A Photographers & Visitors Guide & Timeless Stories

Posts tagged “babbage

Science Museum London

22 pics. The Natural History Museum⇐, Science Museum and fabulous Victoria & Albert Museum⇐ are all close together and very near South Kensington underground rail station. All are free to enter, although a small donation is usual, and have picnic areas (a wise choice).

It is advisable to download/save/print the museum map⇒. Their website is here⇒ and of special interest are the beautiful antique timepieces⇐ and the model steam engines⇐.

Newcomen type Atmospheric Engine

During the early 1700’s there was a developing energy crisis.  Coal was needed to fuel industry, especially the smelting casting and forging of iron.  Surface coal was becoming rare and deep mines were subject to flooding.  Pumping out by hand or animal power was inadequate so Newcomen invented the Atmospheric Engine around 1712 and they continued as the only kind of steam engine until 1802. 

The Atmospheric Engine filled a cylinder with steam at normal pressure which then condensed and reduced to less than atmospheric pressure.  The external atmospheric pressure then pushed the piston into the cylinder, drawing the beam down and lifting the water pump at the other end.  The age of the industrial revolution advanced along with our dependence on fossil fuels.

The one above was built in 1791 and continued in use for 127 years.

Bell Crank Engine by Boulton and Watt

Bell Crank Engine by Boulton and Watt

Later, a more powerful type of pressurized steam engine, which pushes a piston along a cylinder, was developed by James Watt in 1802.  This one powered a workshop and later an electrical generator.

Puffing Billy Locomotive at London Science Museum

Puffing Billy

The earliest practical steam locomotive was designed by Richard Trevithick in 1804 and used for the transport of coal.  The Puffing Billy, above, was built by William Hedley.

Stephenson's Rocket. at London Science Museum

Stephenson’s Rocket

George Stephenson built the Locomotion for the Stockton and Darlington Railway which was the first public steam railway in the world.  It was his son, Robert Stephenson, who built the famous and more successful Rocket in 1829.

Grand Junction Railway Locomotive Columbine at London Science Museum

Grand Junction Railway Locomotive Columbine

Then innovation took off in leaps and bounds.

Traction Engine at London Science Museum

Traction Engine


Pumping Engine at London Science Museum

Pumping Engine

Steam driven pumping became another essential for the advancement of human civilization by the provision of clean water and removal of waste.  Both were essential for the limitation of disease.  You might like a look at the beautifully ornate Crossness Pumping Station ⇐ and the awesome machines at the London (Kew) Water and Steam Museum ⇐.


Bessemer Converter at London Science Museum

Bessemer Converter

These developments were aided by the invention of the Bessemer Converter in 1856.   Molten iron, refined from iron ore in a Blast Furnace, is poured into the vessel and then air followed by oxygen is forced through the molten metal.  This was the first method of removing impurities on a large economic scale to produce steel.

The great gout of fire that spouts from the converter is awesome and can be seen on video by clicking on Bessemer Steel Making at Workington Cumbria⇒.


Babbage's Difference No 2 at London Science Museeum

Babbage’s Difference Engine No 2

Meanwhile there had been a need to produce accurate mathematical tables for engineers, astronomers, navigators etc.   After around 25 years of trying, Charles Babbage created the Difference Engine No 2.  Whilst it can only add and subtract, it can be programmed do so a number of times, hence it can multiply and divide.  Modern computers use the same method.

Ribbon Loom by James Heywod using the Jacquard Principle at London Science Museum

Ribbon Loom by James Heywood using the Jacquard Principle

This clever little device can automatically weave a complex design using a series of punched cards for instruction. That is, a programmable process.  Punched cards were used by early computers.

And then :-.

Early Flight at London Science Museum

Well alright its early days yet.

Amy Johnson's Jason Aeroplane London Science Museum

Amy Johnson’s Airplane Jason

Amy Johnson was the first person to fly solo from Britain to Australia, although in several legs.  If you click on twice to expand, you might notice an AA (Automobile Association) sticker just beneath “Jason”.  Now that’s what I call optimism.

And then:-

Spitfire at London Science Museum

The Spitfire


Lockheed Electra at London Science Museum

Lockheed Electra


Arobatic Aircraft at London Science Museum

Normal service will be resumed when Grommet gets back from the chip shop.  🙂

Harrier Jump Jet at London Science Museum

Harrier Jump Jet

And then :-

Space Rockets at London Science Museum

Space Rockets


Space Satellite at London Science Museum

Space Satellite


Space Capsule at London Science Museum

Space Capsule


Moon Lander at London Science Museum

Moon Lander

And then:-

Globe at London Science Museum 2

This suspended globe in the Science Museum turns and changes to show the weather patterns and day and night. At times it shows the vast number of lights we are burning.

The Clock of the Long Now at London Science Museum

The Clock of the Long Now

Please click on twice to expand the small print.Text for the Clock of the Long Now


Fossil fuels have been the foundation of our modern world and all of its benefits.   Knowing no better, we have used a crude and poisonous medicine, we now have to evolve to stop the increasingly damaging side-effects.  Considering all that mankind has done, surely we can manage this too.