Timeline of World History TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY



1800 - 1899
1800-09 1810-19 1820-29 1830-39 1840-49 1850-59 1860-69 1870-79 1880-89 1890-99
1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870 1880 1890
1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
1802 1812 1822 1832 1842 1852 1862 1872 1882 1892
1803 1813 1823 1833 1843 1853 1863 1873 1883 1893
1804 1814 1824 1834 1844 1854 1864 1874 1884 1894
1805 1815 1825 1835 1845 1855 1865 1875 1885 1895
1806 1816 1826 1836 1846 1856 1866 1876 1886 1896
1807 1817 1827 1837 1847 1857 1867 1877 1887 1897
1808 1818 1828 1838 1848 1858 1868 1878 1888 1898
1809 1819 1829 1839 1849 1859 1869 1879 1889 1899
  BACK-1858 Part III NEXT-1859 Part I    
1850 - 1859
History at a Glance
1850 Part I
Compromise of 1850
Constitution of Prussia
The eight Kaffir War, 1850-1853
Masaryk Tomas
Kitchener Horatio Herbert
Erfurt Union
Fillmore Millard
Taiping Rebellion
Hong Xiuquan
Feng Yunshan
Yang Xiuqing
Shi Dakai
1850 Part II
Protestant churches in Prussia
Public Libraries Act 1850
Schopenhauer: "Parerga und Paralipomena"
Herbert Spencer: "Social Statics"
E. B. Browning: "Sonnets from the Portuguese"
Emerson: "Representative Men"
Hawthorne: "The Scarlet Letter"
Herzen Aleksandr
Ibsen: "Catiline"
Loti Pierre
Maupassant Guy
Guy de Maupassant
Stevenson Robert Louis
Robert Louis Stevenson  
"Treasure Island
Turgenev: "A Month in the Country"
1850 Part III
Corot: "Une Matinee"
Courbet: "The Stone Breakers"
Menzel: "Round Table at Sansouci"
Millais: "Christ in the House of His Parents"
Millet: "The Sower"
Bristow George Frederick
George Frederick Bristow - Dream Land
George Frederick Bristow
Schumann: "Genoveva"
Wagner: "Lohengrin"
1850 Part IV
Bernard Claude
Clausius Rudolf
Stephenson Robert
Chebyshev Pafnuty Lvovich
Barth Heinrich
Galton Francis
Anderson Karl John
McClure Robert
McClure Arctic Expedition
Royal Meteorological Society
University of Sydney
1851 Part I
Victoria, state of Australia
Murdock Joseph Ballard
Machado Bernardino
Bourgeois Leon Victor Auguste
Foch Ferdinand
Bombardment of Sale
French coup d'état
Danilo II
Hawthorne: "The House of Seven Gables"
Gottfried Keller: "Der grune Heinrich"
Ward Humphry
Ruskin: "The Stones of Venice"
1851 Part II
Herman Melville: "Moby Dick"
Corot: "La Danse des Nymphes"
Walter Thomas Ustick
Ward Leslie
Crystal Palace
Falero Luis Ricardo
Luis Ricardo Falero
Kroyer Peder
Peder Kroyer
Hughes Edward Robert
Edward Robert Hughes
1851 Part III
Gounod: "Sappho"
D’Indy Vincent
Vincent D'Indy - Medee
Vincent d'Indy
Verdi: "Rigoletto"
Bogardus James
Cast-iron architecture
Kapteyn Jacobus Cornelius
Helmholtz's ophthalmoscope
Neumann Franz Ernst
Ruhmkorff Heinrich Daniel
Singer Isaac Merrit
Cubitt William
Thomson William
Royal School of Mines
Carpenter Mary
"The New York Times"
1852 Part I
Joffre Joseph
Second French Empire
Second Anglo-Burmese War
New Zealand Constitution Act
Asquith Herbert Henry
Pierce Franklin
Delisle Leopold Victor
Fischer Kuno
First Plenary Council of Baltimore
Vaihinger Hans
Gioberti Vincenzo
1852 Part II
Bourget Paul
Creasy Edward
Creasy: "The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: from Marathon to Waterloo"
Charles Dickens: "Bleak House"
Theophile Gautier: "Emaux et Camees"
Moore George
Reade Charles
Harriet Beecher Stowe: "Uncle Tom's Cabin"
Thackeray: "History of Henry Esmond"
Turgenev: "A Sportsman's Sketches"
Zhukovsky Vasily
1852 Part III
Fopd Madox Brown: "Christ Washing Peter's Feet"
William Holman Hunt: "The Light of the World"
John Everett Millais: "Ophelia"
Bryullov Karl
Karl Bryullov
Stanford Charles
Charles Villiers Stanford - Piano Concerto No.2
Charles Stanford
Becquerel Henri
Gerhardt Charles Frederic
Van’t Hoff Jacobus Henricus
Mathijsen Antonius
Michelson Albert
Ramsay William
Sylvester James Joseph
United All-England Eleven
Wells Fargo & Company
1853 Part I
Eugenie de Montijo
Crimean War
Battle of Sinop
Rhodes Cecil
Peter V
Nagpur Province
1853 Part II
Mommsen: "History of Rome"
Matthew Arnold: "The Scholar-Gipsy"
Charlotte Bronte: "Villette"
Caine Hall
Elizabeth Gaskell: "Ruth"
Nathaniel Hawthorne: "Tanglewood Tales"
Charles Kingsley: "Hypatia"
Tree Herbert Beerbohm
Charlotte M. Yonge: "The Heir of Redclyffe"
1853 Part III
Haussmann Georges-Eugene
Larsson Carl
Carl Larsson
Hodler Ferdinand
Ferdinand Hodler
Van Gogh Vincent
Vincent van Gogh
Steinway Henry Engelhard
Verdi: "Il Trovatore"
Verdi: "La Traviata"
Wood Alexander
"Die Gartenlaube"
International Statistical Congress
1854 Part I
Bloemfontein Convention
Orange Free State
Battle of the Alma
Menshikov Alexander Sergeyevich
Siege of Sevastopol (1854-1855)
Kornilov Vladimir Alexeyevich
Battle of Balaclava
Battle of Inkerman
Perry Matthew Calbraith
Gadsden Purchase
Bleeding Kansas (1854–59)
Kansas-Nebraska Act
Elgin-Marcy Treaty
Republican Party
Said of Egypt
Ostend Manifesto
1854 Part II
Herzog Johann
Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau
Youthful Offenders Act 1854
Immaculate Conception
Patmore Coventry
Patmore: "The Angel in the House"
Sandeau Leonard
Guerrazzi Francesco Domenico
Rimbaud Arthur
Arthur Rimbaud "Poems"
Tennyson: "The Charge of the Light Brigade"
Thackeray: "The Rose and the Ring"
Thoreau: "Walden, or Life in the Woods"
1854 Part III
Courbet: "Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet"
Frith William Powell
William Frith
Millet: "The Reaper"
Angrand Charles
Charles Angrand
Gotch Thomas Cooper
Thomas Cooper Gotch
Berlioz: "The Infant Christ"
Humperdinck Engelbert
Humperdinck - Hansel und Gretel
Liszt: "Les Preludes"
1854 Part IV
Poincare Henri
Eastman George
Ehrenberg Christian Gottfried
Paul Ehrlich
Goebel Henry
George Boole: "The Laws of Thought"
Riemann Bernhard
Wallace Alfred Russel
Southeast Asia
"Le Figaro"
Litfass Ernst
Northcote–Trevelyan Report
Maurice Frederick Denison
1855 Part I
Alexander II
Istomin Vladimir Ivanovich
Somerset FitzRoy
Nakhimov Pavel Stepanovich
Treaty of Peshawar
Bain Alexander
Droysen Johann
Gratry Auguste
Milman Henry
Le Play Pierre
1855 Part II
Charles Kingsley: "Westward Ho!"
Nerval Gerard
Charles Dickens "Little Dorrit"
Ganghofer Ludwig
Longfellow: "The Song of Hiawatha"
Corelli Marie
Pinero Arthur Wing
Tennyson: "Maud"
Anthony Trollope: "The Warden"
Turgenev: "Rudin"
Walt Whitman: "Leaves of Grass"
Berlioz: "Те Deum"
Verdi: "Les Vepres Siciliennes"
Chansson Ernest
Chausson - Poeme
Ernest Chausson
1855 Part III
Hughes David Edward
Lowell Percival
Cunard Line
"The Daily Telegraph"
Niagara Falls suspension bridge
Paris World Fair
1856 Part I
Victoria Cross
Doctrine of Lapse
Oudh State
Ottoman Reform Edict of 1856
Congress of Paris
Treaty of Paris (1856)
Napoleon, Prince Imperial
Sacking of Lawrence
Pottawatomie massacre
Second Opium War (1856-1860)
Anglo–Persian War (1856-1857)
Buchanan James
1856 Part II
Froude: "History of England"
Goldstucker Theodor
Lotze Rudolf Hermann
Motley: "Rise of the Dutch Republic"
Flaubert: "Madame Bovary"
Haggard Henry Rider
Victor Hugo: "Les Contemplations"
Charles Reade: "It Is Never Too Late to Mend"
Shaw George Bernard
Wilde Oscar
1856 Part III
Berlage Hendrik Petrus
Ferstel Heinrich
Sargent John
John Singer Sargent
Vrubel Mikhail
Mikhail Vrubel
Cross Henri Edmond
Henri-Edmond Cross
Bechstein Carl
Dargomyzhsky Alexander
Alexander Dargomyzhsky: "Rusalka"
Alexander Dargomyzhsky
Maillart Aime
Aime Maillart - Les Dragons de Villars
Sinding Christian
Sinding - Suite in A minor
Christian Sinding
1856 Part IV
Bessemer Henry
Bessemer process
Freud Sigmund
Sigmund Freud
Peary Robert Edwin
Pringsheim Nathanael
Siemens Charles William
Hardie James Keir
Taylor Frederick Winslow
"Big Ben"
1857 Part I
Treaty of Paris
Indian Rebellion of 1857
Italian National Society
Manin Daniele
Taft William Howard
1857 Part II
Buckle Henry Thomas
Buckle: "History of Civilization in England"
Charles Baudelaire: "Les Fleurs du mal"
Conrad Joseph
Joseph Conrad 
"Lord Jim"
George Eliot: "Scenes from Clerical Life"
Hughes Thomas
Thomas Hughes: "Tom Brown's Schooldays"
Mulock Dinah
 Pontoppidan Henrik
Adalbert Stifter: "Nachsommer"
Sudermann Hermann
Thackeray: "The Virginians"
Anthony Trollope: "Barchester Towers"
1857 Part III
Klinger Max
Max Klinger
Millet: "The Gleaners"
Dahl Johan Christian
Johan Christian Dahl
Leoncavallo Ruggero
Ruggero Leoncavallo - Pagliacci
Ruggero Leoncavallo 
Elgar Edward
Edward Elgar - The Light of Life
Edward Elgar
Kienzl Wilhelm
Wilhelm Kienzl - Symphonic Variations
Wilhelm Kienzl
Liszt: "Eine Faust-Symphonie"
1857 Part IV
Coue Emile
Hertz Heinrich
Wagner-Jauregg Julius
Ross Ronald
Newton Charles Thomas
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
Burton Richard
Speke John Hanning
The Nile Quest
McClintock Francis
Alpine Club
"The Atlantic Monthly"
Baden-Powell Robert
Matrimonial Causes Act
North German Lloyd
1858 Part I
Orsini Felice
Stanley Edward
Treaty of Tientsin
Government of India Act 1858
Law Bonar
William I
Karageorgevich Alexander
Roosevelt Theodore
1858 Part II
Bernadette Soubirous
Carey Henry Charles
Thomas Carlyle: "History of Friedrich II of Prussia"
Hecker Isaac
Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle
Rothschild Lionel Nathan
Schaff Philip
Benson Frank
Feuillet Octave
Oliver Wendell Holmes: "The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table"
Kainz Joseph
Lagerlof Selma
1858 Part III
Corinth Lovis
Lovis Corinth
William Powell Frith: "The Derby Day"
Menzel: "Bon soir, Messieurs"
Segantini Giovanni
Giovanni Segantini
Khnopff Fernand
Fernand Khnopff
Toorop Jan
Cornelius Peter
Cornelius: "Der Barbier von Bagdad"
Jaques Offenbach: "Orpheus in der Unterwelt"
Puccini Giacomo
Giacomo Puccini: Donna non vidi mai
Giacomo Puccini
1858 Part IV
Diesel Rudolf
Huxley Thomas Henry
Planck Max
Mirror galvanometer
General Medical Council
Suez Canal Company
S.S. "Great Eastern"
Webb Beatrice
Webb Sidney
Transatlantic telegraph cable
1859 Part I
Second Italian War of Independence
Battle of Varese
Battle of Palestro
Battle of Magenta
Battle of Solferino
Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies
Francis II of the Two Sicilies
Charles XV of Sweden
German National Association
Jaures Jean
Roon Albrecht
William II
1859 Part II
Bergson Henri
Henri Bergson
Bergson Henri "Creative Evolution"
Charles Darwin: "On the Origin of Species"
Dewey John
Husserl Edmund
Karl Marx: "Critique of Political Economy"
John Stuart Mill: "Essay on Liberty"
Tischendorf Konstantin
Codex Sinaiticus
Villari Pasquale
1859 Part III
Dickens: "A Tale of Two Cities"
Doyle Arthur Conan
Arthur Conan Doyle  
Duse Eleonora
George Eliot: "Adam Bede"
Edward Fitzgerald: "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam"
Ivan Goncharov: "Oblomov"
Hamsun Knut
Heidenstam Verner
Housman Alfred Edward
A.E. Housman 
"A Shropshire Lad", "Last Poems"
Victor Hugo: "La Legende des siecles"
Jerome K. Jerome
Tennyson: "Idylls of the King"
1859 Part IV
Corot: "Macbeth"
Gilbert Cass
Millet: "The Angelus"
Hassam Childe
Childe Hassam 
Seurat Georges
Georges Seurat
Whistler: "At the Piano"
Daniel Decatur Emmett: "Dixie"
Gounod: "Faust"
Verdi: "Un Ballo in Maschera"
1859 Part V
Arrhenius Svante
Kirchhoff Gustav
Curie Pierre
Drake Edwin
Drake Well
Plante Gaston
Lead–acid battery
Smith Henry John Stephen
Brunel Isambard Kingdom
Blondin Charles
Lansbury George
Samuel Smiles: "Self-Help"

