Used almost every day for cleaning the house and sucking up dirt, vacuums have become an indispensable household appliance. But in reality the concept of a vacuum has many uses well beyond cleaning floors. This importance of vacuums in general has led to a celebration of National Create a Vacuum Day.
Celebrated every year on the 4th of February, Create a Vacuum Day is a day wherein we can challenge ourselves to learn the science about vacuum or try and create one. Ives W. McGaffey of the United States invented the world’s first vacuum cleaner in 1866. A vacuum is created when the pressure inside a space is lower as compared to the pressure outside of the same area or when the gaseous pressure is lesser compared to its atmospheric pressure. Ideally, a perfect vacuum is one that has no particles inside it at all. However, it is difficult to make a volume of space that is completely empty of matter in this world full of microscopic particles. It is because even if all matter is to be removed from a volume, it will still not be empty or void due to the phenomena in quantum physics like vacuum fluctuations, transiting gamma rays, cosmic rays, dark energy and neutrinos.
The word Vacuum came from the word vacuus which is a term for empty in Latin. It was named as such because a vacuum is a volume of space that is essentially devoid or empty of all matter. A wide variety of technical inventions were made based on the concept of vacuum being discovered in the 17th century. Some of these inventions were the incandescent light bulbs which was the first widespread use of a vacuum and vacuum tubes that were introduced in the 20th century. Since then, vacuum has become widely used on a wide variety of vacuum technology.
Vacuum technology has widespread applications in different processes and devices. The concept of vacuum is used in vacuum pumps, welding, thermal insulation for thermos bottle and even in incandescent light bulbs. It is also used in making anti-reflective glass coating for reading glasses, as Pyrolytic chromium carbide coating for manufacturing equipment to avoid corrosion. The idea of vacuum is also used in the field of medicine specifically in the X-ray radiation. But one of the most common use for vacuum is as a vacuum cleaner. There is probably a vacuum cleaner in most households and has helped ease the way people clean.
It is also used in some vacuum driven machines like the Newcomen steam engine which used a vacuum to drive a piston. It was also widely used before on the trains in UK for vacuum brakes. It is also used as power assistance for the brakes or vacuum servo. Vacuum servo, also commonly called as brake booster in the United States, is used on braking system of motor vehicles, to give assistance to the driver by decreasing the effort in braking.
With all the recent vacuum developments, the vacuum has made a significant impact in general thus becoming a valuable industrial tool.