Thursday, June 28, 2012

Amos Dolbear and the Crickets

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Amos Dolbear and the Crickets
Have you thought of it “Ma Bell”, as the telephone company was once called by some, should have been called “Mr. Bell” – because Alexander Graham Bell was not Alexandra.  But a good ad campaign sets off all kinds of thinking about a woman.

I bet there is something that you have never thought of in a completely different way… the Mighty Bell Telephone Company that is now the giant Bell communications company… could have been known as the “Dolbear Communications”.

It all could have been different if Mr. Dolbear could have filed his Patent for the telephone receiver 11 years before.  That’s right 11 years before Alexander Bell filed his patent for the receiver he designed, Amos Dolbear had invented a successful receiver that worked well. That was in 1865.

Later in a US Supreme Court Mr. Dolbear didn’t have the paper work that Bell did to prove who did what when… and Bell won.

Do you think Mr. Bell was an opportunist? Hmmm?  I kind have a different view of the character portrayed in the modern myths of Bell.

In Wikipedia this information was offered by contributors… quote…
“Dolbear was a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, in Delaware, Ohio. While a student at Ohio Wesleyan, he had made a "talking telegraph" and invented a receiver containing two features of the modern telephone: a permanent magnet and a metallic diaphragm that he made of a tintype. He invented the first telephone receiver with a permanent magnet in 1865, 11 years before Alexander Graham Bell patented his model. Later, Dolbear couldn't prove his claim, so Bell kept the patent. Dolbear lost his case before the U. S. Supreme Court, (Dolbear et al. v. American Bell Telephone Company). The June 18, 1881 edition of Scientific American reported:
"had [Dolbear] been observant of patent office formalities, it is possible that the speaking telephone, now so widely credited to Mr. Bell would be garnered among his own laurels."
In 1876, Dolbear patented a magneto electric telephone. He patented a static telephone in 1879.
In 1882, Dolbear was able to communicate over a distance of a quarter of a mile without wires in the Earth. It is interesting to note that the Tufts professor was ahead of Hertz and Marconi. He received a U.S. patent for a wireless telegraph in March of that year. His device relied on conduction in the ground, a type of radio transmission. His set-up used phones grounded by metal rods poked into the earth. His transmission range was at least as much as a half a mile and he received a patent for this device, U.S. Patent 350,299, in 1886. But more importantly the Dolbear patent prevented the Marconi Company from operating in the United States. In the end Marconi had to purchase Dolbear's patent, primarily because it was:
1.   Similar to the 1896 model of Guglielmo Marconi.
2.   Tractable in specific applications (such as transmission in the earth).
In 1868 Dolbear (while a professor at Bethany College) invented the electrostatic telephone. He also invented the opeidoscope (an instrument for visualizing vibration of sound waves, using a mirror mounted on a membrane) and a system of incandescent lighting. He authored several books, articles, and pamphlets, and was recognized for his contributions to science at both the Paris Exposition in 1881 and the Crystal Palace Exposition in 1882.” End quote.

This Amos Dolbear was one smart cookie to put in a more common way.  But he wasn’t well known for all of that.

But the telephone and the transmissions and all things electronic isn’t what I knew Amos Dolbear for.  I know him because of the “Cricket”.

Mr. Dolbear listened closely to the sound of the Crickets that likely were working hard to be known each evening as he was thinking about his inventions and making his notes. He likely went to bed with that incessant chirping of the Crickets near his home.

Another quote from Wikipedia…
In 1897, Dolbear published an article "The Cricket as a Thermometer" that noted the correlation between the ambient temperature and the rate at which crickets chirp. The formula expressed in that article became known as Dolbear's Law. End quote.

If you read the article about Dolbear’s Law it feels like a Calculus Class for long ago.

It is actually quite simple.  You count the number of chirps a Cricket makes in 15 seconds then add 40 to that number. That will tell you the temperature where that Cricket is situated in degrees Fahrenheit.

For the temperature in degrees Celsius – you count the chirps in 8 seconds and add 5.

Can you imagine!?

Why not just turn on the Weather Channel and get the weather updates and the exact temperature right now?

It was 1987 and “The Cricket as a Thermometer” simply made sense.

As I read more the information about Amos Dolbear I thought, “How funny… why such an obsession with the weather?”

Well we are not much different – are we?

In this second heat wave of this summer – in this part of Canada… we are constantly looking at the fancy thermometer in our kitchen… to see if it is up a little more or going down.

We watch the weather channel wanting to know what is happening in other parts of Canada.  Why? What does it matter anyway?  Who cares?

Well they cared in 1897 and Mr. Amos Dolbear thought it important enough to develop a heavy formula….see
I was out the other day doing some errands. When I came home my 91 year old mother was watching her TV.  There on the TV was the weather channel with its endless, babbling announcers telling her the same thing over and over again.

When I left an hour earlier she was watching the same channel. I offered to change it but she insisted she liked to watch the weather reports.

Oh boy – two hours later she was still watching the same thing.

Today will be hot and getting hotter each hour. Then after that it will be getting even hotter. In two months it will be getting cooler each week until the snow falls.

In just under 6 months Christmas will be over and we will be looking at January’s and February’s super cold months.

Now… there is my forecast. Don’t you feel better?

Thanks Mr. Amos Dolbear.  But I have a problem now – we have no Crickets around our place.. Sheesh!

~ Murray Lincoln ~


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