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#651 2019-12-23 00:55:23

Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 29,567

Re: crème de la crème

617) Terry Keith Ashwin

Terrence "Terry" Keith Ashwin (born October 8, 1956) is a South African inventor based in Johannesburg. He developed several world-first inventions since the late 1970s, including the precursor to Bluetooth technology. He has been the forerunner in new product development in multiple fields.

Terry is the co-founder of Hive Technology, a Dubai based company with subsidiaries in South Africa and Ireland. He won Global Security Industries Finest award in Las Vegas in 2000 with Link-IT.


In 1989 he announced the development of wireless data communication devices including RF devices to wirelessly connect printers to computers, a cordless ultra-sonic mouse, an infra-red keyboard and a time management system with bar-code scanner and RFID integration. The development and testing of these and other devices was completed by 2014.

(Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information. Passive tags collect energy from a nearby RFID reader's interrogating radio waves. Active tags have a local power source (such as a battery) and may operate hundreds of meters from the RFID reader. Unlike a barcode, the tags don't need to be within the line of sight of the reader, so it may be embedded in the tracked object. RFID is one method of automatic identification and data capture (AIDC)).

He patented the first active RFID in 1999 in the United States, South Africa, United Kingdom and Australia.

Terry has registered several patents including:

*Security system
*Identification System
*Identification Device
*Method and apparatus for selecting a wireless reader action as a result of an output data received from a wireless identification device

These patents were granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).


Unifuel – System

In 1989, Terry Ashwin invented the Unifuel system. The system works as follows: The unit is a stainless steel box with 16-key keyboard and LCD display. It transmits an RF signal from the controller unit at the pumps to a "button" in the vehicle which identifies the particular vehicle. The fuel is accessed by pin code allocated to that vehicle.


Terry developed the Link-It in 1995 for which he was honored with the security industry’s Finest New Product award. The Link-It product was renamed Wave Trend in 2000 and was the world’s first Active RFID. Terry Invented the miner helmet tag access system in 1997.


Fleet monitoring system, known as Monita was developed by Terry Ashwin in 1996.

Timetech – Time Management System

Timetech system was developed by Terry in 1990. The Time Tech Series 1 system is a portable time management system for vehicles.

Dialogue Data Logging System

In 2002, he developed the Dialogue Data Logging System.

Awards and recognition

2000: Global Security Industries Finest award in Las Vegas.


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


#652 2019-12-25 00:02:19

Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 29,567

Re: crème de la crème

618) Alexandre Alexeïeff

Alexandre Alexeïeff, Russian name in full Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Alekseyev, (born August 5, 1901, Kazan, Russia—died August 9, 1982, Paris, France), Russian-born French filmmaker who invented the pinscreen method of animation with his collaborator (later his wife), the animator Claire Parker (1910–81).

Alexeïeff spent his childhood near Istanbul and studied at a naval college in St. Petersburg. After the Russian Revolution of 1917 he studied painting and worked at the Chauve-Souris Theatre in Paris, where he designed sets and costumes for the Ballets Russes and Ballets Suédois. In his desire to create a unique artistic medium, Alexeïeff conceived the pinscreen, a rectangular white screen into which hundreds of thousands of headless pins are inserted. By retracting or pushing out groups of pins and adjusting light sources, Alexeïeff discovered that all possible shades of gray could be achieved and that the resulting three-dimensional shapes created the effect of an animated engraving. The process is extraordinarily difficult and time-consuming; Canadian filmmaker Jacques Drouin (b. 1943) is the only animator other than Alexeïeff to have mastered the medium.

The first film that Alexeïeff and Parker made using the pinscreen was Une Nuit sur le mont chauve (1933; A Night on Bald Mountain). Their other pinscreen productions included La Belle au bois dormant (1934; Sleeping Beauty), Parade de chapeaux (1935; “Parade of Hats”), En passant (1943; Passing By), Le Nez (1963; The Nose), and the titles to Orson Welles’s Le Procès (1962; The Trial).

During the early 1950s Alexeïeff made greatly admired commercials by using slow-exposure photography on swinging pendulums to which light sources were attached. He also made experimental and theatrical cartoons and illustrated books, using both wood engravings and still photographs of pinscreens.


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


#653 2019-12-27 00:53:17

Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 29,567

Re: crème de la crème

619) Hal Anger

Hal Oscar Anger (May 20, 1920 – October 31, 2005) was an American electrical engineer and biophysicist at Donner Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, known for his invention of the gamma camera.

In all, Anger held 15 patents, many of them for work at the Ernest O. Lawrence Radiation Laboratory. Anger received several awards in recognition of his inventions and their contributions to the field of nuclear medicine. Anger died in Berkeley, California.


In 1957, he invented the scintillation camera, known also as the gamma camera or Anger camera. Anger also developed the well counter, widely used in laboratory tests to measure radioactivity in samples. Anger also developed a multi-plane tomographic radiation scanner using the Anger camera and a focussed radiation collimator.
The first useful scintillation camera was developed by Anger at an AEC-funded laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley, California. Consequently, the patent rights on the invention were owned by the U.S. Government. However, Anger's supervisors at the lab were well-connected with the head of the AEC, Glenn Seaborg, and prevailed on the AEC to release the patent rights to Anger personally. Anger retained patent counsel to file a U.S. patent application on his invention, and this application eventually matured into U.S. Patent 3,011,057, issued in November 1961. While his patent was pending, Anger tried unsuccessfully to interest nuclear instrument companies in taking a license on a non-exclusive basis to produce and sell the Anger camera. He eventually granted an exclusive license on the '057 patent to Nuclear-Chicago Corporation (NCC), in Des Plaines, Illinois. NCC successfully developed a commercially useful version of the Anger Camera and began marketing it to nuclear medical departments of hospitals in the United States. NCC's commercial sales of the Anger Camera grew substantially over the years and Anger became modestly wealthy from the royalties that he received under the exclusive license agreement. NCC was eventually acquired by G.D. Searle & Co, of Skokie, Illinois, and operated as a wholly owned subsidiary.

Nuclear-Chicago Corporation's exclusivity on marketing the Anger scintillation camera was eventually challenged by the introduction of a competing version of the Anger camera by Picker Corporation. NCC and Anger sued Picker for infringement of the '057 patent, and Picker counterclaimed for invalidity of the '057 patent. Picker also filed a proceeding in the Atomic Energy Commission, challenging the legitimacy of the AEC's release of the patent rights to Anger, and requesting a compulsory license under the '057 patent. The AEC proceeding was decided in favor of Anger and NCC, and the patent infringement lawsuit was eventually settled by the grant of a sublicense agreement to Picker. Other competitors later emerged and further litigation on the '057 patent was initiated. NCC was eventually sold to Siemens Corporation and Siemens continued to develop the technology of the Anger Camera and to market the device worldwide.


In 2006, the Society of Nuclear Medicine's Education and Research Foundation received $6 million from the Hal Anger Estate, the largest gift ever received for advancing the field of nuclear medicine, leading to the development of a Hal Anger Prize and Lecture.

a) A gamma camera (γ-camera), also called a scintillation camera or Anger camera, is a device used to image gamma radiation emitting radioisotopes, a technique known as scintigraphy. The applications of scintigraphy include early drug development and nuclear medical imaging to view and analyse images of the human body or the distribution of medically injected, inhaled, or ingested radionuclides emitting gamma rays.

Imaging techniques

Scintigraphy ("scint") is the use of gamma cameras to capture emitted radiation from internal radioisotopes to create two-dimensional images.

SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging, as used in nuclear cardiac stress testing, is performed using gamma cameras. Usually one, two or three detectors or heads, are slowly rotated around the patient's torso.

Multi-headed gamma cameras can also be used for positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, provided that their hardware and software can be configured to detect "coincidences" (near simultaneous events on 2 different heads). Gamma camera PET is markedly inferior to PET imaging with a purpose designed PET scanner, as the scintillator crystal has poor sensitivity for the high-energy annihilation photons, and the detector area is significantly smaller. However, given the low cost of a gamma camera and its additional flexibility compared to a dedicated PET scanner, this technique is useful where the expense and resource implications of a PET scanner cannot be justified.

b) A well counter is a device used for measuring radioactivity in small samples. It usually employs a sodium iodide crystal detector. It was invented in 1951 by Hal Anger, who is also well known for inventing the scintillation camera. Anger filed U.S. patent #2,779,876 on March 3, 1953 for his "Radio-Activity Distribution Detector" which was later issued on January 29, 1957.

Construction and functioning

The well counter is so called because the samples are inserted into a well within the crystal in order to maximize sensitivity by collecting as many of the emitted gamma rays as possible.

Modern well counters can automatically record activity in different samples sequentially. Samples in test tubes are inserted into the well, one sample at a time, and counted for a predetermined time. Results are presented as a graphic, and corrected for the decay of the sample.


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


#654 2019-12-29 00:49:00

Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 29,567

Re: crème de la crème

620) Anthony R. Barringer

Anthony R. "Tony" Barringer (October 20, 1925 – August 15, 2009) was a Canadian/American geophysicist. He made numerous contributions to mineral exploration technology. His most famous work was the development of the INPUT airborne electromagnetic system, which has been credited in the discovery of tens of billions of dollars' worth of ore deposits.

Before beginning his university studies, Barringer served with the British Army in World War II. In 1948, he began attending the University of London. In 1951, he obtained a B.Sc. in economic geology from the university's Imperial College of Science and Technology. He obtained a PhD degree in 1954, from the same institution.


Barringer left the United Kingdom to accept a post in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with Selco Exploration as an exploration geologist. Eventually he was promoted to Manager of its Airborne and Technical Services division. At this time, he invented the INPUT (Induced Pulse Transient) airborne electromagnetic system and the equipment for a portable ground electromagnetic system. This technology uses one horizontal transmitter looped around a fixed-wing aircraft and a vertically suspended receiver loop about 120 meters behind the aircraft. The transmitter electromagnetic pulses are half sine wave shape of millisecond duration, the induced transient is picked up by the receiver coil; analysis of the received wave pattern when matched against a catalog of waves forms generated in the lab based upon analog scale modeling allows explorers to get a better understanding of the minerals in a rock formation, without extracting the rocks. The Society of Exploration Geophysicists said INPUT was "a meritorious technical achievement which has been instrumental in the discovery of many base metal deposits in a number of countries around the world."

In 1961, he formed a private company, Barringer Research Ltd. He was the President and major shareholder. Barringer continued to develop the airborne system and licenses its use to exploration companies. Major oil and mining companies depended on this remote-sensing technology for their exploration. It has been credited in the discovery of over 25 commercial ore deposits, representing tens of billions of dollars.

