History & Geography

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This volume is part of the monograph series of the New Liberal Arts Program (1980-1992), a project of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The NLA Program had the goal of assisting in the introduction of quantitative reasoning and concepts of modern technology within liberal education. The Program was based on the conviction that college graduates should have been introduced to both areas if they are to live in the social mainstream and participate in the resolution of policy issues. The Center for Mathematics and Quantitative Education is delighted to make these monographs available.



James B. Francis and The Invention of the Francis Turbine
Edwin T. Lay ton, Jr.
University of Minnesota

James B. Francis (1815-1892) was a British-bom engineer who helped to shirt engineering in America from a craft to a scientific base. He linked engineering firmly to experimental inquiry of a scientific nature. He was associated with America's most important early center of textile manufacturing, Lowell, Massachusetts. In its carly stages thc factory system relicd mainly upon watcr power, and COttOn textile manufacturing was at the culling edge or the Industrial Revolution. Francis was one or the foremost figures in the development and effective use or water power at Lowell and elsewhere.

This monograph discusses Francis' experimental work which was devoted to the measurement of the flow of water. Sometimes this was in connection with power production by turbines, at other times it related to the canal system which distributed water to the manufacturing companies at Lowell, and at other times it involved metering the amount of water used by the various textile factories at Lowell. It was in measuring water that Francis made some or his most notable (and still useful) contributions to engineering.

The study of hydraulics relies on a collection of algebraic relations set out at the start of this interesting text. There are used repeatedly throughout the ensuing discussions of canal design, turbines and hydraulic experiments. There is also a small problem set at the end of the text.