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TechStuff Classic: A Series of Tubes Part One

2022-04-08 | 🔗

How do pneumatic tubes work? Lauren Vogelbaum joins the show to talk about the physics and history of pneumatic tube systems.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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the welcome to tech stuff, a production from Iheartradio the hey there and welcome to tech stuff. I'm your host Jonathan Strickland, I'm an executive producer with I heart radio and held the technology this time for us to listen to a classic episode of texts on this one published April twentieth, two thousand and fifteen. is part one of a two part series. So that's a spoiler for now sweet right anyway. This one is titled a series of tubes part one enjoy so one of the cool things that you brought to light is that we're not just little systems that are used within like that bank, that yeah, with a single building to take your bank receipt to the teller? When you don't feel like getting out of your car
I did these actually used to be, and in some cases may be still are much more extensive. Ah yeah see there used to be these huge networks of tubes buried beneath cities that let people send messages to each other faster than ever before. Yeah I've heard of this, then the internet. It's a it's a series of tubes, I know now the fart before the internet, the arpanet them, but that was only like three computer- it was. It was in the eighteen, fifty wow, yeah, pneumatic tubes date back quite a ways and so yeah when, when Lauren said we're going to talk about a series of tubes, I thought we were going to talk about the whole. You know good old SEN, TED from Alaska talking about how the internet is a series of tubes which, by the way, just for the It, I think, is a decent analogy. Yeah I mean it was. I mean it is funny, but it was and also as it turns out, some telecom cables are currently being housed in old pneumatic,
do so it everywhere. You go to the air the also! So let what exactly is a numeric too well. It is a pipeline that uses air pressure to move a canister from one point to another method seems that's what I like. It seems pretty simple way to there's more their yeah. I mean these things have come a very long way. As technology has advanced motors have advanced motors started. Existing like like electricity, wasn't really a thing when you marry. You sure but it s, computers happened right and actually you might think we'll computers would end up. You know making the whole purpose of these things are obsolete, but that's not the case. In fact, there are still very high tech pneumatic tube systems that are at play,
in various locations for good reasons, and it turns out that the computers are necessary elements in that in order to be kind of like traffic control. So it's kind of cool that this thing that we would normally think was replaced by computers is actually, limiting them in specific use cases? Obviously, if you want to send a message to your friend across town, you are more likely to either drop a letter in the mail, much more likely to say tax law that I hang them on a that yeah those lines, but there are many important uses for new attic tubes. We may get into many of those later media Erst. Let us talk specifically about how pneumatic tubes were yet. Let's talk about the physics, what is going on with a new manic too, and so walk me through the you wrote you you ve described
it's an excellent way of thinking through this, so that we have a logical progression to get to the actual mechanics of pneumatic tubes. Okay, so pneumatic, I in case you don't know means of works by a pressurized gas. Basically, and so the air around us seems pretty thin right, Abbott's, actually, a soup, it's actually a liquid made up of lightweight atoms and particles like nitrogen and oxygen and argon, and carbon dioxide and ozone and dust, bunnies and etc sure yeah yeah, and that soup is at pretty much a constant density and pressure around us.
We're walking around on earth's surface, although it's a little bit thinner the further away from sea level, you get right. The higher you climb on the mountain, for example the less dense the air. Thus you have let lower the air pressure at those altitudes right, and it's useful to think about that, because one great way of thinking about air pressure and and how it helps stuff work is by thinking of how your ears pop, when you go up a a in a really tall, elevator or or up a mountain or up in an airplane, and and that's because your ears pop because of the density of the air outside of your body being lower than the density of the air in your ears. Okay, you've got this a little tube of air in your in your head, called that the station tube and it let's hear it. Let your eardrum vibrate, which is in
not for your ear dreamt function right. That's what allows you to interpret sound right because sound is a physical phenomenon. It vibrates the ear drum, which makes some Celia go. We like wacky yeah, the brain that crazy yeah we're just going reenact once more with a line by line, but no it? It does I feel that your drum is what ends up causing these other bones in your in your ear, to move in such a way that Celia inside of this one container at start to vibrate fluctuate and that sends electrical signals to your brain, which then is interpreted as sound. So without that vibration, you don't hear, and without this tube you wouldn't get that vibration and would have nothing to vibrate against and would just be all solid.