S.S. "Great Eastern" is launched-largest ship of her time (displacement, 27,000 tons)
YEAR BY YEAR:  1800 - 1899
1858 Part IV
Burton Richard and Speke John Hanning discover Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria Nyanza

Routes taken by the expeditions of Burton and Speke (1857–58) and Speke and Grant (1863).
see also: The Nile Quest
Explorations of Livingstone David

Explorations of David Livingstone:
see also: Explorations of David Livingstone
Diesel Rudolf

Rudolf Diesel, in full Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel (born March 18, 1858, Paris, France—died September 29, 1913, at sea in the English Channel), German thermal engineer who invented the internal-combustion engine that bears his name. He was also a distinguished connoisseur of the arts, a linguist, and a social theorist.


Rudolf Diesel
  Diesel, the son of German-born parents, grew up in Paris until the family was deported to England in 1870 following the outbreak of the Franco-German War. From London Diesel was sent to Augsburg, his father’s native town, to continue his schooling. There and later at the Technische Hochschule (Technical High School) in Munich he established a brilliant scholastic record in fields of engineering. At Munich he was a protégé of the refrigeration engineer Carl von Linde, whose Paris firm he joined in 1880.

Diesel devoted much of his time to the self-imposed task of developing an internal combustion engine that would approach the theoretical efficiency of the Carnot cycle. For a time he experimented with an expansion engine using ammonia. About 1890, in which year he moved to a new post with the Linde firm in Berlin, he conceived the idea for the diesel engine. He obtained a German development patent in 1892 and the following year published a description of his engine under the title Theorie und Konstruktion eines rationellen Wäremotors (Theory and Construction of a Rational Heat Motor).

With support from the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg and the Krupp firms, he produced a series of increasingly successful models, culminating in his demonstration in 1897 of a 25-horsepower, four-stroke, single vertical cylinder compression engine.

The high efficiency of Diesel’s engine, together with its comparative simplicity of design, made it an immediate commercial success, and royalty fees brought great wealth to its inventor.

Diesel disappeared from the deck of the mail steamer Dresden en route to London and was assumed to have drowned.

Encyclopædia Britannica

Т. Н. Huxley: "The Theory of the Vertebrate Skulls"
Huxley Thomas Henry

Thomas Henry Huxley, (born May 4, 1825, Ealing, Middlesex, England—died June 29, 1895, Eastbourne, Sussex), English biologist, educator, and advocate of agnosticism (he coined the word). Huxley’s vigorous public support of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary naturalism earned him the nickname “Darwin’s bulldog,” while his organizational efforts, public lectures, and writing helped elevate the place of science in modern society.


Student life
Thomas Henry Huxley, born above a butcher’s shop, was the youngest of the six surviving children of schoolmaster George Huxley and his wife, Rachel. Although Huxley received only two years (1833–35) of formal education at his father’s declining Ealing School, its evangelicalism later marked his scientific rhetoric. From 1835 his father tried managing a bank in his native Coventry, which left Huxley footloose in the ribbon-weaving city. Huxley’s parents were Anglicans (members of the Church of England), but the boy sympathized with the town’s Nonconformist (or Dissenting) weavers, who wanted religious equality and an end to the Anglicans’ control of public institutions. Fascinated by science and religion, he studied Unitarian works, whose cause-and-effect explanations and denial of the duality of spirit and matter challenged the socially conservative views dominant in natural history and natural theology. Thomas Carlyle’s books taught Huxley that the religious feeling of awe was distinct from theology, which dealt with gods and miraculous events. The teenager speculated (as did radical Dissenters) that morality was a cultural product, which left it open to a scientific explanation. These were the seeds of Huxley’s agnosticism, scientific enthusiasm, and understanding of sectarian power play.

The longhaired student was apprenticed (c. 1838–41) to his sister Ellen’s beer-swilling husband, John Charles Cooke, a medical materialist. Transferred to a London dockside practitioner early in 1841, Huxley was shaken by the lives of his pauper patients. Even at the back-street anatomy school where Huxley took the botany prize in 1842—Sydenham College, off Gower Street in London—there was no escaping sectarian politics and science; Sydenham’s owner, Marshall Hall, was studying mechanistic reflex arcs while haranguing the Royal College of Physicians for excluding Dissenters from its fellowship.

On a free scholarship (1842–45) to Charing Cross Hospital, London, Huxley won medals in physiology and organic chemistry. His own mechanistic bent showed as he sought to explain living processes by physicochemical laws, and his superb microscopy was revealed in his discovery in 1845 of a new membrane, now known as Huxley’s layer, in the human hair sheath.


Thomas Henry Huxley
  The Rattlesnake voyage
To repay his debts, he entered the navy and served (1846–50) as assistant surgeon on HMS Rattlesnake surveying Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and New Guinea. With his microscope lashed to a table in the chart room, he studied the structure and growth of sea anemones, hydras, jellyfish, and sea nettles such as the Portuguese man-of-war, which decomposed too quickly to be studied anywhere except on the high seas. He grouped them together as Nematophora (named for their stinging cells), although they were later classified as the phylum Cnidaria (or Coelenterata). Demonstrating that they were all composed of two “foundation membranes” (shortly to be called endoderm and ectoderm), he even suggested that these membranes were related to the two original cell layers in the vertebrate embryo. The aristocratic Captain Owen Stanley, commander of the Rattlesnake, posted Huxley’s papers to his father, the bishop of Norwich, for London publication; but such old-style patronage galled Huxley, who insisted that science no longer needed aristocratic sanction. A whirlwind romance in Sydney in 1847 left the sailor engaged to a brewer’s daughter, Henrietta (“Nettie”) Anne Heathorn.

By now Huxley considered it a moral duty to weigh the evidence before believing church dogmas, and his skepticism worried Nettie.

He sailed to the Great Barrier Reef and southern coast of New Guinea, sketched Papuans, and suffered terrible mental collapses in the broiling heat of the Coral Sea as he worried about the worth of his scientific work. But he continued his pathbreaking observations, noting that the larval sea squirt has tail muscles like a tadpole’s. This, in later years, would be part of the proof that sea squirts, or ascidians, are the ancestors of the vertebrates.

Huxley returned home in 1850, hoping to earn enough to bring Nettie to England. His success at the Royal Society of London testified to the meteoric rise of his scientific reputation: elected a fellow in 1851, he was its Royal Medal winner in 1852 and a councillor in 1853. But it was all praise and no pudding, he fumed. Although the British Treasury put him on half pay to finish his research (which appeared in 1859 as The Oceanic Hydrozoa), Huxley could not find an academic post in science. Such jobs were rare when Britain’s Oxbridge-trained leaders studied classics and when the public (privately funded) schools considered science dehumanizing. This led Huxley to more crushing depressions and a desire to raise science to a paying profession. Huxley took sides on the controversial issues of the day. He insisted that sea nettles were individual organisms, not colonies. He denied that the skull was composed of vertebrae, as his rival, the comparative anatomist Richard Owen, believed. Following the geologist Sir Charles Lyell, Huxley challenged the view that fossils showed a progression through the rocks, and he went on to repudiate a Christian-based geology that made humans the culmination of Creation. Marian Evans (the novelist George Eliot), writing alongside Huxley on the rationalist Westminster Review, an influential magazine at the cutting edge of 19th-century literary Britain, saw his brilliance as counterpoised by a love of provocation.

