Oliver Lodge

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For the British poet and author (1878–1955), see Oliver W. F. Lodge
Sir Oliver Lodge
Oliver Joseph Lodge3.jpg
Born Oliver Joseph Lodge
12 June 1851 (1851-06-12)
Penkhull, Staffordshire
Died 22 August 1940 (1940-08-23) (aged 89)
Lake, Wiltshire
Occupation Physicist and inventor
Awards Rumford Medal of the Royal Society (1898)
Albert Medal (1919)
Faraday Medal (1932)

Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge, FRS[1] (12 June 1851 – 22 August 1940) was a British physicist and writer involved in the development of key patents in wireless telegraphy.[2] In his 1894 Royal Institution lectures ("The Work of Hertz and Some of His Successors"), Lodge coined the term "coherer" for the device developed by French physicist Édouard Branly based on the work of Italian physicist Temistocle Calzecchi Onesti. In 1898 he was awarded the "syntonic" (or tuning) patent by the United States Patent Office. He was also credited by Lorentz (1895)[3] with the first published description of the length contraction hypothesis, in 1893, though in fact Lodge's friend George Francis FitzGerald had first suggested the idea in print in 1889.[4]

Life[edit]

Oliver Lodge was born in 1851 at Penkhull in what is now Stoke-on-Trent, and educated at Adams' Grammar School, Newport, Shropshire. He was the eldest of eight sons and a daughter of Oliver Lodge (1826–1884) – later a ball clay merchant[note 1] at Wolstanton, Staffordshire – and his wife, Grace, née Heath (1826–1879).[5] Sir Oliver's siblings included Sir Richard Lodge (1855–1936), historian; Eleanor Constance Lodge (1869–1936), historian and principal of Westfield College, London; and Alfred Lodge (1854–1937), mathematician.

In 1865, Lodge, at the age of 14, entered his father's business (Oliver Lodge & Son) as an agent for B. Fayle & Co selling Purbeck blue clay to the potteries, travelling as far as Scotland. He continued to assist his father until he reached the age of 22. His father's wealth obtained from selling Purbeck ball clay enabled Lodge to attend physics lectures in London and attend the local Wedgwood Institute.

Lodge obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of London in 1875 and a Doctor of Science in 1877. He was appointed professor of physics and mathematics at University College, Liverpool in 1881. In 1900 Lodge moved from Liverpool back to the Midlands and became the first principal of the new Birmingham University, remaining there until his retirement in 1919. He oversaw the start of the move of the university from Edmund Street in the city centre to its present Edgbaston campus. Lodge was awarded the Rumford Medal of the Royal Society in 1898 and was knighted by King Edward VII in 1902. In 1928 he was made Freeman of his native city, Stoke-on-Trent.

Lodge married Mary Fanny Alexander Marshall at St George's church, Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1877. They had twelve children, six boys and six girls: Oliver William Foster (1878–1955), Francis Brodie (1880–1967), Alec (1881–1938), Lionel (1883–1948), Noel (1885–1962), Violet (1888–1924), Raymond (1889–1915), Honor (1891–1979), Lorna (1892–1987), Norah (1894–1990), Barbara (1896–1983), and Rosalynde (1896–1983). Four of his sons went into business using Lodge's inventions. Brodie and Alec created the Lodge Plug Company, which manufactured sparking plugs for cars and aeroplanes. Lionel and Noel founded a company that produced an electrostatic device for cleaning factory and smelter smoke in 1913, called the Lodge Fume Deposit Company Limited (changed in 1919 to Lodge Fume Company Limited and in 1922, through agreement with the International Precipitation Corporation of California, to Lodge Cottrell Ltd). Oliver, the eldest son, became a poet and author.

After his retirement in 1920, Sir Oliver and Lady Lodge settled in Normanton House, near Lake in Wiltshire, just a few miles from Stonehenge. Lodge and his wife are buried at St. Michael’s Church, Wilsford (Lake), Wiltshire.[6][7] Their eldest son Oliver and eldest daughter Violet are buried at the same church.

