Second Industrial Revolution Thesis

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Charles Bright, the engineer-in-charge of the whole enterprise was enthusiastic and highly optimistic.

The mechanical problems were daunting but familiar.

On the cultural and religious front an obscure Russian monk in the sixteenth century numbered their centres as “the first Rome was Rome, the Second Rome was Constantinople, the third Rome is Moscow, and there will not be a fourth Rome.” I would not like to guess whether there will be a Fourth Rome (Beijing? ) but otherwise I regard number five as quite popular.

I have come across the Fifth Column, the Fifth Republic, the Fifth Avenue and the Fifth Amendment.

A telegraph cable under the Channel connecting France to Britain was successful at the second attempt in 1850, a mere 11 years later.

The next step was to establish telegraph communications with the United Sates.

Needless to say there is no longer any consensus when these revolutions started, when they ended and why the changes were so revolutionary that a new number had to be attached.

I want to talk in any detail only about the Second Industrial Revolution, but perhaps I should mention the First one first, not its effect on society, a controversial subject, but just the technological innovations about which a consensus does exist.

Problems abounded: mechanical, electrical, financial. The traditional view was to build the cable, wind it on lots of big coils, put the transmitting apparatus at one end, the receiving apparatus at the other end and send signals along the whole length of the cable.

If the rate of transmission of the signals is fast enough, the cable is OK, if the rate of transmission is not high enough then the cable must be modified.


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