Barringer Research went public in 1967. Ten years later, Barringer moved to Denver, Colorado and brought the company's headquarters with him. He later became a citizen of the United States.

Barringer made numerous technical contributions to the mining industry, including a laser-induced fluorescence-based system used primarily in oil and gas exploration (FLUOROSCAN), correlation spectrometer used to measure atmospheric dispersions of various gases (COSPEC), an infrared remote sensor for atmospheric gases which has been used by NASA to measure the worldwide atmospheric distribution of carbon dioxide (GASPEC), two airborne conductivity mapping systems using very low frequency fields (E-phase and radiophase) and several particulate analyzers (COTRAN, SURTRACE, LASERTRACE and AIRTRACE). He has presented more than 80 technical papers and has been awarded more than 70 patents in Canada, the U.S., and other countries.

In 1989, Barringer officially retired. He died in Golden, Colorado at the age of 84.

Honours and awards

•    inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame by the Mining Association of Canada
•    1977, awarded the Logan Medal by the Geological Association of Canada
•    1980, awarded the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists
•    1985, awarded the Daniel C. Jackling Award by the American Association of Mining and Petroleum Engineers


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


#655 2019-12-31 00:59:49

Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 29,567

Re: crème de la crème

621) J. Stuart Blackton

J. Stuart Blackton, in full James Stuart Blackton, (born Jan. 5, 1875, Sheffield, Yorkshire, Eng.—died Aug. 13, 1941, Hollywood), British-born U.S. film director and producer who introduced animation and other important film techniques that helped shape and stimulate the development of cinematic art.

While interviewing Thomas A. Edison in 1895, Blackton’s interest in films was so aroused that in the following year he and Albert E. Smith established Vitagraph; in 1899 they were joined by William T. Rock. Their first film, The Burglar on the Roof (1897), was followed by a long series of film successes that made Blackton a millionaire. He left Vitagraph for a while but returned to work for the company until it was sold in 1926 to Warner Brothers.

Blackton’s motion-picture adaptations of Shakespeare’s dramas were the first such produced in the United States. Many other of his films were centred on such well-known characters as Sherlock Holmes, Oliver Twist, Salome, Richelieu, Moses, and Saul and David. After losing his fortune in the economic depression of 1929, Blackton supported himself by exhibiting his old films at sideshows.


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


#656 2020-01-02 00:38:30

Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 29,567

Re: crème de la crème

622) Ugo Cerletti

Ugo Cerletti (26 September 1877 – 25 July 1963) was an Italian neurologist who discovered the method of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) used in psychiatry. Electroconvulsive therapy is a therapy in which electric current is used to provoke a seizure for a short duration. This therapy is used in an attempt to treat certain mental disorders, and may be useful when other possible treatments have not, or cannot, cure the person of their mental disorder.


Ugo Cerletti was born in Conegliano, in the region of Veneto, Italy, on 26 September 1877. He studied Medicine at Rome and Turin, later specializing in neurology and neuropsychiatry. In his early scientific studies, Cerletti mainly focused on common issues in the fields of histology and histopathology. He demonstrated how the nervous tissue reacts to different pathogenic stimuli in its own ways, making the histopathology of nervous tissue an independent category in the study of medicine. As a student, he conducted some research under several influential people studying in the Medicinal field at that time. He studied with the most eminent neurologists of his time, first in Paris, France, with Pierre Marie and Dupré, then in Munich, Germany, with Emil Kraepelin (the "father" of modern scientific psychiatry) and Alois Alzheimer (the discoverer of the most common form of senile dementia, which today bears his name); and in Heidelberg, with Franz Nissl, a neuropathologist. Other large names in medicine that he studied with at the time include Sciamanna and Nissl.

After his studies, he was appointed head of the Neurobiological Institute, at the Mental Institute of Milan. He remained the director of the Neurobiological Institute of the psychiatric hospital of Mombello, in Milan from 1919 to 1924. In 1924 he was given a lecturing post in Neuropsychiatry in Bari; then, in 1928, he took over the post of Prof. Enrico Morselli, at the University of Genoa. Finally, in 1935, he became the Chair of the Department of Mental and Neurological Diseases at the University of Rome La Sapienza, where he developed electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for the treatment of several kinds of mental disorders, a discovery which made him world-famous. Ugo Cerletti was appointed Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurology at the University of Rome La Sapienza.

Works and Discovery

The idea to use ECT in humans first came to Cerletti from watching pigs being anesthetised with electroshock before being butchered. The story goes, that on his way home he stopped at a butcher shop. The shop didn't have the cut of meat that he wanted and he was told to walk back to the slaughter house behind the shop to have the cut made for him. At that slaughter house, the technique used for butchering cattle involved an electric shock to their heads. This would cause the cattle to go into seizures and fall down, making it easy to slit their throats. In that time period, people believed that seizures were essential in preventing schizophrenia, since many believed that those diagnosed with epilepsy were immune to the disorder. Due to this, Cerletti reasoned that Electric Shock might be useful in Humans as a treatment for schizophrenia.

Furthermore, since 1935, metrazol, an epileptogenic drug, and insulin, a hormone, were in wide use in many countries to treat schizophrenics, with great success. This approach was based on Nobel winner Julius Wagner-Jauregg's research on the use of malaria-induced convulsions to treat some nervous and mental disorders, such as the general paresis of the insane, caused by neural syphilis, as well as on Ladislas J. Meduna's theory that schizophrenia and epilepsy were antagonistic. The pharmacological convulsive treatment of Ladislas J. Meduna would eventually be largely replaced by the less cumbersome electrical method of Cerletti.

Cerletti came to the use of electroshock for therapeutic purposes in humans by way of many experiments with animals on the neuropathological consequences of repeated epilepsy attacks. In Genoa, and later in Rome, he used an electroshock apparatus to provoke repeatable, epileptic fits in dogs and other animals. In these early experiments, many of the animals that were used ended up dying.

Cerletti first used ECT in a human patient, a diagnosed schizophrenic with delusions, hallucinations and confusion, in April 1938, in collaboration with Lucio Bini. A series of electroshocks were able to return the patient to a normal state of mind. This experiment indicated that electric shock treatment may hold potential to improve the condition of patients diagnosed with specific diseases. Electric shock treatment quickly replaced insulin and Metrazol as the favourite form of shock treatment. Thereafter, in the succeeding years, Cerletti and his coworkers experimented with thousands of electroshocks in hundreds of animals and patients, and were able to determine its usefulness and safety in clinical practice, with several indications, such as in acute schizophrenia, manic-depressive illness, major depression episodes, etc. His work was very influential, and ECT quickly spread out as a therapeutic procedure all over the world. Despite the fact that it does evoke a grand mal seizure marked by a stereotyped succession of events. Cerletti was noted to be the first person to deliver a stress treatment in which the patient did not suffer any discomfort.

As a result of his experiments, which took him from the psychiatric hospital to the abattoir and the zoologic gardens, Cerletti developed a theory that ECT caused the brain to produce vitalising substances, which he called "agro-agonines" (from the Greek for extreme struggle). He put his theory into practice by injecting patients with a suspension of electroshocked pig brain. Although electroshocked pig brain therapy was used by a few psychiatrists in Italy, France and Brazil it did not become as popular as ECT, which soon replaced metrazol therapy all over the world because it was cheaper, less frightening and more convenient. Cerletti and Bini were nominated for a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their work on the treatment in the 1930s.

Today, ECT is most often recommended for use as a treatment for severe depression that has not responded to other treatment. It is occasionally also used in the treatment of mania and catatonia.


In his long activity as a psychiatrist and neurologist, Cerletti published 113 original papers, about the pathology of senile plaques in Alzheimer's disease, on the structure of neuroglia, the blood–brain barrier, syphilis, etc. In 1950 he received an honorary degree by the Collège de Sorbonne at the University of Paris, in addition to a long list of other awards and degrees.

Away from his medical work, Cerletti is credited with introducing the idea of white uniforms for alpine troops in order to reduce visibility during the First World War. He also invented artillery missiles with delayed-action fuses. These were used by the Italian and French armies in order to create mine fields between enemy positions.

Cerletti died in Rome on 25 July 1963.


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


#657 2020-01-04 00:31:16

Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 29,567

Re: crème de la crème

623) Alan Blumlein

Alan Dower Blumlein (29 June 1903 – 7 June 1942) was an English electronics engineer, notable for his many inventions in telecommunications, sound recording, stereophonic sound, television and radar. He received 128 patents and was considered as one of the most significant engineers and inventors of his time.
He died during World War II on 7 June 1942, aged 38, during the secret trial of an H2S airborne radar system then under development, when all on board the Halifax bomber he was flying in were killed when it crashed at Welsh Bicknor in Herefordshire.

Early life

Alan Dower Blumlein was born on 29 June 1903 in Hampstead, London. His father, Semmy Blumlein, was a German-born naturalised British subject. Semmy was the son of Joseph Blumlein, a German of Jewish descent, and Philippine Hellmann, a French woman of German descent. Alan's mother, Jessie Dower, was Scottish, daughter of William Dower (born 1837) who went to South Africa for the London Missionary Society. Alan was christened as a Presbyterian; he later married in a Church of England parish church.

Alan Blumlein's future career seemed to have been determined by the age of seven, when he presented his father with an invoice for repairing the doorbell, signed "Alan Blumlein, Electrical Engineer" (with "paid" scrawled in pencil). His sister claimed that he could not read proficiently until he was 12. He replied "no, but I knew a lot of quadratic equations!"

After leaving Highgate School in 1921, he studied at City and Guilds College (part of Imperial College). He won a Governors' scholarship and joined the second year of the course. He graduated with a First-Class Honours BSc two years later.

In mid-1930, Blumlein met Doreen Lane, a preparatory school teacher five years his junior. After two-and-a-half years of courtship the two were married in 1933. Lane was warned by acquaintances before the wedding that, "There was a joke amongst some of his friends, they used to call it 'Blumlein-itis' or 'First Class Mind'. It seems that he didn't want to know anyone who didn't have a first class mind." Recording engineer Joseph B. Kaye, known as J. B. Kaye, who was Blumlein's closest friend and best man at the wedding, thought the couple were well matched.

Career and inventions


In 1924 Blumlein started his first job at International Western Electric, a division of the Western Electric Company. The company subsequently became International Standard Electric Corporation and then, later on, Standard Telephones and Cables (STC).

During his time there, he measured the amplitude/frequency response of human ears, and used the results to design the first weighting networks.

In 1924 he published (with Professor Edward Mallett) the first of his only two IEE papers, on high-frequency resistance measurement. This won him the IEE's Premium award for innovation. The following year he wrote (with Norman Kipping) a series of seven articles for Wireless World.

(The Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) was a British professional organisation of electronics, electrical, manufacturing, and Information Technology professionals, especially electrical engineers. It began in 1871 as the Society of Telegraph Engineers. In 2006, it ceased to exist independently, becoming part of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)).

In 1925 and 1926, Blumlein and John Percy Johns designed an improved form of loading coil which reduced loss and crosstalk in long-distance telephone lines. These were used until the end of the analogue telephony era. The same duo also invented an improved form of AC measurement bridge which became known as the Blumlein Bridge and subsequently the transformer ratio arm bridge. These two inventions were the basis for Blumlein's first two patents.

His inventions while working at STC resulted in another five patents, which were not awarded until after he left the company in 1929.

Sound recording

In 1929 Blumlein resigned from STC and joined the Columbia Graphophone Company, where he reported directly to general manager Isaac Shoenberg.

His first project was to find a method of disc cutting that circumvented a Bell patent in the Western Electric moving-iron cutting head then used, and on which substantial royalties had to be paid. He invented the moving-coil disc cutting head, which not only got around the patent but offered greatly improved sound quality. He led a small team which developed the concept into a practical cutter. The other principal team members were Herbert Holman and Henry "Ham" Clark. Their work resulted in several patents.

Early in 1931, the Columbia Graphophone Company and the Gramophone Company merged and became EMI. New joint research laboratories were set up at Hayes and Blumlein was officially transferred there on 1 November the same year.

During the early 1930s Blumlein and Herbert Holman developed a series of moving-coil microphones, which were used in EMI recording studios and by the BBC at Alexandra Palace.

Ultra-linear amplifier

In June 1937, Blumlein patented the Ultra-Linear amplifier (US Patent 2,218,902, dated 5 June 1937). A deceptively simple design, the circuit provided a tap on the primary winding of the output transformer to provide feedback to the second grid, which improved the amplifier's linearity. With the tap placed at the anode end of the primary winding, the tube (valve) is effectively connected as a triode, and if the tap was at the supply end, as a pure pentode. Blumlein discovered that if the tap was placed at a distance 15–20% down from the supply end of the output transformer, the tube or valve would combine the positive features of both the triode and the pentode design.

Long-tailed pair

Blumlein may or may not have invented the long-tailed pair, but his name is on the first patent (1936). The long-tailed pair is a form of differential amplifier that has been popular since the days of the vacuum tube (valve). It is now more pervasive than ever, as it is particularly suitable for implementation in integrated circuit form, and almost every operational amplifier integrated circuit contains at least one.

Stereophonic sound

In 1931, Blumlein invented what he called "binaural sound", now known as stereophonic sound. In early 1931, he and his wife were at the cinema. The sound reproduction systems of the early talkies only had a single set of speakers – the actor might be on one side of the screen, but the voice could come from the other. Blumlein declared to his wife that he had found a way to make the sound follow the actor.

Blumlein explained his ideas to Isaac Shoenberg in the late summer of 1931. His earliest notes on the subject are dated 25 September 1931, and his patent had the title "Improvements in and relating to Sound-transmission, Sound-recording and Sound-reproducing Systems". The application was dated 14 December 1931, and was accepted on 14 June 1933 as UK patent number 394,325.

The patent covered numerous ideas in stereo, some of which are used today. Some 70 claims include:

•    A "shuffling" circuit, which aimed to preserve the directional effect when sound from a spaced pair of microphones was reproduced via stereo loudspeakers instead of a pair of headphones
•    The use of a coincident pair of velocity microphones with their axes at right angles to each other, which is still known as a "Blumlein Pair"
•    Recording two channels in the single groove of a record using the two groove walls at right angles to each other and 45 degrees to the vertical
•    A stereo disc-cutting head
•    Using hybrid transformers to matrix between left and right signals and sum and difference signals

Blumlein's binaural experiments began in early 1933, and the first stereo discs were cut later the same year. Much of the development work on this system for cinematic use was completed by 1935. In Blumlein's short test films (most notably, "Trains at Hayes Station", which lasts 5 minutes 11 seconds, and, "The Walking & Talking Film"), his original intent of having the sound follow the actor was fully realised.

In 1934, Blumlein recorded Mozart's Jupiter Symphony conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham at Abbey Road Studios in London using his vertical-lateral technique.


Television was developed by many individuals and companies throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Blumlein's contributions, as a member of the EMI team, started in earnest in 1933 when his boss, Isaac Shoenberg, assigned him full-time to TV research.

His ideas included:

•    Resonant flyback scanning (the use of a tuned circuit in the creation of a sawtooth deflection waveform). (British Patent No. 400976, application filed April 1932.)
•    Use of constant-impedance network in power supplies to obtain voltage regulation independent of load frequency, extending down to DC (421546, filed 16 June 1933).
•    Black-level clamping (422914, filed 11 July 1933 by Blumlein, Browne and Hardwick). This is an improved form of DC restoration, compared to the simple DC restorer (consisting of a capacitor, diode and resistor) which had been patented by Peter Willans three months earlier.
•    The slot antenna. (515684, filed 7 March 1939.)

Blumlein was also largely responsible for the development of the waveform structure used in the 405-line Marconi-EMI system – developed for the UK's BBC Television Service at Alexandra Palace, the world's first scheduled "high definition" (240 lines or better) television service – which was later adopted as the CCIR System A.

H2S radar

Blumlein was so central to the development of the H2S airborne radar system (to aid bomb targeting), that after his death in June 1942, many believed that the project would fail. However it survived and was a factor in shortening the Second World War. Blumlein's role in the project was a closely guarded secret at the time and consequently only a brief announcement of his death was made some two years later, to avoid providing solace to Hitler.

His invention of the line type pulse modulator (ref vol 5 of MIT Radiation Laboratory series) was a major contribution to high-powered pulse radars, not just the H2S's system, and continues to be used today.

Death and investigation

Blumlein was killed in the crash of an H2S-equipped Handley Page Halifax test aircraft while making a test flight for the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) on 7 June 1942. During the flight from RAF Defford, whilst at an altitude of 500 ft the Halifax developed an engine fire which rapidly grew out of control. The aircraft was seen to lose altitude, then rolled inverted and struck the ground. The crash occurred near the village of Welsh Bicknor in Herefordshire. Two of Blumlein's colleagues, Cecil Oswald Browne and Frank Blythen also died in the crash.

The Halifax was carrying a highly-secret cavity magnetron as part of the H2S test system, and the immediate recovery of the device was essential. A team led by Bernard Lovell arrived at the crash scene the same night, and took the magnetron.

"Then reports of a crash in south Wales began to come in and the rest of that night was just a nightmare. I was driven by the C-in-C of the aerodrome [Defford], a man called King, and winding through these lanes near Ross-on-Wye searching for this wreckage, and then the field with the burnt-out Halifax, and of course it was wartime, there was no time for emotions, our first duties were to search for the precious highly-secret equipment, and collect the bits-and-pieces of it." - Bernard Lovell.

After the RAF investigative board completed its report on the Halifax crash on 1 July 1942, it was distributed to a restricted list of approved recipients, but not publicly divulged. In the interests of wartime secrecy, the announcement of Blumlein's death was not made for another three years. The investigative board, headed by AIB Chief Inspector Vernon Brown – who later also investigated the post-war Star Tiger and Star Ariel disappearances – and assisted by Rolls-Royce, who had made the Halifax's Merlin engines, found that the crash was caused by engine fire, attributed to the unscrewing of a tappet nut on the starboard outer engine, which had been improperly tightened by an RAF engine fitter while inspecting the engine some three hours prior to the crash.

During the flight the loosened nut caused increasingly excessive valve clearance eventually allowing collision of the valve head with the rising piston fracturing the valve stem, which then allowed the inlet valve to drop open, resulting in the ignition by the spark plug of the pressurised fuel/air mixture within the inlet manifold and, eventually, the pumping of the ignited fuel outboard of the rocker cover and along the outside of the engine, leading to an extensive fire in the engine nacelle. Due to the fire originating in the induction system, where the supercharged fuel/air mixture was at higher pressure than atmospheric, the heart of the fire was much hotter burning and intense than would be the case in a simple fuel fire.

Constantly fuelled by the broken intake, the fire burned rapidly along the wing and fuselage, eventually causing the outboard section of the starboard wing to separate from the centre section at approximately 350 feet of altitude. With the loss of a substantial part of the starboard wing, all control over level flight was lost, and the plane rolled inverted and struck the ground at approximately 150 mph.

The board found that the crew and passengers had not jumped immediately from the aircraft owing to several factors, including a loss of altitude while attempting to find an emergency field, the rapidly spreading fire, which blocked or impeded egress from the plane, and the fact that a sufficient number of parachutes were either not on board or were not being worn. Almost immediately following the crash, Prime Minister Churchill issued a directive requiring any test flights with civilians or scientific personnel to carry a sufficient number of parachutes for all individuals involved.

After the RAF investigative board completed its report on the Halifax crash, it was ordered to be kept secret by Prime Minister Churchill, and the cause of the crash was not revealed publicly, even to the relatives of the deceased. As a result, numerous unfounded rumours of German sabotage as the cause of the crash would circulate for many years afterwards.

Personal life

Alan Blumlein had two sons, Simon Blumlein and David Blumlein.

Outside his work Blumlein was a lover of music and he attempted to learn to play the piano, but gave it up. He enjoyed horse riding and occasionally went cub hunting with his father-in-law.

He was interested in many forms of engineering, including aviation, motor engineering and railway engineering. He obtained a pilot's licence and flew Tiger Moth aircraft of the London Aerodrome Club at Stag Lane Aerodrome. On one occasion, he persuaded a bus driver to allow him to drive the vehicle from Penzance to Land's End. On another he spent several hours assisting the operator of a railway signal box in his duties at Paddington Station.


•    Alan Blumlein Way is a road on the Tektronix campus in Beaverton, Oregon, in keeping with their policy of naming roads after those who made significant contributions to the knowledge and understanding in the field of electronics.
•    There continues to be a meeting room named the Blumlein Room in the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) headquarters at Savoy Place, following a major refurbishment in 2015.
•    A Blue Plaque commemorating Blumlein was erected in 1977 by the Greater London Council at his former home in Ealing.
•    On April 1st 2015 an IEEE Milestone Plaque was posthumously presented for the Invention of Stereo to Alan Dower Blumlein. A ceremony was held at Abbey Road Sudios attended by many leading audio experts and recording engineers. The plaque is now located on the right hand side of the front door of Abbey Road Studios.
•    In 2017, The Recording Academy posthumously awarded Alan Dower Blumlein with the 2017 Technical Grammy for the invention of Stereo and contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording field.


