Edison: His Life and Inventions - Vol. 2

By Frank Lewis Dyer; Thomas Commerford Martin | Go to book overview

VII
Edison'S TASIMETER

THIS interesting and remarkable device is one of Edison's many inventions not generally known to the public at large, chiefly because the range of its application has been limited to the higher branches of science. He never applied for a patent on the instrument, but dedicated it to the public. The device was primarily intended for use in detecting and measuring infinitesimal degrees of temperature, however remote, and its conception followed Edison's researches on the carbon telephone transmitter. Its principle depends upon the variable resistance of carbon in accordance with the degree of pressure to which it is subjected. By means of this instrument, pressures that are otherwise inappreciable and undiscoverable may be observed and indicated.

The detection of small variations of temperatures is brought about through the changes which heat or cold will produce in a sensitive material placed in contact with a carbon button, which is put in circuit with a battery and delicate galvanometer. In the sketch (Fig. 1) there is illustrated, partly in section, the form of tasimeter which Edison took with him to Rawlins, Wyoming, in July, 1878, on the expedition to observe the total eclipse of the sun.

The substance on whose expansion the working of the instrument depends is a strip of some material extremely sensitive to heat, such as vulcanite, shown at A, and firmly clamped at B. Its lower end fits into a slot in a metal plate, C, which in turn rests upon a carbon button. This latter and the metal plate are connected in an electric circuit which includes a battery and a sensitive galvanometer. A vulcanite or other strip is easily affected by differences of temperature, expanding and contracting by reason of the minutest changes. Thus, an infinitesimal variation in its length through expansion or contraction changes the press

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