Transatlantic Cable Essay

Pages: 4 (1477 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Engineering

Transatlantic Cable

Big Dreams Across an Ocean

The telegraph was a marvelous invention that allowed people to communicate at speeds never thought possible. When Samuel Morse first invented the telegraph, America was soon blanketed with a network of telegraph lines (Leinhard). One of the first lines laid went under the New York Harbor. This task presented a host of challenging engineering problems (Leinhard). However, by 1851 a telegraph spanned the English Channel (Leinhard). These feats proved that even though this was a tricky task, to say the least, it was not an impossible one. This led inventors to dream big and soon the idea that a cable could be laid that would span the Atlantic ocean, connecting North America with Europe was born. This is the story of how that dream became a reality.

History of the Project

The dream began when an English engineer, named Gisborn, approached an American financier with his incredible idea (Leinhard). The first idea was to link a shorter distance, running a cable from America to Newfoundland. However, Field and Gisborn decided to make that the first of a much larger venture and the idea of running a telegraph cable all the way to England was born (Leinhard).

The first leg of the cable, from America to Newfoundland was completed within two years (Leinhard). The waters were shallow and had a bottom that was suitable for protecting the cable (Leinhard). This project was similar to other projects that had already been accomplished. However, the stretch from Newfoundland to England proved to be problematic and the most challenging feat to date.

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The first set of cables was 2,200 miles of stranded copper. It was insulated with gutta percha and tarred hemp to protect it from the salty sea (Leinhard). Gutta Percha is a naturally occurring polymer rubber that was introduced by William Monoomerie in 1843 (AZoM, 2008). The cable was then wound with 300,000 miles of iron wire to protect it. These wires were about 1/2-inch in diameter (Leinhard). The second major challenge was that no ship was big enough to carry that much wire, so it had to be spliced mid-ocean (Leinhard).

Essay on Transatlantic Cable Assignment

The next challenge was an electrical one. Over distance, the voltage drops in proportion to the size of the cable (AltE, 2008). Loading too much voltage cause a fire. The original voltage chosen was a 2000-volt system (Leinhard). The load proved too much and after one month of operation, the insulation burned in two near the coast of Ireland (Leinhard). The original cable was slow, taking nearly seventeen hours to send a message (Leinhard). This cable was considered a failure, but much was learned from the experience. The next cable was made of much stronger material and was a low-voltage cable (Leinhard). This new improved version changed the world and eventually led to the advances that we enjoy today.

To Dream a Dream

Everything that we have today exists because someone once had an idea. They turned the dream into a reality. Everett Rogers (2003) defines invention as a process that involves a number of defined steps or phases. According to Rogers, this process applies to every new invention or piece of technology. Consider, for example, that in the 1930s people had to home can everything that they wanted in the winter. Now, we go to the store, purchase a can of tomato sauce and we have it. We do not have to grow the tomatoes, pick them, and then can them ourselves. This new innovation was a change from what people were used to and took some time to accept. Inventions are not always adopted instantaneously by the consumer.

Not every great idea becomes an invention and not every invention becomes something that changes society. Most new inventions are slow to penetrate society. The rate of acceptance picks up speed and slows again in the future (Clarke, 2001). For inventions that do pass the rigorous tests and make it to market, there are still challenges. The most difficult aspect of getting the customer to try a new product is letting them know that it is available (Koebel, Papadakis, Hudson, & Cavell, 2004).

The process of invention involves a series of definitive steps. Early inventors used this process, only it had not yet been formalized in that manner that it is today. The first step is to identify a need or want (NASA, 2008). The second is to find possible solutions… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Transatlantic Cable" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Transatlantic Cable.  (2008, September 19).  Retrieved September 23, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Transatlantic Cable."  19 September 2008.  Web.  23 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Transatlantic Cable."  September 19, 2008.  Accessed September 23, 2020.