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Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Einstein-Szilard Refrigerator Now Online

As the centennial of Einstein's miraculous year of 1905 draws to a close, I thought it would be appropriate to also commemorate the 75th anniversary of another of Einstein's contributions to human knowledge—this one decidedly more down to Earth than special and general relativity.

Albert Einstein is often thought of as an archetype of the unworldly theoretical physicist, but in fact he was interested in and knowledgeable on a broad variety of topics far removed from his speciality. In 1930, along with fellow physicist Leo Szilard, he was granted U.S. Patent 1,781,541 for a refrigerator with no moving parts other than the refrigerant. At the time the patent was issued, Einstein and Szilard were residents of Berlin; both were soon to flee Germany when Hitler came to power. This document is a facsimile of the U.S. patent on the Einstein-Szilard refrigerator, filed on December 16, 1927, granted November 11, 1930, and licensed to the Electrolux Corporation.

The document is based upon the Issued Patents Database published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which has full text for all patents issued since 1976 and scanned page images for patents all the way back to 1790. The images for older patents are not in a particularly Web-friendly format; they're large (2320×3408) monochrome bitmaps in TIFF format, which require a plug-in to view with most browsers, and may not scale well to a smaller screen. For this document I downloaded the original TIFF images (which are in the public domain), cropped borders, converted them to 16 bit per pixel grey-scale images, smoothed with a 3×3 convolution matrix, then resampled to 768×1202 image pixel images which were output in grey-scale JPEG encoding, wrapped in HTML documents with page navigation buttons.

Posted at December 22, 2005 20:39