Monday, 19 June 2017

Victorian Cyclotron

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Note: this article would best be read in context, i.e. after having perused the letters and accounts of Ernest Glitch, Experimentalist, in the order they appear in The Chronicles

E. Glitch bombards diamonds with high energy particles to produce coloured 'fancy' stones. His equipment, mentioned in the following letter to M. Faraday, pre-dates that of Lawrence by some 73 years.

Seventeenth day of August 1857. Glitch Manor, Weardale.

My Dear Faraday,

I hope this correspondence finds you in good fettle, and fully recovered from the chlorine peroxide explosion. The orange gas shews such an alarming propensity for detonation, I rarely prepare it. You were lucky that Mr. Barnes took the full force, deflecting the debris from your person!

I am afraid I have something rather sad to report to you Faraday. Hodges has gone mad. Quite completely mad. The nature of Hodges' workload has unbalanced him, and I cannot but feel the smallest modicum of responsibility. During the recent construction and operation of my new gemstone enhancer, Hodges suffered considerable physical harm from the blue beam, which bursts from it's gold orifice, like a dagger from Lucifer!

The death, by the same beam, of Eddie, the filthy polecat previously in residence within his breeches, dealt Hodges a severe blow. In fact Faraday, it threw my assistant into depths of despair. Stricken with grief, he took to drinking di-ethyl ether again. In a highly intoxicated and inflammable state he ventured out and down-dale to Stanhope. In that village he entered a particularly rough public house, much frequented by the coarser lead-miners & undesirables.

You can imagine, Faraday, the sensation his appearance caused. Most of the drinkers in the establishment had never seen or heard of Hodges before. It is a damning indictment of human nature, Faraday, that group aggression is so easily brandished towards that which is different. And Hodges is very different - particularly when sporting his black hippo-skin gloves. Unfortunately, upon provocation he is quite capable of staggering levels of physical violence, even when etherially enebriated. I paid the local magistrate several guineas to prevent Hodges' imprisonment - five miners are still without wits and Big Ronnie, a travelling blacksmith, lost both legs.

Hodges rebounded somewhat after the violence, and declared that he would know his enemy. By this he meant the blue beam, and not his Stanhope village tormentors. Hodges has subsequently shown his thought processes to be degenerating quickly into madness because of this mental quest. His personal appearance is also suffering, although it hardly seems possible.

But to start at the beginning Faraday. Your most recent letter contained an enquiry about my recent work concerning gemstone synthesis. In reply I can report success only with alumina and, of course, carbon. I enclose a small ruby, the product of a fusion process using my galvanic hydrogen flame. Also included with this package are several tiny diamond crystals, produced by the shock of detonation of triply nitrated phenol. Emerald production has so far eluded me, however I have a molten bath of molybdate of lithia, containing berylia, silica & alumina. I am cooling it at a barely perceptible rate. If any emerald crystals form, they should be ready for harvesting next year. However Faraday, my interests now lie not with synthesis, but with the colour enhancement of gemstones.

I am considerably excited by the action of spirally accelerated corpuscular effluvia from glowing barium bromide. It was Rupert, my son, who deserves the recognition for this new method of the embeautiment of natures crystallographic creations. Rupert had, by repeated fractional crystallisation, purified the glowing barium bromide from normal barium bromide to such a degree that the effects the poisonous effluvia from the salts exhibit are most apparent. He was dismayed that his prize specimen of amber fluorspar from near Hilton had turned pink, because of proximity to the salts. He then deliberately set out to alter the chromatic nature of several different minerals in his collection. Noting that effective change could take several days, he enlisted Hodges' help to speed up the process. I was, at the time, unavailable to help my son, as I had been working on a rotary epicyclic benzene explosion engine for my penny farthing.

Hodges likes to understand things. He can't help it, and I must admit that he has a formidable mind beneath his sloping forehead. He determined that the effluvia is corpuscular in nature, found it's range in air increased inversely with pressure, and that the corpuscles are of a positive charge. He determined these things with a magnifying glass and a screen of argentiferous sulphide of zinc with an admixture of barium (normal) chloroplatinate. Also his use of my laboratory entailed his undoubted expertise with magnetics and electrostatics.

It was then but a small step for him to realise the design of my gemstone enhancer, which Hodges refers to as an oscillatory spiral corpuscle range enhancer. I have drawn the machine for you Faraday, I am sure your intellect will suffer no exhaustion upon it's perusal, but I will briefly describe its parts.

The Glitch Gemstone Enhancer - a 19th century cyclotron

The large soft iron magnet core I had specially wrought at Consett. It is, of course, powered from the Stables Battery, half of which has been rearranged in parallel for its use. The other half of the Stables Battery powers the modified lightning machine, with it`s dual terminations. The brass cylinder, 30 inches in diameter, is evacuated by a quicksilver Torricellian arrangement. The two D shaped terminations lie within the cylinder. The glowing barium is at the centre. When operating the enhancer, Hodges has to alter the attunement of the lightning machine to exactly match the cylinder dimensions and power being drawn by the magnet. When attunement is reached, the corpuscular effluvia from the barium is spirally accelerated within, and the outcome is spectacular. The blue beam stabs outward from the gold foil orifice and, as Eddie would attest, if he were still alive and possessed of a brain capable of analytical thought, the beam is deadly.

