On this day in oil and gas: November 29 - J. A. Fleming

29th November 1849, Lancaster, Lancashire, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland – The eldest of seven children is born to Congregational minister James Fleming and Mrs. Mary Ann Fleming in the northeast of England. As a boy he dreamt of becoming an engineer. By the age of 11 he was building model boats and engines in a tiny workshop adjoined to the family’s parsonage. At 13 he had delivered his first lecture on electromagnetic phenomena and by 16, John Ambrose Fleming, was on his way to a first class degree at University College London.

In a scientific career that would see him rub shoulders with the likes of pioneers such as James Clerk Maxwell, J. J. Thomson, Thomas Edison and Guglielmo Marconi, Fleming would be celebrated for his left-hand rule for motors, right-hand rule for generators and above all, the thermionic valve or vacuum tube. In November 1904, at the age of 55, Fleming would patent an invention for a device that, when inserted together with a galvanometer (an instrument for detecting electric current) into a tuned electrical circuit, could be used as a very sensitive rectifying detector of high frequency wireless currents, called radio waves.

The thermionic valve would dominate the nascent electronics industry until the advent of the transistor in the 1970s and is deemed to have kick-started the "wireless revolution". Now where would we be in the modern oil and gas industry, where supermajors handle more data per day than Google, without a bit of wireless connectivity?



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