After four increasingly difficult years, Huxley’s professional fortunes improved in 1854. He began teaching natural history and paleontology at the Government School of Mines in Piccadilly, central London. With a new professional ethos sweeping the country, Huxley trained schoolmasters in science and fostered a meritocratic, exam-based approach to education and professional advancement. He simultaneously occupied chairs at the Royal Institution and the Royal College of Surgeons, and he organized public lectures for workers, themselves looking for a new, liberating science. His situation stabilized, he brought Nettie to England, and their eight-year engagement ended with their marriage in 1855.


Huxley with sketch of a gorilla skull, 1870
  “Darwin’s bulldog”
Charles Darwin, about to start writing his On the Origin of Species (1859), saw Huxley’s star rising. A visit to Darwin’s Down House in 1856 laid the foundation for a long relationship between the two men and their families (Nettie recuperated at Down after the death of her firstborn, Noel, in 1860; she and Emma Darwin shared concerns over their husbands’ scientific theorizing and its theological consequences; and the Darwins stood as godparents to two of the Huxleys’ eight children). Charles Darwin and Huxley, meanwhile, complemented each other perfectly. The reclusive Darwin needed a public champion and defender. Huxley had initial difficulty with natural selection itself and opted for an internal source of variation that could produce new species at a stroke. Nonetheless, he saw Darwin’s naturalistic (i.e., nonmiraculous) approach as a valuable aid in his campaign to build an independent scientific elite unfettered by the constraints of the old order. Therefore, rather than shy away from the controversial aspects of evolutionary theory, Huxley played them up, using Darwin’s Origin of Species as a “Whitworth gun in the armoury of liberalism.” Unlike some contemporaries (such as Saint George Jackson Mivart) who sought a reconciliation between science and theology, he framed the debate over Creation and evolution in black-and-white, either/or terms and was unforgiving of colleagues who straddled the fence.
A defining moment in this professional campaign came early, in an exchange with the conservative bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce, at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in 1860.

Wilberforce apparently asked whether the apes were on his grandmother’s or grandfather’s line (a tasteless joke by Victorian standards), to which Huxley—exuding Puritan virtue—replied that he would rather have an ape as an ancestor than a wealthy bishop who prostituted his gifts. Although Darwinian propagandists, in continually recounting this episode, helped to put the men of science on an intellectual par with the powerful clergy, the reality was more complicated. At Oxford, Huxley was supported by some liberal Anglican clergy who disliked the hard-line bishop, and Wilberforce himself subsequently worked alongside Huxley at the Zoological Society. Nor did Huxley shy away from appropriating religious authority when it suited his purposes; he spoke of developing a “church scientific” and arranged for Darwin to be buried at Westminster Abbey.


Huxley by Wirgman a drawing in pencil, 1882
Huxley carried the standard of scientific naturalism and evolution on a number of battlefields. He challenged the notion of supernatural creation, informing his democratic artisans that humans had risen from animals—a lowly-ancestor-bright-future image that appealed to the downtrodden—and that Darwin’s Nature was a book open for all to read, rather than the prerogative of priests. He plunged headlong into the inflammatory issue of human ancestry; Darwin avoided it, but Huxley made it his specialty. In 1861 he denied that human and ape brains differ significantly, sparking a raging dispute with Richard Owen that brought human evolution to public attention. He discussed ape ancestry and the new fossil Neanderthal man in Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature (1863). Huxley also turned to fossils, working first on crossopterygians (Devonian lobe-fin fishes, the ancestors of amphibians) and the crocodile-shaped amphibians disinterred in Britain’s coal pits. But his coup came in 1867–68, as he achieved a better understanding of phylogeny, or life’s fossil pathway, when after reclassifying birds according to their palate bones, he proceeded to show that all birds were descended from small carnivorous dinosaurs.

Thomas Henry Huxley

  Power and “Pope Huxley”
Huxley’s controversial positions in the 1860s and ’70s won the support of an increasing number of his contemporaries, while his research established him as one of the leading scientists of his era. As a scientific popularizer he was without peer, and he was an energetic organizer and political infighter. These qualities gave Huxley the levers necessary to elevate the position of science in British society, and he helped to build a social order in which science and professionalism replaced classics and patronage.

He did not fight alone. With the Kew Gardens botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker, the philosopher Herbert Spencer, the physicist John Tyndall, and other former outsiders, Huxley formed the X-Club in 1864 to advance science. Within a decade they were parceling out Royal Society posts.

Their mouthpiece was the Reader—in which Huxley, answering Conservative leader Benjamin Disraeli’s criticism of Darwinism, notoriously claimed that science would achieve “domination over the whole realm of the intellect”—and Nature (founded in 1869 by Huxley’s team).


Huxley also served as president of the Geological Society (1869–71), the Ethnological Society (1868–71), the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1870), the Marine Biological Association (1884–90), and the Royal Society (1883–85). With seats on 10 Royal Commissions, deliberating on everything from fisheries to diseases to vivisection, he had clearly penetrated the labyrinthine corridors of power.

Those corridors shuddered at the growing strength of the rival industrial powers Germany and the United States. Huxley and his circle argued that better scientific education and support for scientific research would produce the workers and innovations necessary to maintain British supremacy. Huxley spent much of the 1860s and ’70s immersed in educational reform and institution building. He joined the Eton College governing board and the London School Board (1870–72), devising a modern curriculum suitable for both the sons of privilege and the capital’s “street arabs.” He likewise served as rector (1872–74) of the ancient University of Aberdeen and principal (1868–80) of the new Working Men’s College in south London. As a member (1870–75) of the Royal Commission on Scientific Instruction, he recommended the fusion of his Government School of Mines with the Royal College of Chemistry; they were moved to South Kensington and renamed the Normal School of Science (ultimately the Imperial College of Science and Technology, now part of the University of London). He advised on the founding of a vocational Central Institution for Technical Education (opened in London in 1884), for which he was made a freeman of the City of London in 1883. To fill the demand for science teachers (driven in part by the Education Act of 1870), he taught courses at South Kensington for schoolmasters and mistresses (the latter did so well that he was inspired to fight for the admission of women to universities), and he set the Department of Science and Art’s public exams. His exam invigilators were Royal Engineers (the construction workers at South Kensington), which gave his “warfare” image of science with theology its deeper military aura. Not for nothing did the students nickname him “the General.”


The frontispiece to Huxley's Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863): the image compares the skeletons of apes to humans. The gibbon (left) is double size.

His popularity grew with his political influence. Huxley’s talks were headline grabbers. The provocation and the handsome looks drew enormous crowds; once, in 1866, as he gave a talk on blind faith as the ultimate sin, the evangelist of science saw 2,000 people turned away from the crammed hall. A bequest of £1,000 from a Quaker supporter financed Huxley’s American tour in 1876, on which he gave talks about the birds’ dinosaur ancestry, made the succession of fossil horses in America the “Demonstrative Evidence of Evolution,” and was dubbed “Huxley Eikonoklastes” by a New York City paper. (Huxley’s whistle-stop tours led his children to call him “the lodger” at home.) No less popular were his writings. He took readers through time tunnels to experience exotic past worlds. An essay on protoplasm as the substrate of life sent the Fortnightly Review into seven editions in 1869. His numerous introductory textbooks were well received. Such prodigious activity on so many fronts led to continual breakdowns and recuperations in Egypt, Germany, Italy, and France. In addition, his pay never quite sufficed, as he financed the children of his broken-down brother James and drunken sister Ellen. And the more he upheld family values and denied that skepticism and evolutionism led to debauchery, the more he worried about scandals breaking around his ne’er-do-well relations.

In 1869 he coined the word agnostic, meaning that one could know nothing of ultimate reality, whether spiritual or material. For him morality rested not in reciting creeds but in weighing evidence for events; it was a consecration of doubt that vested his new professionals with the priests’ old power. (For such messianic pronouncements he was nicknamed “Pope Huxley.”) His research, meanwhile, became increasingly influenced by evolution. He used the fishlike lancelet (amphioxus) to plumb the origin of all vertebrates, tackled crayfish evolution, showed that Mesozoic crocodiles progressively developed a secondary palate (which allowed them to drown newly evolved mammalian prey), and wrote the section on evolution in biology in the article “Evolution” for the ninth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (published 1878). Finally, in creating a package that the teachers could take to their hometowns, Huxley forged the discipline of biology—based on structural (rather than evolutionary) anatomy, stripped down to a few exemplary animal and plant “types.”


Photograph of Huxley (c. 1890)

  The old lion
With a radical home secretary making Huxley an inspector of fisheries in 1881, his pay was finally augmented. But so was the strain. The final blow came as his talented daughter Marian went mad after 1882 (she died in Paris, under the care of the renowned neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, in 1887). A distraught, overworked Huxley resigned his professorship at the Normal School of Science (the future novelist H.G. Wells sat his last course) and the presidency of the Royal Society in 1885. He was awarded a state pension of £1,200 a year by the Liberal prime minister William Ewart Gladstone, even though Huxley—ever the polemicist—struck out against Gladstone’s Irish Home Rule policy, dissected his scriptural literalism, and refuted his attempt to reconcile the fossil evidence with the order of Creation listed in the book of Genesis.

Grieving for his daughter, Huxley in “The Struggle for Existence in Human Society” (1887) adopted a bitter social Darwinism—a term that would itself be introduced about 1890. Accepting Darwin’s Malthusian belief that overpopulation was the rule, Huxley maintained that the inevitable struggle and death undermined any possibility of socialist cooperation, which was back in contention after the socialist revival of 1886.


He was answered by the anarchist prince Peter Kropotkin in Mutual Aid (1902). Huxley also nationalized the Darwinian struggle; he saw the industrial powers competing, making workforce training obligatory to win the economic “battle.” His last major talk was on “Evolution and Ethics” at the University of Oxford in 1893. Mellower now, six years after Marian’s death, Huxley used the occasion to detach benign human ethics from natural competition. Darwin’s “war”—between animals or industrial nations—had no place in our personal lives, he said. Society grows as we curb these “anti-social” animal instincts—it advances through the selection of individuals who are ethically the best, rather than physically the fittest.

Huxley suffered from pleurisy and heart disease in London’s smog, and the family moved to Eastbourne, on the Sussex coast, in 1890. Huxley was now an elder statesman of science, his once-radical ideas the foundations of the new Establishment. Agnosticism was equated with nonsectarianism; a lord chief justice in 1883 declared that Christianity was no longer the law of the land in England, with the caveat that while Huxley’s reverent questioning was now legal, vulgar working-class attacks on Christian beliefs were still indictable. Huxley’s brand of national Darwinism turned science against socialism and made naturalism synonymous with patriotism. The professions, including those in science, were accumulating power. He was also patriarch of an expanding intellectual dynasty. His son Leonard was a prominent editor, and three grandchildren would earn their own fame: Julian and Andrew as biologists and Aldous as a writer. It was this Huxley, as much a Unionist and nationalist as a brilliant propagandist for science, who was appointed to the Privy Council by the Conservative prime minister Robert Cecil, 3rd marquis of Salisbury, in 1892.

And so it was the Right Honourable Huxley who died of a heart attack on June 29, 1895—typically, midway through a defense of agnosticism. Huxley was buried on July 4, 1895, next to his tiny son Noel in St. Marylebone Cemetery, in Finchley, north London, his funeral being attended by a constellation of the greatest Victorian scientists.