Meat and that doesn't vibrate as well. Yeah yeah I mean some can travel through solids, but not as effective going from air to solid than from solid to solid. So right, dear, it's important. So this station tube is shut off with muscles that are tied in to your Alec Mouth Throat, swallowing muscles. This is one of those things always was weird that that our ears are connected to human, especially the system yeah. That's that's why he swallow you here like a tiny little pop, and that is that the muscles of that tube, opening up and and letting a fresh supply of air in which is important, because the air the gets into the tube agates absorbed by the walls of the two of it. So it needs to be replenished periodically right. That's also why you're had hurt so much when, when you have a cold, because those muscles get stuck up by gunk,
If you can't replenish that air supplies and everything heard when you are like, I can't hear because I have a cold, it seems that's why yeah yeah, that's because the I beat, because your your eardrum literally cannot vibrate, because there's not a replenishment of air in the tube, that's kind of cool. I mean I I'd, never thought of it that way so interesting. Okay, said all of this aside by a promise we're getting back to Nevada I'm. So so, as you gain altitude, the air inside of your ears starts exerting pressure on those membranes and it starts pushing right because it's at that higher density than the air outside garage and it you know it wants to be Well, like that, lower pressure air, you never let it hang loose yay. When you create this pressure differential, then there that's, where you're starting to get that feeling of somethings just kind of like you, gotta ake, is a kit. You can get
he painful to if you especially like in a you hear about babies and kids having real problems, because they haven't figured out I'll to violently airily open up their their restrictions to gas, and so when the difference in pressure is great enough that you either voluntarily or involuntarily, open up that astringent tube, that the sudden release of that pressurized air is pretty forceful and creates that pop up. That's when you years go pop, but that is just one example of pressure at work around us this next, one that I got for you is a little bit more technical going. Are you ready, yeah, ok, straws like what the pig built his house out of a drinking straw, okay, okay, so crazy straws in my case but yeah. I share It- share crazy stress totally. Ah so, you're not technically pulling liquid up through a straw here, you're creating an opportunity for the liquid to
shit self up. It's a motivating, the liquid, your motivating, the liquid. Yes, exactly with the earth of this section that you apply with your mouth, creates an area of low pressure at the top of the straw, which means that the relatively high pressure liquid at the bottom of the straw pushes a sip your drink up into your mouth now. This is really interesting to me, because I talked about a similar thing with Josh Clark. When we covered helped. Will it work because we have to talk about siphoning oh sure, and the siphoning and uses a similar principle and does require this difference in pressure as well. So very interesting, so How does this come,
or to say pneumatic two sides, it's basically the same thing and that the that the two part is airtight like a straw and except it has sealable hatches at either end. Instead of you know, straw, that's sure, yeah, and so you, you put a canister in one hatch, yeah, and it helps a whole lot if the canister has some kind of like flexible skirts. either end the concealed, the interior edges of the tube, also that there is not passing around a round the canister right to make it the most effective. So you see you put your cancer in there. You close the hatch and you press your go button. Oh, come now, on the other end of the tube pressing. The button will open up a vent and start a motor. Now of two things will happen at this point right. So this all depends upon where the cancer is in relation to wear. The blower is right, so here's the boring one has cause you get to take the really cool here's the boring one, if the canisters on the blower side. So in other words, this is likely that the blower being a fan essentially right. They can I
blow air into the tube or pull air out of the tube it's on the blower side and the only way to move the caster to the other end of the tube is to blow air against the canister, pushing it so you're increasing mere pressure on the side of the blower, and it just close the castor across this is essentially the same as when you shoot blow darts at your co or when say you when I shoot blow darts had been Bowen he has wondered what that tingling sensation has been, and no one tell him, but that's a centrally it those found here But if the canisters on the opposite side see the blower on a pneumatic tube system, typically is at just one end. You don't have to blowers are right right and it's not an especially classically. These things weren't always powerful enough to necessarily push at writer right. So if the chemistry on the opposite. End like I have sent something out now, I'm expecting it to come back, but my blow
is that the the and, where I at I have to? I have to and a different way to move the caster. I can't push it by by turning the fan to blow air into the tube. So what do I do then? Ah, well, the the the motor will still drive a fan down at the other end of the tube ham, but but this time it will start to pull air out of the tube okay, venting it out of the tube entirely gotcha. Okay, this section, just like a straw, creates a partial vacuum at that end of the tube, with the fan at an area of low pressure. So I you know down down at the canister end of the tube. The higher pressure air behind the canister wants to expand
It just settle the difference right gotcha, and so it will push the canister through the tube, so the cancer still being pushed it's just that it's being pushed because the air behind it is at a higher pressure than the air in front of it exactly yeah so cool. I so immensely systems when the canister reaches it's destination and at the end of the tube, it will trigger a trap door to close behind it, which will also key the motor to turn off and the vents to close, meaning that the partial vacuum that's been created in the tube will be broken and ah your buddy at the other end it can happen at the hatch and take out the camps in that makes perfect sense, because, obviously, if you had continued to have that vacuum, their opening up, the hatch would be difficult at the real hard here, because that air pressure on the outside of the tube is pushing against. It answered the same sort of deal it's just one, those things that are you. You have to have all the the law parts in place for the system to work properly and the big advantage of this sort of system is that you don't have to connect little motors to all those canisters.
