Giant Induction Coil at the Royal Polytechnic Institution, London, 1869.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving taken from the Illustrated London News. These demonstrations of science, famed for their 'abominable smells and of the odd explosion' were extremely popular. 'Profesor' Pepper (1821-1900), director of the institution from the early 1850s onwards demonstrates a giant induction coil, which produced a 'flash of lightning' 29 inches long. Pepper is best remembered for the popular illusion 'Pepper's ghost', but he also established a series of evening clases in educational and trade subjects, lectured both in New York and Australia and published a number of popular scientific text books. The Institution was founded in 1838 by George Cayley (1773-1857) to provide an educational service for Londoners.