Center For Integrating Research and Learning

Arrow1830 - 1839

Timelines

Although the idea of the telegraph dated to the mid 1700s, it is during this decade that the instrument itself was born – largely thanks to the recent invention of the electromagnet. Another important event aiding in this new technology was the discovery by English physicist Charles Wheatstone that current traveled through long lengths of wire with great velocity – almost 288,000 miles per second. Though Wheatstone was off a bit – electricity, after all, does not travel faster than the speed of light – his results were by far the most accurate to date. The telegraph proved to be a history-shaping device, and made clear even to non-scientists the great potential of harnessed electricity.

Gauss Weber Telegraph

During this decade, American art student Samuel Morse became interested in the idea of a telegraph. He knew first hand the need for such a device: While traveling abroad, he had learned of his wife’s death only weeks after the fact because there was no way to get the news to him more quickly. Morse developed a version of the device, as well as a special code that converted letters into dashes and dots.

In 1833, Germans Carl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Weber built a telegraph line, stretching for almost a mile through the city of Göttingen. A few years later in England, Wheatstone teamed up with entrepreneur William Cooke to demonstrate the first working telegraph in that country, which would go on to compete (in the long run, unsuccessfully) with Morse’s invention. The Wheatstone-Cooke device featured a receiver with five magnetic needles fixed to a grid of letters. Electrical current caused the needles to point to the desired letters to spell out messages.

Other advances in applying electricity were made during this time. English chemist John Daniell took the voltaic pile one step further, developing an early non-rechargeable battery – the Daniell cell – that provided a sustained current. Designs in electric motors, which would eventually transform the way people traveled, worked and lived, evolved. American Thomas Davenport designed one strong enough to run an electric railway.

By far the decade’s biggest splash in the fields of electricity and magnetism, however, was made by Michael Faraday. In fact there was not one splash, but many. During this period, Faraday formulated the law of electrolysis, devised the concept of a dielectric constant and discovered what became known as the Faraday dark space. He also outlined his general theory of electricity, rejecting the long-accepted idea that it was a type of fluid in favor of the view that it was a force “passed from particle to particle.”

Davenport electric motor

Perhaps most famously, however, Faraday in 1831 discovered the principles that lay behind two key instruments of applied electricity: electromagnetic induction, which led to the transformer, and magneto-electric induction, which led to the generator. His law of induction was among his most brilliant contributions to science.

Faraday identified electromagnetic induction with his invention of the “induction ring,” which consisted of two wires wound around a donut-shaped piece of iron. One wire was attached to a galvanometer. When Faraday attached the second wire to a battery, the resulting current also passed through the first, unattached wire, as recorded on the galvanometer.

To discover magneto-electric induction, Faraday created what became known as the Faraday disc. He attached two wires through a sliding contact to a copper disc. When he rotated it between the poles of a horseshoe magnet, he generated a small amount of direct current.

As he had after creating the first crude electric motor, Faraday left it to others to make practical use of this new knowledge. The following year French inventor Hippolyte Pixii stepped up to the plate, making the first alternating current generator, also called a dynamo, to convert mechanical rotation into an alternating electric current. Soon after he modified his design with the addition of a switching mechanism (a commutator) to convert the AC to DC.

1830 - 1839

1830

Scottish-American scientist Joseph Henry suggests building a telegraph utilizing a line with an electromagnet connected to one end that can be controlled at the other end.

1831

English chemist and physicist Michael Faraday experimentally observes that a current in a circuit can excite a current in a second circuit when the current in the first circuit changes, the basis of Faraday’s law of induction.

1831

Joseph Henry discovers the principle of self-induction, and with his improved electromagnet design, he successfully lifts more than a ton of iron.

1831

On an Arctic expedition, British explorer James Ross and his uncle Sir John Ross physically locate the Earth’s north magnetic pole.

1832

German scientist Paul Erman invents a simple magnetometer, which he then utilizes in the first large-scale survey of the Earth’s magnetic field.

1832

Samuel Morse first conceives his version of the electric telegraph on a return voyage to the United States from England, where he had been studying art.

1832

Parisian instrument maker Hyppolyte Pixii builds a small machine, known today as a magneto, capable of producing alternating current.

1833

Michael Faraday experiments in electrochemistry and formulates his laws of electrolysis.

1833

German scientists Carl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Weber build a telegraph line in Göttingen that is almost a mile long and uses a galvanometer as a receiver.

1834

French physicist Jean-Charles Peltier discovers that a difference in temperature can be produced by a current passing through a circuit of two dissimilar metals connected to each other at two junctions (the Peltier effect is the reverse of the Seebeck effect).

1834

Heinrich Friedrich Emil Lenz, a German physicist, deduces the law that came to be known as Lenz's Law, which predicts the flow direction of an induced current.

1834

Carl Friedrich Gauss establishes the Göttingen Magnetic Union, a network of magnetic observatories, most of which are located in Europe.

1834

English physicist Charles Wheatstone uses revolving mirrors to measure the speed of electricity traveling through nearly 8 miles of wire. Although his calculations mistakenly lead him to the conclusion that electricity travels faster than light, his ingenious experiment corrects the common belief of the time that electricity traveled instantaneously.

1834

American blacksmith Thomas Davenport constructs an electric motor that produces enough energy to power a small model electric railway. Later he would use his motor to supply power to machinery in his shop.

1835

Carl Friedrich Gauss devises his famous electrostatic law, though it is not published until more than 30 years later.

1836

English chemist John Daniell develops an electric cell, now known as the Daniell cell, that efficiently provides a sustained current during continuous usage and is a great improvement over the voltaic cell.

1837

William Grove, a British physicist, becomes the father of the fuel cell when he experimentally combines oxygen and hydrogen to produce water and electricity, a reverse of the reaction demonstrated by William Nicholson and Anthony Carlisle at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

1837

Michael Faraday develops the concept of a dielectric constant to express the relative ability of dielectric materials to support electrostatic forces.

1837

French physicist Claude-Servais-Mathias Pouillet invents the tangent galvanometer, a significant improvement over a similar device produced by Johann Schweigger 17 years before.

1837

Charles Wheatstone and William Cooke demonstrate the first working telegraph in Britain. Their initial device uses a receiver with five magnetic needles, but before the Wheatstone-Cooke telegraph would be used commercially several improvements are made, including reducing the number of needles to one.

1838

Russian engineer and physicist Moritz von Jacobi of St. Petersburg builds the first boat powered by electricity and demonstrates it for Tsar Nicholas I on the River Neva.

1838

Michael Faraday develops a general theory of electricity by appropriating his model of magnetic lines of induction. He also discovers what is often referred to as the Faraday dark space near the cathode of a Crookes-style tube when an electric current is passed through the gas present in the partially evacuated tube.



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