the visual units, don't need anything, don't need any moving parts yeah the halls. The system as a whole can have a single well. It can have a single motor a lot of the time. These days, they ve got really complex, multiple motor you're, going on, especially if you, like lots of potential destinations, yeah sure, but But if you had a very simple system where it was just an out and back you just need one. one motor kept turning one fan or or you know, some people just refer to them as air compressors, but technically you're using a fan in his hand. So, yes, that's, really interesting and there also some interesting. Vantages or rather design elements that have been made to make sure that the chemistry arrived safely overwrite, because in the original systems at canisters would arrive by basically just crashing into.
The opposite end of the tube yeah they and they can be going pretty darn fast, depending on how powerful that fan was yeah tens of miles an hour, whichever which I mean usually I'd say, is kind of a joke, but actually that's pretty quick especially for something like if you haven't design it just right. It's gonna be noticed the yeah or it's gonna, end up causing damage to the tubes and obviously that's a problem. So there different ways of slowing them down properly one of those uses, air brakes, which is essentially just again pressurized air, but now on the low pressure side, so that can slow down the canister from you know, it's it's inevitable crash toward oblivion or bumpers, Like little rubber bumpers sure they can come out from the sides to slows like but the way a lot of them rollercoaster breaks, work
and also they often have some form of switch that once the castor passes that switch it activates at which then turns off power to the blower now moment of Stoa thing, so you have to plan for that as well. I shall stop immediately. Bulgaria is sort of like there that trap door idea that, with a little bit of a longer, Clyde after that, trapdoor right. So now I'm going to try and explain without the it's a visual aids, But how is simple, pneumatic tube system using a couple of hours and a switch would help a cancer come to a stop Alright, so you got with the two valves. These create a pathway for air in front of the caster to vent out for most of the trip while leaving enough for the very end to act as a cushion. So in other words, you need a way for aired event outward or else you'll never create that area of low
right, but you didn't way to keep a little bit of air in there so that it can act as a braking system. Ok, so you ve got to figure out how do that and when I saw the result, the series of the strains I saw on line that explain this really well, and so I'm going to try and walk you through it, the best where no house, dungeons and dragons. What's happening but your adventure is in a tunnel and behind you is a giant spinning fan of death- oh yeah, I think I've been on this much well before, ok. So in this case, the giant spinning fan of death is currently slow. That's it actually not even moving at all, it's it's. No one's trip that trap. Yet walking down the tunnel, so the van is behind you and you just have a big expands the tunnel and from now as you walked down the tunnel, you see that there is a split from the tunnel off, let's say to left,
and it's just a second smaller tunnel that you see. Ok, take damage no, no, no, there's no door, just a just an ok just an opening, but but I like your initiative and he didn't even have to roll for it but you continue on down and you come to your first actual door in that mean tunnel. I look at night, you can do your kick It can be done and it works, because that door will only open outward into the main hall. This is a valve and it's a one way valve. Oh alright, so air can go from the fan through the main pipe, but it can't be sucked back this way, but it also, if airs, bears being pulled that door. slammed shut and nothing not even your mighty kick will open it. well since there are no differentials in air pressure. Your kik opens the door. You continue down the hall I'm going to the Kobold encounter. As you continue down the tunnel, you see a door on your left now this door is the
other well. This is the valve that is the bypass valve and in fact, if you were to kick down that door, but you can do oh, I get down the door excellent. So the door opens inward into that secondary tunnel in areas like no bugbear, There is an albert, but he's currently on break. Ok, so you kicked on the door that opens the pathway to the bypass the top tube bypass pipe, so the tunnel that you passed way back when on the left. It's the same that same pathway, so this button, or will only open when air is being pulled through back toward the fans sucked back toward the fan So that way you always have one velvets opened in one velvets closed and it all depends upon airflow solutions. mechanical or electrical need to to change these valves. It's just the airflow that does it automatically, so the air flows being pulled back. The bypass valve is open
the main valve is shut and because the bypass pipe completely bypass Does that mean valve air can still flow. So, now we're going to have to use a an example to talk about what happens when the canister comes by, so the canister starts rocketing down the path toward the fan side, so air is being pulled through. It ends up passing a switch. That switch tells the fan to stop blowing but of course, that's going to take a little time as the cancer continues down toward the pathway. The canister ends up passing that bypass valve which is open so once the cancer is cleared, the bypass valve, because you haven't airtight seal between the main valve and the chemist her that air between the two starts to get camp asked and that compressed air begins to push back against the canister, slowing it down and
if you have air brakes. Ah that was a long way to go with an explanation, but honestly, without the use of visual aids, I wasn't sure how is going to explain how this actually works in a way that would remotely make sense. You now get two hundred and thirty gold pieces of pie, a piece and the princess is in another castle. Huh, ok, okay, well, good adventure! Thank you, you're welcome! I am I'm a level three key master and yeah. So obviously, the if a family switch the other way where the cancer is blowing down the the pipe the invalid would be open, the bypass valve would be shut, and that would be it. There would be no different, otherwise so yeah, that's that's the basic way that this works, and that's you know that's a very, very very simple version I yet as complicated as that. Just sounded out loud that that is as basic as it gets yearly yeah,