Accomplishments[edit]

Maxwell's "Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism" appeared in 1873 and by 1876 Lodge was studying it intently. But he was fairly limited in mathematical physics both by aptitude and training and his first two papers were a description of a mechanism (of beaded strings and pulleys) that could serve to illustrate electrical phenomena such as conduction and polarization. Indeed, Lodge is probably best known for his advocacy and elaboration of Maxwell's aether theory – a later deprecated model postulating a wave-bearing medium filling all space. He explained his views on the aether in "Modern Views of Electricity" (1889) and continued to defend those ideas well into the twentieth century ("Ether and Reality", 1925).

As early as 1879 Lodge became interested in generating (and detecting) electromagnetic waves, something Maxwell had never considered. This interest continued throughout the 1880s but three obstacles slowed Lodge's progress. First, he thought in terms of generating light waves with their very high frequencies rather than radio waves with their much lower frequencies. Second, his good friend George FitzGerald (on whom Lodge depended for theoretical guidance) assured him (incorrectly) that "ether waves could not be generated electromagnetically."[8] FitzGerald later corrected his error but by 1881 Lodge had assumed a teaching position at University College, Liverpool the demands of which limited his time and his energy for research. And so it was Heinrich Hertz in Germany who was the first to demonstrate the transmission of electromagnetic waves in 1888.

Lodge carried out scientific investigations on lightning, the source of the electromotive force in the voltaic cell, electrolysis, and the application of electricity to the dispersal of fog and smoke.[citation needed] Lodge simulated lightning by discharging Leyden jars. When he attached a long wire to a Leyden jar in a darkened room, he noted a glow at intervals along the wire, evidence that he was observing electromagnetic waves. Lodge performed these experiments at the same time that Hertz was investigating the propagation of electromagnetic waves in free space.[9]

On 14 August 1894, at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science at Oxford University, Lodge gave a lecture on the work of Hertz (recently deceased). There he conducted a demonstration of Hertzian (radio) based wireless telegraphy, transmitting messages between two buildings, showing their potential for communication.[10] This was one year before Marconi stated demonstrating his system for radio wireless telegraphy.

Many people in the Victorian era including Charles Dickens firmly believed in telepathy. Lodge thought that mind reading might be a form of communication through the ether, rather like radio waves. His adherence to spiritualism (explained below) would cause the estimation of his work by his scientific contemporaries to plummet spectacularly.

Only recently has full credit has been given to his patent, which he called 'synchronicity' and which was purchased and plagiarized by Marconi who employed him as a consultant.[11]

Previously, on 25 June 1995, the Royal Society had recognized this scientific achievement at a special ceremony at Oxford University.[note 2] In 1894 he attempted to detect radio emission from the Sun, but his apparatus was not sensitive enough and the experiment would have been ruined by electrical interference from Liverpool in any case.[12]

Lodge improved Edouard Branly's coherer radio wave detector by adding the "decoherer", a vibrator which dislodged clumped filings, thus automatically maintaining the device's sensitivity. He worked with Alexander Muirhead on the development of wireless telegraphy, selling their patents to Marconi in 1912.[citation needed]

Raymond Lodge (1889–1915)

Lodge also made a major contribution to motoring when he patented a form of electric spark ignition for the internal combustion engine (the Lodge Igniter).[citation needed] Later, two of his sons developed his ideas and in 1903 founded Lodge Bros, which eventually became known as Lodge Plugs Ltd. He also made discoveries in the field of wireless transmission.[13] In 1898, Lodge gained a patent on the moving-coil loudspeaker, utilizing a coil connected to a diaphragm, suspended in a strong magnetic field.[14] His "syntonic" tuner patent[2] allowed the frequency of transmitter and receiver to be "verified with ease and certainty". This was a basic patent in the industry, unusually recognized as such when extended, and purchased and used by the Marconi Company.

