Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/860

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

drive a dynamo-electric machine producing the electric light, more than twice as much light will be developed as would be obtained if the oil that runs the engine were burned in the ordinary coal-oil lamps. How much greater would be the economy if the energy of the oil could be converted directly into the energy of the electric current!

For warming buildings, the furnace would become an electric generator, from which wires, instead of pipes for steam or hot air, would lead to the rooms to be heated, when, by interposing a suitable resistance, the energy of the current would be converted into heat. The probability of being able to convert the energy due to combustion of fuel into electric instead of heat energy may be very small; but it is at least a possibility; that is, there is no known reason in the nature of things why it can not be done, while it is demonstrated that the whole of the energy of heat can not be converted into mechanical effect, except by means of a refrigerator at a temperature of nearly 500° below that at which water freezes—a temperature which has never yet been reached, and which it is impossible to obtain with our present surroundings, except by an expenditure of energy equal to that which would be gained.


"AND pray who is George Boole, that he should be pictured and sketched in 'The Popular Science Monthly'? We thought this department was to be devoted to scientific celebrities, chiefly contemporaneous; but who is this Boole?"

Such will probably be the exclamation of nine of our readers out of ten; but the tenth, or more safely the hundredth, reader will know that George Boole was a man of a very high order of genius, a profound and most original thinker of this century, who will be known in future by his contributions to mathematical and logical science. Yet he can never be widely known, for his work was so recondite that those who can properly appreciate it will always be but very few. We gather the following particulars of his life from the last edition of the "Encyclopædia Britannica":

George Boole was born in Lincoln, on the 2d of November, 1815. His father was a tradesman of limited means, but of studious character and active mind. Being especially interested in mathematical science, the father gave his son early instruction in the rudiments of the science he was so greatly to advance; but it is remarkable that the extraordinary mathematical powers of George Boole did not manifest themselves in early life, as was the case with Zerah Colburn, Babbage, Pascal, Leibnitz, and Saunderson. The classical languages formed at first the favorite subject of his studies. It was not until he had at-