Always Alert, Samuel Morse’s Success Came From Unlikely Origin


Finding Success can be an Enigma...ask William Tell

Finding Success can be an Enigma...ask William Tell

I guess Morse Ended Up Finishing His Lafayette Painting

I guess Morse Ended Up Finishing His Lafayette Painting

On This Date in History: In 1810, a young man graduated from Yale and immediately went to England to study art. He created a giant painting and a small sculpture and called them both “the Dying Hercules.” These were his most significant works and I suppose that he figured that was the best he could do and so he came home to America. He decided to paint portraits for a living. He had some works that were considered outstanding including one of Lafayette and other historical figures that were recognized for the extreme detail. Among his portraits of famous people was one of Eli Whitney. The young man gained a pretty big reputation but also was known as a man with a small income. That makes me think that if he was such a big painter, then maybe he would figure out that he needed to charge more for his paintings. I guess perhaps his reputation was good at the price he charged. Had he charged more, then maybe he wouldn’t have been so popular. Well, its a good thing for him, and for the rest of the world, that he had other pursuits to relieve his creative mind.

Signal Flags Were Still Used in Spanish American War When Other Communications Were Not Practical

The word “telegraph” derives from the Greek word, “to write far.” Pretty good description. Before there was electricity, there was a communication system that fit that description. It was in the form of tall poles that put up different arms and other signals. It could be seen at a distance. It was used during the Battle of Waterloo to let the folks know back in London what was going on with the struggle against Napoleon. I suppose that has its use but for long distances, you probably would need a series of big poles with a guy hanging around each one and waiting for a signal to be seen from one direction so he could then relay it to someone in the other direction. I suppose it was better than nothing and probably faster than relying on a guy on a horse, like Paul Revere…though Paul was pretty fast and he could travel at night, which obviously was a limitation for this early form of “telegraph.”

1844 First Telegraph Receiver

1844 First Telegraph Receiver

So, along comes electricity. Now, a bunch of inventors had figured out the basic principals involved but it was left to the somewhat successful American painter, Samuel Finley Breese Morse, to understand the practical application of those principals and the first to take pragmatic steps to invent a way to take exploit those principals. While at Yale, Morse had taken a keen interest in electricity but was lured by his love for art. He studied under Benjamin West and Washington Allston, who were considered two of the better painters of the day. He got married in 1818 but, while he was working on his painting of the Marquis de Lafayette, he got news his wife died. He left the painting unfinished and became an artistic recluse in his grief. But an odd thing happened, in his grief, he rediscovered his interest in electricity. He attended some lectures of academics but eventually returned to art.

William Cullen Bryant by Morse

William Cullen Bryant by Morse

In 1829, he went back to Europe to study art.  Had he not done that, he may never had received the inspiration of the telegraph. You see…in 1832 he was on board a ship returning to America when he came upon some scientists who were discussing the properties of electricity. One man queried whether electricity lost its velocity over a long distance. When another remarked that in Ben Franklin’s experiments, he had noted that a captured electrical current traveled over several miles of wire without any time differential as the reaction at the end of the wire seemed to be coincidental with the intialization of the current. That statement triggered the small spark of inspiration in Sam Morse’s head.

Old Sam Looks Like a Decorated Warrior

Old Sam Looks Like a Decorated Warrior

That left Morse with a tough choice. If he wanted to immerse himself in electricity, then he had to give up painting but, with no painting, he had no income. He was already rather poor, often skipping meals for extended periods or depending on the help from friends. In 1835, he was granted a teaching position in the Art Department of the State University of New York. That gave him access to the facilities and faculty at the University and afforded him the opportunity to expand his electrical research. With the help of a colleague, he made numerous successful experiments and developed a code of communication, known today as the Morse Code. In 1842, Morse went to Washington to build a telegraph line. In early 1843, he convinced Congress to grant him $30,000 to build a line from Washington to Baltimore. And finally, on this date in 1843, Samuel F.B. Morse demonstrated his telegraph to the world. His friend, Miss Ellsworth, came up with the first words to be transmitted. It was “What Hath God Wrought?” Indeed…what? It was the beginning of the information age that eventually progressed from communications by telegraph to radio to television and now the internet. All because a painter became heartbroken by his wife’s death and because he had run off to Europe as part of his grief.

I suppose, this might be an example of “don’t give up.” Difficult situations today might make you say “why me?” or make you angry. But, it could be that circumstance that proves necessary for your later success and happiness.

Weather Bottom Line:  Everything is going right along as scheduled.  However, it got a bit warmer sooner than I expected. Snow White and I were out and about on Sunday afternoon.  Even though we officially hit 90, I think just about everyone was in the mid to upper 80’s since no one lives at the airport where they decided a few years ago to keep the official records.  Necessarily, that means that the temperatures will be hotter.  It’s going to be very difficult for Louisville to break all time low temperature records.  Anyway, my thinking was that there would be so much humidity that it would be difficult to get to 90 this week and I still think that is the case.  But…whatever.  Its going to be pretty warm and humid.  Having said that, isolated afternoon t’showers will be possible..the exception not the rule. One way you can tell if they are going to be an issue if, at noon time you see any towering cumulus clouds. If you do, then there is a good bet that there will be storms in the afternoon.  If not…if you just see puffy cumulus or ones that are kinda flattened out, that would suggest that there is somewhat of a cap and that storms aren’t likely.  Now, at the end of the week, there is a frontal boundary that will be approaching that may bring a better chance for general rain and t’storm activity. 