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


#658 2020-01-06 00:40:45

Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 29,567

Re: crème de la crème

624) William R. Bennett Jr.

William Ralph Bennett Jr. (January 30, 1930 – June 29, 2008) was an American physicist known for his pioneering work on gas lasers. He spent most of his career on the faculty of Yale University.


The son of the noted physicist William R. Bennett Sr., Bennett Jr. received his bachelor's degree in physics from Princeton University. Bennett's graduate work in physics was on spectroscopy and collisions of the second kind in the noble gases. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. Bennett became a tenured professor at Yale University in 1962 and retired in 2000.

He and Ali Javan co-invented the first gas laser (the helium-neon laser) at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. He discovered the argon ion laser, was first to observe spectral hole burning effects in gas lasers, and created a theory of hole burning effects on laser oscillation. He was co-discoverer of lasers using electron impact excitation in each of the noble gases, dissociative excitation transfer in the neon-oxygen laser (the first chemical laser), and collision excitation in several metal vapor lasers. He was one of the first to incorporate the use of computers to teach physics and, with his daughter Dr. Jean Bennett Maguire, devised a method of real-time spectral phonocardiography for the detection and classification of heart murmurs. He set a stringent limit on the existence of “The Fifth Force” and showed that it was improbable that magnetic fields from power lines could cause cancer. He wrote eight books, held twelve patents and published over 120 research papers. He received the 1965 IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award.

(The initially called Morris Liebmann Memorial Prize provided by the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE), the IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award was created in 1919 in honor of Colonel Morris N. Liebmann. It was initially given to awardees who had "made public during the recent past an important contribution to radio communications". The award continued to be awarded as the IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award by the Board of Directors of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) after the IRE organization merged into the IEEE in 1963. The scope was changed to "for important contributions to emerging technologies recognized within recent years". After 2000, the award was superseded by the IEEE Daniel E. Noble Award.)

His research on the physics of musical instruments became the basis of a popular course he gave at Yale. His principal avocation was playing chamber music. He studied the clarinet with Simeon Bellison and performed as a clarinet soloist with several amateur symphony orchestras.


•    Member of Sigma Xi
•    Fellow of the American Physical Society; the Optical Society of America, and the IEEE;
•    Listed in A Century of Honor (IEEE Press).
•    1947 – Stanley Silverman Prize in Chemistry
•    1963 – Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow
•    1964 – Honorary MA, Yale University
•    1965 – IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award (for the invention of the gas laser)
•    1967 – J. S. Guggenheim Foundation Fellow
•    1972 – C. B. Sawyer Chair, Yale University
•    1974, 1975, 1976 – Annual "Ten Best Teachers" award, Yale Student Course Critique
•    1974 – Fellow, IEEE ("for contributions to the realization and understanding of gas lasers")
•    1975 – Honorary D.Sc., University of New Haven
•    1977 – Western Electric Fund Award of the ASME ("for excellence in instruction of engineering students")
•    1977 – Outstanding Patent Award of the Research and Development Council of New Jersey for U.S.Patent No. 3614653 (for the first gas laser)
•    1987 – John F. Enders Research Fellow
•    1994 – Eli Whitney Award of Connecticut Patent Law Association (for the invention of spectral phonocardiograph.)
•    1997 – Life Fellow, IEEE
•    2000 – DeVane Medal for Distinguished Scholarship and Teaching at Yale University, Phi Beta Kappa


•    "[Pulsed Helium-Neon] Gas Optical Maser" (with A. Javan), U. S. Patent No. 3149290 (granted Sept. 15, 1964)
•    "[Dissociative Transfer] Gas Optical Maser" (with A. Javan), U. S. Patent No. 3159707 (granted Dec. 1, 1964)
•    "Frequency Stabilized Optical Maser [based on Spectral Hole-burning]", U. S. Patent No. 3172057 (granted Feb. 16, 1965)
•    "[High Power] Gaseous Optical Maser", U. S. Patent No. 3172057 (granted March 2, 1965)
•    "Optical Maser Employing Multiple Gases [Krypton, Xenon and Radon with Helium]" (with W. L. Faust, R. A. McFarlane and C. K. N.Patel, U. S. Patent No. 3278858 (granted Oct. 11, 1966)
•    "Laser Utilizing Collision Depopulation [of the Lower Level]" (with G. Gould), U. S. Patent No. 3562662 (Granted Feb. 9, 1971)
•    "Low-Level Laser with Cyclic Excitation [Copper, Manganese, etc., metal vapor lasers]" (with Gordon Gould and W. T. Walter), U. S. Patent No. 3576500 (granted April 27, 1971)
•    "[Cw Helium-Neon] Optical Maser" (with D. R. Herriott and A. Javan), U. S. Patent No.3614653 (granted Oct. 19, 1971)
•    "Method and Device for Compensating for Partial Hearing Loss", U. S. Patent No. 4868880 (granted Sept. 19, 1989)
•    "Dynamic Spectral Phonocardiograph" (with J. B. Maguire), U. S. Patent No. 4967760 (granted Nov. 6, 1990).
•    "Dynamic Spectral Phonocardiograph [using Computer Diagnostics]" (with J. B. Maguire), U.S.Patent No. 5012815 (granted May 7, 1991).
•    "Laser with Reduced Intensity Fluctuations" ("Laser Stabilitron" with V. P. Chebotayev), U. S. Patent No.5251229 (Oct. 5, 1993).


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


#659 2020-01-08 00:38:14

Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 29,567

Re: crème de la crème

625) Friedrich Bergius

Friedrich Bergius was born on October 11, 1884, in Goldschmieden near Breslau, Silesia. He belonged to an old respected family of scientists, theologians, civil servants, army officers, and business men. His grandfather was Professor of Economics in Breslau and his father owned a chemical factory in Goldschmieden.

Bergius was educated in Breslau and whilst still at school took great interest in his father’s factory where he was able to study various working methods under the guidance of his father and thus became acquainted with chemicotechnical processes. The time spent in the laboratories and the works there later stood him in good stead, as already at a very early age he obtained considerable insight into industrial as well as scientific matters.

Before entering University, Bergius was sent to the Ruhr for six months by his father, where he studied the practical aspects of a large metallurgical plant and profited greatly by this experience.

In 1903 he entered Breslau University to read chemistry under Ladenburg, Abegg and Herz; after doing one year’s military service he proceeded to Leipzig University in 1905 and worked under Hantzsch on his thesis Über absolute Schwefelsäure als Lösungsmittel (On absolute sulphuric acid as a solvent). This work was completed in Breslau under Abegg, and Bergius received his degree at Leipzig in 1907. The lively scientific atmosphere in the laboratories of Hantzsch and Abegg induced Bergius to devote himself to a career in scientific research; for this reason he worked for two further terms at Nernst‘s Institute in Berlin and then went to Karlsruhe to study under Haber for one term in 1909.

The work which was being carried out there on the chemical equilibrium in gas reactions, in particular that on the synthesis of ammonia, prompted his own research in Hanover in 1909. He started with a detailed investigation on the dissociation of calcium peroxide and developed a practical method for laboratory work at pressures up to 300 atmospheres.

The equipment available in the laboratories of the Technische Hochschule in Hanover soon proved insufficient and in1910 Bergius established his own private laboratory in Hanover, which was gradually extended by several workshops and plants, and where he employed a number of collaborators. The most important result of his research was the hydrogenating effect of hydrogen on coal and heavy oils under high pressure, in 1912 and 1913.

It was not easy to obtain the means for maintaining this laboratory, especially as the scale of the experiments had to be enlarged in order to apply the laboratory methods to a small industrial scale. Therefore in 1914 Bergius accepted an offer made already previously by Dr. Karl Goldschmidt to transfer his laboratory to the Essen works of the firm Th. Goldschmidt A.G.; shortly afterwards he also accepted an executive position in this firm.

For a short time in 1911 Bergius lectured on technical gas reactions, equilibrium theory, and metallurgy at the Technische Hochschule in Hanover. However, the outbreak of the First World War and the increased rate of work on the problem of liquefaction of coal made it impossible for him to continue with his teaching activity. From 1914 to 1921 he lived in Berlin.

A comparatively large industrial plant for the technical development of the hydrogenating process was set up in Rheinau near Mannheim. It was soon found that the scope of this research work was too large for one firm alone and after the end of the war Bergius endeavoured to find firms suitable for collaborating in the development of hydrogenation. Apart from groups of German companies, he also induced the Shell Trust and a number of British enterprises, in particular the coal industry, to collaborate with him. However, in critical times he still had to bear the whole responsibility and risk for the further development of the process. Finally, in 1927, he was able to conclude his own work on the liquefaction of coal, after the practical possibilities had been proved on a large scale. The I.G. Farbenindustrie and Imperial Chemical Industries then took up the work on an industrial scale.

From that time onwards Bergius devoted himself to a process of obtaining sugar from cellulose in wood, on which he had already worked during the First World War. He succeeded after 15 years’ work and an industrial plant was set up, also in the Rheinau works. It is amazing with what intensity Bergius took up the second part of his life’s work, namely this hydrolysis of cellulose in wood and similar substances to sugar. It seems as if the well-known difficulties of working with highly concentrated hydrochloric acid had presented a special challenge to Bergius. Initially the process was taken up only in England and only during the thirties did Bergius manage to continue these experiments in Germany; his main concern was to rationalize the process and to ensure complete recovery of the hydrochloric acid used by constructing intricate devices. In 1921 he moved to Heidelberg, in order to be near his technical work in Mannheim-Rheinau, and at the same time to be in contact with Heidelberg University.

His home was international, and always full of mentally alive people. He had done great work and had received most of the honours possible during the eventful epoch of his lifetime. He received the degree of Dr. Phil. from the University of Heidelberg and the honorary doctorate from the University of Hanover; he was awarded the Liebig Medal and was elected to the Board of Directors of many associations and companies interested in coal and oil. In 1931 he shared the Nobel Prize with Carl Bosch for their contributions to the invention and development of chemical high-pressure methods.

After the last war it was impossible for Bergius to find a field of work in Germany which would have done justice to his abilities. He emigrated to the Argentine, where death put an end to his eventful career in Buenos Aires in 1949.

Friedrich Bergius died on March 30, 1949.


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


#660 2020-01-09 18:32:56

Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 29,567

Re: crème de la crème

626) Marilyn vos Savant

Marilyn vos Savant ( born 1946) is an American magazine columnist, author, lecturer, and playwright. She was listed as having the highest recorded intelligence quotient (IQ) in the ‘Guinness Book of Records’, a competitive category the publication has since retired. Since 1986, she has written "Ask Marilyn", a ‘Parade’ magazine Sunday column where she solves puzzles and answers questions on various subjects. Among them was a discussion of the Monty Hall problem, to which she postulated an answer in 1990.