Jonathan from twenty twenty two coming in here, we're going to have more from this classic episode after this quick break. What? If you were a global bank who wanted to supercharge your it's system, so you tap by Bm to an silo your data and, with the help of ai start crunching, a year's worth of transactions against thousands of compliance controls. Now, you're making smarter decisions faster operating costs are lower and everyone from your auditors to your bankers feels like a million bucks. Let's create smarter ways of putting your ticket to work. I B m: let's create learn more at I b m dot com, a quick scroll of Saks dot com is your guide to shopping the best spring fashion, you'll find curated shops that make getting dressed everyday, easy browse, effortless, bohemian dresses from free people and Zimmerman and Trending spring denim styles from frame and get american plus the latest party ready bags from Saint Laurent
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You know I I I said a while ago that these things have been around since the 1850s, at least so as go to the way back machine on my gosh. It's been use for so long that a dusty in here is a little yeah. You know what, as as as cramped as this thing, is it's still who were then Josh and Chuck studio since I mean physically, the temperature, is lower physically, that yeah cooler area yeah that no date there they're pretty hot. Yet they are there. Couple hot guys anyway, where we saw this to two to Greece sure well, okay, I, like ancient Greece, modern Greece, Holiday Greece. Ok, I really hoping you were going to
but okay, told him. I here we go well, we do have chills and they are multiplying. that, was Greece one, I'm sorry for any lyrics to off the top of my head? I don't want to say that it says a lot for you and little for me, so there was a mathematician who started writing about the concept of using pressurized gas to produce mechanical motion sky, yeah hetero of Alexandria, also known as heroin he's a pretty smart. Do. As he was did you know we talked about how he is since we are here in the Wayback machine is true across the street. Is right over there he's kind of working on something else right now yeah. I think we're weirding them out by looking It may well just casual so something else that he was really known for by the way he was known for working with steam engines and back as gas it makes anthrax related. He noticed that air had the ability to physically push against things
and that if you had a way of generating air movement, I even thought oh air must be made of something because it can have a force so very forward thinking he didn't have the words to this. Grab this in the way that we do today, but he understood, this had a way of doing work and that if you could find a way to channel that you can make air do work for you and that gave him a lot of thought about steam, including one of my favorite proposed inventions. There's no record of it actually exists, then I I think we I think we talked about this- one in our episode about steam engines, the pretty sure we did. This is the magical way to open Temple doors, and so you start with a leaning brazier, which is a container that contains hot coals. Essentially, and you have that connected to a boiler. The boiler boils water water. This converted that steam goes through a long tube that essentially a condenser tube condemn.
is back in the water and starts dripping into a bucket when enough of water has dripped into that bucket that bucket which is suspended by a rope from a pulley, starts to move, get heavier and heavier pulling downward, and that police system ends up. Turning a couple of columns that open up the Temple door so by lighting a fire and and a second by saying something to the gods. Eventually, the doors are open and it's magic. It was pretty boo he's a he actually came up with a lot of different, really cool ideas and so yeah. We definitely wanted to call him out, but then we have to skip ahead. love you not like a bull in here to you now get out. You know how it goes with science stirring some of those intervening years between yeah. Tell him hey: increases sixteen hundred river, the renaissance back when everyone suddenly said hey remember when we used to be smart, we liked
great. You know we were on a lot. Fewer of us were dying of the plague back then. We liked that that was good, yeah, so a fella by the name of Denis Papin. I think that he said that would present a paper on an invention that he ERP an idea that he was calling the double pneumatic pump to the royal society of London. That's pretty as pretty as a pretty impressive name. The double pneumatic pump, it's twice as good as it is clearly, obviously, and but nothing more would come of this until the early night century yeah. That's when there was a scottish engineer by the name of William Murdoch. I have I mentioned William Murdoch because, while while he had essentially invented the pneumatic tube, he didn't do a whole lot with it, with some of his I hesitated to use the word like students, they weren't, even apprentice to other people who worked within the same field who were exposed to his ideas, were able to actually
woman, but he was the one who came up with the concept of using a pneumatic tube in the early nineteenth century, and others would take that idea and run with it. I yet, namely one British engineered by the name of George, met her still. He would publish a plan and a teen ten for a new Matic transport system. Now, let me ask: is this the one where you like you get in the two when you press a button and just fly occur or no, not like in future? Am I now well. That would hurt a lot. I don't recommend your home. Well, okay, so there are downsides. I mean clearly you'd really need that airbrake system to work really well in your ears, but like a minor. True, you yeah, big, bang, being subjected to extremely low pressure on one half of your body must have the best effect overall, alright, fair enough, ok, so so he would say it is working with.
