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Petroleum: Modern World's Double-Edged Sword
Start Date: 1/19/2023Start Time: 1:00 PM
End Date: 1/19/2023End Time: 2:50 PM
Event Description:
FLEX # 156
Human beings have long noticed pools of dark viscous fluid bubbling up from the ground. Enterprising traders ladled these fluids to sell for caulking, lubrication, and even medicine. Since these pools occur sporadically, exploitation was always a somewhat irregular venture. However, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, indoor lighting became increasingly necessary and desirable. Beginning about 1750, whale oil was being used for indoor lighting since it burns with very little soot. A factory owner, for example, could get many more hours of productive work from his peons if they had a reliable source of light in which to toil, so whale oil became a necessary competitive component. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, whalers found themselves trekking farther each year in search of their blubbery prey. American chemist, Benjamin Silliman, discovered in 1859 that petroleum (the new name for those bubbling pools) contained kerosene, a fuel that also burns with very little smoke. Using a process developed by moonshiners and perfected by his father, Silliman extracted not only kerosene but a whole host of other fluids and even solids from this strange dark liquid. The petroleum industry was born, and it has since fueled the development of our modern world.
Contact Information:
Name: Michael Panunto, Lisa Nichols, Colin Ferguson
PS 105

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