by Lillian Csernica on April 25, 2018
The 1880s were an amazing time to be alive. All over the world scientific breakthroughs were changing life, from the wonders of the steam engine to the humble advantages of the first dish washing machine. Some major highlights included:
1880–1882: Development and commercial production of electric lighting was underway. Thomas Edison of Milan, Ohio, established Edison Illuminating Company on December 17, 1880. Based at New York City, it was the pioneer company of the electrical power industry.
1882–1883: John Hopkinson of Manchester, England patents the three-phase electric power system in 1882. In 1883 Hopkinson showed mathematically that it was possible to connect two alternating current dynamos in parallel — a problem that had long bedeviled electrical engineers.
1885: Galileo Ferraris of Livorno Piemonte, Kingdom of Italy reaches the concept of a rotating magnetic field. He applied it to a new motor. “Ferraris devised a motor using electromagnets at right angles and powered by alternating currents that were 90° out of phase, thus producing a revolving magnetic field. The motor, the direction of which could be reversed by reversing its polarity, proved the solution to the last remaining problem in alternating-current motors. The principle made possible the development of the asynchronous, self-starting electric motor that is still used today. Believing that the scientific and intellectual values of new developments far outstripped material values, Ferraris deliberately did not patent his invention; on the contrary, he demonstrated it freely in his own laboratory to all comers.” He published his findings in 1888. By then, Nikola Tesla had independently reached the same concept and was seeking a patent.
1886: Charles Martin Hall of Thompson Township, Geauga County, Ohio, and Paul Héroult of Thury-Harcourt, Normandy independently discover the same inexpensive method for producing aluminium, which became the first metal to attain widespread use since the prehistoric discovery of iron.
The literature of the time examined the benefits and disadvantages to all of these technological marvels.
Literature and arts
- Friedrich Nietzsche published Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
- Mark Twain published Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
- Carlo Collodi published The Adventures of Pinocchio.
- Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote The Brothers Karamazov.
- Edward Bellamy published Looking Backward.
- Robert Louis Stevenson published Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
- Arthur Conan Doyle published his first Sherlock Holmes tale.
- African-American music and ragtime rise to popularity in the later part of the decade.
- Guy de Maupassant wrote The Necklace.
Two more notable events destined to have a lingering impact on the world:
- 8 May 1886 — Coca-Cola was invented.
- 1888 — Whitechapel murders by the infamous Jack the Ripper.
In this time period the world was full of possibilities. Scientific breakthroughs were changing the way people perceive the universe and its daily workings. That had a significant impact on belief in the creatures of mythology, folklore, and so-called superstition.
Where better to dramatize this conflict than Japan, land of eight million gods?