Physics

Alexander Graham Bell


Alexander Graham Bell (1847 - 1922) was born on March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

He was the second of three children of the couple Alexander Melville Bell and Eliza Grace Symonds.

His family had a tradition and reputation as an expert in speech correction and training for the hearing impaired.

Bell, his father, and his grandfather had the same name - Alexander. Until the age of 11, her name was simply Alexander Bell, until one day at school, the teacher suggested that she adopt one more name to differentiate herself from her grandfather. After consulting with family members, he opted for Graham in honor of a close friend of his father.

At age 14, he and his brothers built a curious reproduction of the vocal tract. In a skull they mounted a tube with "vowel strings", palate, tongue, teeth and lips, and with a bellows, blew the trachea, making the skull babble "ma-ma", imitating a whining child.

Alexander Graham Bell grew up in a rich environment of study of voice and sound, which certainly influenced his interest in this field, in addition to having his mother, who was very young, deaf.

He studied at the University of Edinburgh, where he began experimenting with pronunciation. One day a friend of his father talked about the work of a certain German scientist named Hermann von Helmholtz, who had investigated the physical nature of sounds and voice. Excited by the news, he hurried to get a copy of the book. There was only one problem: the book was written in German, a language I didn't understand. In addition, it had many equations and concepts of physics, including those relating to electricity, which it did not dominate either.

Despite all the difficulties, Bell had the impression that (through some drawings in the book) Helmholtz had been able to send articulate sounds, like vowels, through wires using electricity. In fact, what Helmholtz was trying to do was to synthesize voice-like sounds using devices and not transmit them at a distance. Contrary to what you may be thinking, it was exactly this mistake that made Bell start thinking about ways to send his voice at a distance by electric means.

In 1868 in London, he became his father's assistant, taking up his full-time position when he had to travel to the United States to teach.

At that time, his two brothers, the eldest and the youngest, one year apart, died of tuberculosis. Economic hardship increased and the threat of the disease, also found at Bell, led his father to leave his career in London at its best and in August 1870 to move with his family to Canada.

They bought a house in Tutelo Heights, near Brantford, Ontario, which was known as "Melville House" and is now preserved as a historical relic by the name of "Bell Manor."

Bell's father was famous and was very well received in Canada. In 1871, he received an invitation to train teachers at a deaf school in Boston, United States, but preferring to remain in Canada, he sent his son instead. Bell went on to teach his father's method of pronunciation, training teachers in many cities beyond Boston, because at that time, before the discovery of antibiotics, deafness was much more common and could arise as a result of many diseases.

In 1872, he opened his own school for the deaf (where he later met D. Pedro II in 1876). The following year, in 1873, he became a professor at Boston University, at which time he became interested in telegraphy and studying ways to transmit sounds using electricity.

Through his work as a teacher of the deaf, A. Graham Bell - as he signed and liked to be called - met influential people who then greatly helped him. One was Thomas Sanders, a wealthy leather merchant living in Salem, near Boston, whose son - George - was a Bell student. The boy made such rapid progress that Sanders gratefully invited Bell to his home. Another important person was Gardiner Greene Hubbard, a successful lawyer and businessman, who would become his father-in-law in 1875.

In 1898, Bell replaced his father-in-law as president of the National Geographic Society, turned his old newsletter into the beautiful National Geographic Magazine, similar to what we have today.

Alexander Graham Bell died at his home in Baddeck, Canada, on August 2, 1922 at the age of 75.