Adrian J. Desmond

Encyclopædia Britannica


Pencil drawing of Huxley by his daughter, Marian
  Collected Essays, 9 vol. (1893–94), are beautifully written period articles. It was for these prose gems that Huxley was called by H.L. Mencken "perhaps the greatest virtuoso of plain English who has ever lived." Famous for their sturdy English and suave cajoling, they show Huxley edging the Victorians toward a secular nonmiraculous worldview. The Essays contain what is perhaps Huxley’s most famous book, which introduced the idea of our ape ancestry, Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature (1863). A series of workingmen’s talks popularizing Charles Darwin’s ideas was published as On Our Knowledge of the Causes of the Phenomena of Organic Nature (1862). The Collected Essays originally appeared in book form as Lay Sermons, Addresses, and Reviews (1870), Critiques and Addresses (1873), American Addresses (1877), Science and Culture (1882), Social Diseases and Worse Remedies (1891), and Essays upon Some Controverted Questions (1892). Huxley also published Hume (1878). His introductory science books were Lessons in Elementary Physiology (1866), Physiography (1877), Introductory Science Primer (1880), and The Crayfish: An Introduction to the Study of Zoology (1880). T.H. Huxley and H.N. Martin, A Course of Practical Instruction in Elementary Biology (1875), introduced the new laboratory techniques. His advanced monographs and textbooks include The Oceanic Hydrozoa (1859), Lectures on the Elements of Comparative Anatomy (1864), A Manual of the Anatomy of Vertebrated Animals (1871), and A Manual of the Anatomy of Invertebrated Animals (1877). Huxley’s zoological papers were collected in Michael Foster and E. Ray Lankester (eds.), The Scientific Memoirs of Thomas Henry Huxley, 5 vol. (1898–1903). Julian Huxley (ed.), T.H. Huxley’s Diary of the Voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake (1935), was edited from his unpublished manuscript.

Adrian J. Desmond

Planck Max

Max Planck, in full Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck (born April 23, 1858, Kiel, Schleswig [Germany]—died October 4, 1947, Göttingen, Germany), German theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1918.

Planck made many contributions to theoretical physics, but his fame rests primarily on his role as originator of the quantum theory. This theory revolutionized our understanding of atomic and subatomic processes, just as Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity revolutionized our understanding of space and time. Together they constitute the fundamental theories of 20th-century physics. Both have forced humankind to revise some of the most cherished philosophical beliefs, and both have led to industrial and military applications that affect every aspect of modern life.

Max Planck 1910
  Early life
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck was the sixth child of a distinguished jurist and professor of law at the University of Kiel. The long family tradition of devotion to church and state, excellence in scholarship, incorruptibility, conservatism, idealism, reliability, and generosity became deeply ingrained in Planck’s own life and work. When Planck was nine years old, his father received an appointment at the University of Munich, and Planck entered the city’s renowned Maximilian Gymnasium, where a teacher, Hermann Müller, stimulated his interest in physics and mathematics. But Planck excelled in all subjects, and after graduation at age 17 he faced a difficult career decision. He ultimately chose physics over classical philology or music because he had dispassionately reached the conclusion that it was in physics that his greatest originality lay. Music, nonetheless, remained an integral part of his life. He possessed the gift of absolute pitch and was an excellent pianist who daily found serenity and delight at the keyboard, enjoying especially the works of Schubert and Brahms. He also loved the outdoors, taking long walks each day and hiking and climbing in the mountains on vacations, even in advanced old age.

Planck entered the University of Munich in the fall of 1874 but found little encouragement there from physics professor Philipp von Jolly. During a year spent at the University of Berlin (1877–78), he was unimpressed by the lectures of Hermann von Helmholtz and Gustav Robert Kirchhoff, despite their eminence as research scientists. His intellectual capacities were, however, brought to a focus as the result of his independent study, especially of Rudolf Clausius’s writings on thermodynamics.

Returning to Munich, he received his doctoral degree in July 1879 (the year of Einstein’s birth) at the unusually young age of 21. The following year he completed his Habilitationsschrift (qualifying dissertation) at Munich and became a Privatdozent (lecturer). In 1885, with the help of his father’s professional connections, he was appointed ausserordentlicher Professor (associate professor) at the University of Kiel. In 1889, after the death of Kirchhoff, Planck received an appointment to the University of Berlin, where he came to venerate Helmholtz as a mentor and colleague. In 1892 he was promoted to ordentlicher Professor (full professor). He had only nine doctoral students altogether, but his Berlin lectures on all branches of theoretical physics went through many editions and exerted great influence. He remained in Berlin for the rest of his active life.

Planck recalled that his “original decision to devote myself to science was a direct result of the discovery…that the laws of human reasoning coincide with the laws governing the sequences of the impressions we receive from the world about us; that, therefore, pure reasoning can enable man to gain an insight into the mechanism of the [world]….” He deliberately decided, in other words, to become a theoretical physicist at a time when theoretical physics was not yet recognized as a discipline in its own right. But he went further: he concluded that the existence of physical laws presupposes that the “outside world is something independent from man, something absolute, and the quest for the laws which apply to this absolute appeared…as the most sublime scientific pursuit in life.”

Planck’s constant [Credit: Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Mainz]The first instance of an absolute in nature that impressed Planck deeply, even as a Gymnasium student, was the law of the conservation of energy, the first law of thermodynamics. Later, during his university years, he became equally convinced that the entropy law, the second law of thermodynamics, was also an absolute law of nature. The second law became the subject of his doctoral dissertation at Munich, and it lay at the core of the researches that led him to discover the quantum of action, now known as Planck’s constant h, in 1900.


Planck in 1918, the year he received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on quantum theory

  In 1859–60 Kirchhoff had defined a blackbody as an object that reemits all of the radiant energy incident upon it; i.e., it is a perfect emitter and absorber of radiation. There was, therefore, something absolute about blackbody radiation, and by the 1890s various experimental and theoretical attempts had been made to determine its spectral energy distribution—the curve displaying how much radiant energy is emitted at different frequencies for a given temperature of the blackbody. Planck was particularly attracted to the formula found in 1896 by his colleague Wilhelm Wien at the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt (PTR) in Berlin-Charlottenburg, and he subsequently made a series of attempts to derive “Wien’s law” on the basis of the second law of thermodynamics. By October 1900, however, other colleagues at the PTR, the experimentalists Otto Richard Lummer, Ernst Pringsheim, Heinrich Rubens, and Ferdinand Kurlbaum, had found definite indications that Wien’s law, while valid at high frequencies, broke down completely at low frequencies.

Planck learned of these results just before a meeting of the German Physical Society on October 19. He knew how the entropy of the radiation had to depend mathematically upon its energy in the high-frequency region if Wien’s law held there. He also saw what this dependence had to be in the low-frequency region in order to reproduce the experimental results there. Planck guessed, therefore, that he should try to combine these two expressions in the simplest way possible, and to transform the result into a formula relating the energy of the radiation to its frequency.

The result, which is known as Planck’s radiation law, was hailed as indisputably correct. To Planck, however, it was simply a guess, a “lucky intuition.” If it was to be taken seriously, it had to be derived somehow from first principles. That was the task to which Planck immediately directed his energies, and by December 14, 1900, he had succeeded—but at great cost. To achieve his goal, Planck found that he had to relinquish one of his own most cherished beliefs, that the second law of thermodynamics was an absolute law of nature. Instead he had to embrace Ludwig Boltzmann’s interpretation, that the second law was a statistical law. In addition, Planck had to assume that the oscillators comprising the blackbody and re-emitting the radiant energy incident upon them could not absorb this energy continuously but only in discrete amounts, in quanta of energy; only by statistically distributing these quanta, each containing an amount of energy hν proportional to its frequency, over all of the oscillators present in the blackbody could Planck derive the formula he had hit upon two months earlier.

He adduced additional evidence for the importance of his formula by using it to evaluate the constant h (his value was 6.55 × 10−27 erg-second, close to the modern value), as well as the so-called Boltzmann constant (the fundamental constant in kinetic theory and statistical mechanics), Avogadro’s number, and the charge of the electron. As time went on physicists recognized ever more clearly that—because Planck’s constant was not zero but had a small but finite value—the microphysical world, the world of atomic dimensions, could not in principle be described by ordinary classical mechanics. A profound revolution in physical theory was in the making.

From left to right: W. Nernst, A. Einstein, M. Planck, R.A. Millikan and von Laue at a dinner given by
von Laue in Berlin on 11 November 1931
Planck’s concept of energy quanta, in other words, conflicted fundamentally with all past physical theory. He was driven to introduce it strictly by the force of his logic; he was, as one historian put it, a reluctant revolutionary. Indeed, it was years before the far-reaching consequences of Planck’s achievement were generally recognized, and in this Einstein played a central role. In 1905, independently of Planck’s work, Einstein argued that under certain circumstances radiant energy itself seemed to consist of quanta (light quanta, later called photons), and in 1907 he showed the generality of the quantum hypothesis by using it to interpret the temperature dependence of the specific heats of solids.

In 1909 Einstein introduced the wave–particle duality into physics. In October 1911 Planck and Einstein were among the group of prominent physicists who attended the first Solvay conference in Brussels. The discussions there stimulated Henri Poincaré to provide a mathematical proof that Planck’s radiation law necessarily required the introduction of quanta—a proof that converted James (later Sir James) Jeans and others into supporters of the quantum theory.

In 1913 Niels Bohr also contributed greatly to its establishment through his quantum theory of the hydrogen atom. Ironically, Planck himself was one of the last to struggle for a return to classical theory, a stance he later regarded not with regret but as a means by which he had thoroughly convinced himself of the necessity of the quantum theory. Opposition to Einstein’s radical light quantum hypothesis of 1905 persisted until after the discovery of the Compton effect in 1922.

Planck in 1933
  Later life
Planck was 42 years old in 1900 when he made the famous discovery that in 1918 won him the Nobel Prize for Physics and that brought him many other honours. It is not surprising that he subsequently made no discoveries of comparable importance. Nevertheless, he continued to contribute at a high level to various branches of optics, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, physical chemistry, and other fields. He was also the first prominent physicist to champion Einstein’s special theory of relativity (1905). “The velocity of light is to the Theory of Relativity,” Planck remarked, “as the elementary quantum of action is to the Quantum Theory; it is its absolute core.”
In 1914 Planck and the physical chemist Walther Hermann Nernst succeeded in bringing Einstein to Berlin, and after the war, in 1919, arrangements were made for Max von Laue, Planck’s favourite student, to come to Berlin as well. When Planck retired in 1928, another prominent theoretical physicist, Erwin Schrödinger, the originator of wave mechanics, was chosen as his successor. For a time, therefore, Berlin shone brilliantly as a centre of theoretical physics—until darkness enveloped it in January 1933 with the ascent of Adolf Hitler to power.

In his later years, Planck devoted more and more of his writings to philosophical, aesthetic, and religious questions.

