Monday, November 21, 2005

Today in History - November 21

On November 21, 1877, inventor Thomas Alva Edison announced the invention of his phonograph.

From the Edison National Historic Site:

OK, then--did they save his brain when he died?

This was stated on an episode of "The Simpsons" (first aired September 20, 1998), but don't worry, it is not true. Edison's brain is buried with the rest of his body behind his home, Glenmont, which is part of Edison National Historic Site.

However, when Edison died, some people thought that saving his brain was a good idea. Professor Oskar Vogt at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, Germany, said that Edison's brain should be saved and studied by scientists. (This was reported in the New York Times, October 25, 1931.) Luckily, no one listened to him.

Most of the facts given about Edison in the Simpsons episode were quite accurate--more so than most Edison documentaries! However, there were a few errors:

Although Edison claimed to have invented wax paper, he probably did not.
He invented the alkaline storage battery.
He did not invent the microphone.
He had no machine that talked to the dead. (See above.)
He had no poster of Leonardo daVinci.
There was no six-legged chair or electric hammer.

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