Wimshurst Electrostatic Machine

ca. 1889 Made by Ducretet, France Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec collection, 1993.12782.1-2 This machine was used to generate electricity for numerous experiments, the most spectacular of which was one that produced a luminous electrical discharge.

Ducretet, France
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen
c. 1889
1993.12782.1-2
© 2008, Musée de la civilisation. All Rights Reserved.


The scientific demonstrations developed in the scholarly realm were opened to the general public near the end of the 19th century.

This was the beginning of the popularization of science in Québec.

At the end of the 19th century, the instruments in physics cabinets were used for classroom purposes and also for numerous lectures open to the public. These presentations demonstrated the latest scientific discoveries and their applications. Electric lighting, the phonograph and wireless telegraphy are some examples. And so a few weeks after the discovery of x-rays, Laflamme gave a spectacular demonstration of their effects.

One of these meetings is summarized as follows in the Séminaire journal, L’Abeille:

"Rarely have we seen the science lecture hall so full as it was last Thursday, for the public course given by Abbé Laflamme… The lecture was to be about electric light and the announcement of such a fascinating subject drew to the hall an audience as large as it was distinguished.

After a few explanatory remarks about static electricity, and a few experiments the professor came to the Read More
The scientific demonstrations developed in the scholarly realm were opened to the general public near the end of the 19th century.

This was the beginning of the popularization of science in Québec.

At the end of the 19th century, the instruments in physics cabinets were used for classroom purposes and also for numerous lectures open to the public. These presentations demonstrated the latest scientific discoveries and their applications. Electric lighting, the phonograph and wireless telegraphy are some examples. And so a few weeks after the discovery of x-rays, Laflamme gave a spectacular demonstration of their effects.

One of these meetings is summarized as follows in the Séminaire journal, L’Abeille:

"Rarely have we seen the science lecture hall so full as it was last Thursday, for the public course given by Abbé Laflamme… The lecture was to be about electric light and the announcement of such a fascinating subject drew to the hall an audience as large as it was distinguished.

After a few explanatory remarks about static electricity, and a few experiments the professor came to the heart of his subject: electric light. When the powerful current of fifty Bunsen elements caused an arc to flash between the two carbon filaments, the pure light that spread over the audience made the spectators and the gas jets pale by comparison! [a reference to gas lighting that was common at the time]" [translation]

The demonstrations featuring the Wimhurst electrostatic machine were a resounding success at the public demonstrations.

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Here are three demonstrations based on instruments in the collection. Now it is your turn to learn!

Pressure

The pressure exerted on an object is due to the weight of the solid, liquid or gaseous matter located directly above it. Thus, if it is placed at the bottom of a tank filled with water, it bears the weight of the air and water above it. The closer to the bottom the object is, the greater the pressure exerted on it since the weight of the water is greater. Also, the greater the pressure on the liquid, the more quickly it seeks to evade that pressure. The tank opposite shows how pressure effects the speed at which the water leaves the tank. Since the pressure is greater at the bottom of the tank, the water escaping from the lowest spout flows more quickly and further than the water escaping from the other openings.

Unknown
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen


Torricellian device

19th century Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec collection, 1993.13721.1-5

CHIN
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen
Century
1993.13721.1-5
© 2008, Musée de la civilisation. All Rights Reserved.


Here are three demonstrations based on instruments in the collection. Now it is your turn to learn!

Centripetal Force Demonstration

Do you remember how it feels when you are firmly seated in a roller coaster car and the car starts to move? What keeps you from falling out in the loop? Let’s start from the beginning… When the car is released from the top left, it gains constant horizontal speed due to the initial impulse. Gravity gives it a vertical acceleration as it descends down the slope. As a result, the car has a greater speed at the bottom of the slope than it had at the start. It is during this fall that you as a passenger experience a feeling of being lighter than you are. Then, when the car changes direction as it enters the loop, you feel squashed into the seat. This is due to inertia and the centripetal force (a force felt by any body moving in curve or circle, and directed towards the centre of the curve). Inertia (a law of nature) refers to the inclination of any moving body to travel in a straight line. In this case, the force of the rail keeps you and the car from continuing in a straight line and impels you into the curve. It is the rail that is responsible for the centripetal force on the car, acting in a direction towards the centre of the loop. The combination of inertia, gravity, centripetal force, and friction determine if you will (or will not!) successfully complete your roller coaster ride. To prevent the car from falling out in the loop, its speed before entering the loop has to be sufficiently fast to prevent gravity from significantly affecting the trajectory of the car and thus pull it from the rail… hence the importance of achieving enough speed before entering the loop. This high speed can be achieved in two ways. Either by giving the car a strong push at the start, which requires a lot of energy, or by using the force of gravity on a slope before the loop. The second option is generally preferred.

CHIN
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen


Centrifugal Railway

ca. 1857 Made by Breton Frères, France Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec collection, 1993.12460.1-2

Breton Frères, France
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen
c. 1857
1993.12460.1-2
© 2008, Musée de la civilisation. All Rights Reserved.


Here are three demonstrations based on instruments in the collection. Now it is your turn to learn!

Lightning Rod Demonstration

During storms, electrical charges in the clouds separate, positive charges moving upward and negative charges moving downward. The mass of negative charge induces a positive charge on the ground below it. Because opposing charges attract, sometimes an electrical current is induced between the negative charge in the cloud and the positive charge in the ground. The electrical energy is so intense and travels so quickly that it causes a flash of lighting. Before Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod in 1752, there was a serious danger that lightning would strike a house and cause a fire. This invention completely changed our relationship with lightning. The lightning rod intercepts the electrical charges in lightning and directs them to the ground. It channels the energy of the lightning so that it dissipates into the ground.

Unknown
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen


Small House and Lightning Rod

ca. 1858 Made by Ruhmkorff, France Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec collection, 1993.12579.1-3

Ruhmkorff, France
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen
c. 1858
1993.12579.1-3
© 2008, Musée de la civilisation. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Identify and appreciate the way history and culture shape a society’s science and technology
  • Describe scientific and technological developments, past and present, and appreciate their impact on individuals and societies
  • Identify and understand water pressure
  • Understand centripetal force and its application in a roller coaster
  • Understand how a lightning rod works

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