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Thomas Edison is one of the most prominent energy inventors and engineers. Edison was born in 1847 and began showing interest in engineering as early as age 16 when he worked in the role of a telegraph operator. One of his first inventions was a practical and low-priced light bulb that transformed the energy industry (Pierce 1). Furthermore, Edison was reflective of the spirit of the age, considering his many inventions that had a massive impact on this industrialization era. For example, apart from developing the light bulb, Edison invented an electric lighting system that consisted of electricity generators, fixtures (lamps, switches, and sockets), as well as electrical wires to transport electricity from power stations to households (Pierce 1; Rees 1). This invention served as the central system that people relied on to meet their electricity needs. Other notable inventions by Edison included New York City’s Pearl Street Station, which met the electricity needs of over 500 consumers, the Edison batteries that led to today’s alkaline battery and wind-power prototypes to provide clean energy (Pierce 1; Rees 1). As a result, Edison was reflective of people’s ideas at the time to advance the energy sector and make electricity cheaper.
Is Edison more related to Industrialization or the Science of the 19th
and 20th Centuries or both?
Edison is more related to industrialization more than any other thing because his efforts led to significant progress in power sources and the energy sector, which increased the pace of industrialization. Before the invention of affordable electricity, industrialization relied on steam engines and water that was not only expensive but resulted in slow industrialization. However, after the likes of Edison entered the energy sector, their efforts significantly increased the speed of industrialization. For instance, Edison’s vision of a reliable electrical system paved the way to an increase in electricity generating stations within the US during the 19th as well as 20th
century (Rees 1). Electricity spread almost everywhere in the country, from urban centers to rural areas. The effects of this growth in electricity were tremendous and signaled a new phase of industrialization, thanks to the efforts of Edison and other scientists like the Menlo Park gang. For example, the advent of affordable electricity signaled modernization, simplified work in urban areas, improved life within households, even reduced crime as people thought that light would deter criminal behavior and was a sign of future growth (Rees 1). Therefore, Edison has a close link to industrialization due to the impact of his efforts on this era.
How do the Technical Innovations (outside Communications) of this Period reflect the Scientific Discoveries that occurred?
The technical innovations, particularly those dealing with electricity reflect how scientific discoveries aimed to improve people’s lives. In other words, the technical inventions drove people to develop ideas to improve life. For example, before Edison’s innovation of the light bulb, people relied on gas, candles, and kerosene to light up their homes (History.com Editors 1). However, these options were not the best as there were reported cases of houses being burnt down due to accidents. It was a significant challenge for scientists, which took them around half a century to solve. Edison was one of the scientists that offered a solution by inventing the low-cost light bulb, which has since transformed lives (History.com Editors 1). Consequently, the technical innovations that occurred between the 19th and 20th centuries were a reflection of scientists’ vision to improve the society through their discoveries.
History.com Editors. "Thomas Edison." History, A&E Television Networks, 19 Sept. 2018, www.history.com/topics/inventions/thomas-edison. Accessed 5 Dec. 2018.
Pierce, Erin R. "Top 8 Things You Didn't Know About Thomas Alva Edison." Energy.gov, 18 Nov. 2013, www.energy.gov/articles/top-8-things-you-didn-t-know-about-thomas-alva-edison. Accessed 5 Dec. 2018.
Rees, Jonathan. "Industrialization and Urbanization in the United States, 1880–1929." Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, July 2016.
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