Alexander Graham Bell: Making Connections

Alexander Graham Bell: Making Connections

Alexander Graham Bell: Making Connections

Alexander Graham Bell: Making Connections

Synopsis

Alexander Graham Bell forever changed the world. The telephone and his many other landmark inventions rank among the most transforming and enduring of the modern era. But it was his work with the deaf, teaching as well as inventing tools to ease communication, that he considered his life's work. The son of a speech therapist father and hearing impaired mother, his stellar achievements in sound reproduction and aviation give proof that he fit his own definition of an inventor. He said, "An inventor a man who looks upon the world and is not contented with things as they are. He wants to improve whatever he sees, he wants to benefit the world." This is a compelling biography of a true scientific visionary. Oxford Portraits in Science is an on-going series of scientific biographies for young adults. Written by top scholars and writers, each biography examines the personality of its subject as well as the thought process leading to his or her discoveries. These illustrated biographies combine accessible technical information with compelling personal stories to portray the scientists whose work has shaped our understanding of the natural world.

Excerpt

The thin, black-haired, whiskered young man, two days shy of his 28th birthday, felt uncomfortable. It was not the bitter cold of this March day in Washington, D.C., that underlay his mood. He, an aspiring inventor, was in the office of 78-year-old Joseph Henry, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Henry was one of the best-known physicists in the country and an expert in the still-young science of electricity. The Smithsonian, only a year older than the young inventor, had been established by the United States Congress in 1846 as a nonprofit research institution, and it was the job of its secretary to direct its activities. The young man waiting in his office had traveled from Boston to Washington, where he planned to file a patent at the Patent Office on an invention he was trying to perfect, the “harmonic telegraph.” He hoped his invention would be capable, when perfected, of sending many telegraph messages at a single time. As he described his ideas, however, he could sense the old man’s lack of excitement.

Then the young man mentioned an electrical effect he had noted in his work. When he passed electrical current through a spiral of insulated copper wire and interrupted . . .

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