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Edison's X-ray Fluoroscope

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Tungstate of Calcium

He went home, and within a short time his mother appeared at the laboratory with a horsewhip,  which she proposed to use on the proprietor. I was fortunately absent, and she was mollified somehow by my other assistants. I had given the boy considerable iodide of potassium to prevent salivation, but it did no good in this case. When Roentgen came forward with his discovery of the new X-ray in 1895, Thomas Edison was ready for it, and took up experimentation with it on a large scale; some of his work being recorded in an article in the Century Magazine of May 1896, where a great deal of data may be found.



Thomas Edison says with regard to this work: When the X-ray came up, I made the first fluoroscope, using tungstate of calcium. I also found that this tungstate could be put into a vacuum chamber of glass and fused to the inner walls of the chamber; and if the X-ray electrodes were let into the glass chamber and a proper vacuum was attained, you could get a fluorescent lamp of several candle power. I began to make a number of these powerful lamps!

Conducting  Experiment In Laboratory

But while making these lamps, I soon found that the X-ray had affectedly poisonously my assistant, Mr. Dally, so that his hair fell out and his flesh commenced to ulcerate. I then concluded it would not do, and that it would not be a very popular kind of light; so I dropped it." Some of my assistants in those days were very green in the business, as I did not care whether they had any sort of experience I generally tried to turn them loose in the laboratory compound area. One day I got a new man, and told him to conduct a certain experiment! He got a quart of ether and started to boil it over a naked flame. Of course it caught fire! The flame was about four feet in diameter and eleven feet high! We had to call out the fire department; and they came down and put a stream through the window letting out all the fumes and chemicals out which overcame the firemen!

Cast Iron Junction Boxes

And there was the devil to pay, when we first put the Pearl Street station in operation, in New York! We had cast iron junction boxes at the intersections of all the streets! One night, or about two o'clock in the morning, a policeman came in and said that something had exploded at the corner of William and Nassau streets! I happened to be in the station, and went out to see what it was! I found that the cover

of the manhole, weighing about 200 pounds, had entirely disappeared, but everything inside was intact! It had even stripped some of the threads of the bolts, and we could never find that cover! I concluded it was either leakage of gas into the manhole, or else the acid used in pickling the casting had given off hydrogen, and air had leaked in, making an explosive mixture! As this was a pretty serious problem, and as we had a good many of the manholes, it worried me very much for fear that it would be repeated and the company might have to pay a lot of damages, especially in districts like that around the area of William and Nassau which was the streets where all the well  to do people resided!




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