Friday, April 13, 2012

Odd Careers



Lets start by clearing up yesterday's mystery. There were lots of good guesses and lots of fun in the comments yesterday. As it turns out the man was a fingerprint clerk for the government. As it turns out, back in the day, clerks were expected to memorize the fingerprints. Since there were no computers, people would have to look at prints from a crime scene, and try to remember them from the gazillions on file. People were hired for having peculiar memory skills.

OK, for today, what was this mans job. I will give you a hint . . . he built cages, but what was he trying to catch?

15 comments:

  1. Now this has to be one of the stranges jobs ever thought up.
    That is a photo of Michael Faraday, he was a great inventer of his day. He invented the Faraday cage and it is a metallic enclosure that prevents the entry or escape of an electromagnetic field (EM field). An ideal Faraday cage consists of an unbroken, perfectly conducting shell. This ideal cannot be achieved in practice, but can be approached by using fine-mesh copper screening. For best performance, the cage should be directly connected to an earth ground.

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  2. By the way, "GOOD JOB" Henry Wood on guessing yesterdays photo. That would have to be one of the toughest job ever. Thank goodness for computers doing that job now.
    WOW!! Can you guess at how long it would take just to match just one print.

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  3. Trying to catch a lightning bolt? That looks quite a lot like Faraday to me ...

    Hey, my first ever guess here, lets see how it fares :-)

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    1. Ouch, should've read the other comments before posting. At least I get solace on the fact that it was an honest guess, and a correct on on top of that :-)

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  4. "... he built cages, but what was he trying to catch?"

    Not catch, but keeping EM field outside.

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  5. This was an early type of plastic wrap. He built the cage to trap bugs.It appears he is wrapped up in his work.

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  8. The amazing thing isn't Faraday's career. The amazing thing is looking into the face of someone born during Washington's first administration.

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  9. Hee hee hee. I thought it was William Robert Thornton, great great grandfather of Billy Bob, maker of fine banjos.

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  10. DADD, you are close. This is actually Robert Faraday, elder brother of Michael, who everyone knows was a brass founder and painter. He was perhaps best known for his fine brass cribbage boards which he offered for sale in his portrait studio. During the era of the industrial revolution everyone was walking around with grimy hands covered in coal dust, grease, petroleum goop, and the like. Robert Faraday found it exceedingly frustrating when the unwashed browsers of his cribbage boards (in his day commonly called "smudgers") would wander into his portrait gallery and handle his work without buying anything. Faraday invented a smelt brass cage (called the Faraday Cage) which was placed over the customer upon entry to his cribbage showroom so that they could browse his selection of cribbage boards, but be unable to pass through the doorway to his portrait gallery and smudge his paintings. Robert Faraday was also the man responsible for inventing the brass handle attachment now found on opera glasses, so that patrons of the opera would not smudge their lenses and be able to see what was going up on stage. Sadly, Robert Faraday's success was also his undoing. The Faraday Cages were soon adopted by other painters as well and art patrons were required to don a cage upon entering art studios. Although it prevented the paintings from getting smudged, customers found the cages uncomfortable and cumbersome. Photographers seized on the discontent and offered their customers "cageless studios," and within short order photography had displaced oil paintings. This is one reason why early photos (as witnessed by the image in question) often appear smudged. Opera, in a like manner, suffered from Robert Faraday's invention, as opera goers could now view the stage clearly and began realizing that it was really just a bunch of overweight people in silly costumes. It was at this point that Robert's younger brother Michael started his famous gas experiments. Although Robert's brass cribbage boards remained popular, as Michael's experiments became better known, it became frustratingly popular for people to enter Robert's store and remark, "Who made these fine cribbage boards?" To which some fellow customer assuming he was the first to discover the retort would exclaim, "He who smelt it dealt it!" This coupled with the fact that many who purchased cribbage boards lost the pegs when they slipped from their grimy hands, led Robert to eventually abandon his vocation altogether. Michael eventually purchased his brother's surplus cages for use in his own scientific work, but retained the name Faraday Cage as it was also his surname. Collectors will find that it is almost impossible to find any of Robert's cribbage boards today as ironically, it was later realized that brass suffers acutely from smudging.

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    1. Nate, it doesn't matter what this guy does, because nothing will top your version of the story. :)

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  11. Nate, what color is the sky in your world?

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  12. Michael Faraday, I recognised him form old physics books. My husband the electrical engineer, recognised him too and knew about his cage which I didn't know about but I remembered a Coulomb Cage.

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