Marilyn vos Savant was born Marilyn Mach on August 11, 1946, in St. Louis, Missouri, to parents Joseph Mach and Marina vos Savant. Savant says one should keep premarital surnames, with sons taking their fathers' and daughters their mothers'. The word savant, meaning someone of learning, appears twice in her family: her grandmother's name was Savant; her grandfather's, vos Savant. She is of Italian, Czechoslovak, German, and Austrian ancestry, being descended from the physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach.

As a teenager, Savant worked in her father's general store and wrote for local newspapers using pseudonyms. She married at 16 and divorced ten years later. Her second marriage ended when she was 35.

She went to Meramec Community College and studied philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis but quit two years later to help with a family investment business. Savant moved to New York City in the 1980s to pursue a career in writing. Prior to starting "Ask Marilyn", she wrote the ‘Omni I.Q. Quiz Contest’ for Omni, which included intelligence quotient (IQ) quizzes and expositions on intelligence and its testing.

Savant married Robert Jarvik (one developer of the Jarvik-7 artificial heart) on August 23, 1987, and was made Chief Financial Officer of Jarvik Heart, Inc. She has served on the board of directors of the National Council on Economic Education, on the advisory boards of the National Association for Gifted Children and the National Women's History Museum, and as a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Toastmasters International named her one of "Five Outstanding Speakers of 1999", and in 2003 she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from The College of New Jersey.

Rise to fame and IQ score

Savant was listed in the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ under "Highest IQ" from 1986 to 1989 and entered the Guinness Book of World Records Hall of Fame in 1988. Guinness retired the "Highest IQ" category in 1990 after concluding IQ tests were too unreliable to designate a single record holder. The listing drew nationwide attention.

Guinness cited vos Savant's performance on two intelligence tests, the Stanford-Binet and the Mega Test. She took the 1937 Stanford-Binet, Second Revision test at age ten. She claims her first test was in September 1956 and measured her mental age at 22 years and 10 months, yielding a 228 score. This figure was listed in the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’; it is also listed in her books' biographical sections and was given by her in interviews.

Alan S. Kaufman, a psychology professor and author of IQ tests, writes in ‘IQ Testing 101’ that "Miss Savant was given an old version of the Stanford-Binet (Terman & Merrill 1937), which did, indeed, use the antiquated formula of MA/CA × 100. But in the test manual's norms, the Binet does not permit IQs to rise above 170 at any age, child or adult. As the authors of the old Binet stated: 'Beyond fifteen the mental ages are entirely artificial and are to be thought of as simply numerical scores.' (Terman & Merrill 1937). ...the psychologist who came up with an IQ of 228 committed an extrapolation of a misconception, thereby violating almost every rule imaginable concerning the meaning of IQs." Savant has commented on reports mentioning varying IQ scores she was said to have obtained.

The second test reported by Guinness was Hoeflin's Mega Test, taken in the mid-1980s. The Mega Test yields IQ standard scores obtained by multiplying the subject's normalized z-score, or the rarity of the raw test score, by a constant standard deviation, and adding the product to 100, with Savant's raw score reported by Hoeflin to be 46 out of a possible 48, with a 5.4 z-score, and a standard deviation of 16, arriving at a 186 IQ. The Mega Test has been criticized by professional psychologists as improperly designed and scored, "nothing short of number pulverization".

Savant sees IQ tests as measurements of a variety of mental abilities and thinks intelligence entails so many factors that "attempts to measure it are useless". She has held memberships with the high-IQ societies Mensa International and the Mega Society.

"Ask Marilyn"

Following her listing in the 1986 ‘Guinness Book of World Records’, ‘Parade’ ran a profile of her along with a selection of questions from ‘Parade’ readers and her answers. ‘Parade’ continued to get questions, so "Ask Marilyn" was made.

She uses her column to answer questions on many chiefly academic subjects; solve logical, mathematical or vocabulary puzzles posed by readers; answer requests for advice with logic; and give self-devised quizzes and puzzles. Aside from the weekly printed column, "Ask Marilyn" is a daily online column that adds to the printed version by resolving controversial answers, correcting mistakes, expanding answers, reposting previous answers, and solving additional questions.

Three of her books (‘Ask Marilyn’, ‘More Marilyn’, and ‘Of Course, I'm for Monogamy’) are compilations of questions and answers from "Ask Marilyn". ‘The Power of Logical Thinking’ includes many questions and answers from the column.

Famous columns

The Monty Hall problem

Savant was asked the following question in her September 9, 1990 column:

Suppose you're on a game show, and you're given the choice of three doors. Behind one door is a car, behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say #1, and the host, who knows what's behind the doors, opens another door, say #3, which has a goat. He says to you, "Do you want to pick door #2?" Is it to your advantage to switch your choice of doors?

This question is called the Monty Hall problem due to its resembling scenarios on the game show ‘Let's Make a Deal’; its answer existed before it was used in "Ask Marilyn". She said the selection should be switched to door #2 because it has a 2⁄3 chance of success, while door #1 has just 1⁄3. To summarize, 2⁄3 of the time the opened door #3 will indicate the location of the door with the car (the door you had not picked and the one not opened by the host). Only 1⁄3 of the time will the opened door #3 mislead you into changing from the winning door to a losing door. These probabilities assume you change your choice each time door #3 is opened, and that the host always opens a door with a goat. This response provoked letters from thousands of readers, nearly all arguing doors #1 and #2 each have an equal chance of success. A follow-up column reaffirming her position served only to intensify the debate and soon became a feature article on the front page of ‘The New York Times’. ‘Parade’ received around 10,000 letters from readers who thought that her workings were incorrect.

Under the "standard" version of the problem, the host always opens a losing door and offers a switch. In the standard version, Savant's answer is correct. However, the statement of the problem as posed in her column is ambiguous. The answer depends on what strategy the host is following. If the host operates under a strategy of only offering a switch if the initial guess is correct, it would clearly be disadvantageous to accept the offer. If the host merely selects a door at random, the question is likewise very different from the standard version. Savant addressed these issues by writing the following in ‘Parade’ magazine, "the original answer defines certain conditions, the most significant of which is that the host always opens a losing door on purpose. Anything else is a different question."

She expounded on her reasoning in a second follow-up and called on school teachers to show the problem to classes. In her final column on the problem, she gave the results of more than 1,000 school experiments. Most respondents now agree with her original solution, with half of the published letters declaring their authors had changed their minds.

"Two boys" problem

Like the Monty Hall problem, the "two boys" or "second-sibling" problem predates ‘Ask Marilyn’, but generated controversy in the column, first appearing there in 1991–1992 in the context of baby beagles:

A shopkeeper says she has two new baby beagles to show you, but she doesn't know whether they're male, female, or a pair. You tell her that you want only a male, and she telephones the fellow who's giving them a bath. "Is at least one a male?" she asks him. "Yes!" she informs you with a smile. What is the probability that the other one is a male?

When Savant replied "one out of three", readers wrote the odds were 50–50. In a follow-up, she defended her answer, saying that "If we could shake a pair of puppies out of a cup the way we do dice, there are four ways they could land", in three of which at least one is male, but in only one of which none are male.

The confusion arises here because the bather is not asked if the puppy he is holding is a male, but rather if either is a male. If the puppies are labeled (A and B), each has a 50% chance of being male independently. This independence is restricted when at least A or B is male. Now, if A is not male, B must be male, and vice versa. This restriction is introduced by the way the question is structured and is easily overlooked – misleading people to the erroneous answer of 50%. See Boy or Girl paradox for solution details.

The problem re-emerged in 1996–97 with two cases juxtaposed:

Say that a woman and a man (who are unrelated) each have two children. We know that at least one of the woman's children is a boy and that the man's oldest child is a boy. Can you explain why the chances that the woman has two boys do not equal the chances that the man has two boys? My algebra teacher insists that the probability is greater that the man has two boys, but I think the chances may be the same. What do you think?

Savant agreed with the teacher, saying the chances were only 1 out of 3 that the woman had two boys, but 1 out of 2 the man had two boys. Readers argued for 1 out of 2 in both cases, prompting follow-ups. Finally she began a survey, asking female readers with exactly two children, at least one of them male, to give the gender of both children. Of the 17,946 women who responded, 35.9%, about 1 in 3, had two boys.

Errors in the column

On January 22, 2012, Savant admitted a mistake in her column. In the original column, published on December 25, 2011, a reader asked:

I manage a drug-testing program for an organization with 400 employees. Every three months, a random-number generator selects 100 names for testing. Afterward, these names go back into the selection pool. Obviously, the probability of an employee being chosen in one quarter is 25 percent. But what is the likelihood of being chosen over the course of a year?

Her response was:

The probability remains 25 percent, despite the repeated testing. One might think that as the number of tests grows, the likelihood of being chosen increases, but as long as the size of the pool remains the same, so does the probability. Goes against your intuition, doesn't it?

The correctness of the answer depends on how the question is asked. The probability of being chosen each time is 25% but probability of being chosen at least once across the 4 events is higher. In this case, the correct answer is around 68%, calculated as the complement of the probability of not being chosen in any of the four quarters: 1 – (0.75)^4.

On May 5, 2013, Savant made an error in a combinatorics problem. The question was how many different 4-digit briefcase combinations contain a particular digit (say 5, for example). She said the answer was 4000, yet people showed the correct answer—3439—using various strategies. The incorrect answer of 4000 counted those combinations with more than one "5" multiple times (twice for "1535", three times for "1555", for instance). So, the correct answer is to take all possible combinations minus the combinations in which each digit is not a 5 to the nth power, or 10,000 – 9^4 = 3439.

On June 22, 2014, Savant made an error in a word problem. The question was: If two people could complete a project in six hours, how long would it take each of them to do identical projects on their own, given that one took four hours longer than the other? Her answer was 10 hours and 14 hours, reasoning that if together it took them 6 hours to complete a project, then the total effort was 12 "man hours". If they then each do a separate full project, the total effort needed would be 24 hours, so the answer (10+14) needed to add up to 24 with a difference of 4. However, this ignores the fact that the two people get different amounts of work done per hour: if they are working jointly on a project, they can maximize their combined productivity, but if they split the work in half, one person will finish sooner and can't fully contribute. This subtlety causes the problem to require solving a quadratic equation and thus to not have a rational solution.

Instead, the answer is 4 + squareroot of 40   (approximately 10.32) and 8 + squareroot of 40  (approximately 14.32) hours.

Savant later acknowledged the error.

