The experimental work of first making practical standards, founded on the absolute system, which led to the unit now known as the British Association ohm, was chiefly performed by Clerk Maxwell and Jenkin. The realisation of the great practical benefit which has resulted from the experimental and scientific work of the Committee is certainly in a large measure due to Jenkin's zeal and perseverance as secretary, and as editor of the volume of Collected Reports of the work of the Committee, which extended over eight years, from 1861 till 1869. The volume of Reports included Jenkin's Cantor Lectures of January, 1866, 'On Submarine Telegraphy,' through which the practical applications of the scientific principles for which he had worked so devotedly for eight years became part of general knowledge in the engineering profession.

Jenkin's scientific activity continued without abatement to the end. For the last two years of his life he was much occupied with a new mode of electric locomotion, a very remarkable invention of his own, to which he gave the name of 'Telpherage.' He persevered with endless ingenuity in carrying out the numerous and difficult mechanical arrangements essential to the project, up to the very last days of his work in life. He had completed almost every detail of the realisation of the system which was recently opened for practical working at Glynde, in Sussex, four months after his death.

His book on 'Magnetism and Electricity,' published as one of Longman's elementary series in 1873, marked a new departure in the exposition of electricity, as the first text-book containing a systematic application of the quantitative methods inaugurated by the British Association Committee on Electrical Standards. In 1883 the seventh edition was published, after there had already appeared two foreign editions, one in Italian and the other in German.

His papers on purely engineering subjects, though not numerous, are interesting and valuable. Amongst these may be mentioned the article 'Bridges,' written by him for the ninth edition of the 'Encyclopaedia Britannica,' and afterwards republished as a separate treatise in 1876; and a paper 'On the Practical Application of Reciprocal Figures to the Calculation of Strains in Framework,' read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and published in the 'Transactions' of that Society in 1869. But perhaps the most important of all is his paper 'On the Application of Graphic Methods to the Determination of the Efficiency of Machinery,' read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and published in the 'Transactions,' vol. xxviii. (1876-78), for which he was awarded the Keith Gold Medal. This paper was a continuation of the subject treated in 'Reulaux's Mechanism,' and, recognising the value of that work, supplied the elements required to constitute from Reulaux's kinematic system a full machine receiving energy and doing work.



Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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