From the Mailbag…

The Agilent Technologies Blog is distributed through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.  On occasion, I’ll share some of the more interesting comments and emails…

The War of the Telephone: Norbert wrote:

“Nice to read, but for a German like me, there is an essential part missing – the real inventor of the phone JPhilipp Reis. So everything becomes a 3 person controversy.”

(I should note that the long path to the telephone included many contributors, including Charles Bourseul [French] and Antonio Meucci [Italian].)


James Barry: Jose-Luis wrote:

“One of questions that this article brings is what was Dr. Barry’s gender identity.  It is quite plausible that Dr. Barry choose to live life as man, as he identified as one (i.e. he was a transgender male).  Based on the articles I’ve read, I believe the jury is out.  You may want to expand your article to also touch on LGBT issues.  By stating that ‘Even today, women’… you are implying that Dr. Barry did not identify as male.”

(After 100+ years, this may indeed never be settled, but you make a good point.  I had based my positioning on the Telegraph article, which concluded that Barry impersonated a man mainly to escape poverty and become a doctor.)

Joseph Lockyer and Helium:  Mike wrote:

“By the way, did you know that Agilent makes a mass spec exclusively tuned to mass 4 – He?  Our VS helium mass spec Leak Detector line is used to detect leaks in systems using He as the tracer gas. Our system is so sensitive, it can detect a leak which would take 30+ years to develop a detectable bubble in an water tank.  We also make a small portable He sniffer!”

(I didn’t know.  A couple of links here and here on

Edward Jenner and the Smallpox Vaccine: Vincent wrote:

“Jenner has had great PR over the past two and a half centuries, and the eradication of smallpox was perhaps the greatest medical advance in human medicine… but Jenner was not responsible for it or even the initiation of it. In science, as in history, learning the details makes all the difference. [For] the study of the actual contributors of conquering smallpox – of which Jenner is one, be it a very minor one – I can recommend reading Razzell’s ‘The Conquest of Smallpox’ (either 1977 1st ed or the 2003 2nd ed). Another good read is Jennifer Lee Carrell’s ‘Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox’ from 2003.”

(I appreciate the additional background.  My post on Jenner was mainly to mark the May 14 milestone.)

Thank you for the dialogue!  Please know that your likes, shares, retweets, comments and emails are seen and appreciated!