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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 40: Slade 181
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Kondor 185
Arriving at the engineering department after breakfast, Slade immediately asked (in Parakeet, still maintaining the link to the teaching assistant), “How are we doing on the telegraph?”
“Quite well,” the professor answered. “I believe Linguist is working on the code, and we’ve been installing the wires connecting several on-campus buildings.”
Excellent.” He took a seat on one of the tables. “Now, I know what we’re going to invent next--actually two things, but they share a lot of common features, so we can invent them side by side and get them patented together. That way no one will see one of them and think, hey, I can adapt this to do what our other invention is going to do.” Then he proceeded to explain to them water heaters and hot water heat.
“The difficult part,” he continued, “is going to be regulating temperatures. The water heater has to operate such that it keeps the water hot--I don’t know your temperature scale, but not quite hot enough to scald. There will be a pilot light that burns constantly, and then a separate burner system that turns on when the water temperature drops below the minimum and off again when it reaches the maximum. We’ll also need a pressure relief valve, but I think you’ve got them on the steam engines already, so that’s not an issue.
“The hot water heat is a different issue. It has to have temperature regulation to keep it from getting too hot, but in warm weather we’ll want it to shut down. This is going to be tough, because I don’t know how to do it, but we’ll need to create a way to control the temperature based on the temperature of the room--that is, a device that measures the room temperature in the house and turns the heat on when it gets cold and off again when it gets warm. And that has to be adjustable. I’ve a rough idea how to make such a switch--a bimetallic strip holding a glass tube containing a liquid conductor, such that when it gets cold the tube tilts to close the circuit and when it warms up the liquid flows away from the contacts opening the switch. But you’ve obviously already got thermostats of some sort, and I don’t know what you’ve got or whether you can use it from another room.”
He let that settle in. There were no questions.
“One more thing we should be thinking about. I’ve already told the architect that we’re going to have these for the nest that he’s building. For the hot and cold water we’re going to want to create a sort of,” and he realized that ‘Y-pipe’ wasn’t going to describe anything, so he had to find another way to say it, which took a moment. “We’re going to need to create a reverse fork, a way to bring the hot and cold water back together into one pipe, with two valves so you can control the amount of each separately, from all cold to all hot and any blend between. I figure you’ve already got the valves, you just have to cobble this thing together and patent it before someone else does.”
Students were taking notes. Again he asked, “Any questions?” Again there were none. He was not at all sure whether that was good or bad. “Alright, then, how do I help?”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #437: Characters Relate. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: