The (Victorian) Experts Have Spoken

Part of plotting the Past Lives trilogy was figuring out which steampunk inventions the Order created and used.  Fortunately I came up with a specific use for goggles first!

Can’t do steampunk without goggles

I tend to be skeptical of new technology, so it was hard to put myself in the place of Cassandra Masters’s uncle Harry Fullbright.  Harry, a very forward-thinking Victorian, has a home in Belgrave Square that’s filled with blueprints, inventions, and prototypes.  Writing about Harry made me wonder how the breakthrough inventions of the Victorian Era were viewed.  Here’s some of what I found:

  • “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.  The device is inherently of no value to us.” — Western Union internal memo, 1876.
  • “Drill for oil?  You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil?  You’re crazy.”  — Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.
  •  “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” — Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.
  • “The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon.” — Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appoint Surgeon-Extraordinare to Queen Victoria, 1873.
  •  “X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” — William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, 1899.
  • “Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure.” — Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison’s light bulb, 1880.
  • “Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.” — Dr. Dionysys Larder (1793-1859), professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, University College, London
  • “Fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time.  Nobody will use it, ever.” — Thomas Edison. American inventer, 1889 

In the course of compiling these quotes, I discovered a rather well-known story about Queen Victoria refusing to believe in lesbians (“Such creatures do not exist”) is a complete fabrication.  Many of my older reference books list it as fact.  But click here for the real scoop.

More tomorrow.  In the meantime, hump-day is over and the weekend is in sight!

    4 thoughts on “The (Victorian) Experts Have Spoken

    1. I read the scoop. hehe I can see it!I knew some of these but don't we still do that? Charles told me this morning the story of a guy in Europe, blind since age 9, who can now see, colors, contours through the use of a visor very much like the one Geordi used to wear on ST:TNG. And I was like "WHAT?!We ain't that far from our Victorian ancestors, I think.

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