Faraday, can you remember me shewing you a rather splendid 108 carat diamond my father obtained from Dan Eliason? An object of great beauty, but spoiled somewhat, because of it's unfortunate greenish-yellow tint? Well, I can hardly contain my enthusiasm concerning its transformation. In fact Faraday, I plan to travel to London shortly, to have the stone valued by Cohen of Covent Garden - I shall put the diamond at your disposal, for your examination of the stone's newly found magnificence will afford me much pleasure. It is of a very deep blue Faraday! Absolutely stunning!

As well you know, my friend, I also own the twenty eight carat part of the Tavernier Blue, which Sieur Pitau brutally cut from it in 1673. The colour of the Tavernier is of a violet tint, whereas my transformed large stone is a more cornflower-blue. On a philosophical note I must also point out that the amazing phosphorescence shewn by the Tavernier is not at all present in my transformed stone! The Tavernier is remarkable in that respect. I have heard that Mr. Hope has the larger Marie Antoinette part of Tavernier's stone. If so, I would like to see if it displays the same long lasting red phosphorescence after exposure to either the discharge of my leyden battery or my expanded spark invisible beam. Do you know this man Mr. Hope, Faraday?

The gemstone enhancer is a very temperamental machine. Hodges can potter for several hours to attune it's various & obscure component parts of the whole. During this time I have seen him rashly discharge the deflecting Leydens too early for my liking. On these occasions the blue beam darts from the brass and invariably hits Hodges hands, such is his incompetence. He says the beam does not hurt until the blistering starts, perhaps a handful of hours later. Depending upon the severity, the scabs so produced fall, to leave the pink of a burn or, unusually, a thick growth of snow-white hair that feels almost fur-like. His hands are now so affected by the enhancing beam that I feel that perhaps his reduced dexterity could signal the end of his useful working life. At least within Glitch Manor. He will probably be able to eke out a living in the lead-mines, as his Pater, Old Hodges Senior did, upon his retirement due to ill-health.

I'm sure you will agree, Faraday, that fair wear & tear of an employee is as acceptable as that occasioned to any tool. Just look at your Mr. Barnes, for instance. Or Hodges Senior. I remember well, childhood days, when my Pater took me on a sporting voyage to Iceland. I had just mortally wounded my first (adult) Blue Whale with father`s patent 3 ounce gold fulminate tipped harpoon. It was a happy, family occasion, but we became distracted from the veritable fountains of blood erupting from the thrashing whale, as a loud bang and screaming signalled the premature detonation of the reload. Hodges Senior was never the same after that amount of weight loss.

As is usual Faraday, I digress. Apologies. Not for my previous digression, but for that which follows. I must impress upon you the delight which was mine not two days ago. I witnessed a phenomenon of great beauty, scale, and interest to any Electrical Philosopher. My story starts with a late afternoon penetration of Heights Mine. Reports that a large vugh had been breached were correct, and I was soon exploring an exquisite crystal wonderland. I removed some particularly fine green fluorspar specimens, one of which is an interpenetrating twin with edges seven inch, rain-water clear, a purple core and an apple green outer. A Beauty.

The specimen's removal took Hodges quite some time, partly because of the hippo-skin gloves he insists on wearing. I had allowed him to use the hide from a Nile hippopotamus my father poisoned in '32. The hide never looked good in my Big Game room, stank of almonds, and my wolfhound Leopold had chewed the face off the monster. It was ready for disposal. The gloves he fashioned from the thick hide protect his hands from further damage, and remove the sight of the sores and white tufts from civilised vision.

Hodges sporting his hippo-skin gloves

Upon leaving the mine, we were surprised to find night had recently fallen. Looking east, down the dale, the black anvil of a thunderhead could just be seen resting upon the horizon. It was then I saw the most amazing phenomenon Faraday! Huge upward brush discharges shooting from the tops of the anvil. Upward lightning! I thought at first I was seeing something new, but I have now found reference to it! By that infernal Snow Harris chap! With his ridiculous notions concerning waterspouts and earth temblors! You know the chap Faraday, popularist, well in with the monarchy, bad teeth. I have torn the page from his book and enclose it for you perusal. It does describe what I saw admirably.

page 182 'Rudimentary Electricity' by Sir W. Snow Harris, third edition 1853.

Returning to the gemstone enhancer, and the unfortunate effect trying to fathom its mechanics has had on poor Hodges. It was during the transformation of the large stone that I first became aware of Hodges' madness. I had been a little disappointed with progress and decided we needed more power. Doubling the diameter of the acceleration cylinder would effect a doubling of power, I reasoned. Not so said Hodges, and he became quite agitated. He came out with a patently absurd notion. He thinks he has made a philosophical breakthrough in understanding the physical world. He has gone quite mad.