a compressed air yeah. He actually created a if something called the aeolian engine and eighteen hundred, which was a and but kind of like a a car running on compressed air. In a way it was vehicle that use compressed air on the vehicle itself to create a system of propulsion to make the vehicle move, so in this case, the the upper so with a pneumatic tubes. One of the big advantages is that have the centralized source of power, and this was the other way around. This is more like a more akin to a motor vehicle, so ugly, that was an early experiment of his the didn't necessarily work out. They know as this is going to be the new means of transportation, but it it he was recognizing the power of compressed air. So then moved on to create a design or this pneumatic transport system, and it consisted of an iron tube that was six feet high by six feet wide, which is about one point, eight metres each had rails along the bottom of this tube, so cars,
set on the rails and then blown through the tubes using compressed air. So play these style that we are talking about the date, the easy, or boring method on getting canisters from point a to point b, but he did. He did note that he did a map in such about end and thought that if air could be subjected to just forty pounds per square inch of pressure, just that it's about two and a half times the amount that the atmosphere exerts upon us right now get at Sea Langen out at sea level. If we could increase that two and a half times the air molecules could be propelled at like a thousand miles an hour or wow or a thousand six hundred and nine kilometers you're welcome Canada and everyone else. Ah, when actually pushing stuff that isn't air, that speed would only be about one hundred miles or one hundred and sixty kilometers per hour, which still pretty fast, certainly
like eighteen, ten was not too shabby yeah, not too shabby and twenty fifteen an hour now now, unfortunately, I he would pass away before he really had a chance to implement any of these ideas, but his ideas would become instrumental where people who were working on actual implementations right- oh absolutely, yeah. So one of the one of the interesting stories I came across a night was telling born before we went into the pod Castillo that this in the stories of these people, probably could merit a couple of episodes. Maybe I'll mention it to stop you. history as I am because it really that's more in their line than ours, but I thought about Somalia and Clegg, so you had the scimitar brothers opposite a company that was run by Jacob and Joseph Suda, who were primarily shipbuilder ass they were engineers, but they built ships. Then they partners
If another inventor and engineer named Samuel Clegg, who at one time and worked in a company that used a lot of William Murdoch's invention, ok so Clegg had been x, those two Murdoch's ideas. Some people refer to amiss as as Murdoch student, although from all the research I did, it didn't seem like they had. A very Why do you like new each other yeah, it's kind of like saying, Tesla worked for Edison in the sense that yes, Tesla worked for one of Edison's companies, but was not like directly associated economic life. Go for coffee with the dude knows especially by the time they ended up being kind of rivers, but but even in the early days they didn't it's not like, as knew everybody who worked for anyway. So there, there idea was to lease some already constructed but unopened rail lines, so
The idea was they took some rail lines that were had not yet been open to the public. They ve been built, but not used, and they were at a place called wormholes Scrubbs, at least that's what was known by at the time. It is now known as wormwood Scrubbs, whether to these two red light of one year and they used a pipe set between the two rails, is there pneumatic system. So, instead of an entire huge pneumatic tube encompassing the rail There was a smaller pneumatic tube set right in the middle of the rails and the tube had a slot running all the way the length of the tube at the top of it. Are it so you're there train car that had a pole that essentially extended down into that slot. Anne was tat at the other end inside the tube to a piston. Ok. So this is like a pneumatic monorail yeah, exactly the piston acted,
the canister would in a normal pneumatic tube, and then, if you sit there and thing like well, how do you create the difference in sure if you ve gotta, if you got a slot all the way across the open type of doing pressurized the others know, there's no way to seal it. So what they did was they created a leather flap that would essentially open, immediately before and close immediately after the the rod would pass through and the the track they were using was on a very gentle slope and so what they did was they used air to push the train car up the slope to its destination. and then on the return trip they just allowed gravity to bring a car back yet so didn't have to have any sort of power to to bring back the the car and it was used.
