“Bad Ass” Aggie Ring Goes to the Art Deco Edison Memorial Tower and “Big Ass Lightbulb!”

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“Bad Ass” Aggie Ring Goes to the Art Deco Edison Memorial Tower and “Big Ass Lightbulb!”
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I normally try to keep power lines, street LIGHTS, telephone cables and solar cells out of my photos but… I think Mr. Edison would have been fascinated by this technology!

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I could tell that Aggie Ring was impressed. After several moments of silence he spoke out and said, “If my Eyes of Texas aren’t deceiving me, that’s the biggest damn lightbulb I’ve ever seen! I guess it’s true… Everything IS bigger in Jersey!”

The Aggie Ring woke me up early this morning. In fact it was even before 11:30 a.m. so I knew he wanted to do something. I asked the Aggie Ring, “What do you want to do Aggie Ring?” The Aggie Ring replied, “I want to go see the lightbulb!” I wasn’t sure what he was talking about so I said, “What lightbulb?” The Aggie Ring said with emphasis, “Let there be LIGHT!” Then it hit me. Aggie Ring wanted to drive him up the Parkway to the site of Thomas A. Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory so he could see the Art Deco Edison Memorial Tower and “Big Ass Lightbulb!”

Other than the time he told me that he thought Elvis took our change in a tollbooth on the New Jersey State Turnpike, Aggie Ring has great ideas. It’s only about a 20 to 25 minute drive up the Parkway from our house so Aggie Ring and I set off to see the Edison Memorial Tower. The last time we’d been there it had been in horrible shape and they were beginning work on restoring it. That was a bit over a year ago so I assumed that Aggie Ring figured out that they would be finished with the conservation work on the historical site.

When we drove down the little side street where the tower is located the Aggie Ring was overwhelmed with awe at the restored site. Aggie Ring was truly “speechless!” It’s just as beautiful as the day it was built. They did an incredible job on the restoration. After a few moments sitting in the car just looking out the window Aggie Ring broke his silence and asked me, “Did you bring a cigar? Edison loved his cigars and I think he’d have wanted you to smoke a cigar while you’re looking the place over.” Unfortunately I had left my cigars at home so the Edison “smoke out” will have to happen on a future date.

The laboratory building is no longer at this site but it’s still impressive to think of not only the electric lightbulb, but all of the other great inventions that Mr. Edison invented here. Aggie Ring said, “Imagine. He did all this stuff without the help of an Aggie Ring!”

The Aggie Ring and I walked around the tower and took some photos of the “Big Ass Lightbulb” and the historical plaques at its base. The Aggie Ring and I are planning on going back some evening when the lightbulb is illuminated. Aggie Ring said, “It would be cool if you could get a photo during a thunderstorm when there’s lightning behind the tower.” I told Aggie Ring, “You’re crazy! I’m not standing out in a field during a lightning storm with an Aggie Ring on my finger! Maybe if we can get a VMI grad to come with us. Their rings are so damn big a lightning bolt would hit one of them before us!”

Aggie Ring said, “It’s a good thing Edison invented the lightbulb or there’d be a lot of Waggies drinking their tequila shots by candlelight!” I told the Aggie Ring, “True… Those Waggies love their tequila the invention of the lightbulb makes it a lot easier for them to pour the tequila and do body shots!”

Aggie Ring asked me to provide some info on the Edison “Big Ass Lightbulb” Memorial Tower for your educational enlightenment (“Get it?” Aggie Ring said):

Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower and Menlo Park Museum, New Jersey

"Let there be light." Thomas Alva Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory and Memorial Tower. Those of us on the Jersey Shore call it the "Big Ass Lightbulb!”

The Edison Tower, located on the site of the original laboratory at Menlo Park, New Jersey, to which Thomas Alva Edison moved in 1876, was erected in 1937 as a monument to the great inventor. The Tower is the gift of William Slocum Barstow to the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation Incorporated in behalf of the Edison Pioneers. It was dedicated on February 11, 1838, the ninety-first anniversary of the inventor’s birth.

Rising 131 ft. 4 in. above the ground, the tower looms as the highest discernible object for many miles. Surmounting the 117 ft. 8 in. concrete-slab structure is a 13 ft. 8 in. replica of the original incandescent lamp which, when illuminated, can be seen for a distance of several miles. It once served as an airplane beacon. The Tower is designed for pressure of wind at a velocity of 120 miles per hour. In its construction, which consumed slightly less than eight months, approximately 1200 barrels of Edison Portland cement and 50 tons of reinforced steel were used.

The large bulb on top of the Tower was cast by the Corning Glass Works. The replica bulb contains 153 separate pieces of amber tinted Pyrex glass, 2 in. thick, set upon a steel frame. The bulb is 5 ft. in diameter at the neck and 9 ft. 2 in. in diameter at the greatest width and weighs, without the steel frame on which it is placed, in excess of three tons. Before the restoration, inside this Pyrex glass bulb were four 1000 watt bulbs, four 200 watt bulbs, and four 100 watt bulbs. A duplicate of each was arranged as automatically to cut in should its companion bulb fail.

