Laying of cable for the transatlantic telegraph is an underrated achievement

To provide storage space for the huge coils of wire, three great tanks were carved into the heart of the ship.  The drums, sheaves, and dynamometers of the laying mechanism, occupied a large part of the stem decking, and one funnel with its associated boilers had been removed to give additional storage space.  When the ship sailed from the Medway on June 24, 1865, she carried seven thousand tons of cable, eight thousand tons of coal, and provisions for five hundred men.  Since this was before the days of refrigeration, she also became a seagoing farm.  Her passenger list included one cow, a dozen oxen, twenty pigs, one hundred twenty sheep. and a whole poultry-yard of fowl.

That is 1865 we are talking about here, remarkably early (in my view) for laying a cable across the bottom of the entire Atlantic.

The passage is from Arthur C. Clarke’s excellent How the World Was One: Beyond the Global Village.


Wow! I am slowly reading John Steele Gordon's "A Thread Across The Ocean" about the "Heroic Story of the Transatlantic Cable"

Bonus trivia: Cyrus Field!

Neal Stephenson wrote a pretty cool article about oceanic cables

You can definitely see your skills in the article you write.

The sector hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren't afraid to
say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

we just chunked 2 large chocolate milkshakes
at a local statue of marshal maccluan

There's a statue of Marshal McLuan? Does this mean some Canadian is going to build one for Lobster Boy?

mlk tapes probably a hoax

Was this one continuous, un-broken cable or was it spliced together after they ran out at some point across the Atlantic?

I believe the Great Eastern laid one continuous cable across the Atlantic while a previous attempt involved splicing. The first cable worked temporarily but soon failed because an incompetent was in charge of it on the American side. He got his position of power through force of personality and bluster. Thank god nothing like that could happen today.

These days the people who got their positions of power through force of personality and bluster would put someone technically competent in charge and then starve them of resources need to accomplish their goal and/or demand impossible results. The science of arse covering has come a long way in the last 100 years.

Behold, people of Marginal Revolution, the ravages of stage three TDS. Note that the subject began his reply on topic. Then, almost as though against his will, his response became an attack on Trump.

Nor was a single oblique reference enough for him. He felt compelled to add a second post strictly so he could amplify his anti-Trump point.

Sadly, once TDS reaches this level of severity, the prognosis is terminal. Soon our subject shall retreat into his bedroom, there to scrawl "Orange man bad!" endlelessly on the walls with his own excrement. His only hope for relief is for the ones of his fixation to leave office either through election or term limit.

That is the "object" of his fixation. Stupid autocorrect.

Stupid autocorrect

+1 nonetheless

Sir, I DO NOT write on the walls in my own excrement! When I write on the walls I use only the best writing excrement money can buy.

Some of us do have some class, you know.

He wrote nothing about Trump. You got triggered because you are a snowflake. Take your orange-knighting elsewhere.

Behold, people of Marginal Revolution, the ravages of ignorance.

Crikey's comment is actually based on history and totally on subject , as noted here - 'The operation of the new cable was plagued by the fact that the two senior electrical engineers of the company had very different ideas on how the cable should be worked. Lord Kelvin and Dr Wildman Whitehouse were located at opposite ends of the cable, communicating only by the cable itself. ....

At the eastern end of the cable was Whitehouse. He was the company's chief electrician and a doctor of medicine – any electrical knowledge that he possessed was self-taught. Whitehouse believed that, in order to have the current at the receiving end change as rapidly as possible, the cable should be driven from a high-voltage source (several thousand volts from induction coils). The position was made worse because every time intelligible Morse code was seen on the mirror galvanometer at the eastern end, Whitehouse insisted that the galvanometer be disconnected and replaced with his own patented telegraph recorder, which was far less sensitive.

The effects of the poor handling and design of the cable, coupled with Whitehouse's repeated attempts to drive the cable with high voltages, resulted in the insulation of the cable being compromised. ....

In September 1858, after several days of progressive deterioration of the insulation, the cable failed. .... In the enquiry that followed, Dr Whitehouse was deemed responsible for the failure, and the company did not escape criticism for employing an electrical engineer with no recognised qualifications.'

Leading to this conclusion regarding your comment - then, almost as though against your will, your response became a defense of Trump.

to leave office either through election or term limit.

OR, better, death

then YOU can give a eulogy.

The SS Great Eastern was truly impressive, but the fact is that it was not built as a cable laying ship at all. 'SS Great Eastern was an iron sailing steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and built by J. Scott Russell & Co. at Millwall Iron Works on the River Thames, London. She was by far the largest ship ever built at the time of her 1858 launch, and had the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers from England to Australia without refuelling. Her length of 692 feet (211 m) was only surpassed in 1899 by the 705-foot (215 m) 17,274-gross-ton RMS Oceanic, her gross tonnage of 18,915 was only surpassed in 1901 by the 701-foot (214 m) 21,035-gross-ton RMS Celtic, and her 4,000-passenger capacity was surpassed in 1913 by the 4,935-passenger SS Imperator.'

