of the Irish and Italian aristocracy. Guglielmo worked closely with a German physicist named Heinrich Hertz who had discovered electromagnetic wavelengths. Back in 1864, an inventor by the name of James Maxwell proved that when electrical wavelengths are disturbed, they generate an electromagnetic field which produces waves at the speed of light. Hertz, verified this when he demonstrated that these electromagnetic wavelengths could be transmitted over a short distance.  

Thus, began the foundation for Marconi’s tinkering with other devices that would transmit these wavelengths wirelessly. Like Charles Babbage, Marconi appealed to the Italian government for funding, but they were not interested, so he took his invention to Great Britain and soon, his wireless telegraph became an indispensable machine for the British Post Office. Guglielmo decided to try out his invention in the US. In 1901, he modified and improved the radio transmitter so that it could receive and interpret Morse Code. The transmission was conducted over the Atlantic Ocean, something that few inventors had attempted. Marconi applied for a patent in the US, but the US Supreme Court denied him a patent in 1943. Their decision was because other inventors tried to send messages by way of wireless beforehand. Unfortunately, this is similar to the invention of and improvements of the light bulb. In any case, Mr. Marconi continued to improve the radio by adding a vacuum tube that would amplify the radio waves and allow them to be heard through longer distances via antennae. Finally, after WWII, Guglielmo fine-tuned several components of the radio, and it became an essential piece of equipment for navigation. He also received the Nobel Prize in 1909 for his work in physics. Mr. Marconi died in 1937.

These educated inventors were ambitious, and dedicated individuals who had vision and insight for their projects. They wanted to make the world a better place and to develop ingenious methods to communicate with those around them.

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