Together with Einstein and Schrödinger, he remained adamantly opposed to the indeterministic, statistical worldview introduced by Bohr, Max Born, Werner Heisenberg, and others into physics after the advent of quantum mechanics in 1925–26. Such a view was not in harmony with Planck’s deepest intuitions and beliefs. The physical universe, Planck argued, is an objective entity existing independently of man; the observer and the observed are not intimately coupled, as Bohr and his school would have it.

Planck became permanent secretary of the mathematics and physics sections of the Prussian Academy of Sciences in 1912 and held that position until 1938; he was also president of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (now the Max Planck Society) from 1930 to 1937. These offices and others placed Planck in a position of great authority, especially among German physicists; seldom were his decisions or advice questioned. His authority, however, stemmed fundamentally not from the official appointments he held but from his personal moral force.

His fairness, integrity, and wisdom were beyond question. It was completely in character that Planck went directly to Hitler in an attempt to reverse Hitler’s devastating racial policies and that he chose to remain in Germany during the Nazi period to try to preserve what he could of German physics.

Planck was a man of indomitable will. Had he been less stoic, and had he had less philosophical and religious conviction, he could scarcely have withstood the tragedies that entered his life after age 50. In 1909, his first wife, Marie Merck, the daughter of a Munich banker, died after 22 years of happy marriage, leaving Planck with two sons and twin daughters. The elder son, Karl, was killed in action in 1916. The following year, Margarete, one of his daughters, died in childbirth, and in 1919 the same fate befell Emma, his other daughter. World War II brought further tragedy. Planck’s house in Berlin was completely destroyed by bombs in 1944. Far worse, the younger son, Erwin, was implicated in the attempt made on Hitler’s life on July 20, 1944, and in early 1945 he died a horrible death at the hands of the Gestapo. That merciless act destroyed Planck’s will to live. At war’s end, American officers took Planck and his second wife, Marga von Hoesslin, whom he had married in 1910 and by whom he had had one son, to Göttingen. There, in 1947, in his 89th year, he died. Death, in the words of James Franck, came to him “as a redemption.”

Roger H. Stuewer

Encyclopædia Britannica

Plaque at the Humboldt University of Berlin: "Max Planck, discoverer of the elementary quantum of action h, taught in this building from 1889 to 1928."
William Thomson (Thomson William ), invents mirror galvanometer
Mirror galvanometer
A mirror galvanometer is an electromechanical instrument that indicates that it has sensed an electric current by deflecting a light beam with a mirror. The beam of light projected on a scale acts as a long massless pointer. In 1826, Johann Christian Poggendorff developed the mirror galvanometer for detecting electric currents. The apparatus is also known as a spot galvanometer after the spot of light produced in some models.
Mirror galvanometers were used extensively in scientific instruments before reliable, stable electronic amplifiers were available. The most common uses were as recording equipment for seismometers and submarine cables used for telegraphy.

In modern times, the term mirror galvanometer is also used for devices that move laser beams by rotating a mirror through a galvanometer set-up. The name is often abbreviated as galvo.

Kelvin's galvanometer
The mirror galvanometer was later improved by William Thomson, later to become Lord Kelvin. He would patent the device in 1858.

Thomson reacted to the need for an instrument that could indicate with sensibility all the variations of the current in a long cable. This instrument was far more sensitive than any which preceded it, enabling the detection of the slightest defect in the core of a cable during its manufacture and submersion.

Moreover, it proved the best apparatus for receiving messages through a long cable.

The following is adapted from a contemporary account of Thomson's instrument:

“ The mirror galvanometer consists of a long fine coil of silk-covered copper wire. In the heart of that coil, within a little air-chamber, a small round mirror is hung by a single fibre of floss silk, with four tiny magnets cemented to its back.

A beam of light is thrown from a lamp upon the mirror, and reflected by it upon a white screen or scale a few feet distant, where it forms a bright spot of light.

When there is no current on the instrument, the spot of light remains stationary at the zero position on the screen; but when a current flows through the traverses the long wire of the coil, the suspended magnets twist themselves horizontally out of their former position, the mirror is inclined with them, and the beam of light is deflected along the screen to one side or the other, according to the nature of the current. If a positive electric current gives a deflection to the right of zero, a negative current will give a deflection to the left of zero, and vice versa.

Thomson mirror galvanometer of tripod type, from around 1900
The air in the little chamber surrounding the mirror is compressed at will, so as to act like a cushion, and deaden the movements of the mirror. The needle is thus prevented from idly swinging about at each deflection, and the separate signals are rendered abrupt. At a receiving station the current coming in from the cable has simply to be passed through the coil before it is sent into the ground, and the wandering light spot on the screen faithfully represents all its variations to the clerk, who, looking on, interprets these, and cries out the message word by word.
The small weight of the mirror and magnets which form the moving part of this instrument, and the range to which the minute motions of the mirror can be magnified on the screen by the reflected beam of light, which acts as a long impalpable hand or pointer, render the mirror galvanometer marvellously sensitive to the current, especially when compared with other forms of receiving instruments.

Messages could be sent from the United Kingdom to the United States through one Atlantic cable and back again through another, and there received on the mirror galvanometer, the electric current used being that from a toy battery made out of a lady's silver thimble, a grain of zinc, and a drop of acidulated water.

The practical advantage of this extreme delicacy is that the signal waves of the current may follow each other so closely as almost entirely to coalesce, leaving only a very slight rise and fall of their crests, like ripples on the surface of a flowing stream, and yet the light spot will respond to each.

The main flow of the current will of course shift the zero of the spot, but over and above this change of place the spot will follow the momentary fluctuations of the current which form the individual signals of the message.

What with this shifting of the zero and the very slight rise and fall in the current produced by rapid signalling, the ordinary land line instruments are quite unserviceable for work upon long cables.”
Galvanometer by H.W. Sullivan, London. Late 19th or early 20th century. This galvanometer was used at the transatlantic cable station, Halifax, NS, Canada
Moving coil galvanometer
Moving coil galvanometer was developed independently by Marcel Deprez and Jacques-Arsène d'Arsonval about 1880. Deprez's galvanometer was developed for high currents, while D'Arsonval designed his to measure weak currents. Unlike in the Kelvin's galvanometer, in this type of galvanometer the magnet is stationary and the coil is suspended in the magnet gap. The mirror attached to the coil frame rotates together with it.

This form of instrument can be more sensitive and accurate and it replaced the Kelvin's galvanometer in most applications. The moving coil galvanometer is practically immune to ambient magnetic fields. Another important feature is self-damping generated by the electro-magnetic forces due to the currents induced in the coil by its movements the magnetic field. These are proportional to the angular velocity of the coil.
Modern uses
In modern times, high-speed mirror galvanometers are employed in laser light shows to move the laser beams and produce colorful geometric patterns in fog around the audience.

Such high speed mirror galvanometers have proved to be indispensable in industry for laser marking systems for everything from laser etching hand tools, containers, and parts to batch-coding semiconductor wafers in semiconductor device fabrication.

They typically control X and Y directions on Nd:YAG and CO2 laser markers to control the position of the infrared power laser spot. Laser ablation, laser beam machining and wafer dicing are all industrial areas where high-speed mirror galvanometers can be found.

Closer to home, mirror galvanometers are located in most retail outlets, warehouses, and parcel delivery service providers, in the form of barcode readers for Universal Product Codes and other forms of barcode

This moving coil galvanometer is mainly used to measure very feeble or low currents of order 10−9 A.

Modern mirror galvanometer from Scanlab
To linearise the magnetic field across the coil throughout the galvanometer's range of movement, the d'Arsonval design of a soft iron cylinder is placed inside the coil without touching it. This gives a consistent radial field, rather than a parallel linear field.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Mirror galvo in an RGB laser projector.
General Medical Council
The General Medical Council (GMC) is a fee-based registered charity with statutory obligation to maintain a register of medical practitioners within the United Kingdom. The current chair of the council is Professor Terence Stephenson and current chief executive and registrar is Niall Dickson.

The GMC was established by the Medical Act 1858. Initially its members were elected by the members of the profession, and enjoyed widespread confidence from the profession.

All the GMC's functions derive from a statutory requirement for the establishment and maintenance of a register, which is the definitive list of doctors as provisionally or fully "registered medical practitioners", within the public sector in Britain. The GMC controls entry to the List of Registered Medical Practitioners ("the medical register"). The Medical Act 1983 (amended) notes that, "The main objective of the General Council in exercising their functions is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public."

Secondly, the GMC regulates and sets the standards for medical schools in the UK, and liaises with other nations' medical and university regulatory bodies over medical schools overseas, leading to some qualifications being mutually recognised. Since 2010, it also regulates postgraduate medical education.

Thirdly, the GMC is responsible for a licensing and revalidation system for all practising doctors in the UK, separate from the registration system, which was given legal effect by order of the Privy Council on 3 December 2012.

Activities and powers
Due to the principle of autonomy and law of consent there is no legislative restriction on who can treat patients or provide medical or health-related services. In other words, it is not a criminal offence to provide what would be considered medical assistance or treatment to another person – and not just in an emergency. This is in contrast with the position in respect of animals, where it is a criminal offence under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 for someone who is not a registered veterinary surgeon (or in certain more limited circumstances a registered veterinary nurse) to provide treatment (save in an emergency) to an animal they do not own.

Parliament, since the enactment of the 1858 Act, has conferred on the GMC powers to grant various legal benefits and responsibilities to those medical practitioners who are registered with the GMC - a public body and association, as described, of the Medical Act of 1983, by Mr Justice Burnett in British Medical Association v General Medical Council.

“ Registration brings with it the privileges, as they are described, set out in Part 6 of the Act. In reality, they comprise prohibitions for all those not registered. Section 46 prohibits any person from recovering in a court of law any charge rendered for medical advice, attendance or surgery unless he is registered. Section 47 provides that only those registered can act as physicians, surgeons or medical officers in any NHS hospital, prison, in the armed forces or other public institutions. Section 48 invalidates certificates, such as sick notes or prescriptions, if signed by someone who is unregistered. Section 49 imposes penalties via criminal offences for pretending to be a registered medical practitioner. ”
Through which, by an Order in the Privy Council, the GMC describes "The main objective of the General Council in exercising their functions is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public".

The GMC is funded by annual fees required from those wishing to remain registered and fees for examinations. Fees for registration have risen significantly in the last few years: 2007 fees = £290, 2008 fees = £390, 2009 fees = £410, 2010 fees = £420, 2011 fees = £420, with a 50% discount for doctors earning under £26,000.

In 2011, following the Command Paper "Enabling Excellence-Autonomy and Accountability for Healthcare Workers, Social Workers and Social Care Workers", registration fees were reduced by the GMC in accordance with the Government's strategy for reforming and simplifying the system for regulating healthcare workers in the UK and social workers and social care workers in England and requiring that. "[A]t a time of pay restraint in both the public and private sectors, the burden of fees on individual registrants needs to be minimised."

