Have you ever found yourself wondering about electricity and what it really is? How it works, where it comes from, and why it’s so essential to the way we live our lives? Electricity has been around for centuries, but there are still lots of weird and wonderful facts that aren’t common knowledge. From the secrets behind how power plants generate electricity to understanding the formation of a lightning bolt and much more. Today, we’re taking an in-depth look at some truly interesting facts about this fascinating source of energy! Read on to discover 6 interesting facts about electricity – let’s get started!
Electricity Was Discovered By Benjamin Franklin In 1752, Wasn’t It?
Answer: No, Electricity Was First Observed In Ancient Greece By Philosopher Thales Of Miletus
Ever heard of Benjamin Franklin? Of course, you have! We all learned about him in school and are likely all aware of his legendary kite experiment back in 1752, which made him one of the most famous scientists in history. But, did you know that Benjamin Franklin’s discovery of electricity back in 1752 was not the first time humans have been fascinated by it? It’s actually a very common misconception that Benjamin Franklin was the first person to discover electricity. There’s no way of knowing for sure who the first human to encounter electricity was, but, according to Richard Fitzpatrick of the University of Texas, there’s evidence to support that Ancient Greek and Chinese cultures had experienced static electricity as far back as 600 BC.
Over two thousand years ago, the ancient Greeks ventured out and started traveling through the Black Sea. By trading along the river Dnieper, they eventually reached the Baltic region in search of goods. On their journeys, they ultimately discovered an orange gemstone which they called ‘electron’ – which we now call amber!
Eventually, a greek philosopher in the 6th century BC by the name of Thales of Miletus observed that amber had an unusual ability to become magnetic when rubbed on fur! More specifically, when rubbed with fur it developed a special property to attract light objects like feathers. That same phenomenon, although difficult to explain at the time, is now known as static electricity and is studied extensively in modern physics. While this ancient find certainly sparked ideas about electricity’s potential power, ultimately it wouldn’t be for centuries later that we would learn to harness its awesome power with Benjamin Franklin’s experiment in 1752, which ultimately kick-started the industrial revolution!
Are Eels Really Electric And How Powerful Is An Electric Eel Shock?
Answer: Yes, An Electric Eel Can Generate Between 500 – 700 Volts
Despite what your internal logic might tell you, yes, Electric eels really do produce electricity, naturally! That’s certainly not something that all can do in the animal kingdom and did you know that electric eels are capable of generating electricity between 500 – 700 volts? That’s a powerful punch and more than enough to give any human a bit of a shock!
Their bodies have something remarkable inside – electric organs. These contain an amazing 6,000 specialised cells, known as electrocytes. It’s almost like having lots of tiny batteries inside your body that store power. Pretty cool, right? These unique electrocytes allow the organism to be self-contained with its own source of energy at its disposal. When threatened or attaching prey, electric eels will discharge these cells all at the same time to produce an electric shock.
Fortunately, human deaths from electric eels are extremely rare, but it’s always best to be cautious if you ever encounter one!
What’s The Highest Voltage Ever Recorded?
Answer: 400 Billion Volts
The highest voltage ever recorded was an astonishing 400 billion volts! This huge amount of electricity was detected in thunderstorms during a research project in Brazil. To put it into perspective, that’s enough electrical energy to power the continent of Africa for three days.
Tesla coils are known to produce incredibly high-voltage, low-current electricity, often with voltage numbers in the millions! But, according to sciencefocus.com the highest voltage ever created by humans was a staggering 25.5 MV (25.5 Million Volts) – which was achieved using a tandem Van De Graaff Generator at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the USA.
How Fast Does Electricity Travel?
Answer: 186,000 Miles Per Hour
It’s a fairly common misconception that electricity travels at the speed of light, but it’s certainly not far off! In fact, electricity travels 90% the speed of light, which translates to around 270,000 km/s. This means that electricity can travel at nearly 300 million meters per second which is 186,000 miles per second. That’s really speedy! It also means that electricity can travel around 50 to 80 kilometers (31-50 miles) in just one millisecond – which is 1/1000th of a second!
At EMAY Electrical, we might not be as quick as 90% of the speed of light, but we’d say we’re as close as can be! Our electricians in Milton Keynes & Leighton Buzzard are known for their timely responses so give us a call if you’ve got an electrical conundrum!
What’s The Cause Of Lightening?
Answer: Lightening is caused by pieces of ice bumping into each other within a cloud, creating friction and building up an electric charge. This charge is then drawn towards the objects on Earth and other clouds that have a positive charge, as a way to balance them out
When warm air rises, it cools and forms small droplets of water. If the air is unstable enough, these droplets will combine to form larger droplets or ice crystals which eventually start to fall and turns into hail.
Within clouds, the movement of hail collects a negative charge due to its contact with smaller positively charged ice particles.
This charge is then drawn towards the objects on Earth and other clouds that have a positive charge, as a way to balance them out.
When the attraction becomes too strong, the charges will settle down instantly in a burst of lightning followed by loud thunderclaps caused by air rapidly expanding and heating up.
The Met Office says – “Thunderstorms develop when the atmosphere is unstable. This is when warm air exists underneath much colder air.”
When Was The Electric Car Invented?
Answer: The first electric car was actually invented in 1828 in Hungary by Ányos Jedlik.
Believe it or not, the first electric car dates way back to 1828! Built by Hungarian engineer Ányos Jedlik, his vehicle was powered by non-rechargeable primary cells and could reach speeds of up to 6 km/h. Fast forward a few decades later and we can thank Scottish inventor Robert Anderson for creating the first practical electric car in 1839. It had two large wheeled cells powered by electricity, making it the first two-wheeled automobile and one of the first vehicles that ran on an electric motor. While these cars were inventions that were quickly replaced in favour of ICE cars at the time due to impracticalities, they ultimately paved the way for future engineers to develop the EVs we install chargers for today. So move over Elon, Ányos Jedlik is the real pioneer!
EMAY Electrical’s Interesting Electrical Facts
We’ve certainly learned a lot about the world of electricity from the humble observations of Thales of Miletus in 600 BC to Benjamin Franklin’s Kite Experiment, understanding the speed of electricity, recording the highest voltage ever (400 Billion Volts!) and inventing the first electric car with Ányos Jedlik.
At EMAY Electrical, we’re always keen to stay ahead of the curve. The beauty of working in the electrical industry, whether it be commercial or domestic, there’s always something to new learn and new technologies to power – If you’re in need of a professional electrician, give us a call!