Punch,  5 (1843), 131.

A Column for the Scientific: The New Electricity



Essay, Drollery


Electricity, Display, Railways, Lecturing, Popularization, Steam-power, Military Technology, War, Chemistry, Photography

    Describes Mr Punch's investigation of the hydroelectric machine at the Royal Polytechnic Institution. Likening the machine to a 'maimed locomotive upon wooden legs', Punch explores its powers of responding, by electricity, positively and negatively to questions put to it via 'metal notes'. The 'lecturer' then explained 'the theory of steam electricity' and when the steam was let off to produce electricity, it rapidly melted the tin, which mitigated against the machine's 'pecuniary success'. It also produced a 'series of bright reports' which suggests to Mr Punch that the Polytechnic would be powerful enough to prevent an invasion by such foes as Caesar, with the 'electrical lecturer' commanding the batteries, the 'professor of chemistry' arranging the mortars, and the 'Daguerrotypist' taking off 'anybody in a minute'. Notes the 'spirit of philosophical liberality' shown at a banquet attended by the lecturers and spectators. Punch's scientific description of the event includes the observation that when the grog arrived there was a 'decrease in the volume and evolution of caloric upon mixing alcohol with water'. Among the toasts proposed at the dinner was one to the 'mental electrotype, which invests all it publishes with gold'.

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