Quote of the day—Dave Barry

But the greatest Electrical Pioneer of them all was Thomas Edison, who was a brilliant inventor despite the fact that he had little formal education and lived in New Jersey.  Edison’s first major invention in 1877, was the phonograph, which could soon be found in thousands of American homes, where it basically sat until 1923, when the record was invented.  But Edison’s greatest achievement came in 1879, when he invented the electric company.  Edison’s design was a brilliant adaptation of the simple electrical circuit: The electric company sends electricity through a wire to a customer, then immediately gets the electricity back through another wire, then (this is the brilliant part) sends it right back to the customer again.

This means that an electric company can sell a customer the same batch of electricity thousands of times a day and never get caught, since very few customers take the time to examine their electricity closely. In fact the last year any new electricity was generated in the United States was 1937; the electric companies have been merely re-selling it ever since, which is why they have so much free time to apply for rate increases.

Dave Barry
The History of Electricity
[I’m reminded of this by Barron’s Power Series. Normally I get really annoyed when someone gets some technological detail all wrong and I praise those that get everything correct. But In this case I’m going to reverse myself and give Barry the edge over Barron for pleasurable reading.—Joe]


3 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Dave Barry

  1. I’m not the biggest fan of Edison actually. His obsession with DC over AC still makes me facepalm. While now DC transmission is slowly becoming more viable at the time it just wasn’t worth it and was totally inefficient. Tesla on the other hand realized what could be done with AC, not to mention how much easier it is to generate AC. In the end for DC loads rectification is an easy task. Let the laws of physics do the work for you!

    As for pleasurable reading, it’s not that torturous is it? I’d expect you of all people to be the kid in the back of the room sleeping through class waking up every once in a while to see if it’s something “new”. Though I think my goals and Dave’s goals are a bit different. I could probably do the history of the power system without much in the way of math or technical explanation, trying to explain how something works though and why it’s done that way, math is your friend. Though I’m trying to avoid it as much as possible, I figure at this point most of the major math is over. I avoided a bunch of math on synchronous machines that helps explain exactly why and how they work.

  2. Nearly everything Barry says here is false and he knows it. But it is also extraordinarily funny. Everything you said is true (yes, I’ve been checking your work but haven’t read the latest post yet) but it doesn’t make me laugh. Hence I give Barry the for pleasure edge in this case even if it serves no purpose other than making people laugh.

  3. The laughs come later as I describe why some politicians brain child won’t work and it’s obvious why it wont. Or even better when the green technology is backed by conventional fuels. That’s my personal favorite.

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