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Bonkers Blog July 2019

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17 July - History in the making

Current WarsI expect it is the same on TV (I never watch it) but commercial radio and Twitter promotions have been heavily advertising the delayed but soon to be released film Current Wars in recent days. A two year old film delayed because of the Harvey Weinstein business.

It explains an epic battle which has fascinated me ever since I first read about it many years ago. The competition between inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla (backed by George Westinghouse) over whether the world should adopt Alternating Current (AC) or Direct Current (DC) for the distribution of electricity. Fortunately Tesla won with his AC system or the world would not be anything like as advanced as it is now. (Actually it probably would as surely engineers would soon have realised their mistake.)

Thomas Edison was pipped at the post not only by Tesla but also by Graham Bell with the telephone, Joseph Swann with the light bulb and his phonograph was soon eclipsed by Emile Berliner’s much more practical gramophone. In my opinion Edison was a ruthless and rather nasty man but it was him who became rich and famous, he must have had a better PR department than Tesla.

And why is Bonkers advertising a reputedly not very good film? Some of the techie bits were filmed locally at the Crossness sewage pumping station.

Yes, Tesla cars do use AC motors although not all electric vehicles do.

Another bit of local history is the Alcock and Brown centenary celebrations at Hall Place on Sunday 21st. My father flew in rather larger bombers than the Vickers Vimy only 21 years after their historic transatlantic flight and I moved to Farnborough in 1949 where the sky was always full of strange flying machines. A time when Alcock and Brown were comparatively recent heroes. Every schoolboy aircraft spotter knew who they were.

Unfortunately a very long standing family engagement will prevent me taking the 229 bus to Hall Place but it should be well worth the trip. A pity to miss it because it is free and I won’t be able to check out if Cabinet Member Peter Craske is still denying that I exist.


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