The House that Babe Ruth….and Edison Built

Everyone knows the saying that Yankee Stadium is the house that Ruth built, a tribute to the iconic baseball player whose charisma and slugging power were legendary. His rise to prominence coincided with the rise in status of the great ballpark. Most folks however, don’t know that Thomas Edison’s Portland Cement was used to actually build the world’s most famous ballpark…about 68,000 bags in fact…..but, it wasn’t all he did with concrete.

 

Yankee Stadium-early 1923

Yankee Stadium-early 1923

 

Iconic photo of the playing field

Iconic photo of the playing field

Edison can be considered the father of pre-fabricated housing. He built a variety of concrete houses using complex molds and arrangements that allowed his workers to continuously pour a complete home in about six hours. A number of these homes exist today. His technology was licensed to builders, with several New Jersey housing clusters built. Edison also thought about a wide variety of other uses for concrete, including furniture and phonograph cabinets.

 

Model of Edison concrete house

Model of Edison concrete house

 

Steel molds used to construct concrete homes-completed house at right

Steel molds used to construct concrete homes-completed house at right

The garage and potting shed at Edison’s historic home, Glenmont in LlewellynPark in West Orange NJ are classic examples of his concrete building technology. Both structures were built about 1908-1909, and are in fine structural condition today, toured by many visitors to the site each year. The garage houses a variety of historic automobiles owned by the Edison family.

 

Edison garage at the site of his historic home

Edison garage at the site of his historic home

 

Potting shed and attached greenhouse

Potting shed and attached greenhouse

Edison’s work in concrete changed the cement industry as well. He redesigned the kilns used to make the concrete and increased their size radically, in most cases doubling their length. A great deal of the technology he used for concrete-making derived from his failed efforts to crush large scale rock formations to extract iron ore.

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine

Editor’s note:Very soon, there will begin a serious fund raising campaign to rehabilitate the garage and restore the Edison era automobiles there; including three electric vehicles, and the personal chauffer-driven car of Edison’s son, Charles, who used the car when he was governor of New Jersey [1940-44].

“Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

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Edison’s Favorite Invention

Every time you pop on your tunes and listen to your favorite artists, you are channeling Tom Edison. The phonograph, precursor to your iPod was his favorite invention. It just seemed to work so well the first time he tried it, and of course there is a quote about the phonograph:

“…I’ve made some machines; but this is my baby, and I expect it to grow up to be a big feller and support me in my old age.”

Now we store, read, and playback our songs digitally on our computers, iPods, and other electronic devices. It all has come a long way since Edison first showed us how back in 1877.

[A young Edison demonstrates his phonograph]

[A young Edison demonstrates his phonograph]

Think of the relevance of Edison today in the millions of people employed in this global business. In the U.S. alone, 2011 revenue from music sales is expected to exceed $17 billion; including revenues form physical performances, on-line and mobile downloads, and digital sales. Worldwide, that number is about $68 billion. Radio revenue [music sales, as inferred through advertising] is likely to add another $18 billion to the U.S. total.

Like his motion picture industry, Edison not only pioneered the medium, he created both the movie studio and the recording studio at his legendary West Orange Labs. He invented the phonograph equipment, found the artists, recorded their music and marketed their work…a vertically integrated model still in use today.

[An early Edison phonograph and typical recorded cylinders]

[An early Edison phonograph and typical recorded cylinders]

Today on the third floor of the newly renovated Edison Labs in West Orange, visitors can see the old recording studio, gaze at photos of the great artists who sang there and see the primitive, but effective hardware that started the world on its constantly evolving musical journey. Every generation has a unique sound to their music and probably always will.

[Edison listens to recording artist Helen Davis accompanied by pianist Victor Young in the laboratory music room in 1912.]

[Edison listens to recording artist Helen Davis accompanied by pianist Victor Young in the laboratory music room in 1912.]

In a way, we can see Old Tom as a communication genius, giving us a variety of ways to express ourselves…first with great improvements to the telegraph, then an improved telephone, recorded sound and the movie industry. These innovations all involved something else…electricity….and of course, Edison invented the modern electric utility industry. Not bad for a guy from Milan, Ohio who never finished grammar school.

Oh yes, almost forgot…Tom’s favorite song was “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen”.

Editor’s Deep Dive:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgE7i8k8YRw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpv3LSJB-Qc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OopnK0DDpow&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXvWj1HGzm4&feature=related

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine“I believe that the science of chemistry alone almost proves the existence of an intelligent creator.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

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Wind Power, Global Wind Day

Global Wind Day is a worldwide event that occurs annually on June 15th. It is a day for promoting wind, its power and the possibilities it holds to change our world. In honor of this annual celebration and the Edison Innovation Foundation’s strong commitment to alternative energy technologies, we offer this article on how a large amount of offshore wind generation may be collected to serve the Mid-Atlantic States, ushering in a new way to link large scale wind machines.

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Happy Global Wind Day!

Clusters of wind machines are called wind farms and they can be located on land and offshore. They harvest the wind’s energy, much like traditional farms harvest sunshine to grow crops. Offshore wind energy installations are becoming increasing popular both in Europe and the U.S., with Europe having initially led the way. Experts believe the potential for offshore wind energy generation in the Mid-Atlantic States could be more than 60,000 megawatts, and provide for thousands of jobs. Of course, getting that power efficiently and economically linked to shore-based electric power facilities is a chief concern. Now, there is a very unique way to link offshore wind machine farms to onshore load centers.

In the near future, a new DC power transmission line will be snaking its way underwater from Virginia along the coasts of  Maryland and Delaware and on into New Jersey. This 350-mile long high voltage transmission line, an electrical backbone, will be capable of delivering 6,000 megawatts of clean power to key Mid-Atlantic States-the first step in what could be a much larger project. The clean power delivered will be generated from large clusters of offshore wind turbines, far enough offshore and invisible to the eye. Putting this into perspective, 6,000 megawatts is enough to power 1.9 million homes.

This backbone project will help the four states involved achieve their goals of integrating renewable energy into their state energy master plans. This backbone makes it possible to tie the wind energy clusters together as an entire unit rather than trying to tie each cluster to a specific site at the nearest electrical connection on shore. Doing it this way also provides a convenient electrical path to help relieve utility transmission line network congestion [analogous to highway congestion at rush hours] now existing in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Happy Global Wind Day!

Key investors in this exciting project are Google, Atlantic Wind Connection, Marubeni Power International and Good Energies. The wind farms, which are separate from the backbone project, would be located 10 to 15 miles offshore, experiencing fairly constant and strong wind conditions. Construction costs of the electrical backbone itself are estimated to be $5 billion. The costs of the wind machine clusters or farms that tie into this electrical super highway would be borne by the companies that choose to build them. Should the project be scaled-up to generate 54,000 megawatts by 2030, more than 43,000 permanent operations and maintenance jobs would be created; not to mention the many, many construction and support jobs along the way as wind machines are installed. Currently, ten companies are already competing to install wind turbines to be placed along this underwater electrical backbone route.

Atlantic Wind Connection is filing and managing the necessary paperwork and applications with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, outlining the benefits of the massive project. An optimal path for the high voltage DC power line will be mapped. Approvals for construction will need “the nod” from a variety of federal, state, regional and local regulators. The regional national grid operator, PJM will also review the project plans.

Editor’s Deep Dive

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine

Thomas Edison was a big fan of solar energy …

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.


 

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