Mirror galvanometer for the transatlantic telegraph, 1858

Made:
1858 in Glasgow
maker:
James White
inventor:
William Baron Kelvin Thomson
One of the first mirror galvanometers for reading the messages through submarine cables. This mirror galvanometer was One of the first mirror galvanometers for reading the messages through submarine cables. This mirror galvanometer was

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

One of the first mirror galvanometers for reading the messages through submarine cables. This mirror galvanometer was
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

One of the first mirror galvanometers for reading the messages through submarine cables. This mirror galvanometer was
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Mirror galvanometer invented by Lord Kelvin and used at the Newfoundland end of the 1858 transatlantic cable, made by James White, Glasgow, Scotland, 1858.

Sir William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, (1824-1907) was Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow University, and was well known for his work in many branches of physics, including electricity. The first transatlantic telegraph cable was layed in 1858, reducing the time it took for messages to cross from days or months to hours. The success of the system relied on an instrument that could detect the tiny electrical signals that had passed so far under the sea. Thomson's galvanometer was the only instrument sensitive enough to detect reliably the first transatlantic telegraph messages. This mirror galvanometer was used at the Newfoundland end of the cable. A galvanometer is an instrument for detecting small electric currents. A small magnet is mounted at the back of a smaller circular mirror, suspended within a magnetising coil. When a current passes through the coil, the magnet is deflected, causing the mirror to move and a beam of light reflected from it to move along a scale.

Details

Category:
Electricity and Magnetism
Object Number:
1876-68
Materials:
brass (copper, zinc alloy), copper (alloy), leather, not recorded, wax and wood (unidentified)
type:
galvanometer
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • measuring device - instrument
credit:
Donated by Sir William Thomson (Lord Kelvin)