Men Who Made Radio - Sir Oliver Lodge
December 1929 Radio Craft[Table of Contents]People old and young enjoy waxing nostalgic about and learning some of the history of early electronics. Radio Craft was published from 1929 through 1953. All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
Radio Craft magazine ran a monthly series of short articles paying tribute to some of shakers and movers in the field of science - this time it was Sir Oliver Lodge. "While Hertz was discovering radio waves in air, Lodge was determining the laws of the corresponding activity which takes place in electrical conductors. It was Lodge who demonstrated the possibility of radio communication, experimentally, as Marconi did its commercial value - just as Henry created the telegraph and Morse made it of practical utility."
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The Third of a Series
While the inventor is nowadays the most spectacular figure in the development of a great new art, such as radio, there is always in the background, behind the inventor, the man of "pure" science. The mathematician and the researcher into the by-ways of Nature prepare the way; often many years before any practical benefit is extracted from their work by the inventor who turns it into a new, everyday necessity of life. In no branch of human endeavor has this been so apparent as in the application of electricity. The scientists made thousands, and millions, of painstaking observations; the mathematicians made millions of most complicated calculations, all in the hope that, some day, mankind could profit by their labors. "What use is electricity?" demanded a practical man of Franklin, a century and a half ago. "What use is a baby?" returned old Ben.
Among the greatest of the scientists whose life work has been to contribute to the creation of radio as a separate, and most important, branch of electricity, is the man whose thoughtful face appears upon the cover of this issue of Radio-Craft. He it was who brought the prophetic calculations of Maxwell and the laboratory work of Hertz to his own generation; and he has lived to see radio, which he adopted when it was - so to speak - an orphan child, become an honored member of every home. More than that, it is the annihilator of space and the unifier of nations.
Oliver Lodge is in his seventy-ninth year; for over half a century he has been a prominent figure in the scientific world. Among the countless lines of investigation he has followed in that time, that of the oscillations of electricity in a conductor is the most important with respect to .our subject. While Hertz was discovering radio waves in air, Lodge was determining the laws of the corresponding activity which takes place in electrical conductors. It was Lodge who demonstrated the possibility of radio communication, experimentally, as Marconi did its commercial value - just as Henry created the telegraph and Morse made it of practical utility.
The discoveries of Lodge in the matter of the properties of an electric current in a liquid, and the phenomena of "ionization," have contributed in no small degree to the building up of highly-complicated modern electric theory; with its marvelous implications as to the theory of the universe. Similarly, the researches of Lodge into the actions of light - which is, after all, merely radio of invisibly-short wavelengths - are valued steps in the history of modern science. The genius of Lodge anticipated by many years the commonplaces of popular electricity today; the moving-coil or dynamic speaker, for instance, having been described by him more than thirty years ago.
As one of the most distinguished scientists of the present day, his fame and honors are international. A great teacher as well as a great investigator, he is a man whose wide sympathies and zeal for the spread of science have left their mark upon every field of his activity. The Grand Old Man of Radio is still vigorous; although for some years other fields of inquiry have made his name most familiar to the public at large, it is undoubtedly upon his pioneer work in the fields of electrical oscillation and radiation that his greatest permanent fame will rest.