[Illustration: Fig 6.]
8. The future of telephone working, especially in large cities, is one of underground wires, and the way to get over the difficulties of this kind of work is perfectly clear. We must have metallic circuits, twisted wires, low resistance, and low capacity. In Paris a remarkable cable, made by Fortin-Herman, gives an exceedingly low capacity—viz., only 0.069 [phi] per mile. In the United States they are using a wire insulated with paper which gives 0.08 [phi] per mile. We are using in London Fowler-Waring cable giving a capacity of 1.8 [phi] per mile, the capacity of gutta-covered wire being 3 [phi] per mile.
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One of the most interesting of the modern applications of electricity to the manufacture of chemicals is to be found in the recently perfected process known as the Readman-Parker process, after the inventors Dr. J.B. Readman, F.R.S.E., etc., of Edinburgh, and Mr. Thomas Parker; the well known practical electrician, of Wolverhampton.
Before giving an account of this process, which has advanced beyond the experimental to the industrial stage, it may be well to recall the fact that for several years past Dr. Readman has been devoting an enormous expenditure of labor, time and money to the perfection of a process which shall cheapen the production of phosphorus by dispensing altogether with the use of sulphuric acid for decomposing the phosphate of lime which forms the raw material of the phosphorus manufacturer, and also with the employment of fire clay retorts for distilling the desiccated mixture of phosphoric acid and carbon which usually forms the second stage of the operation.
The success of the recent applications of electricity in the production of certain metals and alloys led Dr. Readman to try this source of energy in the manufacture of phosphorus, and the results of the first series of experiments were so encouraging that he took out provisional protection on October 18, 1888, for preparing this valuable substance by its means.
The experiments were carried on at this time on a very small scale, the power at disposal being very limited in amount. Yet the elements of success appeared to be so great, and the decomposition of the raw material was so complete, that the process was very soon prosecuted on the large scale.
After a good deal of negotiation with several firms that were in a position to supply the electric energy required, Dr. Readman finally made arrangements with the directors of the Cowles Company, limited, of Milton, near Stoke-on-Trent, the well known manufacturers of alloys of aluminum, for a lease of a portion of their works and for the use of the entire electrical energy they produced for certain portions of the day.
The experiments on the large scale had not advanced very far before Dr. Readman became aware that another application for letters patent for producing phosphorus had been made by Mr. Thomas Parker, of Wolverhampton, and his chemist, Mr. A.E. Robinson. Their joint patent is dated December 5, 1888, and was thus applied for only seven weeks after Dr. Readman’s application had been lodged.