Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Artificial Goat - A Victorian Water-Powered Autonomous Lawn Mower

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In 1859 the eccentric and psychopathic scientist Ernest Glitch used a robotic lawnmower at his estate in Weardale, England. Developed by his assistant Hodges, it was able to power its all-mechanical operation by harnessing the very rain which enabled the grass to grow. Slightly dangerous in operation, its ingenious construction can be gathered from the letter below, from Glitch to Michael Faraday....

22nd September 1859

My Dear Faraday,

I thought it would be civil to inform you about the recent tragedy here at Glitch Manor, since the reports in The Times seem to infer that I was somehow culpable! The maiming of several guests at my harvest festival garden party was entirely the fault of a Lancastrian wrestler and a horse doctor, not any malfunction of my automatic mowing machine, a drawing of which is enclosed.

The Artificial Goat, its water-powered charging station shown in the background. The two depressions at the top of the mower collect water for the scrotum-leather clutches. Around the periphery are feelers which engage internal steering mechanisms, when the machine encounters the lawn's perimeter low wall. On the right-hand side of the mower, the power input connector can be seen. 

Ensconced as you are in the middle of our great capital city, you are safe from the problems associated with keeping your own lawn. A capital situation sir! I myself am encumbered with an extensive area of grass, the recreational use of which precludes grazing beast such as goats or rough fell sheep. One would prefer lawns to be free from animals and their odious deposits, should guests arrive for a garden party!

As such, Glitch Manor has always employed the same local family of gardeners to maintain the lawn to a superb level of billiard table smoothness, suitable for summer bowls, croquet or heavy afternoon drinking and nitrous bladdering. Over several generations the Bellend family have provided sterling service. Although their wages have never made any noticeable impact upon Glitch finances, one felt that modern engineering could provide an efficacious alternative.

Nitrous Bladdering. The inebriated man is holding a
pig bladder containing uninhaled nitrous oxide gas

I therefore dismissed the Bellend family and instructed Hodges to design and build the "Artificial Goat", so ridiculously named in The Times. Of course Faraday, Hodges' grass cutter is neither, in appearance nor manner, ruminant like. If one had to liken the mower to any of God's creations, a giant Atlantic horseshoe crab might show similarities.

The Horseshoe Crab - Limulus polyphemus
shows only vague similarity to The Artificial Goat

The Bellends were somewhat upset when they were evicted from their tied cottage, the family home for many lifetimes, even though I had arranged alternative employment and lodging at the Greenlaws Mine, over at Daddry Shield. Old Man Bellend complained bitterly about the work his family were to be engaged upon. I pointed out that the use of picks and shovels bears great similarity to the use of scythes, sickles and rakes, all having wooden handles. Of course, the Great Limestone is rather more substantial than soil, and cut grass a little less dense than galena, however the march of progress affects us all!

My instructions to Hodges were to construct a machine that automatically cuts my lawn. I thought he would adapt an existing grass cutter, such as the Budding, adding a small steam engine, or perhaps an electric motor and battery of cells, something you could have advised upon Faraday!

The world's first mower, developed by
Edwin Budding of Gloucestershire in 1830

As is usual, my assistant thought in a tangential manner upon the matter, and the resulting machine is quite remarkable! I think that more than a couple of innovations invested in Hodges' mowing machine will interest you Faraday.

Firstly, the cutting mechanism. A spinning steel disk is equipped around its circumference with five equant cutthroat razors of best Sheffield manufacture. This cutting disk rotates at some one thousand revolutions in the minute, set horizontally above the ground at the required distance to ensure excellence in grass maintenance.

Victorian Cutthroat of Sheffield Manufacture

Secondly, the locomotion. Two driving wheels and two castor wheels enable the mower to move over every part of the lawn. The driven wheels can operate independently for steering, unlike Leonardo da Vinci's autonomous cart. Changing direction is done when the forward feelers detect when the mower reaches an edge to the lawn, it's periphery being delineated by a low, neat wall of limestone. Reverse is engaged, with the driven wheels de-clutched for differing indeterminate times. This randomness, in the amount of time it takes for each wheel to be fully engaged, ensures the mowing machine turns as it reverses. Similarly, when the mower starts moving forward, it does so in a random direction through differential de-clutching times. Thus every square foot of the lawn is eventually cropped.