Pretty extensively as kind of a demonstration of the sort of this kind of of track was story, did get a name is called atmospheric railways that's beautiful tat, the eye, the reason they want to call it ever sphere. It was that yes, there using their using pressurized air, but the cars themselves can be open to the air, so not forced inside a tonne, because a lot of people were worried about getting. You know, claustrophobic yeah. No, not all of us do well in tunnels and they're kind of creepy. They can be certainly so other atmospheric really. These would follow, including some built by is on Board Kingdom Brunel, who we talked about on text up in hell, subways work that was the seven hundred that pursued so he famous for a lot of reasons, one of them being that he dug the Thames tunnel. So
Are you what he really can a pioneering the methodology for digging tunnels safely, especially under you know, ground that you would tetanic. I think, would be really unstable, like the bottom of a river and one of his trains, at least My report- I read during it- illustration hit a top speed of seventy miles per hour, which is about one thirteen kilometers per hour, but keeping that seal effective, even with those leather flaps was problematic. and so eventually become of these issues. The fact that you had to replace that seal, often ended up, meaning that when steam engines really started become popular, the pneumatic train systems like these couldn't compete, and so people just start to go with steam engines that are seen as more reliable, then something that you had to constantly maintain so are, ultimately they. I guess it
you didn't go anywhere, but that's not true. They go from one place to another place. You know they they went place. but I just didn't take off with it. I know They literally did not literally and figuratively, but yes, twenty. when he to Jonathan again we're going to take another quick break and be back with more or what. If you were a global bank who wanted to Super larger audit system, so you tap, I bm to an silo your data and, with the help of ai start crunching, a year's worth of transactions against thousands of compliance controls. Now, you're making smarter decisions, faster operating costs are lower and everyone from your auditors to your bankers feels like a million bucks. Let's create
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expanding access to public health to workforce development, our B N Y Mellon Wealth management. Clients are making an impact every day. Learn how our active wealth approach can help. You do well better in the eating with these telegraph systems began to really which I I mentioned a for reference and b, because it's important to note that in these early days of telegraphs, you know that they, it was really cool technology, and but they were really understaffed. The telegraph telegraph offices, you know, because there was so much demand and most people and businesses couldn't afford to have their own telegraph machine. So central offices would send these messenger boys on foot through busy city blocks carrying all of these telegrams, which would kind of name
it dip, depending on you know, like like peak capacity, sure the speed of a of a telegraph wires as a mail system, the idea being that high. I can send this message instantly, except I'm selling it instantly to a centralized point And then from there were someone else to get to and has to run it to you anyway. So in eighteen, fifty three Latimer Clark would build a a non electric pneumatic tube that would carry messages between the electric and international Telegraph company's headquarters and their offices at the british Stock exchange. Ah, ah and yes, a lot of telegraphs restock related as we have talked about on the show before The stock exchanges kind of drive message: technology yeah, it's crazy! The idea that you want to pounce on something as soon as possible, whether that's buying or selling, So it makes sense that they were really
working, to try and decrease the amount of time between a decision and when it can be acted upon right right, and so he has tubes, Latimer, Latimer, Clark's tubes are were only one way, Most tubes. Up to this point were so, in other words once again to its destination that had to be carried back physically to two, wherever that the first off right chain and around the same time, the Great Britain General Post Office, where the commission a study of matters, I d, is to try to to get some kind of larger postal tube system right, something make the delivery of letters more efficient yeah I mean this is again. We've talked about this in the subways episode in particular, we talked about it Hell this the same period where London was experiencing explosive population growth, oh yeah, as the through a revolution when suddenly other fewer there's fewer in.
