Talk:John Ambrose Fleming

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Biography / Science and Academia (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Biography, a collaborative effort to create, develop and organize Wikipedia's articles about people. All interested editors are invited to join the project and contribute to the discussion. For instructions on how to use this banner, please refer to the documentation.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by the science and academia work group.
WikiProject Physics / Biographies  (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Physics, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Physics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
This article is supported by Biographies Taskforce.

Direction rules[edit]

John Ambrose Fleming (1849 - 1945) Professor of Electrical Engineering at University College London. Inventor of the Thermionic Valve. Is widely known for his direction rules for induced e.m.f's

There are two Fleming direction rules, one for each hand. Fleming’s Left Hand Rule is for Motor actions – not looked at here - and Fleming’s Right Hand Rule for generator actions, which is used to determine the direction of the induced e.m.f. in a conductor.

Fleming’s Right Hand Rule rule can be remembered using the memory aid below.

The capital letters in brackets for each finger give the clue to identify the property _________________________________________________________

(F)irst (F)inger: (F)ield

First finger - direction of Field


Se(C)ond finger: (C)urrent

Second finger - direction of induced Current


Thu(M)b: Direction of (M)ovement

Thumb - direction of Movement of conductor through field


The Memory Aid above will help to recall the rule.

Does anyone know who hold's the image rights to Sir John Ambrose Fleming? Cant trace any remaning family members or trusts? Thanks, Shane

The image on the first external link (Summary of the life of Professor Sir John Ambrose Fleming) has this note at the bottom : '(Courtesy Marconi plc)', could this be used? Owen

Quotation from eulogy[edit]

The coding of the quotation from the eulogy is messed up. How long is the quotation - just the first para or all 3 paras? --ukexpat (talk) 14:28, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Why doesn't lead paragraph mention his most notable achievements?[edit]

It seems to me what Fleming is known for today is the invention of the hot cathode diode vacuum tube, or kenotron, and this should be placed prominently in the lead paragraph. This is surely more important than that he was an amateur photographer and climber. His invention of the Right Hand Rule might also be noted there. --ChetvornoTALK 13:28, 30 April 2008 (UTC)


Please let us know more about Fleming —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:59, 16 April 2009 (UTC)

Right and Left Hand Rules[edit]

Fleming developed these rules which relate to current flow in conductors, and related forces and magnetic fields.

However, there is also a right hand rule which sets out the convention for vectors and rotations in physics and mechanics.

The "right hand rule" link from this article leads to the general physics/mechanics rule, and the fact that there are two right hand rules is far from clear there.

Can someone that knows the definitions and differences for certain sort this out? (talk) 09:48, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

OK, I've had a go. I, too, find the article on the Right-hand rule isn't the clearest article on Wikipedia. But, luckily, I found two others on Fleming's left hand rule for motors, and Fleming's right hand rule (note the curious asymmetry, there), and these appear to do the job a lot better. TheAMmollusc (talk) 12:56, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

Father of electronics[edit]

In his edit summary, Nikolas Ojala says that a citation is needed about the vacuum diode and beginning of electronics. I will try to find a past author who has, indeed, said that; and certainly, I have seen it written, in the distant past. I assume that the assertion was originally of importance at the time that Fleming was contesting Lee de Forest's patent application for the thermionic triode. The US Patent Office, therefore, might be one that would still contest the citation, even if I do find one :-) TheAMmollusc (talk) 13:15, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

Of course, I don't really believe my previous sentence :-) The US Patent Office ruling was that Lee de Forest's contribution was significant enough, and does not impact on their view of Fleming's invention. Meanwhile, I have found a positive reference: the 1965 edition of the Penguin Encyclopedia states, in its entry for Thermionic Valve (Tube): "... in 1904 Fleming in England invented the thermionic valve itself, which led to rapid developments in radio and television, and was basic to the whole new field of electronics." The copy of "Marconi and Wireless" by R.N.Vyvyan (1974) is more ambivalent: "All these investigations were published but no one except Fleming saw the possibility of utilizing the effect for the detection of wireless signals. [Description of his experiments into this] the two electrode valve, or the 'oscillation valve,' which was the name given to the instrument by Dr. Fleming, came into being. [...] In 1907 Dr. Lee de Forest made an important invention...". (Note the name, oscillation valve, rather than the one given in the wikipedia article... we ought to look into that). Lastly, there was a weekly series of magazines called "Understanding Science" in the late 1960s, in Britain, that was designed to be bound into a 12-volume encyclopedia. In this, they note Fleming's invention, and then say that the study of electronics would have been very short, had it not been for the subsequent invention by Lee de Forest.
In conclusion, yes, the claim was, and is, made that Fleming's diode represents the start of electronics (and I have found at least one reference that does indeed stake that claim). However, there were, and are, other references that have other axes to grind. It all becomes a bit subjective and partissan in the end. TheAMmollusc (talk) 08:24, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
So many pointless debates on Wikipedia revolve around treating something like a footrace - pistol goes off, and the first one to cross the finish line invented electricity, or what have you. Similarly, who was the first one to speak French? Clearly French is a distinct language and didn't always exist, but you'd be hard-pressed to say that on the morning of March 24, 755 AD Pierre le Canard of the tiny village of Camembert-sur-la-Poisson was the first man to start speaking French. (It was unsuccessful, as no-one understood him and he was stoned to death.) --Wtshymanski (talk) 14:05, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
Thank you very much. And I disagree with Wtshymanski that this short debate was pointless. I am quite sure that this bit of information is very useful in other articles as well. For example: How would you define electronics? The point is that there must be some difference between electric circuits and electronics. Without knowing the difference, one cannot decide. --Nikolas Ojala (talk) 12:48, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
The first step in laying out the racecourse is deciding where the finish line will be (on Wikipedia we place the finish line 100 years after the race started). Like most fathers, I'm sure Fleming had no idea he was founding a whole engineering discipline. It's a bit fatuous to call someone the "father" of some grand field of endeavour when that person had no idea of what he was founding. --Wtshymanski (talk) 14:19, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
I agree with both of you :-) Yes, it is a question that runs the risk of ending up being similar to debating how many angels can dance on a pin-head, but if we can avoid that risk, it is a question that can be used as a useful discriminant. In any case, though, it was me who was wrong to use the word "Father" when I created this section on this talk page. The article itself talks of the beginning of electronics, not its father, and the Penguin Dictionary reference talks about it being basic to electronics... so the discrimination is being made by us now, not by Fleming back then. (In fact, I remember... before I found the three references (one positive, one negative, and one ambivalent) to Fleming's contribution, I had found a book that had a picture of Thompson, and the caption The father of electronics. TheAMmollusc (talk) 15:28, 2 August 2011 (UTC)