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The Telegraph

By Mir Najabat Ali; Illustrations by Ahmed; Published by National Book Trust, India.

In 1833 John Herschel, a British astronomer, went to South Africa to study the southern skies. He took with him a powerful telescope and many other instruments. He wanted to make charts and maps of the sky which people in the northern half of the world never saw. John Herschel planned to stay at the Cape of Good Hope for three or four years to complete his work.

Then Richard Locke, a reporter on the staff of the New York Sun, had a bright idea. Whatever he wrote about John Herschelís discoveries would be believed as there was no means of verifying it. No one would find out the truth unless he sent a man or message by ship to South Africa, and even then it would take months to receive a reply from the astronomer. In the meanwhile, Locke decided to have all the fun he could.

The Telegraph, Features for kids: 8_1.jpg In his first article he reported that Herschel had invented a new kind of telescope. Every detail of this telescope was so cleverly thought out that even scientists were taken in. Then the fun started. Locke wrote that with the help of this wonderful telescope, Herschel had seen that the hills and mountains on the moon were made of precious stone. Several forms of life were also reported to have been discovered. Monsters, shaped like huge round balls, rolled about at dizzy speeds over the sands of the lunar sea-shore.

Readers were thrilled and believed the tall tales told by Locke. Locke did the job so well that even scientists were deceived.

Months later, the news came that the whole story was a big hoax, the greatest in the history of science!

No one would dream of playing such a trick nowadays. Thanks to the discovery of the telegraph, we can get news across continent and oceans within minutes.

The Telegraph, Features for kids: 8_2.jpg Ever since Oersted discovered that an electric current could move a magnet, people began trying to put electricity to work.

An Australian scientist tried a system as early as 1809. He set apart one wire for each letter of the alphabet. These wires were placed in a vessel full of water. When electricity passed through any of the wires, a tiny bubble appeared at its base. Though this invention made quite a stir, it did not prove very useful.

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The Telegraph [Features for kids]
By Mir Najabat Ali; Illustrations by Ahmed; Published by National Book Trust, India.

 

Pitara Kids Home > Magazine > Features for kids

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