The Edison Tower has been completely restored and when complete, the bulb is now illuminated with modern Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology. Mr. Edison would be pleased with this, I’m sure.

While we don’t have any records of exactly what was said when Mr. Edison perfected his invention, I suspect one of his workers shouted out something like this: “Holy Mother of Baby Jesus on a Donkey!” “Mr. Edison, You’ve done it!!! You’ve perfected the Electric Light!!! You truly are King of Kings!!!!”

The tower is located on a mysterious plot of land and exactly at midnight on the night of a full moon, it would be a perfect site for the ritual sacrifice of virgins. Too bad we don’t have any of those in New Jersey! 🙂

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Aggie Ring says, “The Road Goes On Forever, and the Party Never Ends!”

Hale Telescope inside the Palomar Observatory
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Image by slworking2
Palomar Observatory is a privately owned astronomical observatory located in San Diego County, California (USA), 145 kilometers (90 mi) southeast of Los Angeles, California, in the Palomar Mountain Range. It is owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) located in Pasadena, California. Research time is granted to Caltech and its research partners, which includes the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Cornell University.

The observatory operates several telescopes, including the famous 200-inch Hale Telescope (5.1 m) and the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope (1.2 m). In addition, other instruments and projects have been hosted at the observatory, such as the Palomar Testbed Interferometer and the historic 18-inch Schmidt telescope (0.46 m), Palomar Observatory’s first telescope, dating from 1936.

History

Hale’s vision for large telescopes and Palomar Observatory

Astronomer George Ellery Hale, whose vision created the Palomar Observatory, built the world’s largest telescope four times. He published an article in the April 1928 issue of Harper’s Magazine called "The Possibilities of Large Telescopes". This article contained Hale’s vision for building what was to become the 200-inch Palomar reflector; it was an invitation to the American public to learn about how large telescopes could help answer questions relating to the fundamental nature of the universe. Hale hoped that the American people would understand and support his project. In fact the 200-inch telescope was the most important telescope in the world from 1949 until 1992 when the Keck I telescope (at approximately 10 metres (390 in)) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii became the world’s largest.

Hale followed this article with a letter to the International Education Board (later absorbed into the General Education Board) of the Rockefeller Foundation dated April 28, 1928, in which he requested funding for this project. In his letter, Hale stated:
"No method of advancing science is so productive as the development of new and more powerful instruments and methods of research. A larger telescope would not only furnish the necessary gain in light space-penetration and photographic resolving power, but permit the application of ideas and devices derived chiefly from the recent fundamental advances in physics and chemistry."

Etymology

The word palomar is a Spanish term dating from the time of Spanish California that means pigeon house (in the same sense as henhouse). The name may be in reference to the large shoals of pigeons that can be seen during the spring and autumn months atop Palomar Mountain, or reminiscent of an old pigeon-raising facility built there by the Spaniards.

The Hale Telescope

The 200-inch telescope is named after astronomer George Hale. It was built by Caltech with a million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, using a Pyrex blank manufactured by Corning Glass Works. The telescope (the largest in the world at that time) saw first light January 26, 1949 targeting NGC 2261. The American astronomer Edwin Powell Hubble, perhaps the most important observer of the 20th century, was given the honor of being the first astronomer to use the telescope.

Astronomers using the Hale Telescope have discovered distant objects at the edges of the known universe called quasars and have given us the first direct evidence of stars in distant galaxies. They have studied the structure and chemistry of intergalactic clouds leading to an understanding of the synthesis of elements in the universe and have discovered thousands of asteroids. A one-tenth-scale engineering model of the telescope at Corning Community College in Corning, New York, home of the Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated) was used to discover at least one minor planet, (34419) Corning †.

Architecture and design

Hale Telescope Dome

According to the Observatory’s Public Affairs Office, Russell W. Porter was primarily responsible for the Art Deco architecture of the Observatory’s buildings, most notably the dome of the 200–inch Hale Telescope. Porter was also responsible for much of the technical design of the Hale Telescope and Schmidt Cameras, producing a series of cross-section engineering drawings that are considered among the finest examples of such work.] Porter worked on the designs in collaboration with many engineers and Caltech committee members. The gleaming white building on Palomar Mountain that houses the 200–inch Hale Telescope is considered by many to be "The Cathedral of Astronomy".

The Palomar Observatory is an active research facility. However, parts of it are open to the public during the day. Visitors can take self-guided tours of the 200-inch telescope daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Guided tours of the 200-inch Hale Telescope dome and observing area are available Saturdays and Sundays from April through October. Details are available at the Observatory’s web site. There is a visitor’s center and a gift shop on the grounds. Behind-the-scenes tours for the public are offered through the community support group, Friends of Palomar support group. Periodic tours are also organized by the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego. The observatory is located off State Route 76 in northern San Diego County, California, is two hours’ drive from downtown San Diego, and three hours’ drive from central Los Angeles ( UCLA, LAX airport ).

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