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Subject: ‘Technology’

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The best pictures from ‘The Graphic’, 51

Posted in Africa, Ancient History, Architecture, Astronomy, Best pictures, Famous landmarks, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, London, Rivers, Technology, The Graphic on Wednesday, 11 November 2015

We have selected three of the best pictures from ‘The Graphic’, a nineteenth-century illustrated newspaper and rich source of remarkable engravings.
The first picture shows the Great Comet of 1882.

comet, picture, image, illustration

The Comet as seen from the Pyramids

The second picture shows a railway signalman.

railway, picture, image, illustration

The life of a railway signalman, on duty in a London signal box by Henri Lanos

The third picture shows the electric light on the Thames Embankment.

comet, picture, image, illustration

The electric light on the Thames Embankment

High-resolution scans of all the illustrations from ‘The Graphic’ (London 1870-1902) can be found in the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures from ‘The Graphic’, 14

Posted in Ancient History, Archaeology, Architecture, Best pictures, Education, Famous landmarks, Historical articles, History, Industry, Institutions, London, Medicine, Technology, The Graphic on Monday, 9 November 2015

We have selected three of the best pictures from ‘The Graphic’, a nineteenth-century illustrated newspaper and rich source of remarkable engravings.
The first picture shows Medical Students at St Thomas’s Hospital.

doctors, picture, image, illustration

Medical Students at Work, Sketches at St Thomas's Hospital by Paul Renouard

The second picture shows typesetting in a printer’s shop.

printer, picture, image, illustration

Typesetting

The third picture shows the Coliseum illuminated in Rome.

Rome, picture, image, illustration

Rome, the Coliseum Illuminated by Montbard

High-resolution scans of all the illustrations from ‘The Graphic’ (London 1870-1902) can be found in the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures of John McAdam

Posted in Best pictures, Famous Inventors, Historical articles, History, Inventions, Science, Technology, Transport, Travel on Thursday, 22 October 2015

The best pictures of John McAdam are striking images of the man and the highways immeasurably improved with his durable and weather-resistant road-surfacing.
The first picture shows a portrait.

McAdam, picture, image, illustration

John Loudon McAdam

The second picture shows highway maintenance in the countryside.

steam-roller, picture, image, illustration

Steam Roller Driver on a new road surface

The third picture shows the road-surfacers at work in the town.

road menders, picture, image, illustration

Road menders and pipe layers

Many more pictures of inventors can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures of Louis Bleriot

Posted in Aviation, Best pictures, Castles, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, Sea, Technology, Transport, Travel on Thursday, 8 October 2015

The best pictures of Louis Bleriot are striking images of the aviator’s first solo flight across the English Channel.
The first picture shows Bleriot above the white cliffs of Dover.

Bleriot, picture, image, illustration

Louis Bleriot, the First to Fly the Channel

The second picture shows Bleriot above the Channel.

Bleriot, picture, image, illustration

Louis Bleriot, aviation pioneer

The third picture shows Bleriot above Dover Castle.

Bleriot, picture, image, illustration

"Dover was asleep at the time"

Many more pictures of aviation pioneers can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures of Soviet cosmonauts

Posted in Aerospace, Aviation, Best pictures, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, Science, Space, Technology, Travel on Monday, 31 August 2015

The best pictures of Soviet cosmonauts show four famous figures in the history of space exploration.
The first picture is of Yuri Gagarin.

cosmonaut, picture, image, illustration

Yuri Gagarin by Wilf Hardy

The second picture is of Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov who made the first space walk, a 12-minute extra-capsule adventure.

cosmonaut, picture, image, illustration

Alexey Leonov making the first space walk by Wilf Hardy

The third picture is of Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman into space, her husband Andrian Nikolayev, and Vostock 6.

cosmonaut, picture, image, illustration

Valentina Tereshkova was the first female cosmonaut in space and circumnavigated earth in Vostok 6. Also inset is her husband, Andrian Nikolayev, who flew in Vostok 3. Picture by Robert Brook

Many more pictures of space can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures of the construction of the Crystal Palace

Posted in Architecture, Best pictures, Engineering, Famous landmarks, Historical articles, History, London, Science, Technology on Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The best pictures of the construction of Paxton’s Crystal Palace show some unusual images of this phenomenal building task.
The first picture shows work in progress on the main section.