The method Hodges has used to make full engagement of the wheels random, is rather innovative, I feel. The two clutches are faced with badger's scrotal-sack leather. As you may know Faraday, such scrotum leather has a moisture dependant co-efficient of adhesion. My assistant has arranged slowly intermittent drip-feeds of water to each clutch. These occasional drips to the scrotal leather are, by nature, totally unsynchronised. Thus the clutches slip for indeterminate times before full engagement. All the various control mechanisms, to fulfil the movements of the mower, are jewel-mounted brass levers and cams, a more refined and complex system than that of Leonardo! I do urge you to travel to Weardale to see the mowing machine Sir, as it is a joy to examine its internals, and to watch its progress as it does its work.

522 years ago, Leonardo's mechanically programmable autonomous robot used a
steerable wheel, unlike Hodge's design, which used clutches on each drive wheel.

Thirdly, the source of power. Here my assistant shows his worth! He decided that the power would be available at the side of the lawn, and that the mower would periodically visit this power source, to "charge" its own store of energy. Which it then uses to travel over the lawn, spinning its cutting disk and cutthroats, mowing grass until it needs to visit the charging station again.

And the mower's method of storing energy is again, a highly commendable innovation of my assistant, enabled through my generous allowance of him to conduct experimentation of speculative nature.

Some time ago Hodges started experimenting with a spinning steel rotor in an evacuated chamber. For no particular purpose, other than to investigate long-term energy storage. The rotor he made is a superbly balanced disk machined from a billet of forged steel. It is of a substantial nature Faraday, weighing over sixty pounds. Spinning on large gem-quality Burmese ruby bearings at some 12,000 revolutions in the minute, it can effectively store quite substantial energy (in the region of 500 horsepower seconds).

A selection of ruby bearings

My assistant constructed an ingenious quicksilver vacuum pump to evacuate the rotor's enclosure. He got the notion from the use of water-blast ventilation, or water trompe, in our nearby lead mines. Instead of air being entrapped in a cascade of water falling to the lower levels of a mine, Hodges uses mercury metal drops flowing down a glass tube to withdraw all of the air surrounding his spinning rotor. He initially thought that the evacuation would reduce the extent of drag on his rotor, to such a degree that it would spin for years, the losses incurred by the ruby bearings being so minimal. Disappointment ensued.

Hodges had made his measurements of the frictional losses incurred by his ruby bearings with an experiment using low inertia components. However when the bearings supported the rapidly rotating steel rotor in vacua, it appeared that those frictional losses increased dramatically. The rubies became warm and the rotor slowed in a matter of days. At first he thought the rotor to be out of dynamic balance but, after much polishing and measuring, found this not the case. He eventually concluded the root cause to be the rotation of the earth. I'm sure an intellect such as yours, my dear Faraday, needs no further explanation of axial loading due to gyroscopic precession!

When I instructed Hodges to furnish me with an auto-mower, he immediately thought of using his precisely made steel rotor for energy storage. With a charging station always available to spin up the rotor, the losses incurred from atmospheric drag and the aforementioned geo-rotation effect, could be disregarded.

The rotor has to provide power for locomotion across the lawn, and to spin the cutter. As energy is used to do this work, the rotor obviously must slow down. But it is desirable Faraday, that the mower travels, and the cutter spins, at a constant speed, independent of the rotational speed of the power source. To solve this problem Hodges has surpassed himself with his technical ingenuity!

The primary gearbox of the mower consists of two truncated cones, side by side, the apex of one next to the base of the other. Although their axes are parallel, they are not in contact. They are connected, however, with a highly gripping idler wheel, of exceptional durability, made from plaited crocodile penis leather, impregnated with gutta-percha. Further, and this is the interesting part Faraday, the idling power transfer wheel can move between the cones, in and out along their parallel slopes. This action alters the ratio between them, as though they were pulleys of variable diameter. In effect, Hodges has created a gearbox which is continuously variable. And is able, through positional control of the idling transfer wheel by a flyball centrifugal governor on the rotor, to maintain constant velocity of both the mower's transition and cutting.

This Autodesk Inventor animation (above) by thang010146 shows a friction cone continuously variable transmission. Consider the upper cone being the output, required to drive the mower at a constant speed. The lower cone is the input from the energy storage rotor's reduction gearbox. As this slows down, the transfer wheel is moved to alter the variable transmission's ratio. The transfer wheel is moved by a flyball centrifugal governor as is illustrated in the animation below. Consider the throttle arm controlling the transfer wheel.

