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October 17, 1979 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1979-10-17

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Page 4-Wednesday, October 17, 1979-The Michigan Daily
Ninety Years of Editorial Freedom

Edison: He lit up our lives

Vol. LXXXX, No. 36


News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

New registration drive
may end voter apathy

peared before a Michigan
;Democratic party rally at Flint's
auditorium last November, he predic-
ted, accurately, that two-thirds of
eligible voters would stay at home on
election day. Likewise, when local
apolitical observers were pondering
:Jamie Kenworthy's electoral defeat to
Louis Belcher in the city mayoral race
six months later, the blame had to be
placed squarely on the shoulders of
Istudent voters-or, more precisely,
Istudent non-voters.
The causes of voter apathy are
widespread, and not totally unwarran-
ted. Among some, there is a feeling of
aow efficiency-that the vote doesn't
count anyway in a race between car-
bon-copy candidates expousing the
same unfulfilled promises of elections
past. To others, non-participation has
become some form of silent protest.
Por others still, voting just never is
ranked high on the list of a day's ac-
But the fact remains that those who
did not vote held thecritical balance in
most elections, nationally, statewide,
pnd in Ann Arbor. Those who stayed
home from the polls could have elected
Gerald Ford over Jimmy Carter, Bill
Fitzgerald over Bill Milliken, or Jamie
kenworthy over Lou Belcher.
Now, before the elections, the
ichigan Student Assembly has joined
with PIRGIM (the Public Interest
Research Group in Michigan) and
Students for a Progressive Gover-
hment in a massive registration drive
,limed specifically at students, the
source of the most rampant electoral

The registration drive becomes par-
ticularly urgent, with two seats on the
University Board of Regents up for
grabs in November 1980. Since the
present body has shown its intran-
sigence on issues of concern to studen-
ts, like divestiture from South Africa,
students are left with no recourse but
to work in concert to change the make-
up, of the board at the polls. Until now,
regents have not had to respond to
student demands since it was the
voters of the state-not the studen-
ts-who put them into office in the first
However, once students start flexing
some electoral muscle' at the polls,
regents will have to be more respon-
sive to their concerns. The ultimate
goal is still, of course, the election of at
least one student regent to the board,
since only a student regent can truly
be the voice of the most important, and
most often ignored segment of the
University. But to elect a regent
responsive to student needs, or to, at
the very least, prevent the reelection of
any one of the present hardliners on
the board, would in itself be a victory
for the students, and would signal a
message to the regents and all elected
officials that the student vote is no
longer a factor to be ignored.
But the student vote begins with
student registration, since the
promise of universal voter registration
at birth remains one of the unfilled
promises of the disappointing Carter
presidency. But thanks to MSA,
PIRGIM, and the Students for a
Progressive Government, more
eligible students will be involved in the
electoral process than ever before.

DEARBORN, Mich.-Despite the tall win-
dows, Tom Edison'slaboratory is dark.
Shafts of sunlight slant, through the win-
dows but are absorbed by coils of wire, vials
of chemicals, metal tubing and a jumble of
scientific apparatus. Some sunlight does
escape, bouncing off the brass and glass for
an evanescent moment before being captured
forever by the chemical-stained wooden
It was in this 100-foot-long, 30-foot-wide
gloomy, building formerly in Menlo Park, N.J.
but transported to Greenfield Village in
Dearborn, Mich., by his lifelong admirer,
Henry Ford that Thomas A. Edison 100 years
ago invented the first practical incandescent
light and perfected the transmission of elec-
tric power, taking the world out of medieval
darkness and into illuminated modernity.
touched by Edison's electric age.
The way we work, how we get to work, the
way we spend out leisure time, how we com-
municate, how we learn, how we store and
distribute our information, how we fight our
enemies, how we celebrate our births and
mourn our dead, all are affected by the elec-
tric machines and systems that followed the
invention of incandescent lamp.
We have even changed the nature of night.
One writer, Murray Melbin; says we have
"colonized" the last frontier: From
discotheques that open only after darkness to
midnight movies to "we-never-close" stores
and Laundromats, the electric light has
opened up the night to settlers everywhere.
Some statistics: In 1974, 2.3 million
Americans worked a full shift that included
the hours between midnight and 6 a.m. By
1977,. that figurehad increased by 300,000
people. In all, more than 13.5 million people,
or 18 per cent of the workforce, work fulltime
or part time on evening and night shifts.
The single most important development
that led to the conquering of darkness oc-
curred 100 years ago in late October in this lab
back in New Jersey.
EVER SINCE HIS boyhood working as a
telegrapher for Western Union, Edison was
intrigued with electricity and electrical
devices. Prior to working on the incandescent
light, he already had invented the electric
vote recorder, the electric stock ticker, the
quadruplex telegraph system, the electric
pen and manual duplicating press, the
mimeogra-j, the telephone transmitter and
the microphone, the phonograph, and the
microtastimeter, a device that easured
minute heat variations by electrical means.
But without question, the'incandescent light
remains his greatest achievement. He began
work on it in earnest inkhe fall of 1878, after a
year of study and basic experimentation.
Very intense arc-lamps were already being
used to light the streets of Paris and other
major European cities, but the light emitted
from them was far too intense-and
dangerous-for home and inside business use.
Because arc-lamps were costly,-bulky, and
butned out easily, Edison looked to other
methods of producing artificial light. In his
"inventory factory" in Menlo Park, 'Edison
and his 50-man team began the laborious
quest for a lamp that would be "practical and
affordable by all." Edison would try to sub-
divide light.
HE WROTE: "I saw the thing had not gone
so far but that I had a chance. I saw that what
had been done had never been made prac-
tically useful. The intense light has not been
subdivided so that it could be brought into
private houses."
Theoretical scientists at the time said that
"subdivision of light" was impossible and
contrary to the laws of conservation and
energy. Edison, nevertheless, never
discouraged by "experts," proceeded to ex-
periment with filaments.
But despite the resources at Menlo Park,
the work was difficult. In one report to his
financial backers Edison wrote: "I speak
without exaggeration . . . I have constructed
3,000 different theories. . . each of them
reasonable.. . yet, in two cases only did my
experiment prove the truth of my theory."