Crystal Palace, picture, image, illustration

The building in Hyde Park, London, for the Great Exhibition of 1851 – General view of the works looking east

The second picture shows further progress.

Crystal Palace, picture, image, illustration

Construction of the The Great Exhibition Building

The third picture shows workers on the elaborate roof.

Crystal Palace, picture, image, illustration

The Great Exhibition Building in Hyde Park, Portion of the Ridge and Furrow Glass Roof, looking West

Many more pictures of the Crystal Palace can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures of The Great Exhibition of 1851

Posted in Architecture, Arts and Crafts, Best pictures, Historical articles, History, Industry, Inventions, Leisure, London, Royalty, Science, Technology, Trade on Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The best pictures of The Great Exhibition of 1851 show interior and exterior views of Crystal Palace.
The first picture shows the interior and part of the nave.

Crystal Palace, picture, image, illustration

The Great Exhibition of 1851 – the nave of The Crystal Palace by Ralph Bruce

The second picture shows the transept.

Crystal Palace, picture, image, illustration

The Transept from the Grand Entrance, Great Exhibition, 1851

The third picture shows the Grand Entrance to the exhibition in the Crystal Palace.

Crystal Palace, picture, image, illustration

The Grand Entrance to the Great Exhibition, 1851

Many more pictures of the Great Exhibition can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

Permanent street lighting helped to banish fear and crime

Posted in British Cities, British Towns, Historical articles, History, London, Science, Technology on Tuesday, 4 March 2014

This edited article about street lighting first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 577 published on 3 February 1973.

Moving street lights,  picture, image, illustration

Before street lights, the rich employed people to hold torches to light their evening strolls

Man has always been afraid of the dark. Nobody knew in early days what terrible existence awaited them as soon as day crept into night and blackness magically floated down to earth. Nobody knew; not many dared to find out. The world about would sleep until the sun came out, as if to regenerate the chemicals of life.

But man could not hide from the dark for long. He had to conquer it. In ancient Babylon they used thick tow wicks containing about one hundredweight of fat. The flickering lights would pinpoint a route through the deathly dark to safety. The wicks were so expensive, though, that they could only be afforded at festival times.

Imperial Rome was not much better off. They had no lights, and the coming of night covered the city in a darkness that brought death and emptiness. If you went out to supper without having first made out your will, you would have been considered outrageously mad. Important people might just risk venturing out into the night by having torch bearers with them, or at least a torch of resinous pine. But ordinary folk just wouldn’t consider braving the dark streets, and if they had to, it would be planned well in advance in time for the full moon.

The moon was never sufficient, though. In the 17th Century watchmen along the streets of London used to sing:

“A light here maids, hang out your lights,
And see your horns be clear and bright
That so your candle clear may shine
Continuing from six to nine
That honest men may walk along
And see to pass safe without wrong.”

Honest men, and dishonest ones, come to that, were probably safer in Paris. People there were prepared to pay for their safety, and one distinguished gentleman had a monopoly hiring guides with hand lanterns to travellers at night.

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London’s first traffic lights exploded and killed a policeman

Posted in Cars, Historical articles, History, Inventions, London, Technology, Transport on Wednesday, 29 January 2014

This edited article about traffic control first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 530 published on 11 March 1972.

Cleaning traffic lights,  picture, image, illustration

Traffic light cleaner

The history of traffic lights is one which involves explosions and violent death, but this begins to seem less surprising when we realize what a problem the control of traffic had become in London and other large cities after 1850. Most of the streets were paved with stone and, amidst the noise of carriage wheels, the shouts of street vendors and the cries of humans and horses, the scene was one of constant confusion.

