The Application of Science to Engineering


Improvements in engineering are very important to the industrialization
and prosperity of a country. Although engineering improvements sometimes come
through trial and error they are most often achieved by applying pure science
and mathematics to engineering. Canadian engineering was improved a great deal
in this manner. The engineering associated with building materials and long
distance communication, two of Canada's most important industries, was improved
through the application of pure science.
One of the most important scientific discoveries of all time was the law
of electromagnetic induction discovered by an englishman, Micheal Faraday, in
1831. This discovery was applied to mechanical generation of electricity which
made tremendous improvements to communications throughout Canada. The electric
telegraph, first discovered in 1837 by Samuel Morse, was a great improvement
over the mechanical telegraph which required the use of a telescope and was much
less effective. It encodes messages electrically, transmits them over
facilities such as copper wire, coaxial cable, and fibre optics to their
destination where they are decoded into their original form. Combinations of
long and short bursts of electric current are sent through a circuit thereby
encoding each letter of the alphabet. More efficient transmission facilities
were developed as the mining industry developed. The discovery of electricity
sped up the development of mining through electric lighting and better machinery
and ventilation, which led to better materials for wires and cables. Telegraph
lines were set up along the CPR in 1885 as a convenient root, but also to relay
information about the position of each train along the track to avoid collisions.
The telegraph was also the main source of information for newspapers.
Like the telegraph, the telephone wouldn't have been possible without
the discovery of electricity. The telephone was discovered by Alexander Graham
Bell in 1876 and is much more advanced than the telegraph. It encodes
variations in sound waves into variations of electric waves through vibrations
of a diaphragm which are then transmitted. Electromagnets are used to send
these vibrations through a cable, which are received on the other end by another
diaphragm. For it's first few years the telephone was for public use only ( for
calling fire stations, doctors…). A central exchange system was then set up and
wealthy people began to gain access. The telephone quickly became essential in
unifying and further developing the country.
In the construction industry there were several huge advances in the
technology of building materials. Two related materials with similar methods of
production are cement and bricks. Cement production in Canada began in 1889 in
Hull, Quebec. Portland cement was the principle type and consisted of lime,
silica alumina and iron. This type of cement and others were produced using
rotary kilns. Through chemical studies it was discovered that the kilns had to
be heated up to temperatures of 1400 to 1650 degrees Celsius in order to cure
the cement properly. To heat the kilns to these high temperatures new materials
had to be developed to insulate them. It became possible to manufacture cement
strong and durable enough for manufacturing. Sand, gravel and crushed rock were
added to the cement to produce concrete. Concrete became crutiel in the
construction of such things as the foundations of buildings, roads, bridges,
dams, irrigation, and sewage systems.
Near the same time as the development of cement was the introduction to
brick manufacturing to Canada. Through chemical studies, clays were found to be
good materials for making building blocks. Scientists discovered the proper
temperatures to subject the clays to in order to get a uniform and durable brick.
Different kilns, such as the downdraft and tunnel kilns were experimented with
in order to achieve the appropriate temperatures and air circulation to produce
these bricks. At this time brick manufacturing became extremely important in
the construction of buildings. Bricks were used not only as a vencer but also
to support the whole load of the building.
The most important discovery for the construction industry in period two
was that of steel.. The first process to manufacture steel was invented by a
man named Sir Henry Bessemer in 1856. He created the Bessemer converter which
was a pivoting container lined with silica clay or dolomite. Iron was smelted
in the furnace and carbon and limestone added to the alloy iron. During early
stages of steel production air was blown into the furnace as a carbon source.
Latter coke was burned in the furnaces and some of the carbon reacted with the
iron. Many other people have contributed to the process of steel production
since Bessemer, among these people was Thomas Basic. In 1877 he designed a
brick lined converter