Need a farmers and there's a greater need of of late, her in various ways in the cities in the urban areas. So you had this migration of people into cities, plus the fact that people still make people There is that two going on and the ants we have this this world, where things getting more complicated because some others just so many more people living in the same physical space as before yeah. I said so in the eighteen. Sixteen, the jeep here, what a word a contract to won, T W Randal to constructing a magic tube system that could carry me I'll throughout London and rebels, done some really interesting stuff in eighteen I see three Remo would build a two foot gauge pneumatic Dispatch railway in Central London more than a bit because it takes a couple of years before it opens, but in eighteen, sixty four
most Crystal Palace, Pneumatic Railway opened what so Crystal Palace of Sex in London location and so wasn't, but the pneumatic railway itself was not a crystal palace and Kerry disappointed when right, so it ran on a that was about six hundred yards in length, that's around five hundred fifty metres and the train cars had colored bristles to help create a seal in a ten foot diameter or three meter Diana Tunnel so kind of similar to those flexible skirts. We're talking about earlier in this case was briskly, bristly, yeah So this massive fan blow the carriage down onto one end of the track, then would reverse to create a partial vacuum to bring the carriage back so it used both principles of pneumatic tubes and a trip cost sixpence in a song or justice expense yeah. I always think of like Oliver. You know I think
like a dickensian musical. When I asked about the stuff, in fact, I want to write one now at any rate, shed as it is, that's a good hobby next time on a very musical oh man now you guys are going to request me to never saying I know that so it operated for just two years and depending upon whom you ask it might or might not have been intended to serve as a model for an atmospheric railway, but in a different sense, because obviously this one was completely encapsulated in the tunnel as opposed to the ones that had the tube that ran parallel well in between the rails. This one, the rails it's completely encapsulated in the two. There are a couple of cool urban legends about what happened to this particular railway. So one says it was sealed off that that once it stop being used, they sealed off the tunnel and that in fact, there is this bone tunnel underneath London, where, if you were able to get access to it, you would
see the tracks and even the carriage itself. there was a lady who even reported that she had found it, and there were skeletons sitting in the carriage dressed in victorian outfits seems Yeah. I don't know I get our shudder down. Don't let anybody out? We should not believe you re sorry sucker, you, at your sixpence, you are on the wrong train, the that sounds like a Stephen King story. another urban legend said the tunnel collapsed from a bomb which trapped the rage and some passengers in it. For ever like there was a necessity, a cave in and they were stuck and died and are in tune in the carriage, but that's gonna bombs were really falling on London,
in for another few decades. Yeah, that's the thing, and this this legend was circulating as early as nineteen thirty, but there was there were no bombs that were going off in the eighteen sixties at that in London, like like that, at that time there was no blitz. Anti six know and in fact the blitz didn't even happen by the time. This urban legend first started circulating, and so it got stronger after World WAR two and be more because, partly because people were using underground stations and iron tube tunnel lines as a as a place to seek refuge during the blitz, but that was just an urban legend in any in eighteen, sixty five, the London Pneumatic Dispatch Railway opened ran. This one is not meant to carry passengers, although I think someone wrote it the first time it opened, but they ve led by yeah again like that, would have
yeah. I think so too. The cars themselves. As I was reading one description. It said they were coffin sized that's cool yeah, so you they're not meant to carry people, but but freight and mail right that this is part of the mail system, and this comes directly from the Pall Mall Gazette on October, twelfth eighteen, sixty five- and you know it's in England. Okay, do I do it the driving powers that whole button and consists of two twenty four horsepower steam engines they set in motion a disk, the diameter of which is about twenty two feet. The immense secular fan revolves with great rapidity an air chamber creating an almost irresistible atmosphere, power which, by the use of can be used either for blowing the trains through the tubes or literally sucking them back again, so you go. It shall thank you. Thank you. Pip Pip yeah, those
my read that description. I was so enchanted by the an irresistible admin. power such great rapidity. Oh, how british this this newspaper is but yeah yeah. Meanwhile, back on the telegraph and in eighteen, sixty eight, the Gov that the UK government would pass the telegraphs act which nationalized the telegraph industry and wrapped it into the post office, thus meaning that the G p O acquired, like really quite a lot of pneumatic telegraph lines which various camps
It had been privately building out over the past decade now. This is also interesting because, again, it mirrors what happened with the subway system in London. The subways were built by private companies, so you had a bunch of different independent systems that were not connected right together at first until the government realized that this was a serious public good good and that you know they wanted to help it out as much as possible and conform everything so that it can be used as widely as possible. Exactly the same yeah meanwhile across the pond. Updating seventy an adventure by the name of Alfred Eli Beach begins construction on a numeric subway in New York called the beach, pneumatic transit, obviously aimed after the inventor, the subway did not transport commuters to a magical, New York Beach. Now, sadly,