In political life, Lodge was an active member of the Fabian Society and published two Fabian Tracts: Socialism & Individualism (1905) and co-authored Public Service versus Private Expenditure with Sidney Webb, George Bernard Shaw and Sidney Ball. They invited him several times to lecture at the London School of Economics.[15]

Lodge a Spiritualist was a friend of Arthur Conan Doyle, who also lost a son in World War I and was a Spiritualist. Altogether, Lodge wrote more than 40 books, about the afterlife, aether, relativity, and electromagnetic theory.

In 1889 Lodge was appointed President of the Liverpool Physical Society, a position he held until 1893. The society still runs to this day, though under a student body.

Spiritualism[edit]

Lodge is remembered for his studies in psychical research and Spiritualism. He first began to study psychical phenomena (chiefly telepathy) in the late 1880s, was a member of The Ghost Club and served as president of the London-based Society for Psychical Research from 1901 to 1903. After his son, Raymond, was killed in World War I in 1915 he visited several mediums and wrote about the experience in a number of books, including the best-selling Raymond or Life and Death (1916).[16]

Lodge was a Christian Spiritualist. In 1909 he published the book Survival of Man which expressed his belief that life after death had been demonstrated by mediumship. His most controversial book was Raymond or Life and Death (1916). The book documented the séances that he and his wife had attended with the medium Gladys Osborne Leonard. Lodge was convinced that his son Raymond had communicated with him and the book is a description of his son's experiences in the spirit world.[17] According to the book Raymond had reported that people who had died were still the same people when they passed over, there were houses, trees and flowers and the Spirit world looked similar to earth but there is no disease. The book also claimed that when soldiers died in World War I they had smoked cigars and received whisky in the spirit world and because of such statements the book was criticised.[18] Walter Cook wrote a rebuttal to Lodge Reflections on Raymond (1917) that directly challenged Lodge's beliefs in Spiritualism.[19]

Although Lodge was convinced that Leonard's spirit control "Feda" had communicated with his son, he admitted a good deal of the information was nonsense and suggested that Feda picked it up from a séance sitter. Paul Carus wrote the "story of Raymond's communications rather excels all prior tales of mediumistic lore in the silliness of its revelations. But the saddest part of it consists in the fact that a great scientist, no less a one than Sir Oliver Lodge, has published the book and so stands sponsor for it."[20]

Scientific work on electromagnetic radiation convinced Lodge that an ether existed and that it filled the entire universe. Lodge came to believe that the spirit world existed in the ether. As a Christian Spiritualist, Lodge had written that the resurrection in the Bible referred to Christ's etheric body becoming visible to his disciples after the Crucifixion.[21] By the 1920s the physics of the ether had been undermined by the theory of relativity, however, Lodge still defended his ether theory and rejected relativity.[22] Linked to his belief in Spiritualism, Lodge had also endorsed a theory of spiritual evolution which he promoted in Man and the Universe (1908) and Making of Man (1924).[23] He lectured on theistic evolution at the Charing Cross Hospital and at Christ Church, Westminster. His lectures were published in a book Evolution and Creation (1926).[24]

The Spiritualist beliefs and publications of Lodge sold well to the public but were not accepted by the scientific community.[25] In 1913 the biologist Ray Lankester criticised the Spiritualist views of Lodge as unscientific and misleading the public.[26] Joseph McCabe wrote a skeptical book on the Spiritualist beliefs of Lodge entitled The Religion of Sir Oliver Lodge (1914).[27]

Edward Clodd criticized Lodge as being an incompetent researcher to detect fraud and claimed his Spiritualist beliefs were based on magical thinking and primitive superstition.[28] Charles Arthur Mercier a specialist in insanity wrote in his book Spiritualism and Sir Oliver Lodge (1917) that Lodge had been duped into believing mediumship by trickery and his Spiritualist views were based on assumptions and not scientific evidence.[29] Francis Jones in the American Journal of Psychology in a review for Lodge's The Survival of Man wrote it's psychical claims are not scientific and the book is one-sided as it does not contain research from experimental psychology.[30]

