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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Albany, New York - Birthplace of the Electromagnet

You never know what historic site you might pass on a long road-trip.  Sure, Albany has a huge statue of Nipper, the RCA Victor dog, and the Big Gun Museum.  But we weren't going to have time to see these.  But as we left the state capitol, I saw an historic marker and caught a glimpse of "birthplace" and "electricity."  That was worth at least a trip around the block.

And there was a marker for Joseph Henry.  People that work with electronics all know the "henry" as a unit of measure.  For instance, consider this vacuum tube electronics fan's excitement after installing a 3 henry choke!

But after reading the Wikipedia entry for Henry, I now know his major contribution to electricity wasn't just measurement.
He was the first to coil insulated wire tightly around an iron core in order to make a more powerful electromagnet, improving on William Sturgeon's electromagnet which used loosely coiled uninsulated wire.
OK, probably not as exciting as visiting that Big Gun museum.

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