This is What the actual satellite photo of the Atlantic and the disturbance looked like on May 24 2010

As mentioned yesterday, there is a little system north of the Bahamas.  I’ve seen it show up on the models for several days.  Generally they only take it to 1004 mb and keeps it meandering offshore of the SE US before it scoots away.  I found several news outlets though that, last Friday, claimed that we could have a tropical storm over the weekend.  The Palm Beach Post said “…there’s a chance the first storm of the season will form this weekend.”  That was such nonsense except that 1% chance I suppose qualifies as a “chance.”  There was nothing to suggest that.  Even the guy from the local NWS office didn’t say that. They just made it up. And they weren’t alone.  It’s headline writers and producers in news rooms that often give meteorologists a bad name because they write things that are not accurate. 

This is the photo the TV station uses in association with a story that says absolutely nothing about a tropical storm, tropical depression or hurricane. You decide using this old photo is a responsible act.

Now, WXJT in Jacksonville has one of several headlines put out by various media outlets today that are just as far off base.   They show a picture of a very mature and completely developed hurricane, which who knows when that was taken, but its not this one and they know it but a casual reader may not.  All they see is the photo and a headline that reads,  “Tropical System Brewing in Atlantic?”  If the TV station bothered to read the first sentence of the special statement put out by the National Hurricane Center (found below) it says “…the non-tropical low pressure system….”  That should answer their question mark. They suggest that there is less than a one in three chance for it to acquire subtropical characteristics in the next few days… nothing about tropical.  Now, last night, I found one model run that wanted to run this guy off the Virginia coast and then deepen it quickly to about 984mb as it ran up  just offshore the Northeast and New England coast.  Seemed a bit odd and now that abherration is no where to be found.  Every model that i looked at today still has a 1004-1008 mb low wandering about for a few days off the South Carolina and Georgia Coast before it moves northeast.  From the satellite picture,even an untrained eye like a news producer can see it looks nothing like a tropical cyclone.  Is it possible for it to acquire those characteristics?  Yes. Probable? NO.  And it would have to become a fully developed major tropical cyclone to affect the oil slick operations in the Gulf, and that seems very unlikely…though I suppose the headline writers might say there’s a chance if I said it was .00025% chance.  They like to scare people so they will buy the news paper, read their webpage or watch their news.  Don’t worry about it.  Having said all of that, I have seen in the past where an early storm of dubious distinction was given a name with the “subtropical” modifier. I have speculated that if there is an excuse for a name, they find it early on just to make people more aware of the season’s start.  I have no proof but, I have sometimes wondered if a couple of storms have actually met the criteria and qualified for a name.  So, I won’t be surprised to see a name, deservedly or not…but either way…..there is no indication at all that it will be anything but a moot point.

1. SATELLITE IMAGES AND SURFACE OBSERVATIONS INDICATE THAT THE
NON-TROPICAL LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM CENTERED ABOUT 475 MILES SOUTHWEST
OF BERMUDA HAS NOT BECOME BETTER ORGANIZED SINCE YESTERDAY.  THIS
SYSTEM IS PRODUCING A LARGE AREA OF DISORGANIZED SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN ATLANTIC OCEAN ALONG WITH WINDS
TO GALE FORCE.  THE LOW IS EXPECTED TO MOVE SLOWLY TOWARD THE
NORTH-NORTHWEST AND IT STILL HAS THE POTENTIAL TO ACQUIRE
SUBTROPICAL CHARACTERISTICS DURING THE NEXT DAY OR SO.  THERE IS A
MEDIUM CHANCE…30 PERCENT… OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A SUBTROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.  FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION…
PLEASE SEE HIGH SEAS FORECASTS ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL WEATHER
SERVICE…UNDER AWIPS HEADER NFDHSFAT1 AND WMO HEADER FZNT01 KWBC.
ANOTHER STATEMENT WILL BE ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER
THIS EVENING.

$$
FORECASTER PASCH/ROBERTS
NNNN

4 Responses

  1. Great posts the last few days. The Samuel Morse is new stuff. It is amazing how that great things often times comes from folks who have reached the bottom but didn’t give up. Inspiring indeed.

    We’ll take boring weather for a change. The weather doesn’t seem to get that way very often except during the “dog days” of summer of which we’re getting a little foretaste this week. You shouldn’t be surprised by the media, especially the print media, doing something irresponsible to sell papers. That’s nothing “newsworthy”. Now responsible journalism: THAT would be news!

  2. Your memory is fading. Sam’s is a retread. MacArthur was new. Deborah Sampson was new. Washington and Cincinnatus was greatly expanded. My dad liked his birthday card though, even though he was embarrassed. I kinda liked that one too as well as MacArthur.

  3. Oops! Well, you’re so good, Mr. Symon that even your retreads are like new! I guess that sounds better than, I’m getting old and forgot that I’d seen it before. Yes, it was very nice of you to pay homage to your dear ol’ Dad. Then to put him in the same column as the Father of Our Country was even a greater compliment. We should all be thankful that we had George Washington and not Napoleon Bonaparte! I don’t think that the thought of turning down the Emporer position ever even crossed Napoleon’s mind for a second. Of course, we’re all thankful for the father of Bob Symon as well!

  4. wow

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