In her January 25, 2015, column Savant answered the question: "Suppose you have a job offer with a choice of two annual salaries. One is $30,000 with a $1,000 raise every year. The other is $30,000 with a $300 raise every six months. Which option is best in the long run?" Savant claimed that the semi-annual $300 raises were better than the annual $1000 raise. Comments of a reader of her webpage pointed out that this was the same puzzle she presented many years ago, and that it was addressed by Cecil Adams' column  in 1992. At that time Adams wrote, "Her response is 100 percent correct. It's just not necessarily the answer to the question she was asked.

Fermat's Last Theorem

A few months after Andrew Wiles said he had proved Fermat's Last Theorem, Savant published ‘The World's Most Famous Math Problem’ (October 1993), which surveys the history of Fermat's last theorem as well as other mathematical problems. Controversy came from its criticism of Wiles' proof; critics questioned whether it was based on a correct understanding of mathematical induction, proof by contradiction, and imaginary numbers.

Especially contested was Savants' statement that Wiles' proof should be rejected for its use of non-Euclidean geometry. Savant stated that because "the chain of proof is based in hyperbolic (Lobachevskian) geometry", and because squaring the circle is seen as a "famous impossibility" despite being possible in hyperbolic geometry, then "if we reject a hyperbolic method of squaring the circle, we should also reject a hyperbolic proof of Fermat's last theorem."

Specialists flagged discrepancies between the two cases, distinguishing the use of hyperbolic geometry as a "tool" for proving Fermat's last theorem and from its use as a "setting" for squaring the circle: squaring the circle in hyperbolic geometry is a different problem from that of squaring it in Euclidean geometry. Savant was criticized for rejecting hyperbolic geometry as a satisfactory basis for Wiles' proof, with critics pointing out that axiomatic set theory (rather than Euclidean geometry) is now the accepted foundation of mathematical proofs and that set theory is sufficiently robust to encompass both Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry as well as geometry and adding numbers.

Savant retracted the argument in a July 1995 addendum, saying she saw the theorem as "an intellectual challenge – 'to find another proof using only tools available to Fermat in the 17th century.'"

The book came with a glowing introduction by Martin Gardner whose reputation as a mathematics populariser may have boosted the book's notoriety.


•    1985 – Omni I.Q. Quiz Contest
•    1990 – Brain Building: Exercising Yourself Smarter (co-written with Leonore Fleischer)
•    1992 – Ask Marilyn: Answers to America's Most Frequently Asked Questions
•    1993 – The World's Most Famous Math Problem: The Proof of Fermat's Last Theorem and Other Mathematical Mysteries
•    1994 – More Marilyn: Some Like It Bright!
•    1994 – "I've Forgotten Everything I Learned in School!": A Refresher Course to Help You Reclaim Your Education
•    1996 – Of Course I'm for Monogamy: I'm Also for Everlasting Peace and an End to Taxes
•    1996 – The Power of Logical Thinking: Easy Lessons in the Art of Reasoning…and Hard Facts about Its Absence in Our Lives
•    2000 – The Art of Spelling: The Madness and the Method
•    2002 – Growing Up: A Classic American Childhood


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


#661 2020-01-11 00:41:41

Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 29,567

Re: crème de la crème

627) Robert Cailliau

Robert Cailliau (born 26 January 1947) is a Belgian informatics engineer, computer scientist and author who proposed the first (pre-www) hypertext system for CERN in 1987 and collaborated with Tim Berners-Lee on the World Wide Web from before it got its name. He designed the historical logo of the WWW, organized the first International World Wide Web Conference at CERN in 1994 and helped transfer Web development from CERN to the global Web consortium in 1995. Together with Dr. James Gillies, Cailliau wrote ‘How the Web Was Born’, the first book-length account of the origins of the World Wide Web.


Cailliau was born in Tongeren, Belgium. In 1958 he moved with his parents to Antwerp. After secondary school he graduated from Ghent University in 1969 as civil engineer in electrical and mechanical engineering (Dutch: Burgerlijk Werktuigkundig en Elektrotechnisch ingenieur). He also has an MSc from the University of Michigan in Computer, Information and Control Engineering, 1971.

During his military service in the Belgian Army he maintained Fortran programs to simulate troop movements and test video war games.

In December 1974 he started working at CERN as a Fellow in the Proton Synchrotron (PS) division, working on the control system of the accelerator. In April 1987 he left the PS division to become group leader of Office Computing Systems in the Data Handling division. In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee proposed a hypertext system for access to the many forms of documentation at and related to CERN. Berners-Lee created the system, calling it World Wide Web, between September and December 1990. During this time, Cailliau and he co-authored a proposal for funding for the project. Cailliau later became a key proponent of the project, running several projects to create and support browsers on different operating systems including various UNIX flavours and Classic Mac OS. With Nicola Pellow he helped develop the first web browser for the Classic Mac OS operating system called MacWWW.

(CERN : The European Organization for Nuclear Research (French: Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire), known as CERN; derived from the name Conseil européen pour la recherche nucléaire), is a European research organization that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. Established in 1954, the organization is based in a northwest suburb of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border and has 23 member states. Israel is the only non-European country granted full membership. CERN is an official United Nations Observer.)

In 1993, in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft Cailliau started the European Commission's first web-based project for information dissemination in Europe (WISE). As a result of his work with CERN's Legal Service, CERN's director of Future Research Walter Hoogland signed the official document that released the web technology into the public domain on 30 April 1993.

In December 1993 Cailliau called for the first International WWW Conference which was held at CERN in May 1994. The oversubscribed conference brought together 380 web pioneers and was a milestone in the development of the web. The conference led to the forming of the International World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee which has organized an annual conference since then. Cailliau was a member of the Committee from 1994 until 2002.

In 1995 Cailliau started the "Web for Schools" project with the European Commission, introducing the web as a resource for education. After helping to transfer the web development from CERN to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), he devoted his time to public communication. He went on early retirement from CERN in January 2007.

Cailliau is now an active member of Newropeans, a pan-European political movement for which he and Luca Cominassi have recently drafted a proposal concerning the European information society.

He is a public speaker on the past and future of the World Wide Web and has delivered many keynote speeches at international conferences.


•    1995: ACM Software System Award (with Tim Berners-Lee)
•    1999: Christophe Plantin Prize, Antwerp
•    1999: Dr. Hon. Southern Cross University
•    2000: Dr. Hon. University of Ghent
•    2001: Médaille Genève Reconnaissante (with Tim Berners-Lee)
•    2004: Commander in the Order of King Leopold (awarded by King Albert II of Belgium)
•    2006: Honorary citizenship of the city of Tongeren
•    2008: Gold Medal of the Flemish Academy of Sciences and the Arts
•    2009: Dr. Hon. University of Liège (with Tim Berners-Lee)
•    2010: Ehrenpreis Best of Swiss Web
•    2012: Internet Hall of Fame by the Internet Society.


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


#662 2020-01-13 00:37:32

Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 29,567

Re: crème de la crème

628) John Blenkinsop

John Blenkinsop (1783 – 22 January 1831) was an English mining engineer and an inventor of steam locomotives, who designed the first practical railway locomotive.

He was born in Felling, County Durham, the son of a stonemason and was apprenticed to his cousin, Thomas Barnes, a Northumberland coal viewer. From 1808 he became agent to Charles John Brandling, who owned collieries on his Middleton estate near Leeds and whose family came from Felling. From then until his death, Blenkinsop lived at Middleton Hall on Town Street, Middleton, built in the 17th century as the Brandling family's Middleton home (they used the far more modern Middleton Lodge when visiting from their Tyneside homes).

Blenkinsop and the Middleton Railway

In 1758 the Brandlings had built a wooden wagonway to carry coal into Leeds, using horse-drawn vehicles, now known as the Middleton Railway. Not all the land traversed by the wagonway belonged to Brandling, and it was the first railway to be authorised by Act of Parliament, since this would give him power to obtain wayleave.

In the early nineteenth century, attempts were being made to employ steam power for haulage. Richard Trevithick had experimented with various models of steam locomotive, and in 1805 his work had culminated in an engine for the Wylam Colliery. The cast-iron plated wood rails were unable to take the engine's heavy weight, however, and the initial attempt to convert to steam locomotion at Wylam was abandoned. Work on the development of locomotive power continued nonetheless. A shortage of horses and fodder brought about by the Napoleonic Wars had made steam traction a more attractive proposition and encouraged further development. Moreover, edge rails, made entirely of iron, laid at Middleton Railway from around 1799, were stronger.

While many people, such as William Hedley, felt that adhesion should be adequate with a locomotive weighing around five tons, Blenkinsop was less sanguine. In 1811 he patented (No 3431), a rack and pinion system for a locomotive which would be designed and built by Matthew Murray of Fenton, Murray and Wood in Holbeck.

The general opinion of the time was that a locomotive would draw up to four times its weight by adhesion alone (assuming good conditions), but Blenkinsop wanted more, and his engine, weighing five tons, regularly hauled a payload of ninety tons. The first locomotive probably was ‘Salamanca’, built in early 1812. Three other locomotives followed, one later in 1812, one around 1813, and the last one in 1815. One of these three was named ‘Lord Wellington’, and the other two allegedly were named ‘Prince Regent’ and ‘Marquis Wellington’, though there is no contemporary mention of those names. Similar locomotives were built for collieries at Orrell near Wigan by Robert Daglish under licence from Blenkinsop, and at least one other was built by Matthew Murray for the Kenton and Coxlodge Collieries at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. What should have been Blenkinsop's third locomotive had already been sent to the Kenton and Coxlodge Waggonway at his request. There, it seems to have acquired the name ‘Willington’.

Two locomotives of this pattern were also made by the Royal Iron Foundry in Berlin. Though they worked well when tested at the Foundry, neither could be made to work properly at their intended workplaces, and both ended their days as stationary engines. The Murray/Blenkinsop locomotives had the first double-acting cylinders and, unlike the Trevithick pattern, no flywheel. The cylinders drove a geared wheel which engaged with the rack beside one rail. One of the geared locomotives was described as having two 8"x20" cylinders, driving the wheels through cranks. The piston crossheads worked in guides, rather than being controlled by parallel motion like the majority of early locomotives. Between them, the engines saw more than twenty years of service.

The design was superseded when rolled iron rail, which could bear the heavier adhesion locomotives, was introduced in 1820. This was quickly adopted by George Stephenson and others.

In addition to managing the Middleton Collieries, in the 1820s John Blenkinsop was the consulting engineer for Sir John Lister Kaye of Denby Grange, owner of Caphouse Colliery. Also, as a qualified "Viewer", he was hired by various other colliery owners to examine their collieries and report on such vital matters as the expected future production of a pit, as well as to make suggestions as to how its operation and production could be improved. Blenkinsop died in Leeds in 1831, and is buried at Rothwell Parish Church.