By Peter Costa

There was also public disapproval. Edison,
always eager to talk to the press, promised
within six weeks new and startling develop-
ments that would replace gas lighting. But
even months later the developments were not
The gas lobby and envious scientists
pronounced Edison an uneducated fraud and
declared the subdivision of light a hoax.
team worked 20-hour days for 14 months,
testing every kind of fiber and metal to use as
a filament and perfecting vacuum pumps to
evacuate the sealed glass bulb so that the
filament could be heated to light-emitting in-
candescence without burning out.
On October 21, 1879, he succeeded. Using a
filament of carbonized cotton thread in an
evacuated glass bulb, he created the first

The modern age had begun.
By/690, it was possible to own the following
electrical appliances: the fan, cigar lighter,
the iron, hot plate, coffee pot, sewing machine
motor, stew pan and soldering iron.
By 1910, the following electric-powereAd
items were readily available: the heatngg
pad, chafing dish, immersion heater, curling
iron, fryin' pan, toaster, corn popper, heater,
portable drill, waffle iron, and chocolate
warmer. In 1920, the electric stove was in
many homea around Amerca as well as the
washing machine, the vacuum cleaner, the,
dishwasher and the hair dryer.
Further applications of electricity followed.
Motors in factories and streetcars were irp-
proved and made more efficient and power-
ful. Edison himself had built an experimental
electric railroad at Menlo Park. The electric
locomotive he developed employed an elec-
tric motor he mounted crosswise to drive the
train. Edison's biographer, Matthew

"I shall make elec-

tric light
that only
will be abl

so cheap
the rich



of hoitmas Alun Eb~tloo


British risk peace with
stubb orn diplomacy

ally, the Margaret Thatcher ad-
Ministration in London has been a
Stubborn foe of the new bi-racial
'overnment in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
instead of lifting economic sanctions
Against the Muzorema regime, the
British have urged for more reforms
and rights for that country's blacks.
And to climax its peacemaking ap-
proach, the British courageously
4rranged a conference in which all
┬žides could hammer out their
seemingly insurmountable conflicts.
That was six weeks ago.
Since then, the Thatcher government
has been more than just a mediator. It
has been an irresponsible participant,
or it has only called for a few changes
n that country's constitution. In ad-
lition, the British have provided more
than enough security for the minority
hite population, including guarantees
o keep its domination over extensive
and holdings.
But, at least, during the conference's
dessions, the British were able to listen
carefully to proposals by Muzorewa
*nd the representatives of the
Patriotic Front. The diplomatic
double-talk and meaningless rhetoric

have been there, just like any other
peace conference. What's unique about
this conference is that the participants
have never sat down and talked to each
other. The only communication bet-
ween the two sides has been in the form
of guns and rockets.
Yet, just after scoring ta major
diplomatic breakthrough in perhaps
the last chance to end that country's 14-
year civil war, the British have
suddenly become the dogmatic and in-
tractable party which most diplomatic
observers thought they would be right
after Thatcher was elected.
The most recent British maneuver
was the issuance of an ultimatium
Monday saying the Patriotic Front
would be allowed to continue in the
conference only if they agreed to
British proposals for a new con-
I Thus, Britain has decided that only
its goals can be approved if the con-
ference is to continue.
After brilliant' diplomacy to
engineer these talks in the first place,
it is deplorable the British have to
adopt such a strict line. It only risks
further conflict, instead of preventing

