Thursday, May 29, 2008

King Electricity



The Whole Atmosphere Soaked With Electricity — The Day Coming When It Will Supply Light, Heat and Motive Power. Coal a Curiosity.

Elias B. Dunn, the weather observer, has been studying atmospheric electricity. The sergeant, as they used to call him, the farmer, as they call him now, said that he will live to see the day when electricity, collected from the atmosphere and stored by some means which an Edison or a Tesla will have to devise will revolutionize the world.

The prophet expects that cities will be lighted and heated by atmospheric electricity; that railway trains and cars will be run, lighted and heated by it; that coal will become a curiosity; that steam heating will be granny talk to the children of the next generation; that the telegraph and telephone companies will lose their monopolies; that war will become a farce, because a touch of electricity will make the British grenadiers or the German Uhlans or the Scotch highlanders sit down on the cold ground powerless; that even the dreams of communication with the inhabitants of Mars will become realities, and that a man will be able to strike up electricity as he does a parlor match.

There will be no more trolley strikes, because there will be no more trolleys. Mankind will tap the atmosphere for almost every convenience or necessity, except food and clothing, and even the clothing will be woven and the food cooked by atmospheric electricity. Street cleaning will be as easy as the magician's "Presto, change!" and everybody will live comparatively happy ever after.

Mr. Dunn is sure that his ideas are practical and practicable. The atmosphere is his constant study, and having introduced general humidity to the public as the principal element in uncomfortable days he has determined that the most potent element for good in the air we breathe shall no longer be wasted.

"Why," he said, "The whole atmosphere is soaked with electricity. The earth, as is well known, is a storehouse of electricity. That it passes from the clouds to the earth we can see in every thunderstorm. Earth is a good conductor, especially damp earth, and water is the best conductor possible.

"Every person is possessed of body electricity. The vital force is all in the electrical power you contain in your body. When the day is damp, you become weakened through the loss of your bodily electricity, because the atmosphere is a greater conductor of the electrical fluid than your body, and consequently what is in your body will pass to this moist, damp air.

"That is the cause of that tired feeling. This passing of the electricity to the atmosphere enervates you to such a degree that a person in a naturally weak state will collapse or become much worse by the loss of this bodily electricity.

"The atmosphere being charged with electricity, and the earth being a storehouse for it, if there were some controllable method of storage devised by which you could draw off a moderate amount of electricity at will and keep that force on tap all the time, with an appliance by which power could be generated — and there is no reason why that can't be done — then atmospheric electricity would make all the wheels in the world go round.

"The coal barons would be done up," said Farmer Dunn savagely, thinking of the coal bill for his house in Brooklyn. "There would be no more need of coal. There ought to be enough electricity in the atmosphere to supply light and heat as well as to do all the work except the housework. I'm afraid it won't do away with the servant girl question, though it will modify it. I expect to live to see the day atmospheric electricity on tap. It will run everything on earth.

"It is well known that there is a greater number of deaths in the early morning, say from 1 a. m. to 4 a. m., than at any other time. Dickens was aware of that, but he didn't know the reason. You remember that poor old Peggotty, in 'David Copperfield,' went out with the tide. That's right. And it is in the early morning, that the daily ebb of the atmosphere occurs, when the daily atmospheric pressure is least. If at that time the atmosphere is in a state of saturation, very heavily charged with humidity, then the electric force leaves a person's body and flows to the atmosphere, greatly debilitating him when he is in a weakened condition. Now, should a person in that state be kept in extremely dry surroundings, so that he could be furnished with an adequate supply of artificial electricity and at the same time have the humidity reduced, there would be, in my opinion, a greater chance of prolonging life.

"If the doctors could provide means to supply in such circumstances artificial electricity instead of natural, it would probably be very beneficial. Just think of it! Here we are, spending millions of dollars to generate electricity, when it is all around us, and we are breathing it! Here's another thing: When a current of electricity is generated, where does it go? It can't die. It is somewhere. I should judge that it is simply adding to the amount of electricity in the atmosphere.

"It is natural to suppose that as long as the earth is given to us for useful purposes the atmosphere was not given for nothing. Of course it gives us health and breath, as the earth gives us what we eat, but since the atmosphere contains electricity, and we can use the earth as a power for carrying it, as is done by telegraph companies, why not use the electricity in the atmosphere?

"Once begin to use it, and there is no telling where it would end. War with atmospheric electricity as a factor would have to cease. The problem of signaling to Mars would be solved. With atmospheric electricity in control we could communicate with all the inhabited planets." — New York World.

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