Cromwell Varley FRS, electrical discharge and Victorian spiritualism

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Cromwell Varley FRS, electrical discharge and Victorian spiritualism

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dc.contributor.author Noakes, Richard en_GB
dc.contributor.department University of Exeter. At the time of publication, the author was at the University of Cambridge. en_GB
dc.date.accessioned 2008-05-13T09:15:45Z en_GB
dc.date.accessioned 2011-01-25T10:52:37Z en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2013-03-20T14:14:22Z
dc.date.issued 2007-01-22 en_GB
dc.description.abstract Cromwell Fleetwood Varley is chiefly remembered as a leading Victorian electrical engineer who was closely involved in the testing and laying of the successful transatlantic telegraph cables of the 1860s. Historians of physics principally regard him as a key figure in the 'prehistory' of the electron because in 1871 the Proceedings of the Royal Society published a paper in which he seemed to anticipate the corpuscular nature of cathode rays. For many Victorians, however, Varley was as notable for his spiritualism as for his electrical researches. This paper argues that for Varley spiritualism was one of the most significant contexts of use for the 1871 paper. The latter work sought explicitly to unravel the mystery of the electrical discharge through rarefied gases but also showed the hazy boundary between the invisible and visible and material and immaterial domains. This suggested that one of the invisible powers associated with spiritualism—the 'od' force—might be photographed and rendered scientifically more credible, and also made it easier to understand how imponderable spirits could have apparently material attributes. Although the physical implications of Varley’s 1871 publication were not explored until the 1890s, Varley's 'spiritualistic' uses of it shaped the way in which some late-Victorian scientists investigated the puzzling phenomena of psychical research. en_GB
dc.identifier.citation 61(1), pp.5-21 en_GB
dc.identifier.doi 10.1098/rsnr.2006.0161 en_GB
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10036/25652 en_GB
dc.language.iso en en_GB
dc.publisher Royal Society Publishing en_GB
dc.relation.url http://journals.royalsociety.org/content/m451t07r3060n56u/?p=42e0d7cd8cc2464bb0a2cd2b5f7afc57&pi=1 en_GB
dc.subject Victorian en_GB
dc.subject physics en_GB
dc.subject spiritualism en_GB
dc.subject telecommunications en_GB
dc.subject Varley, Cromwell Fleetwood en_GB
dc.title Cromwell Varley FRS, electrical discharge and Victorian spiritualism en_GB
dc.type Preprint en_GB
dc.date.available 2008-05-13T09:15:45Z en_GB
dc.date.available 2011-01-25T10:52:37Z en_US
dc.date.available 2013-03-20T14:14:22Z
dc.identifier.issn 0035-9149 en_GB
dc.description This is a preprint version of an article published in Notes and Records of the Royal Society. The definitive version is available at: http://publishing.royalsociety.org/index.cfm?page=1083 en_GB
dc.identifier.eissn 1743-0178 en_GB
dc.identifier.journal Notes and Records of The Royal Society en_GB


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