The Yablochkov candle was an electric carbon arc lamp invented by Pavel Yablochkov in 1876.
Yablochkov's design removed the need for a mechanical regulator to keep the lamp's carbon blocks at the same distance from one another.
It was first demonstrated during the Paris Exhibition of 1878.
The most famous incarnation of the character was the one played by Jay Silverheels on the 1950s ABC TV series.
Seaman "Pig" Bodine is a recurring character in Pynchon's work. He first appeared in Pynchon's first novel V. as a comic foil to the novel's protagonist Benny Profane, before appearing in Gravity's Rainbow, set a decade before V. He also appears in Pynchon's short story 'Low-lands', published in the collection Slow Learner.
A couple of characters, presumably ancestors of Bodine, have appeared in later Pynchon novels. Fender-Belly Bodine, also a seaman, appears in Mason & Dixon, set in the late-18th century, and O.I.C. Bodine makes a cameo in Against the Day, set between 1893 and 1918.