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British Industrial History

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Salvatore Dal Negro

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Italian physicist and clergyman.

Born in Venice, 12 November 1768. Died in Padua, 31 January 1839

He came from a humble background and studied theology in Murano. In 1791 he was ordained a priest and then went to Padua to study law. Although he completed his law studies, his interests had turned to physics.

In 1806, he was appointed a professor of mechanics and experimental physics, and in 1817 the appointment was confirmed by the Austrian emperor. Dal Negro was interested in electrical and electromechanical phenomena, and from 1831 he experimented with electromagnets and from 1832 with a battery-electric locomotive.

1809 Dal Negro invented the 'Oligochronometer', an instrument to accurately measure the smallest fractions of the time.

The above information is condensed from the German Wikipedia entry, accessed 11 October 2018.

In 1832 he made what was probably the first electric engine with a quantifiable power output. It could lift 60 grams 5 centimetres in one second, equivalent to nearly 30 mW of mechanical power. A drawing shows that an inverted 'pendulum', pivoted at the bottom, was caused to oscillate by electromagnets at the top, and the pendulum actuated a small winch drum via a ratchet. See here for drawing and brief description.[1]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] Douglas Self's website - The Electromagnetic Engine