Nowadays we regard travelling in a horse-drawn coach as a rather grand and dignified pastime. Not so then in London, however, for with hansom cabs, private carriages and horse omnibuses jostling with each other for right of way, there were often miniature battles. Carriages became overturned and wheels broken; horses bolted and passengers and cabbies exchanged insults until peace was finally restored. Nor did the new steam buses improve the situation. They had been breaking the law (which only allowed them to travel at 4 miles per hour) for years, and once this restriction was finally lifted they were free to indulge in races with their horse-drawn competitors.

The passengers in these early omnibuses were often supplied with books and newspapers to while away the journey, but if a race started they were more likely to be clinging to the seat in terror as their bus rocketed down Oxford Street. The drivers and conductors were well-known for their wit, exchanging repartee with their rivals as they passed, but many a passenger must have sighed with relief as his journey’s end approached.

Into all this confusion some form of control was obviously needed, particularly as the number of people using the City grew larger each year. Police were only partly successful and in any case manning each junction every day was clearly impossible. John Knight provided what seemed to be the perfect answer to the problem.

He was a railway signalling engineer by trade and he worked at a time when the British railway was at its peak. The great London termini handled thousands of trains a day, and Knight and his colleagues designed the sophisticated signal systems which made the railways such a safe and efficient means of travel.

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The digital revolution stems from the discovery of electrons

Posted in Communications, Famous Inventors, Historical articles, History, Inventions, Science, Technology on Friday, 24 January 2014

This edited article about electricity first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 526 published on 12 February 1972.

Dr Lee de Forest,  picture, image, illustration

Dr Lee de Forest with the valve transmitter he used in 1906 to broadcast the voice of the famous tenor, Enrico Caruso

A strange phenomenon ‘discovered’ by Thomas Edison in 1883 opened up the whole, amazing world of electronics and gave us radio, television and a host of marvellous devices that now serve mankind.

You cannot see it, hear it or feel it. Yet it is one of the biggest discoveries of all time.

Without it there could be no radio, television, computers, telephones, radar, electric light or a host of other things which have become a part-and-parcel of our everyday lives.

What is it?

This wonder of the modern age is a minute particle of matter called an electron, and it is to be found in every atom. An atom is like the solar system. The sun is the positively charged centre called the nucleus. The planets which revolve around the sun are like the electrons which orbit the nucleus.

Electric current is made by the passage of electrons from one atom to another. And sometimes the electrons can be made to fly through space from one conductor to another. We call this radiation.

The first man to discover this strange effect was Thomas Edison. In 1883 he was trying to improve his carbon filament lamps. To find out why these blackened, he sealed a metal plate inside a lamp to collect the deposit. Then, he noticed that under certain conditions, electricity could flow from the plate to the filament without any electrical connection.

This was the first time that electricity had been known to flow through a vacuum.

For once in his life, Edison, who eventually patented over 1,300 inventions, failed to realise the tremendous possibilities of what he had noticed. The strange phenomenon he had seen was to lead to the radio valve, radar, television and the host of electronic devices that now serve mankind.

One man who was intrigued by this effect was J. A. (later Sir Ambrose) Fleming who experimented with electric lamps fitted with plates of various sizes. But twenty years were to pass before he found a use for this effect, which was due to electrons freed from matter.

A wireless station at Cornwall was transmitting the first transatlantic signals. These were very feeble, and Fleming tried to find a way to make these stronger at the receiving end. He ordered a dozen lamps fitted with metal cylinders around the filaments and used these in the receiving circuit.

At the same time, Dr. Lee de Forest in the U.S.A. was working on the same idea and found that by putting a wire mesh between the filament and the plate feeble signals could be amplified and not merely detected.

From this point onwards, progress raced ahead. Wireless telegraphy and telephony became reliable, stimulated by the need during the First World War to improve communications.

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