The mowing machine continually cuts the lawn, day and night, excepting those times when it is coupled to its rotary charging shed. This means that on each pass over a certain area of lawn, only a minuscule length from each blade of grass is removed. These tiny specks of vegetable matter are not collected, simply falling to the earth to become more of the same. Gone are the days of labour intensive raking Faraday! Hodges has expressed the notion that the subsequent enrichment of the humus upper strata will produce a great improvement in grass lushness. This remains to be seen, and one is a little anxious about the paucity of addition to the Bellend compost heaps, for my roses.

What an innovative mind Hodges has... it is a great shame that the magnificent mowing machine he created has been sullied by the multiple amputations at my garden party. The casualties were immediately attended to by Groves, my horse doctor. After his rather alarming ministrations, those injured were transported to Bishop Auckland for recuperate immobility. I then had Hodges analyse the sequence of events at my garden party.

As you will have gathered Faraday, the auto-mower has what amounts to a large spinning flywheel within it. The rotor is oriented with its axis perpendicular to the earth's surface, so on the flat lawn, no gyroscopic anomalous behaviour is exhibited. However should the mower be lifted and the rotational axis canted, seriously aberrant behaviour can result. Since a man of normal build would have some difficulty in lifting the mower, the possibility of errant gyroscopic malfunction had never occurred to Hodges. Unfortunately one of my guests at the garden party has the strength of Hercules!

Sam Hurst, that Goliath wrestler from Lancashire, was at the event with the promise of free food and drink in exchange for providing entertainment. Hodges had been greatly looking forward to this opportunity to use Hurst as a punchbag, but the exhibition bout never got started. The Lancastrian knuckle-dragger had been intently watching the mower since he arrived, and seemed utterly enthralled with it. He later admitted that he picked it up to ascertain whether "a little man" was inside it!

Excerpt from an article concerning Sam Hurst's bare knuckle fight
with Jem Mace in 1861. The full, gruesome article can be read here 

Hurst lifted the mower with ease, then attempted to turn it over to have a look for the midget. Well Faraday, accustomed as Savants such as ourselves are, to the precession of gyroscopes, the resistance Hurst encountered would not have caused us alarm (assuming we were able to lift the machine). Hurst however became severely agitated by the strange behaviour of the machine and, thinking the devil himself was within, brought his whole strength to bear to control the beast. Of course with the amount of rotational energy and inertia of the rotor, the more he struggled, the worse the mower behaved through gyroscopic precession.

The normal whining noise the mower exhibits became shrieking as he wrestled with the machine. My guests gathered around Hurst and the mower, thinking this to be the promised entertainment. Hurst had the machine in a crushing bear-hug, the audience amazed by the blur of rotating steel blades, when the shriek reached a crescendo and there was an almighty bang!

Claret fountained from multiple wounds, suddenly afflicting several guests, who immediately fell to the ground screaming. Hurst (uninjured) dropped the mower and ran howling to hide in the stables, and I looked around for Hodges to deal with the situation.

The mower landed on a side edge and, seemingly impossibly, balanced in that position. It then started spinning and precessing around until the wheels contacted the earth. Having expended most of its energy wrecking its gearbox and shattering its cutter, it crawled slowly to the edge of the lawn and started following the perimeter towards its charging shed. A forlorn endeavour, it didn't have enough stored energy, and its progress round the lawn gradually slowed and finally came to a halt when it bumped up against Mrs. Blackett's severed right leg.

Hodges determined the cause of the carnage to be the centrifugal detonation of the cutting disk. As Hurst had wrestled with the machine, the opposing forces that the rapidly spinning rotor effected put not inconsiderable stress upon the variable gearbox bearings. The ruby input bearing failed, causing the cone to slip, the gutta-percha in the idler wheel to heat up and soften, and the gearbox to lock into a 1:1 ratio, causing the (to my mind, overly thin) cutting disk to be spun up to well over its safe speed, and consequently to tear itself to shreds. Axial loading due to gyroscopic precession is Hodges downfall, yet again Faraday!

A CD is spun up to such a speed that it shatters.
Imagine this happening with a steel disk and cutthroats!

It was highly fortuitous that my horse doctor, Groves, was present at the garden party. He had been in attendance at the foaling of one of my Arabian thoroughbreds and, due to a successful outcome, I allowed him a little hospitality. He very quickly took charge of the casualties. Mrs. Blackett's stump was promptly attended with a tourniquet fashioned from an item of horse-tackle. Then mercifully, before cauterising the flesh and bone with a red-hot hoof knife, he rendered her unconscious with a few spirited donkey punches. The cessation of screaming was most welcome. Mrs. Blackett had been impacted by a shard of the exploded cutting disk, with attached cutthroat razor, which sliced her leg clean off, but the caterwauling and screeching which ensued was, to my mind, a tad theatrical.