  Registering doctors in the UK
“ The GMC maintains a register of medical practitioners. However, no law expressly prohibits any unregistered or unqualified person from practicing most types of medicine or even surgery. A criminal offence is committed only when such a person deliberately and falsely represents himself as being a registered practitioner or as having a medical qualification. The rationale of the criminal law is that people should be free to opt for any form of advice or treatment, however bizarre… ”

Registration with the GMC confers a number of privileges and duties. GMC registration may be either provisional or full. Provisional registration is granted to those who have completed medical school and enter their first year (F1) of medical training; this may be converted into full registration upon satisfactory completion of the first year of postgraduate training.

In the past, a third type of registration ("limited registration") was granted to doctors who had graduated outside the UK and who had completed the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board examination but who were yet to complete a period of work in the UK. Limited registration was abolished on 19 October 2007 and now international medical graduates can apply for provisional or full registration depending on their level of experience – they still have to meet the GMC’s requirement for knowledge and skills and for English language.

The GMC administers the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board test (PLAB), which has to be sat by non-European Union overseas doctors before they may practice medicine in the UK as a registered doctor.

A registered practitioner found to have committed some offences can be removed ("struck off") from the Medical Register.

Licensing and revalidating doctors in the UK
The GMC is now empowered to license and regularly revalidate the practice of doctors in the UK. When the licensing scheme was introduced in 2009, 13,500 (6.1%) of registered doctors chose not to be licensed. Unlicensed but registered doctors are likely to be non-practising lecturers, managers, or practising overseas, or retired. Whereas all registered doctors in the UK were offered a one-off automatic practise license in November 2009, since December 2012 no license will be automatically revalidated, but will be subject to a revalidation process every five years.

No doctor may now be registered for the first time without also being issued a license to practice, although a licensed doctor may give up their licence if they choose. No unlicensed but registered doctor in the UK is subject to revalidation. However, unlicensed but registered doctors in the UK are still subject to fitness-to-practice proceedings, and required to follow the GMC's good medical practice guidance.

Setting standards of good medical practice
The GMC sets standards of professional and ethical conduct that doctors in the UK are required to follow. The main guidance that the GMC provides for doctors is called Good Medical Practice. This outlines the standard of professional conduct that the public expects from its doctors and provides principles that underpin the GMC’s fitness to practise decisions. Originally written in 1995, a revised edition came into force in November 2006, and another with effect from 22 April 2013. The content of Good Medical Practice has been rearranged into four domains of duties. Their most significant change is the replacement of a duty to, "Act without delay if you have good reason to believe that you or a colleague may be putting patients at risk," to a new duty to, "Take prompt action if you think that patient safety, dignity or comfort is being compromised". Alongside the guidance booklet are a range of explanatory guidelines, including a new one about the use of social media. The GMC also provides additional guidance for doctors on specific ethical topics, such as treating patients under the age of 18, end of life care, and conflicts of interest.
  Medical education
The GMC regulates medical education and training in the United Kingdom.

It runs 'quality assurance' programmes for UK medical schools and postgraduate deaneries to ensure that the necessary standards and outcomes are achieved.

In February 2008 the then Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson, agreed with recommendations of the Tooke Report which advised that the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board should be assimilated into the GMC.

Whilst recognising the achievements made by PMETB, Professor John Tooke concluded that regulation needed to be combined into one body; that there should be one organisation that looked after what he called 'the continuum of medical education', from the moment someone chooses a career in medicine until the point that they retire.

The merger, which took effect on 1 April 2010, was welcomed by both PMETB and the GMC.

Concerns about doctors
A registered medical practitioner may be referred to the GMC if there are doubts about their fitness to practise in the UK. These are divided into concerns about health and other concerns about ability or behaviour. In the past these issues were dealt with separately and differently, but now pass through a single fitness to practise process. The GMC has powers to issue advice or warnings to doctors, accept undertakings from them, or refer them to a fitness to practise panel. The GMC’s fitness to practise panels can accept undertakings from a doctor, issue warnings, impose conditions on a doctor’s practice, suspend a doctor, or erase them from the medical register ('struck off'). The GMC is concerned with ensuring that doctors are safe to practise. Its role is not, for example, to fine doctors or to compensate patients following problems. The outcomes of hearings are made available on the GMC website.
Since 2001, the GMC's fitness to practise decisions have been subject to review by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE), which may vary sentences.

The GMC is also accountable to Parliament through the Health Select Committee. In its first report on the GMC, the Committee described the GMC as "a high-performing medical regulator", but called for some changes to fitness to practise rules and practices, including allowing the GMC the right to appeal sentences of its panels.

In the 2000s, the GMC implemented wide-ranging reforms of its organisation and procedures. In part, such moves followed the Shipman affair. They followed a direction set by the UK government in its white paper, Trust, Assurance and Safety. One of the key changes was to reduce the size of the Council itself, and changing its composition to an equal number of medical and lay members, rather than the majority being doctors.

In 2011, the GMC accepted further changes that would separate its presentation of fitness to practise cases from their adjudication, which would become the responsibility of a new body, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service. The GMC had previously been criticised for combining these two roles in a single organization.

A forthcoming reform to medical registration is the introduction of revalidation of doctors, more similar to the periodic process common in American states, in which the professional is expected to prove his or her professional development and skills. Revalidation is scheduled to start in 2012.

  On 16 February 2011, The Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, made a Written Ministerial Statement in the Justice section entitled ‘Health Care Workers, Social Workers and Social Care Workers’ in which he said:

“ I have today laid before Parliament a Command Paper, "Enabling Excellence-Autonomy and Accountability for Healthcare Workers, Social Workers and Social Care Workers" (Cm 8008)  setting out the Government's proposals for how the system for regulating health care workers across the United Kingdom and social workers in England should be reformed. ”

Within the Command Paper:-

“ Should any regulators wish to propose mergers with other regulatory bodies to reduce costs as part of this work, the Government will view these proposals sympathetically. If the sector itself is unable to identify and secure significant cost reductions over the next three years, and contain registration fees, then the Government will revisit the issue of consolidating the sector into a more cost-effective configuration. ”

Sir Liam Donaldson, a former chief medical officer had recently told the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry that he had been involved in discussions about the Nursing and Midwifery Council merging with the General Medical Council, but proponents had "backed off" from the idea and the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence was created instead to share best practice.

Sir Liam said the CHRE had been "reasonably successful" but it would be "worth looking at the possibility of a merger" between the GMC and NMC.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Suez Canal Company

The Universal Suez Ship Canal Company (French: Compagnie universelle du canal maritime de Suez, or simply Compagnie de Suez for short) was the corporation that constructed and operated the Suez Canal between 1859 and 1869. It was formed by Ferdinand de Lesseps in 1858, and it owned and operated the canal for many years thereafter. Initially, French private investors were the majority of the shareholders, with Egypt also having a significant stake.

The company exists today, after a series of mergers, as GDF Suez. However, today the canal is operated by the Suez Canal Authority.

General aspects
When Isma'il Pasha became Wāli of Egypt and Sudan in 1863, he refused to adhere to the concessions to the Canal company made by his predecessor Said. The problem was referred during 1864 to the arbitration of Napoleon III, who awarded £3,800,000 to the company as compensation for the losses they would incur by the changes to the original grant which Ismail demanded.
During 1875, a financial crisis forced Isma'il to sell his shares to the British Government for only £3,976,582.

The company operated the canal until its nationalization by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1956, which led to the Suez Crisis.

In 1962, Egypt made its final payments for the canal to the Universal Suez Ship Canal Company and took full control of the Suez Canal.

In 1997, the company merged with Lyonnaise des Eaux to form Suez S.A., which was later merged with Gaz de France on 22 July 2008 to form GDF Suez.

In 1938, Benito Mussolini demanded that Italy have a sphere of influence in the Suez Canal, specifically demanding that an Italian representative be placed on the company's board of directors.
Italy opposed the French monopoly over the Suez Canal because under French domination of the company all Italian merchant traffic to its colony of Italian East Africa was forced to pay tolls upon entering the canal.

On 26 July 1956, the Egyptian government announced it intended to nationalize the Suez Company, owned by the French and the British, and also closed the canal to all Israeli shipping. This resulted in the Suez Crisis.


Presidents of the Suez Canal Company (1855-1956)
Before nationalisation:

Ferdinand De Lesseps, (1855 – 7 December 1894)
Jules Guichard (17 December 1892 – 17 July 1896) (acting for de Lesseps to 7 December 1894)
Auguste-Louis-Albéric, prince d'Arenberg (3 August 1896 – 1913)
Charles Jonnart (19 May 1913 – 1927)
Louis de Vogüé (4 April 1927 – 1 March 1948)
François Charles-Roux (4 April 1948 – 26 July 1956)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Owen Robert, Eng. social reformer, d. (b. 1771)

Robert Owen
South Foreland lighthouse lit by electricity
S.S. "Great Eastern"
S.S. "Great Eastern" is launched-largest ship of her time (displacement, 27,000 tons)

Great Eastern at Heart's Content, July 1866
SS Great Eastern was an iron sailing steam ship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and built by J. Scott Russell & Co. at Millwall on the River Thames, London. She was by far the largest ship ever built at the time of her 1858 launch, and had the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers from England to Australia without refuelling. Her length of 692 feet (211 m) was only surpassed in 1899 by the 705-foot (215 m) 17,274-gross-ton RMS Oceanic, and her gross tonnage of 18,915 was only surpassed in 1901 by the 701-foot (214 m) 21,035-gross-ton RMS Celtic. With five funnels (later reduced to four), she was one of a very few vessels to ever sport that number, sharing her number of five with the Russian cruiser Askold – though several warships, including HMS Viking, and several French cruisers of the pre-dreadnought era had six.

Brunel knew her affectionately as the "Great Babe". He died in 1859 shortly after her ill-fated maiden voyage, during which she was damaged by an explosion. After repairs, she plied for several years as a passenger liner between Britain and North America before being converted to a cable-laying ship and laying the first lasting transatlantic telegraph cable in 1866. Finishing her life as a floating music hall and advertising hoarding (for the famous department store Lewis's) in Liverpool, she was broken up in 1889.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Webb Beatrice
Webb Sidney
Sidney and Beatrice Webb, in full respectively Sidney James Webb, Baron Passfield of Passfield Corner, and Martha Beatrice Webb, née Potter (respectively, born July 13, 1859, London—died Oct. 13, 1947, Liphook, Hampshire, Eng.; born Jan. 22, 1858, Gloucester, Gloucestershire—died April 30, 1943, Liphook), English Socialist economists (husband and wife), early members of the Fabian Society, and co-founders of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Sidney Webb also helped reorganize the University of London into a federation of teaching institutions and served in the government as a Labour Party member. Pioneers in social and economic reforms as well as distinguished historians, the Webbs deeply affected social thought and institutions in England.

Webb, photographed c. 1875
  Early life of Beatrice Potter Webb.
Beatrice Potter was born in Gloucester, into a class which, to use her own words, “habitually gave orders.” She was the eighth daughter of Richard Potter, a businessman, at whose death she inherited a private income of £1,000 a year, and Laurencina Heyworth, daughter of a Liverpool merchant.

