From the journal of Hepzibah Jamieson, electrician and scientist. Compiled and edited by Mr Latimer Naseby
Tuesday 29th April 1851.
I spoke to a journalist today, it was the first time I’ve ever been interviewed for a public newspaper. I will confess, I began the meeting in somewhat of an ill-natured mood. I had taken against the woman as soon I had received her letter. It was only with IKB’s encouragement that I decided to meet her at all. I had formed the notion that she would want some item about fashion, or some other ‘ladies’ matter. I dreaded being asked the question ‘What is a fit and becoming hat for one to wear to view the Exhibition?’. My fears were soon allayed.
I make a note to myself, examine predjudices at all times, make no hasty decisions. Mrs Singh turned out to be an intelligent woman and I enjoyed our conversation. I am flattered to be included in her ‘Women of The Exhibition’ series. The talk was of neither gowns nor hats, nor even the gentler sciences such as medicine or horticulture. I was able to speak freely as an engineer and an electrician. But engineers are not all automata or speaking clocks. For her readers do enjoy what she called ‘the human interest angle’. Her question ‘What do you look forward to seeing most when the Exhibition opens?’ allowed me to show my own sense of excitement.
Of course, I’m looking forward to it all, who isn’t? I walked the halls as the exhibits were being mounted and saw the most fascinating things. I have no idea in some cases what they are. To be honest, I’m looking forward to seeing everything ‘new’, the future as it is being built. This did seem a bit of a wooly story for an engineer to be telling, so I mentioned a few specifics. I’d read of Dr Merryweather and his Tempest Prognosticator, I do not think it such an absurd idea. He purports to be able to foresee the advent of storms by observing the behaviour of leeches. My Dear Father used to tell me that his bees appeared to realise when it was about to rain. As to my own experiments, well it is time to leave off writing today. I am reminded that I should see to my hives at once!
Wednesday 30th April 1851.
A busy day, very tired in the evening. If we have sunny days, the panel will generate enough current to easily power the telegraph. IKB stopped by and was, as usual, very encouraging. What a fountain of ideas is that man! He suggested we could put a panel atop of every pole that carried the telegraph cable along the railway line. On a bright day we would have no need to connect the Leyden jars. He thought we should be looking closely at the storage of energy, because on a good day, we’d have power to spare. I resolved to put further effort into refining my capacitance device.
The great hall was the scene of much frantic energy, the air full of hammering, shouting and metallic screeches from new built machinery. The place smelled strongly of wet paint and hot mineral oil. I know that some people will be at work all night. I tried to find some peace and quiet in the plant displays, but the place was full of men hoisting palm trees into place. I wonder if anything will be ready at all! I came back to my lodgings with a headache, the smell of turpentine still in my nostrils.
Detail, Rogerson’s Patent Atmospheric Solenoid Switch.
This is another excerpt of an ongoing fiction work ‘Mr Faraday’s Cage & Other Tales of Obscure Science’. I will be publishing new parts twice weekly.