The other people injured had fortunately suffered only minor lacerations to the limbs from flying razors. Groves' expertise in dealing with equine injuries, at racecourses and hunts, led him to treat the cuts by amputation, a bullet to the brain being out of the question. A little severe, yes Faraday, but it is worthy of note that nobody expired. Through his prompt medical intervention, he prevented any possibility that life-threatening gangrenous infections of the razor cuts could occur, without a shadow of doubt! No matter what has been printed in The Times, Groves did a first class job with the noisesome Mrs. Blackett, and to my mind should not be facing trial.

An amputation being performed by surgeons in a more clinically
professional manner than the ministrations of Groves the horse doctor
Detail from "Amputation" by Thomas Rowlandson 1783

I did notice however, that Groves considered the cut on the arm of the Master of Barnard's Hunt was not severe enough to warrant limb removal. This even though gouts of arterial blood had fountained from it before he carefully stitched the gaping wound. I think that Groves was a little mercenary in his medical attendance of the Hunt Master, endeavouring to save a limb which regularly provided equine work, it being the man's whip arm!

Hodges begged to use the two legs and three arms for galvanic experimentation, before they got cold, but I thought it rather tasteless to electrically reanimate parts of my guests. After the casualties were taken away to recover from amputation shock, I disposed of the limbs in a dignified and natural manner (my attack-terrier pack needs to be occasionally reminded on the taste of prey).

Galvanic Reanimation of the corpse of Matthew Clydesdale (a freshly killed murderer),
at the Glasgow University anatomy theatre, by Dr. Ure and Prof. Jeffray on the 4th november 1818

The charging station is a beautifully constructed dry-stone building Hodges built on the far edge of my lawn. It is located next to the capped shaft of Glitch Syke Mine. Hodges chose the siting because an old line of flatrods leads up to it from the burn's water wheel. Originally they were used to power the pumps and man-engine of the mine.

This animation by Paul Lenz shows how power is
transmitted from a water wheel to a man engine.
Flatrods could be up to four kilometers long

Hodges refurbished the wheel and flatrods to provide never-ending power for his mower. Once Hodges had the big water wheel operating again, and the flatrods sorted out, there was ample power available for use by the mower. Inside the charging shed, the slow reciprocal drive of the flatrods crank a flywheel. A clutch is engaged when the mower docks, and an epicyclic gearbox multiplies the rotational speed up, to accelerate the mower's internal rotor.

Unfortunately I became a little fractious after only a few hours of its operation. At first it was rather nostalgic, hearing the rhythmical clanking of the flatrods, clearly audible within the Manor House. It brought back fond childhood memories of the specimen mine operating, of collecting crystals underground and of playing on the man-engine. But after a short while Faraday, the noise became seriously intrusive, and I would not have it as necessary background noise for a manicured lawn.

From Principles of Metal Mining
by Joseph Henry Collins, 1875.
Full book here

My father had the Glitch Syke shaft sunk in 1818, in response to a mineralogical find in Whites Level, at Middlehope Sheild Mine. The green fluorspar crystals found down Whites were magnificent, but my father was unable to obtain any for his collection. He had sentenced the mine manager's son to transportation and penal servitude, for fisticuffs with a Beaumont, and (highly unwisely) the mine manager then refused to have anything to do with him, selling all the specimens being discovered straight to an Alston dealer.

Fortunately, here at my ancestral home, we are blessed with mineralogical richness. A stringer vein of galena, perhaps a few lines wide and far too small for exploitation, had always been visible running into the wall of a cell in the dungeons, deep within the great limestone beneath Glitch Manor. The galena vein is bounded on both sides by green fluorspar, to around a couple of feet, then some inches of nail-head calcite, perhaps an inch of siderite leading to ironstone and the great limestone. The spar has loughs and smaller vugs visible, which presumably had much crystallisation within, unfortunately much obliterated over the centuries of occupancy by the many incarcerated. One sample remains intact, extracted when the Glitch dungeons were extended in the Middle Ages. Stunning inch wide penetration twins, gin clear, apple green, festoon the lump of limestone. The quality of the more recent 1818 discovery of White's level fluor is very similar, although these crystals are rather smaller.

