Scottish Ruffian or Telephone Pioneer?

A while back I switched on the television mid way through the always amusing and intelligent Television programme – QI, the presenter put the question to the panel  - “Who invented the telephone?”

The reply ‘Alexander Graham Bell’ was given – NO WRONG! shrieked the quizmaster for it was he, the wordy and wonderful Stephen Fry…..”he was at the time a young engineer working for Western Electric and he learned of the work of a poor Italian, a Mr Meucci and promptly nicked the idea”.

Bell was actually a Professor of Vocal Physiology and the co-founder of the National Geographic Magazine and the Journal ‘Science’. Among the many inventions and contributions to science and technology were the first really successful methods of teaching the profoundly deaf-blind to communicate, achieving the world water speed record in his patented hydrofoil. He also experimented with thermal solar panels and tested out an idea of laying down magnetic information on rotating disks. Another of his accomplishments was breeding a variety of sheep with an extra set of teats, however this was found not to have any benefits at the time.

His patent makes no mention of inventing the telephone, only “Improvements to Telegraphy” He did also seem to have a grasp of modulation systems and even described some of the basics of speech synthesis, in fact the original patent is more to do with the use of sound sources carrying harmonics – or ‘overtones’ as he called them, than it is with transmitting voice.

Much of the recent controversy of whether Meucci is a better candidate for the title of the Inventor of the Telephone hinged upon the incorrect belief that at some point Bell had access to Meucci’s materials. The decisions of US Congress to give the level of credence that it did in 2006 when it recognised Meucci as the "true inventer" of the telephone, may have been influenced by being presented with false information fabricated by the owner of The Globe Corporation.

Although a succesful inventor, Meucci's foray into speech transmission produced a means of transmitting acoustical energy along mainly pre-existing telegraph wires. His idea of overcoming the tendancy to short circuit the telegraphic signals was to insulate the communicaters by sitting them on chairs placed on glass insulaters. A rather shady organisation; the Globe Corporation used Meucci to present concocted documents based closely on Bell's and other's developments These were presented to the court but these were very quickly dismissed, when under questioning Meucci revealed that he lacked a sufficiently good understanding of the principles involved in transmitting speech by electrical means. In all there were just under six hundred individuals and companies laying claim to the invention, some much more plausible than Meucci, and some much worse. At this time Meucci seems to have been in a bad situation and vulnerable and was easily exploited.

It is almost certain that there were several telephony pioneers who had demonstrated electrically powered devices which could carry very low quality speech over a distance but Professor Bell was, in addition to being an inventor and an engineer, a development technician and, he and his extremely able assistant, Watson constructed a device that captured sounds which were reproduced at a fair distance from their source. -- More about Alexander Graham Bell


Some of my favourite Quotes

We have four pages of quotes, the ones featured here seem very relevant to me at this time

The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the cooperation or consent of his deliberate reason. ~~ Bertrand Russell

We learn from history that we do not learn from history. ~~ Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Those who are able to see beyond the shadows and lies of their culture will never be understood, let alone believed, by the masses. ~~ Plato

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana

Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking; where it is absent, discussion is apt to become worse than useless. ~~
Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi

If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed. ~~ Mark Twain 

If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience ~~ George Bernard Shaw

Quotes#1 | Quotes#2 | Quotes#3 | Quotes#4  


 Words can be fascinating, magnetic, elfin! 

unusual meanings or of special interest or sound

Pulveriberation:- Achieving  the 'liberation' of a  city by pulverising it, as applied to East Aleppo, Mosul and Fallujah.

Snollygoster:- A shrewd, ambitious person who appears genuine but is in fact devoid of principles. Often, if not mostly applied to politicians.

Plutonomy:- The small percentage of the population that is gathering increasing wealth.

Precariat:- The working people of the world who lead increasingly precariious lives. Combining the words precarious and proletariat

Qualia:- That experienced by a person, usually a sensation or a mental stat. An example would be, a subjective experience such an individual's appreciation of the redness of a sunset.

Sitzpinkler:- A gentleman who sits to pee. A German word deserving better currency - Ed

Thrawn:- Scots word meaning twisted or woven into. Can also mean stubborn.

Mardy:- Spoiled as applied to a child. Also can mean irritable, bad tempered.

Astroturfing:- In its simple form the word Astroturf is the trade name of an artificial grass material. In its political and marketing sense the term relates to paid-for movements or campaigns which present an impression that the success is spontaneous, or suggests a 'grassroots movement.

Novation:- Changing the legal status or obligations applying to a situation, including adding an obligation or replacing an affected individual with another.

Novation:- Changing the legal status or obligations applying to a situation, including adding an obligation or replacing an affected individual with another.

Why not check out some more interesting words More


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