It’s fair to say that most of us use electricity every day of our lives. Everything from communication to medicine relies on electricity. Even now, while you're reading this article, your computer, phone or tablet is using electricity to keep your device switched on.
Electricity itself was never “invented.” It occurs naturally in nature and people have been aware of it for thousands of years. However, it wasn’t until relatively recently that humans were able to fully understand what electricity was and how they could harness its potential.
The Ancient Greeks: Discovering Static Electricity
Around 600 BC, the Greeks made an interesting discovery. They learned that by rubbing fur on amber, an attraction was formed between the two objects. This is believed to be one of the earliest recorded discoveries of static electricity.
Around this time, other Mediterranean’s residents were starting to experiment static electricity. The Romans even created pots lined inside with sheets of copper. This was believed to be the first attempt of creating a batter. If combined with an acidic electrolyte solution (such as lemon juice) the artifact could have theoretically created an electric current.
Elizabethan Era, England: What’s In a Name?
While scientific curiosity for electricity continued, it still lacked an official name. That was until English scientist William Gilbert started studying this strange phenomenon in 1600. Gilbert was studying the static electricity produced by rubbing amber. He coined the term “electricus,” a Latin term meaning “like amber.”
Later, fellow scientist, Thomas Browne, wrote several books based in Gilbert’s research. In those books, Browne uses the term “electricity” for the first time.
Colonial America: Learning More About Electricity
In the 1700s, Benjamin Franklin sold his possessions in order to fund his research on electricity. In his infamous experiments, Franklin attached a key to the bottom of a dampened kite string. He then flew the kite in the middle of a thunderstorm.
When the kite was struck by lightning, sparks jumped from the key to the back of Franklin’s hand. This proved to him that electricity and lightning was the same thing. Because of this, Franklin is considered the first person to discover electricity
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