Brainy Quote of the Day

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Edison's Last Jam...

Good Technology
la vengeance se mange très-bien froide, or "revenge is very good eaten cold." Khan Noonian Singh in Wrath of Khan quotes "revenge is a dish best served cold," is alas not from the Klingons, but the 1841 French novel Mathilde by Marie Joseph Eugène Sue (Wikipedia)

In the late 19th century, two competing electricity systems jostled for dominance in electric power distribution in the United States and much of the industrialized world. Alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) were both used to power devices like motors and light bulbs, but they were not interchangeable.

A battle for the grid emerged from the Apple and Microsoft of the Gilded Age. Thomas Edison, who invented many devices that used DC power, developed the first power transmission systems using this standard. Meanwhile, AC was pushed by George Westinghouse and several European companies that used Nikola Tesla's inventions to step up current to higher voltages, making it easier to transmit power over long distances using thinner and cheaper wires.

The rivalry was fraught with acrimony and publicity stunts -- like Edison electrocuting an elephant to show AC was dangerous -- but AC eventually won out as the standard for transmission, reigning for more than a century.

When we visited the Architectural Engineering Department at North Carolina A and T, Dr. Singh (absolutely no relation to Ricardo Montaban's fictional character, but an interesting aside), spoke to my son of "off-grid" buildings, self-sufficient and generating their own power. I see this as a part of the effort towards energy independency.

However, It is my sincerely hope that no elephant is injured in this latest incarnation of DC power.

Scientific American: Edison's Revenge - Will DC Make a Comeback in the US?

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