According to the magician John Booth the stage mentalist David Devant managed to fool a number of people into believing he had genuine psychic ability who did not realize that his feats were magic tricks. At St. George's Hall, London he performed a fake "clairvoyant" act where he would read a message sealed inside an envelope. Oliver Lodge who was present in the audience was duped by the trick and claimed that Devant had used psychic powers. In 1936 Devant in his book Secrets of My Magic revealed the trick method he had used.[31]

Tributes[edit]

Lodge received the honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D) from the University of Glasgow in June 1901.[32]

The author of his obituary in The Times wrote:

Always an impressive figure, tall and slender with a pleasing voice and charming manner, he enjoyed the affection and respect of a very large circle…

Lodge’s gifts as an expounder of knowledge were of a high order, and few scientific men have been able to set forth abstruse facts in a more lucid or engaging form… Those who heard him on a great occasion, as when he gave his Romanes lecture at Oxford or his British Association presidential address at Birmingham, were charmed by his alluring personality as well as impressed by the orderly development of his thesis. But he was even better in informal debate, and when he rose, the audience, however perplexed or jaded, settled down in a pleased expectation that was never disappointed.[33]

Oliver Lodge Primary School in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa is named in his honour.

Lodge is commemorated in a bronze figure entitled Education, at the base of the Queen Victoria Monument in Liverpool.[34]

Historical records[edit]

Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge

Sir Oliver Lodge's letters and papers were divided after his death. Some were deposited at the University of Birmingham and University of Liverpool and others at the Society for Psychical Research and the University College London. Lodge was long-lived and a prolific letter writer and other letters of his survive in the personal papers of other individuals and several other universities and other institutions. Among the known collections of his papers are the following:

  • The University of Birmingham Special Collections holds over 2000 items of Sir Oliver's correspondence relating to family, co-workers at Birmingham and Liverpool Universities and also from numerous religious, political and literary figures. The collection also includes a number of Lodge's diaries, photographs and newscuttings relating to his scientific research and scripts of his published work. There are also an additional 212 letters of Sir Oliver Lodge which have been acquired over the years (1881–1939).
  • The University of Liverpool holds some notebooks and letters of Oliver Lodge and also has a laboratory named after him, the main administrative centre of the Physics Department where the majority of lecturers and researchers have their offices.
  • The London Science Museum holds an early notebook of Oliver Lodge's dated 1880, correspondence dating from 1894–1913 and a paper on atomic theory.

Books[edit]