1818 White’s Level Fluorite
Courtesy © Rob Lavinski

My father shortly had the Middlehope Sheild Mine manager deported, to help his son doing forced labour down some God forsaken hell-hole in Van Damien's Land. Unfortunately, by the time her Majesty's justice system punished the manager for rabbit poaching, the Whites level green fluorspar was worked out, so my father decided to drop a shaft down to his own vein, so creating Glitch Syke, the only mine in the dales intended exclusively for specimen collection.

Forgive me, my dear friend, for the digression away from describing the auto-mower, into subjects mineralogical. But it is of note that without the mineral riches found in the dales, water powered mining equipment would never have been developed, so the mower in its present guise would have never been created. Rain occurs so frequently here in Weardale, that Glitch Burn can provide all of the power requirements of an automatic mower. Hodges boasted that should the burn ever run dry, it would be the result of such a Biblical drought that, even if powered, his mower would have only scorched earth to mow!

When I questioned him about what happens during winter, my assistant became agitated for a moment or two. The buffoon uttered "It freezes." I could almost see the thought processes in his eye, Faraday! Caught out! He had previously boasted to both myself and the Lord Barnard that the mower would never need the attention of its owner's staff, and would maintain lawns constantly with only a yearly break, of perhaps an hour, for lubrication, stropping of the cutthroats and adjustments. Now, after a delaying couple of coughs, whilst he thought on the matter, he tried to justify this idle boast to me.

Hodges said that his mower was seasonally self regulated, as when a cold snap freezes the water wheel to a standstill, the mower simply waits attached to the charging shed, until a thaw provides power for spring growth mowing!

Utter tosh Faraday! I pointed out to Hodges this gross underestimation of Weardale weather, as I repeatedly thrashed his head with the iridium pommel of my Irish bog-oak sword-stick. The first snowfall in November will bring his mower to a lawn churning stop, and further falls will necessitate continual human intervention until April! A generous summer hailstorm would scupper the machine, of that I am certain, yet my assistant continued expressing his belief that the mower was fully autonomous, throughout the enthusiastic pommelling I dealt him. And I'd rather like to think that the punishment I dealt out was rather more severe than the limp-wristed caning of that Yankee Sumner!

The Caning of Charles Sumner

Please do not think ill of me Faraday, although I rendered my assistant quite senseless from the flurry of my blows, he needed a lesson in logically thinking things through, and not to obfuscate! Concussion clears Hodges' mind in a manner not unlike a spring tide, washing the flotsam and jetsam from his brain. He was a lot more amenable to seeing sense upon returning to consciousness, and I pointed out his poor reasoning.

Firstly, the upkeep of the water wheel and its associated power delivery flatrods needs the employment of a millwright. And a reduction in employees had just occurred, with the forced departure of the Bellends, a move with which I intended to demonstrate the labour-saving advancement of science!

Secondly, the noise from the flatrods is totally unacceptable. Clanking throughout the hours God provides, just for trimming grass, is hardly desirable!

Thirdly, that he should accept that the mower will never be autonomous! It is an impressive machine, but would always need human intervention should it become stranded, without power, because of snow, or having expended its energy reserve chopping through a clutch of goslings, or shedding the contents of a skylark's nest again. And it's a heavy beast to manhandle up from drifts of crystallised water or sliced Canadian vermin Faraday!

I gave Hodges twenty-four hours to attend his (utterly warranted) head injuries, and to provide me with his solution to these problems. The next day Hodges was looking a lot tidier, Maud the maid having expertly sewn up his tattered scalp with cross-stitched catgut. He also had an answer to enable silent recharging of the mowing machine! On the fell above Glitch Manor we have a reservoir, fed by a couple of leats which contour from up and down the dale. My assistant now obtains ample hydraulic power from this source. Buried cast iron piping leads a modest flow of high pressure water down the fell. When Glitch Syke Mine was operating, it was used to clean off the vug-filling tenacious clay from specimens when brought to the surface.

Father also had a high-pressure pipe fitted down the shaft, so that his specimen miners could use the intense jet of water to deal with vug-mud in-situ. The miners had hit highly mineralised flats at forty fathoms which held substantial cavities. Some of the Glitch Syke loughs are of substantial size Faraday, which required digging and hosing to remove the ice-age glacial mud. When cleared, the larger vugs were large enough to enter, and the experience was like being inside a huge spar-box! One was surrounded by huge interpenetrant twins of beautifully formed fluorspar, some near eight inches to the side. The clear fluor crystals were primarily green, with bands of purple and a single phantom of that rarest of dales colours, sky-blue. The fluorspar was accented by milk white nail-head spar and spangles of tiny doubly terminated rock-crystal. The glittering effect was truly wonderful, my friend!

