Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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KEELY, John Worrall, inventor, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 3 September, 1837. He studied in the Philadelphia public schools until he was twelve years of age, when he became a carpenter's apprentice, and continued at that trade until 1872. Meanwhile, with inadequate training, he had become interested in speculations concerning physical forces, and originated certain theories of questionable value. His object was the liberation of primitive atomic motion, mid its application to the uses of man; the resolution of ether in which the waves of sound and light are supposed to be produced into a working "energy." The vibrations of windows and glass dishes in response to the sounding of various musical chords first set his mind upon the subject of vibration, and the curious sympathy between distant waves vibrating in harmony. His efforts were unaided until 1872, when a company was organized, and funds, since aggregating 8500,000, were placed at Mr. Keely's disposal. This work resulted in the invention of a "hydro-pneumatic pulsating vacuo machine," whose action, it is claimed, is produced by forces obtained from water and air, which he still keeps secret, and which can exert a pressure of 500 pounds to the square inch. Subsequently he constructed 124 different engines, and has at present (1887) eliminated the use of water entirely in developing the energy that he claims to control. Results which are marvellous in their effects have been obtained by Mr. Keely, in the presence of reliable experts; but all exact details of the method of operation have thus far been carefully kept secret.
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