Paul and Jules Piccard
(Photograph digitally restored and tinted by Tom Deering)
Paul Piccard (Uncle of the twins) was an important engineer in Switzerland in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His company Piccard-Pictet built the first successful turbines to work at Niagara Falls. The tremendous volume and high pressure head created a daunting task which defeated the best American and Canadian attempts. By reversing the water flow to have the pressure float the gigantic rotors and contriving a remarkable coordinated governing system he succeeded with equipment that lasted well into the second World War period.
Piccard-Pictet also produced one of the continent's finest line of motor cars, rivaling those of Mercedes and Rolls. They are credited with building the first grand prix racing cars with four wheel brakes. Their limousines even had no door post on the curb side, an innovation only recently "invented" for American extended cab pick up trucks.
Jules Piccard headed the chemistry department at the University of Basle and is credited with a major role in making the Basel area a great center for chemical industries in the nineteenth century. The prominence of his organic chemistry research was in keeping with his having been a protégé of the great Robert Bunsen (of Bunsen Burner fame) and a personal friend of and frequent correspondent with Louis Pasteur.
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