Thursday 5 July 2012

Edison Electrocutes Elephant

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There's no doubt about it - this man Edison was a nasty piece of work.
WARNING! The video below is highly disturbing.

One of the most appalling, barbarous and totally unnecessary demonstrations of "science" was undertaken by Thomas Edison in 1903. He electrocuted a 28 year old female elephant, called Topsy, to death. Filming the poor creature's horrific end, as she fell smoking to the ground, was an attempt by Edison to discredit Nikola Tesla.

"Innocent" pachyderm Topsy dies for Edison's anti-Tesla campaign
"Electrocuting an Elephant" Kinescope by T.A.Edison 1903

Edison hoped that the film portrayed the danger of Tesla's alternating current system. A series of death demonstrations to the public, initially using dogs, cats, calfs, horses, gorillas and orangutan, led to the brutal killing of Topsy. This electrocution spree had absolutely no scientific purpose, although data gathered was used to design the first electric chair. Edison was extremely vocal in campaigning for the use of alternating current to kill people. His enthusiasm for the human lethality of AC electricity was in order to undermine Tesla and his backer George Westinghouse.

He wanted to create as much public alarm as possible regarding the dangers of Tesla's AC electricity supply system. Basic physics ensured that the sick depravations of Edison were to no avail. Nikola Tesla's AC was far superior to Edison's direct current system of electrical power distribution. The ability to easily step-up voltages enabled low loss over long distance power lines. Polyphase enabled the use of efficient motors at the user end. Tesla eventually harnessed the power of Niagara Falls and kick-started the second industrial revolution.

Edison is best remembered for his refinements to the the light bulb, a patented (1878) invention of Joseph Swan, North-East of England. He is also remembered for giving heroin, strychnine and opium to a tramp who later died. Eco-Friendly Edison also once disposed of a Sarsaparilla bottle full of Nitroglycerine in a sewer. What a guy.

Was Topsy a bad girl?

It is doubtful that Topsy deserved such an appalling death, but she was due for some degree of control as she was a serial killer. Perhaps the poor animal could have been placed in a spacious enclosure, away from humans, to see out her days. But no... her owners Thompson & Dundy, at Coney Island's Luna Park, decided to publically execute her by hanging - a guaranteed crowd puller, with a custom made gallows. Animal rights folk were understandably outraged, so Edison volunteered to electrocute her. There follows an article on the event from The Commercial Advertiser, New York, 5th Jan 1903:

Topsy Meets Quick and Painless Death at Coney Island.

"Topsy, the ill-tempered Coney Island elephant, was put to death in Luna Park, Coney Island, yesterday afternoon. The execution was witnessed by 1,500 or more curious persons, who went down to the island to see the end of the huge beast, to whom they had fed peanuts and cakes in summers that are gone. In order to make Topsy's execution quick and sure 460 grams of cyanide of potassium were fed to her in carrots. Then a hawser was put around her neck and one end attached to a donkey engine and the other to a post. Next wooden sandals lined with copper were attached to her feet. These electrodes were connected by copper wire with the Edison electric light plant and a current of 6,600 volts was sent through her body. The big beast died without a trumpet or a groan.

Topsy was brought to this country twenty-eight years ago by the Forepaugh Circus, and has been exhibited throughout the United States. She was ten feet high and 19 feet 11 inches in length. Topsy developed a bad temper two years ago and killed two keepers in Texas. Last spring, when the Forepaugh show was in Brooklyn, J. F. Blount, a keeper, tried to feed a lighted cigarette to her. She picked him up with her trunk and dashed him to the ground, killing him instantly."

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

zero net angular momentum
of a falling cat
by Eyytee

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WARNING - Many subjects outlined within this site are extremely dangerous and are provided here for information only. Please don`t experiment with high voltages or chemicals unless you are fully conversant with safe laboratory practices. No liability will be accepted for death, injury or damage arising from experimentation using any information or materials supplied.