Tuesday, May 12, 2009

They Just Don't Make Harmonic Analyzers Like That Anymore

Waking this morning, the good captain noted his lack of an accurate means of measuring atmospheric temperatures and pressure, vital information for even the most lacksidasical sky pirate, and so turning the Anomaly Obscura Engine to the past I set forth into the æthyr in search of the one man, nay, the one legend whose mechanical mastery could solve this problem I was suffering once and for all. The man, nay, legend is of course none other than William Thomson, Lord Kelvin!

It was a crisp May morning, 1878 when I arrived at the Meteorological Offices in merry old England just in time to see the unveiling of Lord Kelvin's Harmonic Analyzer. A machine of such simple perfection and stunning beauty I had already reserved a spot for it in my personal bedchambers so that I might start the day with an accuracy of forecasting sadly lacking. I would try to describe it myself, but the most eloquent scientist and wordsmith Sir William Thomson, F.R.S., Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Glasgow, has already done a wonderful job, circa May 9, 1878, so I'll let his words paint the picture:
It consists of five disk globe and cylinder integrators of the kind described in Professor James Thomson’s paper “On an Integrating Machine having a new Kinematic Principle,” of the same date, and represented in the annexed woodcuts.

The five disks are all in one plane, and their centres in one line. The axes of the cylinders are all in a line parallel to it. The diameters of the five cylinders are all equal, so are those of the globes; hence the centres of the globes are in a line parallel to the line of the centres of the disks, and to the line of the axes of the cylinders.

One long wooden rod, properly supported and guided, and worked by a rack and pinion, carries five forks to move the five globes and a pointer to trace the curve on the paper cylinder. The shaft of the paper cylinder carries at its two ends cranks at right angles to one another; and a toothed wheel which turns a parallel shaft, and a third shaft in line with the first, by means of three other toothed wheels. This third shaft carries at its two ends two cranks at right angles to one another.

Another toothed wheel on the shaft of the paper drum turns another parallel shaft, which, by a slightly oblique toothed wheel working on a crown wheel with slightly oblique teeth, turns one of the five disks uniformly (supposing to avoid circumlocution the paper drum to be turning uniformly). The cylinder of the integrator, of which this one is the disk, gives the continuously growing value of ∫ydx.

Alright, so maybe not so eloquent as simply sharing an image or two of the device and letting them speak for themselves:

Stunning no? Simply put, things spin and rotate and the end result is, well I'm not entirely certain...yet! Now that it's safely aboard the Anomaly Obscura Engine I'll have ample opportunity to figure out exactly what it does in relation to the atmosphere and eventually, I assume, it will provide the information I'm looking for. If not, I understand it can also create deep and rich percussion to rival even the drummers of the Ivory Coast! Something the good captain appreciate especially when rum is involved.

Now why don't you be a good chap and tottle back off to work, the drums will let you know when it's time to break...either that or it will rain in 20 minutes. I'm not exactly sure which.


Winston said...

That is beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

Winston from How To Win Lotto blog

Anonymous said...

it looks like a scifi engine of some sort lol, Like something powering a star wars ship

Anonymous said...

really cool but i dont get how it works to well. How about some vintage saws? Id love to see steamy power tools like band saw