Thursday, January 08, 2009

Science Toys - 2

Electric Motor Kit

In the second of my series on scientific toys I want to look at one of the foundations of modern civilization. The electric motor. Here is a nice Electric Motor Kitthat sells for a very reasonable $10.75. Here is another science kit that includes an electric motor and other experiments, ScienceWiz Inventions Experiment Kit and Book 13 Experiments,for $19.99.

The history of the electric motor is a long one and starts with the discovery of electromagnetism by Michael Faraday. He built his first motor in 1821. You can read more about Michael Faraday by getting the book: Michael Faraday and the Discovery of Electromagnetism.That brings us to a very interesting point. The invention of the first electric car.
Jedlik Electric Car
Now obviously the car was a toy. But the idea is there. And it was invented in 1828 just seven years after Faraday's discovery of electromagnetism. I'd say that was pretty astounding progress for the time. You can learn about the history of electric cars at Electric and Hybrid Cars: A Historyand also at The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History.Now suppose you want to build your own electric vehicle? There is a how to book that will help: Build Your Own Electric Vehicle

And then there is Thomas Davenport, The Brandon Blacksmith: Inventor Of The Electric Motorwho was the first to use the electric motor commercially. He used it to power a printing press. Due to the high cost of batteries (tell me about it) his invention was a commercial failure.

The great American inventor Edison who was the first to electrify a few city blocks is probably the most interesting inventor in America given what he accomplished with the materials and understanding available in his time. Here are a few books on Edison, his life and his times. I'd like to start with Working at Inventing: Thomas A. Edison and the Menlo Park Experiencebecause I actually visited Edison's Menlo Park lab in the summer of 1954 when I was a kid of 10. It was a fascinating experience. The lab was untouched for a number of years and was quite dusty. If you live on the East Coast be sure to visit.

Here are some more biographies of Edison you might like.
Edison: Inventing the Century
Thomas Edison and Modern America: An Introduction with Documents
Edison and the Business of Innovation
Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World

Which brings us to Nikola Tesla who once worked for Edison. In the 1940 movie Edison the Manwith Spencer Tracy as Edison, Tesla was called Michael Simon probably to avoid distracting from the focus on Edison. Well it certainly distracts me.

Here is a Tesla book I read a while back and really enjoyed. It covers some of Tesla's inventions in his own words. It gives a feel for how much Tesla understood about electrical theory and how much he was ignorant of. Any second year student in electrical theory would be familiar with this material, but when Tesla wrote it up it was state of the art. We have come a long way. The Fantastic Inventions of Nikola Tesla (The Lost Science Series).

In any case, Tesla invented the three phase AC motor which made long distance (over a few miles) electrical power transmission feasible. Here are some Tesla biographies:
Nikola Tesla: A Spark of Genius (Lerner Biographies)
My Inventions - The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla
Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla : Biography of a Genius (Citadel Press Book)
Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla
Tesla: Man Out of Time

Enough of history. How about some practical books on electric motors. Here is a good book that goes deep into the subject: Electric Motors and Control Techniques for $16.47 which is a very nice price for a deep look into the subject. A number of reviewers suggest that this is not a good book for a beginner. A better book for beginners might be Audel - Electric Motors.Audel's handbooks are oriented to practical use and installation of technology so this might be a good place to start for the technology beginner.

Here is one designed to assist in the training of electricians. It covers every thing from fundamental concepts including electrical distribution to installation and maintenance. Transformers and Motors

This is another deep book that covers stepper motors which are very easy to control with computers. Electric Motors and their Controls: An Introduction

Some more motor books for engineers.
Practical Electric Motor Handbook
Electric Motor Handbook

OK. I think that is more than enough to get your junior scientists and engineers educated. From the simplest beginning to advanced engineering. Of course it only scratches the surface. But what a scratch.

And here is a link to Science Toys -1 which covers volcanoes and geology.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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