Notable relatives[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Purbeck Blue Clay, as it was then known, according to [1].
  2. ^ Present at the ceremony were three of Lodge's grandsons, Oliver Raymond Wynlane Lodge, Thomas Odoard Marshall Lodge, and Colin William Uppington Lodge; three of his great grandsons, Brodie Barton Odoard Lodge, Owen Barnaby Lodge and David John Angelo Trotman; the President of the Royal Society, Sir Michael Atiyah; Dr Peter Rowlands and Dr J. Patrick Wilson.[citation needed]
  1. ^ Gregory, R. A.; Ferguson, A. (1941). "Oliver Joseph Lodge. 1851-1940". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society 3 (10): 550. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1941.0022.  edit
  2. ^ a b Lodge, (1898). Improvements in Syntonized Telegraphy without Line Wires. British Patent Office.
  3. ^ Lorentz, H. A. (1895) "Michelson's Interference Experiment" (reprinted in The Principle of Relativity, Dover, 1952, page 4)
  4. ^ Lodge, O. J. (1893). "Aberration Problems. A Discussion concerning the Motion of the Ether near the Earth, and concerning the Connexion between Ether and Gross Matter; with Some New Experiments". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 184: 727. doi:10.1098/rsta.1893.0015.  edit
  5. ^ Oliver and Grace Lodge are buried in St. Thomas Church Yard, Penkhull according to this web site.
  6. ^ Oliver Joseph Lodge at Find a Grave
  7. ^ For a photo of his gravesite, see "Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge". Archived from the original on 21 June 2008. Retrieved 1 July 2008. 
  8. ^ Hunt, Bruce J. (2005) The Maxwellians. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. p. 37. ISBN 0801482348.
  9. ^ Rowlands, Peter (1990) Oliver Lodge and the Liverpool Physics Society. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. p. 23. ISBN 0853230277.
  10. ^ Lodge, Oliver J (1932). Past Years: An Autobiography, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, page 231.
  11. ^ Bragg, Melvyn (5 July 2013). "The Invention of Radio". BBC UK. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  12. ^ Hey, J. S. (1973). The Evolution of Radio Astronomy. Histories of Science Series 1. Paul Elek (Scientific Books). 
  13. ^ Regal, Brian. (2005). Radio: The Life Story of a Technology. Greenwood. p. 21. ISBN 0-313-33167-7
  14. ^ Lodge, (1898). British Patent 9,712/98.
  15. ^ Jolly, W. P. (1975). Sir Oliver Lodge. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 978-0838617038
  16. ^ Brown, Callum G. (2006). Religion and Society in Twentieth-Century Britain. Longman. p. 104. ISBN 978-0582472891
  17. ^ Kollar, Rene (2000). Searching for Raymond. Lexington Books. pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-0739101612
  18. ^ Byrne, Georgina (2010) Modern Spiritualism and the Church of England, 1850–1939. Boydell Press. pp. 75–79. ISBN 978-1843835899
  19. ^ Emden, Richard (2012). The Quick and the Dead. Bloomsbury Paperbacks. p. 201. ISBN 978-1408822456
  20. ^ Carus, Paul. (1917). Sir Oliver Lodge on Life After Death. The Monist, Vol. 27, No. 2. pp. 316-319.
  21. ^ Bowler, Peter J. (2001). Reconciling Science and Religion: The Debate in Early-Twentieth-Century Britain. University Of Chicago Press. pp. 49–50. ISBN 978-0226068589
  22. ^ Perlick, Volker (2000). Ray Optics, Fermat's Principle, and Applications to General Relativity. Springer. p. 201. ISBN 978-3540668985
  23. ^ Bowler, Peter J.. (2009). Science For All: The Popularization of Science in Early Twentieth-Century. University Of Chicago Press. p. 44. ISBN 978-0226068633
  24. ^ The Bookman: A Review of Books and Life. Volume 64. Dodd, Mead. 1926. p. 104.
  25. ^ Oppenheim, Janet (1988). The Other World: Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England, 1850–1914. Cambridge University Press. p. 482. ISBN 978-0739101612
  26. ^ Bowler, Peter J. (2001). Reconciling Science and Religion: The Debate in Early-Twentieth-Century Britain. University Of Chicago Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0226068589
  27. ^ McCabe, Joseph. (1914). The Religion of Sir Oliver Lodge. Watts & Co.
  28. ^ Clodd, Edward. (1917). The Question: A Brief History and Examination of Modern Spiritualism. Grant Richards, London. pp. 265–301
  29. ^ Mercier, Charles Arthur. (1917). Spiritualism and Sir Oliver Lodge. London: Mental Culture Enterprise.
  30. ^ Francis Jones. (1910). The Survival of Man; A Study in Unrecognized Human Faculty by Oliver Lodge. The American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 21, No. 3. p. 505.
  31. ^ Booth, John. (1986). Psychic Paradoxes. Prometheus Books. pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-0879753580
  32. ^ "Glasgow University jubilee" The Times (London). Friday, 14 June 1901. (36481), p. 10.
  33. ^ Obituary in The Times, Friday 23 August 1940 (page 7, column 4)
  34. ^ Queen Victoria Monument The Victorian Web

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

 Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lodge, Sir Oliver Joseph". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

Academic offices
Preceded by
new institution
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham
1900–1920
Succeeded by
Charles Grant Robertson