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


#663 2020-01-15 01:07:05

Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 29,567

Re: crème de la crème

629) Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray (1765 – 20 February 1826) was an English steam engine and machine tool manufacturer, who designed and built the first commercially viable steam locomotive, the twin cylinder Salamanca in 1812. He was an innovative designer in many fields, including steam engines, machine tools and machinery for the textile industry.

(Salamanca was the first commercially successful steam locomotive, built in 1812 by Matthew Murray of Holbeck, for the edge railed Middleton Railway between Middleton and Leeds. It was the first to have two cylinders. It was named after the Duke of Wellington's victory at the battle of Salamanca which was fought that same year.
Salamanca was also the first rack and pinion locomotive, using John Blenkinsop's patented design for rack propulsion. A single rack ran outside the narrow gauge tracks and was engaged by a large cog wheel on the left side of the locomotive. The cog wheel was driven by twin cylinders embedded into the top of the centre-flue boiler. The class was described as having two 8"×20" cylinders, driving the wheels through cranks. The piston crossheads slid in guides, rather than being controlled by a parallel motion linkage like the majority of early locomotives. The engines saw up to twenty years of service).

Early years

Little is known about Matthew Murray's early years. He was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1765. He left school at fourteen and was apprenticed to be either a blacksmith or a whitesmith. In 1785, when he concluded his apprenticeship, he married Mary Thompson (1764–1836) of Whickham, County Durham. The following year he moved to Stockton and began work as a journeyman mechanic at the flax mill of John Kendrew in Darlington, where the mechanical spinning of flax had been invented.

Murray and his wife, Mary, had three daughters and a son, also called Matthew.


In 1789, due to a lack of trade in the Darlington flax mills, Murray and his family moved to Leeds to work for John Marshall, who was to become a prominent flax manufacturer. John Marshall had rented a small mill at Adel, for the purpose of manufacture but also to develop a pre-existing flax-spinning machine, with the aid of Matthew Murray. After some trial and error, to overcome the problem of breakages in the flax twine during the spinning of the flax, sufficient improvements were made to enable John Marshall to undertake the construction of a new mill at Holbeck in 1791, Murray was in charge of the installation. The installation included new flax-spinning machines of his own design, which Murray patented in 1790. In 1793 Murray took out a second patent on a design for "Instruments and Machines for Spinning Fibrous Materials". His patent included a carding engine and a spinning machine that introduced the new technique of "wet spinning" flax, which revolutionised the flax trade. Murray maintained the machinery for Marshall's mills and made improvements that pleased his employer. At this stage it seems that Murray was the chief engineer in the mill.

Fenton, Murray and Wood

Industry in the Leeds area was developing fast and it became apparent that there was an opportunity for a firm of general engineers and millwrights to set up. Therefore, in 1795, Murray went into partnership with David Wood (1761–1820) and set up a factory at Mill Green, Holbeck. There were several mills in the vicinity and the new firm supplied machinery to them. The firm was so successful that in 1797 it moved to larger premises at Water Lane, Holbeck. The firm welcomed two new partners at this point; James Fenton (previously Marshall's partner) and William Lister (a millwright of Bramley, Leeds). The firm became known as Fenton, Murray and Wood. Murray was the technical innovator and in charge of obtaining orders; Wood was in charge of day-to-day running of the works; Fenton was the accountant.

Steam engine manufacture

Although the firm still served the textile industry, Murray began to consider how the design of steam engines could be improved. He wanted to make them simpler, lighter, and more compact. He also wanted the steam engine to be a self-contained unit that could readily be assembled on site with pre-determined accuracy. Many existing engines suffered from faulty assembly, which took much effort to correct. One problem that Murray faced was that James Pickard had already patented the crank and flywheel method of converting linear motion to circular motion. Murray ingeniously got round this difficulty by introducing a hypocycloidal gear. This consisted of a large fixed ring with internal teeth. Around the inside of this ring a smaller gear wheel, with half the outer one's diameter, would roll driven by the piston rod of the steam engine, which was attached to the gear's rim. As the piston rod moved backwards and forwards in a straight line, its linear motion would be converted into circular motion by the gear wheel. The gear wheel's bearing was attached to a crank on the flywheel shaft. When he used the hypocycloidal gear he was able to build engines that were more compact and lightweight than previous ones. However, Murray ceased to use this type of motion as soon as Pickard's patent expired.

In 1799 William Murdoch, who worked for the firm of Boulton and Watt, invented a new type of steam valve, called the D slide valve. This, in effect, slid backwards and forwards admitting steam to one end of the cylinder then the other. Matthew Murray improved the working of these valves by driving them with an eccentric gear attached to the rotating shaft of the engine.

Murray also patented an automatic damper that controlled the furnace draft depending on the boiler pressure, and he designed a mechanical hopper that automatically fed fuel to the firebox. Murray was the first to adopt the placing of the piston in a horizontal position in the steam engine. He expected very high standards of workmanship from his employees, and the result was that Fenton, Murray and Wood produced machinery of a very high precision. He designed a special planing machine for planing the faces of the slide valves. Apparently this machine was kept in a locked room, to which only certain employees were allowed access.

The Murray Hypocycloidal Engine in Thinktank museum, Birmingham, England, is the third-oldest working engine in the world, and the oldest working engine with a hypocycloidal gear.

The Round Foundry

As a result of the high quality of his steam engines, sales increased a great deal and it became apparent that a new engine assembly shop was required. Murray designed this himself, and produced a huge three-storeyed circular building known as the Round Foundry. This contained a centrally mounted steam engine to power all of the machines in the building. Murray also built a house for himself adjoining the works. The design of this was pioneering, as each room was heated by steam pipes, so that it became known locally as Steam Hall.

Hostility of Boulton and Watt

The success that Fenton, Murray and Wood enjoyed because of the high quality of their workmanship attracted the hostility of competitors, Boulton and Watt. The latter firm sent employees William Murdoch and Abraham Storey to visit Murray, ostensibly on a courtesy visit, but in reality to spy on his production methods. Murray, rather foolishly, welcomed them, and showed them everything. On their return they informed their employers that Murray's casting work and forging work were much superior to their own, and efforts were made to adopt many of Murray's production methods. There was also an attempt by the firm of Boulton and Watt to obtain information from an employee of Fenton, Murray and Wood by bribery. Finally, James Watt jnr purchased land adjacent to the workshop in an attempt to prevent the firm from expanding.

Boulton and Watt successfully challenged two of Murray's patents. Murray's patent of 1801, for improved air pumps and other innovations, and of 1802, for a self-contained compact engine with a new type of slide valve, were contested and overturned. In both cases, Murray had made the mistake of including too many improvements together in the same patent. This meant that if any one improvement were found to have infringed a copyright, the whole patent would be invalidated.

Despite the manoeuvrings of Boulton and Watt, the firm of Fenton, Murray and Wood became serious rivals to them, attracting many orders.

Middleton Railway

In 1812 the firm supplied John Blenkinsop, manager of Brandling's Middleton Colliery, near Leeds, with the first twin-cylinder steam locomotive (Salamanca). This was the first commercially successful steam locomotive.

The double cylinder was Murray's invention, he paid Richard Trevithick a royalty for the use of his patented high pressure steam system, but improved upon it, using two cylinders rather than one to give a smoother drive.

Because only a lightweight locomotive could work on cast iron rails without breaking them, the total load they were capable of hauling was very much limited. In 1811, John Blenkinsop patented a toothed wheel and rack rail system. The toothed wheel was driven by connecting rods, and meshed with a toothed rail at one side of the track. This was the first rack railway, and had a gauge of 4 ft 1½ ins.

Once a system had been devised for making malleable iron rails, around 1819, the rack and pinion motion became unnecessary, apart from later use on mountain railways. However, until that time it enabled a small and lightweight locomotive to haul loads totalling at least 20 times its own weight. Salamanca was so successful that Murray made three more models. One of these was known as Lord Wellington, and the others are said to have been named Prince Regent and Marquis Wellington, though there is no known contemporary mention of those two names. The third locomotive intended for Middleton was sent, at Blenkinsop's request, to the Kenton and Coxlodge Colliery waggonway near Newcastle upon Tyne, where it appears to have been known as Willington. There it was seen by George Stephenson, who modelled his own locomotive Blücher on it, minus the rack drive, and therefore much less effective.

After two of the locomotives exploded, killing their drivers, and the remaining two were increasingly unreliable after at least 20 years hard labour, the Middleton colliery eventually reverted to horse haulage in 1835. Rumour has it that one remaining locomotive was preserved for some years at the colliery, but was eventually scrapped.

Marine engines

In 1811 the firm made a Trevithick-pattern high-pressure steam engine for John Wright, a Quaker of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. The engine was fitted to the paddle steamer l'Actif, running out of Yarmouth. The ship was a captured privateer that had been purchased from the government. Paddle wheels were fitted to it and driven by the new engine. The ship was renamed Experiment and the engine was very successful, eventually being transferred to another boat, The Courier.

In 1816 Francis B. Ogden, the United States Consul in Liverpool received two large twin-cylinder marine steam engines from Murray's firm. Ogden then patented the design as his own in America. It was widely copied there and used to propel the Mississippi paddle steamers.

Textile innovations

Murray made important improvements to the machinery for heckling and spinning flax. Heckling was the preparation of flax for spinning by splitting and straightening the flax fibres. Murray's heckling machine gained him the gold medal of the Royal Society of Arts in 1809. At the time when these inventions were made the flax trade was on the point of expiring, the spinners being unable to produce yarn to a profit. The effect of his inventions was to reduce the cost of production, and improve the quality of the manufacture, thus establishing the British linen trade on a solid foundation. The production of flax-machinery became an important branch of manufacture at Leeds, large quantities being made for use at home as well as for exportation, giving employment to an increasing number of highly skilled mechanics.

Hydraulic presses

In 1814 Murray patented a hydraulic press for baling cloth, in which the upper and lower tables approached each other simultaneously. He improved upon the hydraulic presses invented by Joseph Bramah, and in 1825 designed a huge press for testing chain cables. His press, built for the Navy Board, was 34 ft long and could exert a force of 1,000 tons. The press was completed just before Murray's death.


Matthew Murray died on 20 February 1826, at the age of sixty. He was buried in St. Matthew's Churchyard, Holbeck. His tomb was surmounted by a cast iron obelisk made at the Round Foundry. His firm survived until 1843. Several prominent engineers were trained there, including Benjamin Hick, Charles Todd, David Joy and Richard Peacock.