However, the ship was basically a white elephant, in terms of its original commerical purpose - 'Although designed to carry emigrants on the far Eastern run, the only passenger voyages Great Eastern made were in the Atlantic. Angus Buchanan, an historian of technology comments: "She was designed for the Far Eastern trade, but there was never sufficient traffic to put her into this. Instead, she was used in the transatlantic business, where she could not compete in speed and performance with similar vessels already in service.'

The entire wikipedia article is quite interesting in showing the ship's history, and its laughable inadequacy as a commercial liner.

'That is 1865 we are talking about here'

Which is 7 years after the first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid.

If you took time to research your post instead of sniping at the Great Man, you'd have lerned that the first transatlantic cable failed, the one in 1865 was the second one and they repaired the first one and used it as a backup.

Bonus trivia: Lord Kelvin! Figured out what the impedance of the cable was, and how to optimally 'tune' it --passively as I recall--to get optimal transmission performance. Nowadays even for fiber optic they still use passive filters to make sure the signal can travel several kilometers or more without need for a repeater, which I'm pretty sure is photons to electrons to photons.

Bonus trivia II: Huawei! Just sold their transpacific cable to another Chinese company (probably a shell or friendly company) to avoid US sanctions.

'you'd have lerned that the first transatlantic cable failed'

After a couple of weeks, as nicely detailed in The Power of News: The History of Reuters, 1849-1989, a book which is worth recommending.

With information such as noting the fact that the very first transatlantic telegraph message was 'OK.'

Optical to optical repeaters are better
Optical to electronic to optical are cheaper:

Kelvin recognized that the combination of series resistance and capacitance per unit length spelled trouble for long cables, but the complete understanding of the complex impedance, and the possibility of improvement by adding inductance, was produced by Oliver Heaviside in the 1880's.

This is the sort of thing that made western civilization powerful. Not democracy, human rights, free speech, intersectionalism or any such concept that humanities folks use to appropriate credit for western civilization from engineers and entrepreneurs.

And by focusing on the engineering and ignoring and downgrading the useless aspects of British and US style democracy and freedom is why Germany and Japan were able to so easily defeat them in World War II.

The entrepreneurs, engineers, and physical scientists (the transoceanic cables needed deeper understanding of theory to enable the engineering) would not have happened without the Western democracies and their free speech and human rights.

Intersectionality is a different and malign beast that shouldn’t be lumped in with the others.

That is an assumption, disproved by the rise of China.

So, did Marxism arise in China, or in Western democracies (for some values of democratic, admittedly) with their free speech and human rights?

Interesting question, when you think about.

It was said of King Marsilio of Zaragoza that he was missing his head. Yet the enchanters who pursue me simply place figures as they are really are before my eyes, and then change and alter them into whatever they wish. Really and Truly it is with a leaf spike.

Though ye believe not me, believe the is sanctuary. No it is not sanctuary, it is affliction.

A 2018 study in the American Economic Review found that the transatlantic telegraph substantially increased trade over the Atlantic and reduced prices.[32] The study estimates that "the efficiency gains of the telegraph to be equivalent to 8 percent of export value".[32]
Nice result.

Here's an article in today's NYT describing the vast resources available today to determine what actually happened to those two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman:

The incident in the Gulf of Oman has been compared to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which occurred before the vast resources that are available today. The question, which one cannot answer yet, is whether (a) having only telegraph or (b) the vast resources that are available today, is more likely to result in a misbegotten war as the result of inadequate or erroneous information? The vast resources that are available today, in particular visual resources, are easily subject to manipulation. By comparison, a telegraph is a telegraph.

In 1865, Asia, India, Africa didn't have this capacity because the West is Evil.

The NYT devotes vast resources to deciding which facts the public cannot know because they reflect badly on democrats.

Alternate History Report: President Hillary resolves the Persian Gulf oil tanker crisis by entering into a free trade (anyway, there are no sanctions) agreement with Iran; mounting a secret mission to deliver to the Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah, Hamas, et al pallets with $100 billion in unmarked bills; and offering to sponsor talks with NK to allow Iran to test nuclear weapons in its facilities.

India was linked to Britain by telegraph in 1863. North Africa was already linked. Maybe you meant to say, "In 1865, India, Africa had this capacity because the West is Evil."

'The NYT devotes vast resources to deciding which facts'

And I devote essentially no resources at all to completely ignoring the NYT. Thankfully, in terms of this web site, Prof. Cowen normally helpfully points out which links are not worth clicking without even needing to move the mouse - be nice if he did the same with anything from twitter, to be honest.

Why would anyone spend any time caring about such a worthless source of information as the NYT?

If you read U.S. Grant’s autobiography he spends some time noting how interconnected the north was compared to the south in the Civil war. This was both by Rail and Telegraph. A the end of the war There were a million soldiers in the US Army spread out over a huge area, all controlled by rapid communications. We are not significantly faster today. However news with Europe was dramatically slower even with the rise in reasonably fast steam packet lines. So diplomatic traffic was on the order of weeks while domestic control was on the order of one day.

Our most essential communications can be sent with the smallest amounts of information.

Now all USPS employees can make use of Liteblue portal to get all the benefits. Login to Liteblue and enjoy all the benefits.

stem decking? I doubt it.
stern decking was meant.
Some fonts don't kern well.

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