Peter Ward using high-pressure water to remove vug-mud from fluorite.
Greenlaws mine in Weardale is currently being renovated, purely for specimen removal & scientific and archeological study.
The mine has been unused since 1897. Video playlist here, facebook here

Unfortunately the extra influx of water into the mine led to some flooding problems, the wheel & flatrod powered pump not being quite up to the job. My Pater became aware that his miners could be in some danger of drowning at times. He considered the health and welfare of his employees being of paramount importance. Therefore he dismissed (for their own safety) those workers unable to hold their breath for more than two minutes whilst being forcibly held underwater by the Stanhope blacksmith.

Instead of mere mud removal, now the high-pressure water line is used to charge an Armstrong hydraulic accumulator. The water enters the bottom of a vertically mounted, large diameter steel cylinder. A piston within this tall cylinder is slowly pushed upwards by the water pressure. The piston's rod, exiting from the top of the cylinder, gradually lifts several tons of spar-free, silver-rich galena several feet in the air.

The weight-case (d) contains galena in Hodges'
accumulator (rock is used normally)
The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, 1897

Hodges used my stock of the most superior ore, taken over decades from the best Weardale & Teesdale mines having veins sporting highly argentiferous galena. At last, a purpose has been found for this accumulation of lead sulphide, if only as a store of potential energy for grass cutting!

Galena, PbS, the main ore of lead
DENSITY 7.6 gm/cm3 
Photo courtesy © Rob Lavinski

More of a hobby than a quest for the advancement of science, or acquisition of wealth, my galena hoarding from the dale's mines was started by my father with his portable assay equipment. I have grand memories of visiting remote mines with him by horseback, and of assaying the ore by measuring the diameter of the silver bead left in the cupel. If the silver content was over ten ounces to the ton, father and I would search the mine's bousesteads for the most desirable large galena crystals and cleavage fragments of pure ore. My father would invariably be given as much as our horses could carry. Such is the kindness and generous nature of the dales lead miner, when dealing with someone who, on a whim, can have them hung by the neck or deported to a living hell. And who, behind closed doors, they referred to as "Mad Judge Glitch." As you know well Faraday, my father was not insane, merely an enthusiast in many things now considered anachronistic. Such as torture.

When the energy-depleted mower docks with the charging shed, a valve opens and the accumulator powers a three cylinder Armstrong hydraulic engine. Its output shaft is connected to the shed's epicyclic gearbox and, via its output charging shaft, accelerates the mower's rotor to speed. All powered through the fall of the large mass of galena! The flybob centrifugal governor, axial to the mower's internal rotor, detects when it has attained its maximum speed. A lever de-clutches the mower from the charging shed's gearbox and engages the drive-wheels in reverse. Simultaneously the valve from the accumulator to the hydraulic engine is closed, and so the fells reservoir begins to slowly raise the massive weight of the galena again.

The Armstrong Three Cylinder Water Engine

The centrifugal governor also detects when the energy storage rotor has slowed to certain extent. As the mower would shortly unable to continue its poaceae-cropping task, the recharging mechanisms are engaged. When the mower reaches the edge of the lawn, instead of reversing and turning to a random direction for its next traverse, it maneuvers so that it follows the edge using its feelers, thereby eventually reaching the charging station.

Although the mower has its shortcomings Faraday, I am confident that you would concur that it demonstrates the conservation of energy and man's ability to utilise it, to a profound degree! The potential energy of the water in the fells reservoir is made available for intermittent use through storage of potential energy within galena, and used from there to store kinetic rotational energy in the rotor of the mower. At every stage of conversion, much energy is lost, but the remainder stored to a much higher density or is more able to do work.

However Faraday, the most satisfying aspect of the auto-mower is the way the Weardale rain slakes the thirst of my lawn, enabling it to grow, but also provides the power for its continuous cropping! Through the ingenuity of a mans design, a previously laborious process is operating without the need of fuel or significant human help. The progress of science Sir, the progress of science!

Wishing you good health,
My dear friend,
Respectfully yours,

Ernest Glitch.

Copyright © 2017 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 

Some chemistry, courtesy of
Kristof Hegedüs, 

Preparation of pyrrolidine carbonyl chloride from pyrrolidine & triphosgene

crystallisation of a triaryl phosphine oxide

decomposition of diazomethane, discovered by Hans von Pechmann in 1894

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