WARNING! The video below is highly disturbing.
One of the most appalling, barbarous and totally unnecessary demonstrations of "science" was undertaken by Thomas Edison in 1903. He electrocuted a 28 year old female elephant, called Topsy, to death. Filming the poor creature's horrific end, as she fell smoking to the ground, was an attempt by Edison to discredit Nikola Tesla.
"Innocent" pachyderm Topsy dies for Edison's anti-Tesla campaign
"Electrocuting an Elephant" Kinescope by T.A.Edison 1903
He wanted to create as much public alarm as possible regarding the dangers of Tesla's AC electricity supply system. Basic physics ensured that the sick depravations of Edison were to no avail. Nikola Tesla's AC was far superior to Edison's direct current system of electrical power distribution. The ability to easily step-up voltages enabled low loss over long distance power lines. Polyphase enabled the use of efficient motors at the user end. Tesla eventually harnessed the power of Niagara Falls and kick-started the second industrial revolution.
Edison is best remembered for his refinements to the the light bulb, a patented (1878) invention of Joseph Swan, North-East of England. He is also remembered for giving heroin, strychnine and opium to a tramp who later died. Eco-Friendly Edison also once disposed of a Sarsaparilla bottle full of Nitroglycerine in a sewer. What a guy.
It is doubtful that Topsy deserved such an appalling death, but she was due for some degree of control as she was a serial killer. Perhaps the poor animal could have been placed in a spacious enclosure, away from humans, to see out her days. But no... her owners Thompson & Dundy, at Coney Island's Luna Park, decided to publically execute her by hanging - a guaranteed crowd puller, with a custom made gallows. Animal rights folk were understandably outraged, so Edison volunteered to electrocute her. There follows an article on the event from The Commercial Advertiser, New York, 5th Jan 1903:
Topsy Meets Quick and Painless Death at Coney Island.
Topsy was brought to this country twenty-eight years ago by the Forepaugh Circus, and has been exhibited throughout the United States. She was ten feet high and 19 feet 11 inches in length. Topsy developed a bad temper two years ago and killed two keepers in Texas. Last spring, when the Forepaugh show was in Brooklyn, J. F. Blount, a keeper, tried to feed a lighted cigarette to her. She picked him up with her trunk and dashed him to the ground, killing him instantly."
For more on the dubious exploits of Thomas Edison, click below
EDISON -- The Menlo Park DRUGS BARON
Thomas Alva Edison, you stand accused of the supply of poisons and dangerous drugs for human consumption. Namely Heroin, Strychnine and Opium
A plethora of unusual
science & engineering
Book of Amusement
Hundreds of entertaining
experiments from 1854
A selection of odd science products for sale