Design a site like this with
Get started

Benjamin Thompson, gaslighting, William Murdoch, and the screw cutting lathe

Essay #30 History Of Inventions

Hello, in today’s essay I will be writing about Benjamin Thompson, gaslighting, William Murdoch, and the screw cutting lathe. Let’s get started!

Benjamin Thompson

Benjamin Thompson was born in Massachusetts;he lived on a farm and he knew that education was the only way out of the farm. He was self-lead, and self-taught. He read every book he could put his hands on. He apprenticed a local merchant. He loved science and experimented with heat, when he was 16, which led to him inventing improved chimneys and fireplaces.

When the revolutionary war started, his wife made him join the British forces as she herself was siding with the brits. When Boston won their independence, he had to flee Boston and go to Great Britain, and left his wife and daughter behind. When he arrived in England he was already known as a great scientist due to the multiple scientific papers already published. There he experimented with cannons and gunpowder. He established the Royal Institution in 1799.

Later on he went to Germany and assisted the German royalty but he also helped the poor, and made Rumford soup. The ingredients of the soup were: barley, peas, vegetables, potato, and beer. It was a cheap but yet nutritious soup that fed the poor. Up to now I never knew that beer was part of soup. Did you know that. He also helped the German royalty make a beautiful English garden in Bavaria. In 1791 he was made a count, kind of like a prince; he was named “Count Rumford,” in the Holy Roman Empire. This means he got a lot of land. Now you know why the soup was named Rumford soup, it came after his Bavarian name.

Although, he sided with the British army during the revolutionary war, he was valued as a scientist by the Americans and he was accepted as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Here are a few of his greatest scientific contributions:

1. Thermodynamics was born from Thomas’s work on heat transfer.

2. His heat transferred theory led to the invention of the “sous vide” cooking method; which uses water to circulate heat at a much lower temperature than circulating air. The cooking is uniform, however, it takes much longer to cook this way, also the meat and herbs have to be placed in a plastic bag under vacuum. Well, by now we all know that plastic is not good for hour heath nor for the environment, therefore I don’t think this method of cooking is good for us.

3. He helped to uncover the periodic table of elements, which is basically the beginning of modern chemistry. How did he do this? He hired Humphry Davy, who used electrolysis to discover several periodic elements.

Wow, isn’t history interesting? A farm boy from Massachusetts ends up a count under the Holy Roman Empire in Bavaria, and his scientific work puts the foundation to thermodynamics and helps discover elements of the periodic table. “Wow!”


A man named William Murdoch experimented with gas, and he invented a portable gas lantern. He installed gas lights in his own house; they provided illumination all night long. The gas’s light it requires less effort to maintain than a normal candle, because with a normal candle you would have to keep relating it every time it went off, but with the gaslight you did not need to do that, it would just stay on. Gas companies installed gas lines ,that are kind of like modern day cables, throughout cities. The gas lights would lengthen the working day, because you could spend more hours at work and come back home at night with no problem, or with no freight of getting robbed.

William Murdoch was not the only person who was trying to start a light industry, other people were trying to too. The only difference was, he promoted it very well. It spread around the World by the mid-1800s, and if we skip forward through time a little bit, it evolved into the DC electric light, which then was changed to the AC electric light.

Before we move to the next topic, did you know that the expression gaslighting means to trick somebody into thinking they are crazy, to make them question their sanity? Not quite crazy but as if what they saw or heard was just in their imagination. Let’s say you farted, and somebody next to you heard it very faintly and said “What was that? Somebody fart.” And you would say, “What? No nobody farted, I’m sure it was probably just your imagination.” That is an example of gas lighting somebody.

William Murdoch

William Murdoch was born in 1745, he received a Scottish Presbyterian education. He walked 300 miles to go work for James White, now that’s a lot. His biggest invention was his gaslighting, that we talked about in the lesson above. He improved Watts steam engine without much publicity, he also developed a working model of a steam carriage (car). His inventive creativity extended to chemistry, and also helped him invent numerous smaller things. His gas lighting spread rapidly, and he made a lot of wealthy and influential friends.

He won the Rumford medal in 1808, not only that, but the steamboat industry was successful because of him. And also his gaslighting led to the invention of the electric lightbulb.

Screw cutting lathe

Henry Maudslay was a British inventor, he worked for a locksmith. He invented the first successful crew cutting lathe. The new machine tool could cut screws with high precision and it made it much easier to make screws. Identical gadgets eventually replace handmade gadgets. His marketing also helped his machine become so successful. His device led to international standardization, and his idea took a generation to takeoff in England. Nowadays his invention is used so much, and we barely even think that it’s hard to make screws, of course there’s obviously a level of difficulty in it, but we don’t even think about it.

Thank you for reading this essay, I hope you enjoyed. Would you like to share with me what interesting invention you heard of lately? Anyway, bye and see you next time!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: