Nicolae Vasilescu-Karpen (November 28, 1870, Craiova – February 1964), Romanian engineer and physicist, who did pioneering work in the field of telegraphy and telephony. He also had notable achievements in mechanical engineering, elasticity, thermodynamics, long distance telephony, electrochemistry, and civil engineering.
After studying at the Carol I High School in Craiova, he went to the School of Bridges, Roads and Mines in Bucharest. Upon graduation in 1891, he worked as a civil engineer for three years. He went to France to study physics at the University of Paris. In 1904, he was awarded a PhD degree in physics; his thesis was titled Recherches sur l'effet magnétique des corps electrisés en mouvement. After a year spent as Professor at the University of Lille, he returned to Romania, to teach at the School of Bridges, Roads and Mines, where he was appointed director in February 1920. Due to his efforts, the School was transformed later that year into the Polytechnic University of Bucharest. Vasilescu-Karpen was the first rector of this University, serving in that capacity until 1940. In 1922, he was elected to the Romanian Academy.
In 1908 he invented the Karpen Concentration Pile, or the K Pile, which works in the absence of a magnetic field, but takes advantage of the thermal-siphon effect of the electrolyte density variation. He obtained a brevet in 1922 and constructed a prototype in 1950, now exposed at Dimitrie Leonida Technical Museum in Bucharest. While the best modern piles produces electricity for less than 5 years, the K Pile still works, after 59 years!
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