It is a testament to the good design and workmanship that went into his steam engines, that several of his big mill engines ran for over eighty years, and one of them, installed second-hand at the locomotive repair works at King's Cross, ran for over a century.

Murray's only son Matthew (c.1793–1835) served an apprenticeship at the Round Foundry and went to Russia; he founded an engineering business in Moscow, where he died age 42.


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


#664 2020-01-17 00:27:15

Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 29,567

Re: crème de la crème

630) Frederick G. Banting

Frederick Grant Banting was born on November 14, 1891, at Alliston, Ont., Canada. He was the youngest of five children of William Thompson Banting and Margaret Grant. Educated at the Public and High Schools at Alliston, he later went to the University of Toronto to study divinity, but soon transferred to the study of medicine. In 1916 he took his M.B. degree and at once joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps, and served, during the First World War, in France. In 1918 he was wounded at the battle of Cambrai and in 1919 he was awarded the Military Cross for heroism under fire.

When the war ended in 1919, Banting returned to Canada and was for a short time a medical practitioner at London, Ontario. He studied orthopaedic medicine and was, during the year 1919-1920, Resident Surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. From 1920 until 1921 he did part-time teaching in orthopaedics at the University of Western Ontario at London, Canada, besides his general practice, and from 1921 until 1922 he was Lecturer in Pharmacology at the University of Toronto. In 1922 he was awarded his M.D. degree, together with a gold medal.

Earlier, however, Banting had become deeply interested in diabetes. The work of Naunyn, Minkowski, Opie, Schafer, and others had indicated that diabetes was caused by lack of a protein hormone secreted by the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. To this hormone Schafer had given the name insulin, and it was supposed that insulin controls the metabolism of sugar, so that lack of it results in the accumulation of sugar in the blood and the excretion of the excess of sugar in the urine. Attempts to supply the missing insulin by feeding patients with fresh pancreas, or extracts of it, had failed, presumably because the protein insulin in these had been destroyed by the proteolytic enzyme of the pancreas. The problem, therefore, was how to extract insulin from the pancreas before it had been thus destroyed.

While he was considering this problem, Banting read in a medical journal an article by Moses Baron, which pointed out that, when the pancreatic duct was experimentally closed by ligatures, the cells of the pancreas which secrete trypsin degenerate, but that the islets of Langerhans remain intact. This suggested to Banting the idea that ligation of the pancreatic duct would, by destroying the cells which secrete trypsin, avoid the destruction of the insulin, so that, after sufficient time had been allowed for the degeneration of the trypsin-secreting cells, insulin might be extracted from the intact islets of Langerhans.

Determined to investigate this possibility, Banting discussed it with various people, among whom was J.J.R. Macleod, Professor of Physiology at the University of Toronto, and Macleod gave him facilities for experimental work upon it. Dr. Charles Best, then a medical student, was appointed as Banting’s assistant, and together, Banting and Best started the work which was to lead to the discovery of insulin.

In 1922 Banting had been appointed Senior Demonstrator in Medicine at the University of Toronto, and in 1923 he was elected to the Banting and Best Chair of Medical Research, which had been endowed by the Legislature of the Province of Ontario. He was also appointed Honorary Consulting Physician to the Toronto General Hospital, the Hospital for Sick Children, and the Toronto Western Hospital. In the Banting and Best Institute, Banting dealt with the problems of silicosis, cancer, the mechanism of drowning and how to counteract it. During the Second World War he became greatly interested in problems connected with flying (such as blackout).

In addition to his medical degree, Banting also obtained, in 1923, the LL.D. degree (Queens) and the D.Sc. degree (Toronto). Prior to the award of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 1923, which he shared with Macleod, he received the Reeve Prize of the University of Toronto (1922). In 1923, the Canadian Parliament granted him a Life Annuity of $7,500. In 1928 Banting gave the Cameron Lecture in Edinburgh. He was appointed member of numerous medical academies and societies in his country and abroad, including the British and American Physiological Societies, and the American Pharmacological Society. He was knighted in 1934.

As a keen painter, Banting once took part of a painting expedition above the Arctic Circle, sponsored by the Government.

Banting married Marion Robertson in 1924; they had one child, William (b. 1928). This marriage ended in a divorce in 1932, and in 1937. Banting married Henrietta Ball.

When the Second World War broke out, he served as a liaison officer between the British and North American medical services and, while thus engaged, he was, in February 1941, killed in an air disaster in Newfoundland.

Frederick G. Banting died on February 21, 1941.


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


#665 Yesterday 00:56:45

Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 29,567

Re: crème de la crème

631) Aeneas Coffey

Aeneas Coffey (1780–1839) was an Irish inventor and distiller.


Coffey was born in 1780. According to some sources he was born in Ireland most likely in Co. Dublin or Co. Wicklow. Some references refer to his birth in Calais, France, in 1780 to Irish parents. Coffey was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and entered the excise service around 1799–1800 as a gauger. He married Susanna Logie in 1808, and they had three sons over the next eight years: Aeneas, William and Philip.

Customs and excise officer

According to British customs and excise records, Coffey was a remarkable man with widespread interests and multiple talents who rose quickly through the excise service ranks. He was appointed sub-commissioner of Inland Excise and Taxes for the district of Drogheda in 1813. He was appointed Surveyor of Excise for Clonmel and Wicklow in 1815. In 1816 he was promoted to the same post at Cork. By 1818 he was Acting Inspector General of Excise for the whole of Ireland and within two years was promoted to Inspector General of Excise in Dublin, Ireland.

He was a strong, determined upholder of the law, but aware of its shortcomings. He survived many nasty skirmishes with illegal distillers and smugglers, particularly in County Donegal in Ulster and in the west of Ireland, where moonshining was most rife. On several occasions he proposed to the government simple, pragmatic solutions to rules and regulations which had hampered legal distillers. Not all of his ideas were accepted. Between 1820 and 1824 he submitted reports and gave evidence to Parliamentary Commissions of Inquiry on many aspects of distilling, including formalising the different spellings of Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky. His 1822 report was solidly backed by the Irish distillers. He believed in making it viable to distill legally, and illegal distilling might largely disappear.

He assisted the government in the drafting of the 1823 Excise Act which made it easier to distill legally. It sanctioned the distilling of whiskey in return for a licence fee of £10, and a set payment per gallon of proof spirit. It also provided for the appointment of a single Board of Excise, under Treasury control, for the whole of the United Kingdom, replacing the separate excise boards for England, Scotland and Ireland. The 1823 Excise Act also provided for not more than four assistant commissioners of excise to transact current business in Scotland and Ireland, under the control of the board in London.

Aeneas Coffey resigned from government excise service at his own request in 1824.


Between his Dublin education and his work as an excise officer, Aeneas Coffey had ample opportunity to observe the design and workings of whiskey stills, as Ireland was the world's leading producer of whiskey in the 19th century, and Dublin was at the centre of that global industry. This was how Coffey became familiar with a design differing from the traditional copper pot alembic still commonly used in Ireland, the continuous, or column, still. First patented by a Cork County distillery in 1822, the column still remained a relatively inefficient piece of equipment, although it pointed the way towards a cheaper and more productive way to distill alcohol. It was that last point that captured Coffey's imagination. He made his own modifications to existing column still designs, so as to allow a greater portion of the vapours to re-circulate into the still instead of moving into the receiver with the spirit. The result was more efficient, producing a lighter spirit at higher alcohol content. Coffey patented his design in 1830, and it became the basis for every column still used ever since.

His column still became widely popular in Scotland and the rest of the world outside Ireland, where it is known as the "Coffey still" or "Patent Still". Early Coffey stills produced spirits of about 60% or somewhat higher alcohol by volume concentration but still offered its operators outstanding advantages; its fuel costs were low, its output high (2000 gallons a day of pure alcohol was a good average, it needed less maintenance and cleaning than pot stills and because the still was steam-heated, there was no risk whatsoever of scorching, saving labour costs and distillation down time. Modern versions of the Coffey still can achieve much higher alcohol concentrations, approaching 95.6% alcohol. As alcohol forms an azeotrope with water at this concentration, it is impossible to achieve higher purity alcohol by distillation alone. The Irish distilling industry generally did not take up the Coffey still, but big urban distilleries in Scotland took it on for scotch, and in England it was taken on by the gin distilleries.


On his retirement from service, Aeneas Coffey went into the Irish distilling business. For a short time he ran the Dodder Bank Distillery, Dublin and Dock Distillery in Grand Canal Street, Dublin, before setting up on his own as Aeneas Coffey Whiskey Company in 1830. The development of the Coffey still made distillation of his own whiskey much more economical.

Later years

Nothing is known of the final years and last resting place of Aeneas Coffey. His eldest son, also called Aeneas Coffey, emigrated to South Africa and managed a distillery. Aeneas Coffey junior married but his wife died childless. He returned to England and spent his final years near London.


It is impossible to overestimate Aeneas Coffey's importance in the history of distilling. Analogies between industries are hard to make, but one can safely call him the 'Henry Ford of distilling', the 'father of Irish whiskey' or the 'man who put the 'e' into whiskey'. Just as Ford came from Irish stock but made his name, fame and fortune in America, so Aeneas Coffey was an Irishman whose invention changed the world.

Aeneas Coffey's contribution to the mechanisation of alcohol production is immense and his invention can be found today in almost every country on earth.

(Distillation is the process of separating the components or substances from a liquid mixture by using selective boiling and condensation. Distillation may result in essentially complete separation (nearly pure components), or it may be a partial separation that increases the concentration of selected components in the mixture. In either case, the process exploits differences in the relative volatility of the mixture's components. In industrial chemistry, distillation is a unit operation of practically universal importance, but it is a physical separation process, not a chemical reaction.

Distillation has many applications. For example:

•    Distillation of fermented products produces distilled beverages with a high alcohol content or separates out other fermentation products of commercial value.
•    Distillation is an effective and traditional method of desalination.
•    In the petroleum industry, oil stabilization is a form of partial distillation that reduces vapor pressure of crude oil, thereby making it safe for storage and transport as well as reducing the atmospheric emissions of volatile hydrocarbons. In midstream operations at oil refineries, fractional distillation is a major class of operation for transforming crude oil into fuels and chemical feed stocks.
•    Cryogenic distillation leads to the separation of air into its components – notably oxygen, nitrogen, and argon – for industrial use.
•    In the chemical industry, large amounts of crude liquid products of chemical synthesis are distilled to separate them, either from other products, from impurities, or from unreacted starting materials.

An installation used for distillation, especially of distilled beverages, is a distillery. The distillation equipment itself is a still.)


It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge - Enrico Fermi. 

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


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