practical incandescent lamp. It burned. for 40
hours until Edison himself ended ;the ex-
periment by. turning on the voltage to. full.
power, burning out the filament.
"I know if it can last this long, it can last 100
hours," Edison said.
Two months later, on New Year's Eve,
Edison gave the first public demonstration of
his invention and its possibilities by
illuminating a street in Menlo Park, using
lamps mounted on wooden poles.
But Edison did not stop with the incan-
descent light. He knew that the distribution of
electricity and transmission of electricity was
crucial to the aceptance and practical use of
his new light bulb. By February 1881, after
two years of experimentation with generators
and transmission systems, Edison was ready
to build a central generating station. He chose
a half-mile square area of lower Manhattan
for his power station and erected a building to
house his generators on a 50-by-100 foot site on
Pearl Street.
EDISON AND HIS workers installed un-
derground power lines of metal tubes that
contained copper wires insulated from the
tubes by hardened asphalt. On Sept. 4, 1881,
three years after his invention of the light
bulb, Edison threw the switch and energized
the world's first electric light and power
system. A total of 85 Manhattan customers
received power to illumunate a total of 400

Josephson, describes Edison's train.
locomotive, about six feet long and four feet
wide, was placed on the tracks. It was, in
fact, the first full-sized electric locomotive
ever made in America, and consisted of a '2 -
tyoe dynamo, laid sidewise on a four-wheeler
truck and functioning as a motor; current
was. supplied to the two rails through the
flanged metal rims of the locomotive wheels.
A rather crude transmission mechanism
mafe up of pulleys and friction wheels tran-
smitted power to the driving axle.'
At full power, the locomotive could reach 4Q
miles per hour. -'
Seizing on Edison's success with the elec-
tric train was Frank J-. Sprague who
engineered a 12-mile electric train system in
Richmond, Va., in 1888. The success of the
Richmond streetcar system revolutionized
transportation in American cities.
In less than 15 years, more than 20,000 miles
of electric streetcar railway were built and
horse-drawn cars became a thing of the past..
But Edison had'always regarded his elec-
tric train as a diversion from his real work{:
the making of efficient electric generators
and transmission systems.
One of the most important of his post-light
contributions was the "three-wire system."
This system was first tried by Edison at the
small lighting plant in Sunbury, PA., IN July

Edison!s contributions to technology


. . x t tt ti

(UPI) - Thomas A. Edison
holds the record for the most
United States patents by an in-
dividual-1,093. The following are
some of his most significant con-
tributions to science and
1868-Invented electric vote
1869-Invented electric stock
1872-Invented motograph and
duplex, quadeuplex, sextuplex
and multiplex telegraph systems.
1874-Invented electric pen and
manual duplicating press.
1875-Discovered "etheric for-
ce." Twelve years later this was
recognized as the foundation of
wireless telegraphy or radio; in-
vented the automatic copying
machine knwn tndav na the

1880-Discovered "Edison Ef-
fect," the fundamental principle
of electronics; invented the
magnetic ore separatoi' and in-
vented and installed the first
electric railway for freight 'And
passenger use.
1882-Began Qperation of first
commercial electrical
distribution station in New Yoirk
1883-Patented the electric in-
dicator using the "edison Ef-
1885-Invented system of
wireless telegraphy for use bet-
ween moving trains and railway

stations as wellsas ship-to-shore.
1891-Invented the motion pic-
ture camera.
1896-Invented the fluroscope,
using principles of x-ray for
medicine and surgery.
1899-Invented the fluorescent
1902-Invented the alkaline
storage battery.
1903-Invented rotary kilns for
cement production.
1905-Established the first Por-
tland Cement mill. Introduced
new dictating machine allowing
person dictating to hear
repetitions and note corrections.

1907-Introduced the first
universal motor that operated oq
all lighting circuits. w
1912-Introduced the Kinetone
or talking motion pictures.
1914-Invented a method for
producing synthetic carbolic
acid. Invented the Telescribe;
combing the telephone and the
dictating phonograph. Patented
electric safety lanterns for use bye
1915-Established plants foe
manufacture of coal-tat
1927-Commenced experimen-
ts to discover a domestic source
of natural rubber.

Sue Warner.................................)EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
:Richard Berke, Julie Rovner........... MANAGING EDITORS
Michael Arkush, Keith Rich'ourg..... EDITORIAL .DIRECTORS
eBrian Blanchard ........................ UNIVERSITY EDITOR
'Judy Rakowsky .............................. CITY ED)ITOR
Shelley Wolson..................PERSONNELDIRECTOR
Amy Saltzman ............................ FEATURES EDITOR
t , onard Bernstein PWCIAL PROWJETS

1 ;Wr - - - H

GEOFF LARCOM............................. Sports Editor
BILLY SAHN ...................... Executive Sports Editor
BILLY NEFF ......................... Managing Sports Editor
DAN PERRIN ......................... Managing Sports Editor
MAUREEN O'MALLEY................... Chief Photographer
TMn uRT_. Qio Sff Phnarnher


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