here's some interesting and odd facts about that project. So first Beach lied about what he was doing. I read somewhere that that he had like personal disagreements with one of the powers that were at the time and someone by the name of boss, tweed the whole. Well, here's the thing originally boss, tweed backed beach, but boss. Tweed fail fell from favor, quite famously through corruption, and then, after the fact Beach said he. one of the men who stood in my way. He changed the story and people said okay, and went along with the story because they wanted to? They wanted this system to be put in place, but it. it's not being enough because there were other issues that would follow, but yeah Originally beach and boss. Tweed were buddy buddy,
and it was only after the fact when, when bossed weeds going down beaches like for not going down with you like, I was always appeared in the boy s also, so beach really wanted to create the subway yeah system, and you know in order to do that, he would have to dig up part of any York street. He knew that tweed would not be excited about this thing, so he was like bought it. I were building a pneumatic mail system, yeah! Well, you know that'd be cool. We need a couple of one couple: pneumatic tubes, one, the Sendmail one way one to bring mail back the other way. Clearly, we can't have both going the same. Do because, if message need to be sent in both directions. At the same time, a new climate or it's not gonna, were hand ammonium here, dogs and cats right. So what we need to do is have two tubes, and so they said our eye that that proposal we can get behind. You can can build your your mail, pneumatic tubes and alright. Well, what we're do. Is I'm going how's this pair of tubes? within a larger tube to protect them
so I'm going to dig a really big, pretty big tunnel, as can going pretty big so beach, though came up with a tunneling shield, and we talked about those in the subway opposite to tunnel are essentially a tool that holds up the the of the tunnel while you're digging so that people behind can sure that up with breaker or whatever they're using it seal it off. So he goes in and he starts digging this tunnel. Everyone thinks he's taking tunnels for genetic male tubes is like. I now have this wonderful device that I to demonstrate to people to show them how magical this is you can ride in a carriage underground, thus avoiding the dangerous traffic, that's happening upon the surface level, where you got in a hoarse drunk or just go gone Willy nilly all over the place in passenger rail, your pedestrians everywhere cats and dogs yeah exactly back to the cats and dogs
so he ended up buildings, a track that was only three hundred and twelve feet long or about ninety. Five meters about city block young and the tunnel was eight feet in diameter or two point four metres and about twenty p full could ride on the carriage at a single time He himself funded the construction almost entirely of out of his own pocket, so hundreds of thousands of dollars that beach personally put forward to this cause. He really leaved in it. If you wanted to take a ride on at once, it opened so he opens it in. You actually had to go in through a department store. They had a an entrance to the station quote station through their basement. the station and self was lit by gas. Lanterns had a fountain with goldfish in it, and two statues of mercury were the tunnel. Yeah very understated was Mr Beach. I can
and so, if you wanted to ride, you two bits: twenty five so to bed in order for you to ride, and that would give you a trip to the end of the line and back again and all ticket It's the robot. All that money was given to charity. In fact I and the charity virtue and whose parents worse, whose fathers were soldiers who had who Well, it was a. It was an ongoing to a charitable cause and it was great cause. This was an eighteen, seventy yeah sure yeah. So it was supposed to be the birth of the subway system of New York, but it did not get much traction yeah, so boss, the boss, tweed corruption, scandal happened and then Beach had to distance himself from boss, tweed there and he there was a stock market crash which without pulling a lot of funding away from any possibility of extending this outward.
there are people saying like. Could this actually be efficient? We couldn't necessarily run multiple trains on a single track. It would all be one train per track because you couldn't couldn't control their movement between stations, otherwise, like how would you? How would you get brain aided the unless you have like a really complex system of lower right right, I'm so they started saying. Well, this doesn't like it's going, be very efficient. There's not there's no money to support it and so are also. The rise of electricity meant that, ultimately, it became moot and again you can listen to how subways work to learn about the rest of that story so while it was never really taken seriously as a means of transportation for passengers beach,
the regional proposal to build those pneumatic mailed to which you totally wasn't serious about, did actually catch on, not as he originally imagines them which, where these, like ten foot, diameter tubes above city streets, grind for both people and mail, which he was calling the? U S, pneumatic despair right. Yes, I that never happened the eyes and saw clearly he was. He was influenced, at least in part by the the London Pneumatic Dispatch, which was being successful as far as the mail goes and so He would his his work would live on within that system, although I think he died before see before it was actually built yeah. So oh, very sad, Apis yeah, there's. Let me know what progress is built upon a lot of hard work and sacrifice. not in some cases it comes to us at the
Spence of ideas that seemed awesome but ultimately were untenable. However, something is salvageable from the idea and that I think that's the case with her with beach hope you enjoy, that Classic episode of text of next week. We will have part to the exciting conclusion of a series of tubes. If you have suggestions for topics I should tackle in future, episodes of text please reach out to me the best way to do that is on twitter. The handle for the show is text of each SW. I'll talk to you again, LISA text off is an eye heart radio production for more podcast from my heart radio visit the eye, heart, radio, an apple pie, it's wherever you listen to your favorite jokes, hello, parents and teachers. I want to invite your kids to our new podcast biology squad we are at,
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Transcript generated on 2022-04-09.