I ask you Faraday! He'd have me believe that objects are heavier when they travel with great swiftness! The dolt. His madness is such that he'd have the intrinsic energy of motion of one of these corpuscular effluvia being proportional to it`s meagre weight multiplied twice by the swiftness of a sunbeam! The quicksilver has done for him Faraday! He maintains that the corpuscular effluvia attain speeds of some 864 million furlongs to the hour! It beggars belief! The madman further insists that at these velocities, the corpuscles have increased in weight by one hundredth. It is this increase in weight, Hodges assures me, that caused the corpuscles to circulate too slowly, and to slip completely out of attunement with the apparatus after only 25 circuits at that speed. And so he excuses himself from attempting to increase the power of my gemstone enhancer by increasing its diameter to 60 inches! Shirker! Madman!

Well, I know a blatant attempt to cover up lazy ineptitude with half-baked theoretical excuses, as well as you do Faraday. But the serious nature of his delusional madness caused me to refrain from thrashing him on this occasion. Instead, on Friday when Mr. Groves the horse doctor is due, I'll ask him to not only remove Hodges right hand (which, I'm afraid, has gone completely black, is thumbless, and has started to emanate the most appalling stench), but to drill into Hodges cranium at the left temple, and then to work his magic with his carbuncle lance & flencing hooks.

I have seen Mr. Groves completely alter the nature of an uncontrollable rabid war-stallion with a few deft intra-cranial thrusts, Faraday, and I think Hodges will much benefit from Mr. Groves experience in these matters. Hodges should present Mr Groves with little difficulty, his skull being much thinner than that of a horse, and his condition being much less grave than that of the aforementioned equine veteran of the Crimean campaign.

I must confess, Faraday, that I do hope to be able to discharge a Leyden Jar or two into Hodges grey-matter, should the opportunity arise during Mr. Groves' ministrations. I'm not one to miss out upon galvanic experimentation upon a living brain, and violent electrical discharges direct to the grey matter could perhaps enhance the effects of the flencing, and be of further benefit to Hodges. I will shirk no possible endeavour to return Hodges to Sanity, and Newtonian thought! I will, of course Faraday, inform you of the result of these experiments.

Hodges has come to terms with the immanent removal of his hand, and is busy at this moment fashioning himself a hook from a remarkably corrosion free alloy he has produced from iron having a paucity of carbon and an admixture of chrome.

Maud the maid persuaded him that the amputation was necessary, I gather, after an unfortunate incident with the Bishop of Durham. The Bishop and I had been enjoying an afternoon of electrical amusements (involving the use of my influence machine to enrage a colony of slime mould) prior to our transportation to the evening meeting of the Stockton Gentlemans Nitrous Club. Maud was due with afternoon refreshments, therefore I dismissed Hodges from his duties turning the machine.

Hodges left the room, removing his hippo-skin gloves as he left. Seconds after his departure came the sounds of a playful female shriek and giggling from the open door. Maud the maid then entered, looking flushed, flustered and dishevelled, carrying a tray of oysters. As she bent over, to offer the Bishop a shell, an object of unbelievable horror dropped from between her bosom and partially open bodice, and fell amongst the oysters.

I think what terrified the Bishop most was not that the blistered, twitching lump of entumoured, exfoliated and blackened flesh was clearly a human thumb, but that the thumb-nail supported a growth of snow-white fur! The Bishop was badly shaken, and did not recover until he had inhaled his third bladder of nitrous that night.

I think Hodges is expecting to be rendered unconscious with diethyl ether for the amputation on Friday, however both Mr. Groves and myself prefer him to be conscious and aware. Mr. Groves needs to accurately judge flencing depth by the look of the eye and the twitching of the fetlocks. And I, to be quite honest Faraday, would prefer to observe and record Hodges conscious facial expressions upon discharge to the brain, a phenomenon I have previously witnessed only with the dead.

The departure of his thumb from his hand within Maud's bodice had caused Hodges no pain, and had, in fact, been unnoticed by him, such is the damage my gemstone enhancer deals the unwary & incautious. So I'm certain the full-hand amputation will cause him little discomfort. Therefore I'll say nothing to Hodges about the head work (it would only give him cause for needless concern about Mr. Groves' bills), and I'll arrange for a dozen lead-miners to hold him immobile for all procedures. Damn the expense! Hodges deserves to think like a philosopher again! And by God I think Mr. Groves is the man to cut some sense into him! Mass, produced from swiftness Faraday? I think not!

Yours, very sincerely,

Ernest Glitch

Copyright © 2003 Roger Curry
All Rights Reserved

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"Hodges emitted a scream the like of which
I hadn't heard since his scrotum was burned off
during my experiment with fluorine gas last year."

The Exotic Experimentation of Ernest Glitch,
Victorian Science with a Smile

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Unrelated to this post, below is an example of
eclectic science esoterica 

A Crookes Tube.
© Jannis Andrija Schnitzer

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