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Creepy Comfort Control

Creepy Comfort Control

Have you ever looked around your home and wondered, “Who first thought of this?” Many of the products or appliances we use every day have interesting origins, and the thermostat is no exception.


Invention of the Thermostat

Andrew Ure was a Scottish chemist and “scriptural geologist” who invented the bi-metallic thermostat. The bi-metallic thermostat was the solution to textile mills needing consistent temperatures. The thermostat was made of two different types of metal that expand at different temperatures. Therefore, when the mill would reach a certain temperature, the metal would bend and cut off the energy supply.

At the time of his invention, Ure was traveling through industrial Britain to wool, cotton, silk, and linen factories to study the conditions of the mills. Ure invented the bi-metallic thermostat as a way to regulate the temperature of the mills he visited, but his theories on the working conditions of the mills were fairly anti-worker. He once claimed that, “Workers in cotton mills were less liable to cholera than the rest of the population and that working at a temperature of 150 °F was not harmful."

The bi-metallic thermostat was one of the first recorded inventions of a thermostat, though it didn’t see much use. Ure was a prolific writer of many different books on chemistry, geology, and industrial processes, but this isn’t what he ended up being famous for.


A Short History of Morbidity

By the early 1800s, Ure had stumbled upon the research of Giovanni Aldini. Aldini had inherited a theory about the reanimation of dead animals from his uncle, Luigi Galvani, a scientist in the late 1700s who once accidentally touched a charged wire to a dead frog. Upon contact, the frog’s legs twitched. Aldini’s uncle spent the remainder of his life attempting to prove that dead animals contained something he referred to as “animal electricity”--a related, but separate kind of electricity from lightning or static.

While Galvani mostly experimented on dead animals, Aldini took his uncle’s research to the next level. He set up shop in a particular area to be next to the town gallows, and when criminals were hanged, he brought them back to his workshop for experimentation. Aldini worked with assistants and invited some spectators to the first experiment. Reportedly, he stuck electrodes onto the hanged man’s head and sent electricity through the body. One reporter recounted the event and stated, “[...]the jaws of the deceased criminal began to quiver, and the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eye was actually opened. In the subsequent part of the process the right hand was raised and clenched, and the legs and thighs were set in motion.”

While the idea of bringing a murderer back to life wasn’t the favored idea of the century, to those who watched the process, it seemed as though bringing people back from the dead was a possibility. Enter Andrew Ure.

Ure’s Monster

At the end of 1818, Ure announced publically that he had been conducting experiments reanimating corpses. Ure invited onlookers to watch his scientific spectacles, but researchers today would scoff heavily at his “experiments” as he was missing one of the most important parts of the scientific process--a distinct question to answer. Many believe that Ure used the experiments as a way to gain a kind of morbid fame as he publically electrocuted body after body.

After a while (and after many of the local churches had been vying to shut him down themselves if he didn’t stop his demon-summoning), Ure ceased the reanimation experiments and concluded it as a waste of time. He continued with more traditional ventures and went on to patent the bi-metallic thermostat in 1830.


While the origins of the thermostat are unsavory, there’s no contest that without Ure’s invention of the bi-metallic thermostat, people may not have had temperature control until almost 50 years later. Now, getting your home or business to a comfortable temperature is as easy as pressing a button or spinning a wheel, but the professionals at Plumb Level can help ensure you’re comfortable no matter the temperature outside.


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