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Who said: “Nature does nothing in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.”
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Thumbnail of George Brayton (source)
George Brayton
(3 Oct 1830 - 17 Dec 1892)

American engineer who invented the first commercial gas internal combustion engine. Its principle of continuous ignition later became the basis for the turbine engine.

Petroleum vs. Steam.

from Manufacturer and Builder (1880), describing the use of a Brayton engine to power watercraft.


Some weeks ago there arrived at this port a government launch on the U. S. S. “Tallapoosa,” which boat was afterward towed to Exeter by the “La Chiquita.” This launch was furnished by the navy department at Washington to the Exeter Machine Works for experimental purposes, and has been fitted with a novel motive power, said power consisting of what is known as the Brayton petroleum engine, the motive power of which consists of a gas cylinder and air pump, placed longitudinally side by side, and connected to the same crank shaft. The power is originated by the combustion of petroleum oil in the gas cylinder, which is supplied with compressed air from a receiver, in which it is kept at the desired pressure through the agency of the air pump, the speed of the engine being increased or diminished by graduating the quantity of air introduced into the gas cylinder from the air tank. The engine makes about 300 revolutions a minute, and the main (or gas) cylinder is kept cool by water which circulates up through one piston rod and piston head, passing out through the other piston rod. On the shaft is a large spur wheel which gears on to the wheel that drives the propeller. The connection with the propeller shaft is one of the most ingenious features of the invention; the engine always moves in the same direction, whether the boat is going ahead or backing, the motion of the screw being governed by two cog-wheels, one of which it drives forward and the other backward; these are controlled by friction clutches, which are operated by air pressure from the tank. The propeller is under the direct control of the pilot, who governs its direction by means of a small lever located close to the wheel, so that the going ahead, easing and reversing are entirely independent of the engineer. The motive power is obtained from petroleum, contained in a small tank forward, which is fed to the engine automatically as required. The machinery is almost entirely below the water-line, which adds to the steadiness of the vessel, and is entirely concealed from view.

C. R. S.

Portsmouth, N. H., September 25th, 1880.

From Manufacturer and Builder (Oct 1880), 12, No. 10, 236. (source)

See also:
  • todayinsci icon 3 Oct - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Brayton's birth.
  • todayinsci icon George Brayton - Obituary from Cassier's Magazine (1912).
  • todayinsci icon George Brayton's Engine - from Transactions of the ASME (1902).
  • todayinsci icon George Brayton's Engine - A description originally written in 1875, and updated in Johnson's (revised) Universal Cyclopaedia.
  • todayinsci icon The Brayton Engine and Cycle and Use of the Brayton Engine - from The Automobile Book: A Practical Treatise (1916), by Charles E. Duryea, James Edward Homans.
  • book icon Internal Fire: The Internal-Combustion Engine 1673-1900, by C. Lyle Cummins, Jr. - book suggestion.

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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