Interesting facts about electricity

We all rely on electricity every day of our lives but how much do you really know about it?

A brief history of electricity

People have been aware of electricity for longer than you may think. More than 2,000 years ago, Ancient Greeks discovered what was actually static electricity (although they didn’t know that bit!) when they realised that rubbing fur on amber caused an attraction between the two. There have been pots discovered with sheets of copper inside them at ancient Roman sites that archaeologists believe could have been a type of battery meant to produce light. Devices such as these have also been discovered at ancient Persian sites. In addition to this, some ancient physicians used to instruct patients with certain conditions to touch electric fish in the hope that the jolt they received may cure them.

However in 1600, an English scientist called William Gilbert made a study of electricity and magnetism using the Latin word ‘electricus’ to describe the force that certain substances exert when rubbed against each other. During his study, he distinguished between magnetism and static electricity. Not long after this, another English scientist, Thomas Browne because the first to use the word ‘electricity’ in his book ‘Pseudodoxia Epidemica’.

Over the next couple of centuries, scientists continued to study electricity. In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin conducted his famous ‘kite experiment’ which showed that lightening was in fact electrical. He was also the first to use the terms ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ in connection with electricity.

It took another hundred years for scientists to find a way to use electrical power to make light until Thomas Edison finally did it in 1879. By the end of the 1880s a number of US cities had small electrical stations based on Edison’s designs but they were not very powerful to begin with.

From these humble beginnings, scientists have made tremendous progress in electrical science and nowadays we take it for granted. Can you imagine how different our lives would be without electricity?

Some fun facts!

* Electricity travels at more than 186,000 miles per second – the speed of light!

* A bolt of lightning lasts for less than one second but can measure up to 3,000,000 volts.

* Coal is currently the world’s biggest source of energy for producing electricity but as there is a finite amount of coal in the world, scientists are looking at new ways to produce electricity. Electricity can be produced from the sun, water and wind, this is known as renewable energy.

* Some animals use electric shocks for self-defense or hunting. Electric eels can produce shocks of around 500 volts, electric rays can produce up to 220 volts and there is even an alleged creature living in the Gobi desert called the Mongolian death worm which is claimed to use electric discharge to kill prey at a distance.

* Thomas Edison was an incredibly successful inventor. During his career, he invented over 2,000 new products including lots of things that we use in our homes today such as switches, fuses, sockets and meters.

* Electricity will always try to find the easiest path to the ground.

* We even have electricity in our bodies. Electricity passes through the heart which causes the muscles to contract. Your heart’s electrical system basically tells it when to beat and push the blood around your body.

Electricity is an incredibly powerful thing that can be found right across the natural world from small animals to massive lightning bolts but thanks to the inquisitive nature of the human species, we have managed to learn about it, generate it and use it to make our lives easier.

Something to think about when you next turn on the lights!

We hope you enjoy enjoyed our facts about Electricity.