She grew up a rather lonely and sickly girl, educating herself by extensive reading and discussions with her father’s visitors, of whom the philosopher Herbert Spencer exerted the greatest intellectual influence on her. Her elder sisters made conventional marriages, and she herself might have become the third wife of the much older Liberal statesman Joseph Chamberlain had not incompatibility of temperament caused a break between them. Even before that, however, she had begun to question the assumptions of her father’s business world. While staying with distant relatives in a small Lancashire town, she became acquainted with the world of the members of the working class cooperative movement.

Following the disappointing outcome of her relationship with Chamberlain, she took up social work in London but soon became critical of the failure of the inadequate measures of charitable organizations to attack the root problems of poverty.

She learned more of the realities of lower class life while helping her cousin Charles Booth, the shipowner and social reformer, to research his monumental study of The Life and Labour of the People in London. In 1891 she published The Co-operative Movement in Great Britain, a small book based on her experiences in Lancashire, which later became a classic.

It was not long before she realized that in order to find any solution to the problem of poverty she would have to learn more about the organizations that the working class had created for itself; i.e., the labour unions. While collecting information about earlier economic conditions, she was advised to apply to a “mine of information,” Sidney Webb, whose acquaintance she made in 1890.
Early life of Sidney Webb.
Sidney James Webb was born in London into a lower middle-class family; his father was a free-lance accountant and his mother was a shopkeeper. He left school before he was 16, but after attending evening classes he secured admission to the civil service and three years later (1884) passed his bar examinations. For some time he had been the close friend of the young journalist Bernard Shaw, who in 1885 induced him to join a very small, newly founded Socialist body called the Fabian Society.
Shaw believed that Webb’s extensive factual knowledge was exactly what the society needed as a foundation for its theoretical advocacy of Socialism. In 1887 Webb justified Shaw’s choice by writing for the society the first edition of the Fabian Tract Facts for Socialists, revised editions of which were published until the end of World War II.
  The tract was the first concise expression of the Fabian conviction that public knowledge of the facts of industrial society was the essential first step toward the reform of that society.

As executive member of the Fabian Society, Webb, in 1889, delivered one of the public lectures that made up Fabian Essays and put the society on the map. The following year he met Beatrice Potter, who was making her own way to a belief in Socialism and had been greatly impressed by Webb’s contribution to Fabian Essays. Webb at once fell in love with the handsome, intellectual young woman. She took longer to adjust her sights to the scruffy, rather ugly little man in the shiny suits, though he had already made a name for himself as a lecturer and writer on economics. They were married in 1892 and by way of honeymoon set off to investigate trade union records in Glasgow and Dublin.


Beatrice Webb in 1894
  Their work after marriage.
Shortly after returning to London they set up house there. Sidney left the civil service, and they decided to live on Beatrice’s inheritance and what they could make from books and journalism in order to devote more time to social research and political work. Sidney retained only his position on the London County Council, to which he was first elected in 1892, and his association with the Fabian Society.

The first fruits, and the first success, of their collaborative effort were the great twin volumes The History of Trade Unionism (1894) and Industrial Democracy (1897). In these books the Webbs, in effect, introduced the economists and social historians of Britain to a part of British social life of which they had hitherto been unaware. The work that followed extended into areas of historical and social research, educational and political reform, and journalism.

Among their writings was the prodigious enterprise—which again broke new ground—of the history of English local government from the 17th to the 20th century. This work, published over a period of 25 years, firmly established the Webbs as historical researchers of the first rank. They produced also a great number of books, large and small, and pamphlets, some of short-lived, others of permanent interest. Their literary output, however, important as it was, takes second place to their work in creating and developing institutions.

Sidney served from 1892 to 1910 on the London County Council; he is best remembered for his creation of the system of secondary state schools and the scholarship system for elementary school pupils. He was also instrumental in the establishment of technical and other postschool education in London. Concurrently, he and Beatrice founded the London School of Economics; with R.B. (later Lord) Haldane, Liberal statesman. Sidney reorganized the University of London into a federation of teaching institutions; and with the educator Robert Morant he provided the blueprint for the Education Acts of 1902 and 1903, which set the pattern of English public education for generations to come. In this last effort, Sidney and Beatrice employed the tactic that became known as “permeation,” that is, attempting to push through Fabian policies or parts of policies by converting persons of power and influence irrespective of their political affiliations.

Sidney and Beatrice Webb
At that time, for instance, both Lord Balfour, the Conservative prime minister, and his Liberal rival Lord Rosebery were approached for political support. With the advent of the huge Liberal majority in 1906 this strategy became ineffective, and the Webbs were eventually forced to “permeate” the fledgling Labour Party. Before that, however, Beatrice, as a member from 1905 to 1909 of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws, had produced her remarkable Minority Report, which 35 years before the “Beveridge Report” advocating universal social insurance, clearly spelled out the outlines of the welfare state. The nationwide agitation that the Webbs organized in favour of social security was only quelled in 1911 by Lloyd George’s hasty improvisation of a scheme of contributory insurance.

Beatrice and Sidney Webb during a trip to the Soviet Union in 1932
  Association with the Labour Party.
When the Webbs, in late 1914, became members of the Labour Party, they rapidly rose high in its counsels. (Their leadership in the Fabian Society had been shaken by the opposition, first of H.G. Wells and later of the Guild Socialists, who advocated self-government in industry, and other left-wing rebels led by a historian and economist G.D.H. Cole.

In the meantime they had established a new forum for themselves by founding the New Statesman as an independent journal.) Through friendship with Arthur Henderson, the party’s wartime leader, and through his constant supply of disinterested advice, Sidney became a member of the executive committee and drafted the party’s first and, for a long time, its most important policy statement, Labour and the New Social Order (1918).

Shortly afterward he consolidated his position by serving as one of the experts chosen by the Miners’ Federation to sit on the Sankey Commission on the Coal Mines (1919). One result of his activity on the commission was that in the election of 1922 he won the constituency of Seaham Harbour in Durham with an enormous majority, thereby securing for himself Cabinet office in both Labour governments, in 1924 as president of the Board of Trade, and as Colonial Secretary in 1929, with a seat in the House of Lords as Baron Passfield.
Beatrice collaborated with him wholeheartedly in all these tasks; but in fact he had come to politics rather late in life. He was not a great success, particularly at the Colonial Office, troubled as it was by the Palestinian situation; and in 1932 he and Beatrice, thoroughly disillusioned with Labour prospects in Britain, went to the U.S.S.R. and “fell in love,” as they said, with what they found there.

The next three years were spent writing their last big book, Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation? (1935), in which they seemed to abandon their belief in gradual social and political evolution. In 1928 they had already retired to their Hampshire home where they both died, Beatrice in 1943 and Sidney in 1947.
The Webbs, and their Fabian Socialism, very deeply influenced British radical thought and British institutions during the first half of the 20th century. The exact extent of their influence will always be a matter of dispute, partly because once they had founded an institution (such as the London School of Economics) they were uninterested in directing its development, and partly because many of their ideas were taken up by others, and they were never concerned with demanding credit for them. Some of their effectiveness as a partnership can be attributed to the fact that their gifts were remarkably complementary—Sidney supplying the mastery of facts and publications, and Beatrice the flashes of insight. Of immense importance, too, was their complete contentment with each other and with the pattern of life they had chosen. This sublime satisfaction sometimes caused irritation to those who disagreed with their values and found them impervious to criticism. But no one ever doubted either their ability or their record of completely disinterested public service.

Dame Margaret I. Cole

Encyclopædia Britannica
Transatlantic telegraph cable
A transatlantic telegraph cable is an undersea cable running under the Atlantic Ocean used for telegraph communications. The first was laid across the floor of the Atlantic from Telegraph Field, Foilhommerum Bay, Valentia Island in western Ireland to Heart's Content in eastern Newfoundland. The first communications occurred August 16, 1858, reducing the communication time between North America and Europe from ten days – the time it took to deliver a message by ship – to a matter of minutes. Transatlantic telegraph cables have been replaced by transatlantic telecommunications cables.
Early history
In the 1840s and 1850s several individuals proposed or advocated construction of a telegraph cable across the Atlantic Ocean, including Edward Thornton and Alonzo Jackman. Cyrus West Field and the Atlantic Telegraph Company were behind the construction of the first transatlantic telegraph cable. The project began in 1854 and was completed in 1858. The cable functioned for only three weeks, but it was the first such project to yield practical results. The first official telegram to pass between two continents was a letter of congratulation from Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom to the President of the United States James Buchanan on August 16. Signal quality declined rapidly, slowing transmission to an almost unusable speed. The cable was destroyed the following month when Wildman Whitehouse applied excessive voltage to it while trying to achieve faster operation.
(It has been argued that the faulty manufacture, storage and handling of the 1858 cable would have led to premature failure in any case.) The cable's rapid failure undermined public and investor confidence and delayed efforts to restore a connection. A second attempt was undertaken in 1865 with much-improved material and, following some setbacks, a connection was completed and put into service on July 28, 1866. This cable proved more durable.

Before the first transatlantic cable, communications between Europe and the Americas took place only by ship. Sometimes, however, severe winter storms delayed ships for weeks. The transatlantic cable reduced communication time considerably, allowing a message and a response in the same day. Five attempts to lay a cable were made over a nine-year period – one in 1857, two in 1858, one in 1865, and one in 1866. Lasting connections were finally achieved with the 1866 cable and the 1865 cable, which was repaired by Isambard Kingdom Brunel's ship the SS Great Eastern, captained by Sir James Anderson. In the 1870s duplex and quadruplex transmission and receiving systems were set up that could relay multiple messages over the cable.

Additional cables were laid between Foilhommerum and Heart's Content in 1873, 1874, 1880, and 1894. By the end of the 19th century, British-, French-, German-, and American-owned cables linked Europe and North America in a sophisticated web of telegraphic communications.

  Origins of the idea
William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone introduced their working telegraph in 1839. As early as 1840 Samuel F. B. Morse proclaimed his faith in the idea of a submarine line across the Atlantic Ocean. By 1850 a cable was run between England and France. That same year Bishop John T. Mullock, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Newfoundland, proposed a telegraph line through the forest from St. John's to Cape Ray, and cables across the mouth of the St. Lawrence River from Cape Ray to Nova Scotia across the Cabot Strait.

At about the same time a similar plan occurred to Frederick Newton Gisborne, a telegraph engineer in Nova Scotia. In the spring of 1851, Gisborne procured a grant from the legislature of Newfoundland and, having formed a company, began the construction of the landline. In 1853 his company collapsed, he was arrested for debt and he lost everything.
The following year he was introduced to Cyrus West Field. Field invited Gisborne to his house to discuss the project. From his visitor, Field considered the idea that the cable to Newfoundland might be extended across the Atlantic Ocean.

Field was ignorant of submarine cables and the deep sea. He consulted Morse as well as Lieutenant Matthew Maury, an authority on oceanography. Field adopted Gisborne's scheme as a preliminary step to the bigger undertaking, and promoted the New York, Newfoundland and London Telegraph Company to establish a telegraph line between America and Europe.

