Energy & Power
The Museum's collections on energy and power illuminate the role of fire, steam, wind, water, electricity, and the atom in the nation's history. The artifacts include wood-burning stoves, water turbines, and windmills, as well as steam, gas, and diesel engines. Oil-exploration and coal-mining equipment form part of these collections, along with a computer that controlled a power plant and even bubble chambers—a tool of physicists to study protons, electrons, and other charged particles.
A special strength of the collections lies in objects related to the history of electrical power, including generators, batteries, cables, transformers, and early photovoltaic cells. A group of Thomas Edison's earliest light bulbs are a precious treasure. Hundreds of other objects represent the innumerable uses of electricity, from streetlights and railway signals to microwave ovens and satellite equipment.
- Lasers have proven very useful in the construction industry. One example is this Spectra-Physics model 910 "LaserLevel" made in the early 1980s. In use, a construction worker attached the unit to a tripod and adjusted it so that it was nearly parallel to the ground. The level automatically completed the adjustment process when activated, and then emitted a beam of infrared light from a rotating head. The worker then moved to where-ever a measurement was needed and used a special laser detector to complete the task.
- The "LaserLevel" self-adjusted if bumped slightly and completely shut off if bumped too much. The level operated automatically so it allowed one person to do work of two, resulting in cost savings since fewer assistants were needed.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- Spectra-Physics Scanning Systems, Inc.
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
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- Data Source
- National Museum of American History