St. John's to Nova Scotia
The first step was to finish the line between St. John's and Nova Scotia, and in 1855 an attempt was made to lay a cable across the Cabot Strait in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. It was laid out from a barque in tow of a steamer. When half the cable was laid, a gale rose, and the line was cut to keep the barque from sinking. The next summer a steamboat was fitted out for the purpose, and the link from Cape Ray, Newfoundland to Aspy Bay, Nova Scotia was successfully laid.
With Charles Tilston Bright as chief engineer, Field then directed the transoceanic cable effort. A survey was made of the proposed route and showed that the cable was feasible. Funds were raised from both American and British sources by selling shares in the Atlantic Telegraph Company. Field himself supplied a quarter of the needed capital.

The cable consisted of seven copper wires, each weighing 26 kg/km (107 pounds per nautical mile), covered with three coats of gutta-percha, weighing 64 kg/km (261 pounds per nautical mile), and wound with tarred hemp, over which a sheath of 18 strands, each of seven iron wires, was laid in a close spiral. It weighed nearly 550 kg/km (1.1 tons per nautical mile), was relatively flexible and was able to withstand a pull of several tens of kilonewtons (several tons). It was made jointly by two English firms – Glass, Elliot & Co., of Greenwich, and R. S. Newall & Co., of Birkenhead. Late in manufacturing it was discovered that the respective sections had been made with strands twisted in opposite directions. While the two sections proved a simple matter to join, this mistake subsequently became magnified in the public mind.

The British government gave Field a subsidy of £1,400 a year and loaned the ships needed. Field also solicited aid from the U.S. government. A bill authorizing a subsidy was submitted in Congress. The subsidy bill passed the Senate by a single vote, due to opposition from anglophobe senators. In the House of Representatives, the bill encountered similar resistance, but passed, and was signed by President Franklin Pierce.

  The first attempt, in 1857, was a failure. The cable-laying vessels were the converted warships HMS Agamemnon and USS Niagara. The cable was started at the white strand near Ballycarbery Castle in County Kerry, on the southwest coast of Ireland, on August 5, 1857. The cable broke on the first day, but was grappled and repaired; it broke again over the "telegraph plateau", nearly 3,200 m (2 statute miles) deep, and the operation was abandoned for the year.

The following summer, after experiments in the Bay of Biscay, the Agamemnon and Niagara tried again. The vessels were to meet in the middle of the Atlantic, where the two halves of the cable were to be spliced together, and while the Agamemnon paid out eastwards to Valentia Island the Niagara was to pay out westward to Newfoundland. On June 26, the middle splice was made and the cable was dropped.

Again the cable broke, the first time after less than 5.5 km (three nautical miles), again after some 100 km (54 nautical miles) and for a third time when about 370 km (200 nautical miles) of cable had run out of each vessel.

The expedition returned to Queenstown, and set out again on July 17, with little enthusiasm among the crews. The middle splice was finished on July 29, 1858. The cable ran easily this time.

The Niagara arrived in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland on August 4 and the next morning the shore end was landed. The Agamemnon made an equally successful run. On August 5, she arrived at Valentia Island, and the shore end was landed at Knightstown and then laid to the nearby cable house.

First contact
On August 16, 1858 the first message sent via the cable was, "Europe and America are united by telegraphy. Glory to God in the highest; on earth, peace and good will toward men." Queen Victoria then sent a telegram of congratulation to President James Buchanan at his summer residence in the Bedford Springs Hotel in Pennsylvania and expressed a hope that it would prove "an additional link between the nations whose friendship is founded on their common interest and reciprocal esteem." The President responded that, "it is a triumph more glorious, because far more useful to mankind, than was ever won by conqueror on the field of battle. May the Atlantic telegraph, under the blessing of Heaven, prove to be a bond of perpetual peace and friendship between the kindred nations, and an instrument destined by Divine Providence to diffuse religion, civilization, liberty, and law throughout the world." The messages were hard to decipher – Queen Victoria's message of 98 words took sixteen hours to send.

These messages engendered an outburst of enthusiasm. The next morning a grand salute of 100 guns resounded in New York City, the streets were decorated with flags, the bells of the churches were rung, and at night the city was illuminated.


Map of the 1858 trans-Atlantic cable route
Failure of the first cable
The operation of the new cable was plagued by the fact that the two senior electrical engineers of the company had very different ideas on how the cable should be worked. Lord Kelvin and Dr Wildman Whitehouse were located at opposite ends of the cable, communicating only by the cable itself.

Kelvin, located at the western end, believed that it was necessary to employ only a low voltage and to detect the rising edge of the current flowing out of the cable and, once this had been done, nothing would be gained by further monitoring (Morse code used a positive current for a 'dot' and a negative current for a 'dash'). Kelvin invented his mirror galvanometer precisely for this task of observing the current change quickly.

At the eastern end of the cable was Whitehouse. He was the company's chief electrician and a doctor of medicine – any electrical knowledge that he possessed was self-taught. Whitehouse believed that, in order to have the current at the receiving end change as rapidly as possible, the cable should be driven from a high-voltage source (several thousand volts from induction coils).

The position was made worse because every time intelligible Morse code was seen on the mirror galvanometer at the eastern end, Whitehouse insisted that the galvanometer be disconnected and replaced with his own patented telegraph recorder, which was far less sensitive.

The effects of the poor handling and design of the cable, coupled with Whitehouse's repeated attempts to drive the cable with high voltages, resulted in the insulation of the cable being compromised.

All the while, it was taking longer and longer to send messages. Towards the end, sending half a page of message text was taking as long as a day.

  In September, after several days of progressive deterioration of the insulation, the cable failed. The reaction to this news was tremendous. Some writers even hinted that the line was a mere hoax, and others pronounced it a stock exchange speculation. In the enquiry that followed, Dr Whitehouse was deemed responsible for the failure, but the company did not escape criticism for employing an electrical engineer with no recognised qualifications.

Field was undaunted by the failure. He was eager to renew the work, but the public had lost confidence in the scheme and his efforts to revive the company were futile. It was not until 1864 that, with the assistance of Thomas Brassey and John Pender, he succeeded in raising the necessary capital. The Glass, Elliot, and Gutta-Percha Companies were united to form the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company (Telcon, later part of BICC), which undertook to manufacture and lay the new cable. C.F. Varley replaced Whitehouse as chief electrician.

In the meantime, long cables had been submerged in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. With this experience, an improved cable was designed. The core consisted of seven twisted strands of very pure copper weighing 300 pounds per nautical mile (73 kg/km), coated with Chatterton's compound, then covered with four layers of gutta-percha, alternating with four thin layers of the compound cementing the whole, and bringing the weight of the insulator to 400 lb/nmi (98 kg/km). This core was covered with hemp saturated in a preservative solution, and on the hemp were spirally wound eighteen single strands of high tensile steel wire produced by Webster & Horsfall Ltd of Hay Mills Birmingham, each covered with fine strands of manila yarn steeped in the preservative. The weight of the new cable was 35.75 long hundredweight (4000 lb) per nautical mile (980 kg/km), or nearly twice the weight of the old. The Haymills site successfully manufactured 30,000 miles (48,000 km) of wire (1,600 tons), made by 250 workers over eleven months.

Repairing the cable
Broken cables required an elaborate repair procedure. The approximate distance to the break is determined by measuring the resistance of the broken cable. The repair ship navigated to the location. The cable was hooked with a grapple and brought on board to test for electrical continuity. Buoys were deployed to mark the ends of good cable and a splice was made between the two ends.

The Telegraph Field, Valentia Island, Ireland, the site of the earliest message sent from Ireland to North America. In October 2002, a memorial to mark the laying of the transatlantic cable to Newfoundland was unveiled on top of Foilhomerrum Cliff. Made of Valentia slate and designed by local sculptor Alan Hall,[8] the memorial marks the history of the telegraph industry to the island from 1857 forward.
Great Eastern
The new cable was laid by the ship Great Eastern captained by Sir James Anderson. Her immense hull was fitted with three iron tanks for the reception of 2,300 nautical miles (4,300 km) of cable, and her decks furnished with the paying-out gear. At noon on July 15, 1865, Great Eastern left the Nore for Foilhommerum Bay, Valentia Island, where the shore end was laid by Caroline. This attempt failed on July 31 when, after 1,062 miles (1968 km) had been paid out, the cable snapped near the stern of the ship, and the end was lost.

Great Eastern steamed back to England, where Field issued another prospectus, and formed the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, to lay a new cable and complete the broken one. On July 13, 1866, Great Eastern started paying out once more.
Despite problems with the weather on the evening of Friday, July 27, the expedition reached the port of Heart's Content in a thick fog. The next morning at 9 a.m. a message from England cited these words from the leader in The Times: "It is a great work, a glory to our age and nation, and the men who have achieved it deserve to be honoured among the benefactors of their race." "Treaty of peace signed between Prussia and Austria." The shore end was landed during the day by Medway. Congratulations poured in, and friendly telegrams were again exchanged between Queen Victoria and the United States.

On August 9 Great Eastern put to sea again, in order to grapple the lost cable of 1865, and complete it to Newfoundland. They were determined to find it. There were some who thought it hopeless to try, declaring that to locate a cable two-and-a-half miles down would be like looking for a small needle in a large haystack. Robert Halpin navigated the ship to the correct location. For days, Great Eastern moved slowly here and there, "fishing" for the lost cable with a grappling hook at the end of a stout rope. Suddenly, the cable was "caught" and brought to the surface, but while the men cheered it slipped from the hook and vanished again.
It was not until a fortnight later that it was once more fished up; it took 26 hours to get it safely on board Great Eastern again. The cable was carried to the electrician's room, where it was determined that the cable was connected. All on the ship cheered or wept as rockets were sent up into the sky to light the sea. The recovered cable was then spliced to a fresh cable in her hold, and paid out to Heart's Content, Newfoundland, where she arrived on Saturday, September 7.
There were now two working telegraph lines.
  Communication speeds
Initially messages were sent by an operator sending Morse code. The reception was very bad on the 1858 cable, and it took two minutes to transmit just one character (a single letter or a single number), a rate of about 0.1 words per minute. This is despite the use of a highly sensitive mirror galvanometer, a new invention at the time.

The first message on the 1858 cable took over 17 hours to transmit. For the 1866 cable, the methods of cable manufacture, as well as sending messages, had been vastly improved. The 1866 cable could transmit eight words a minute – 80 times faster than the 1858 cable. Heaviside and Mihajlo Idvorski Pupin in later decades understood that the bandwidth of a cable is hindered by an imbalance between capacitive and inductive reactance, which causes a severe dispersion and hence a signal distortion; see Telegrapher's equations. This has to be solved by iron tape or by load coils. It was not until the 20th century that message transmission speeds over transatlantic cables would reach even 120 words per minute. Despite this, London had become the world center in telecommunications. Eventually, no fewer than eleven cables radiated from Porthcurno Cable Station near Land's End and formed with their Commonwealth links a "live" girdle around the world.

The original cables were not fitted with repeaters, which would have amplified the signal along the way, because there was no practical way to power the relays. As technology advanced, intermediate relays became possible.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  BACK-1858 Part III NEXT-1859 Part I