Electricity was first discovered about 2 500 years ago. The Greek scientist Thales of Miletus (c. 620 BCE – c. 546 BC) noticed that a piece of amber (the hard fossilized sap from trees) attracted straw or feathers when he rubbed it with a cloth. The word “electricity” comes from the Greek word for amber – “elektron”. Thales is also known as the father of philosophy.
The word “electric” was first used in 1600 by William Gilbert, a doctor to Queen Elizabeth I. He carried out experiments and discovered that materials such as diamond, glass and wax behaved in a similar way to amber.
Count Alessandro Volta invented the first battery in the 18th century. He called it a “voltaic pile.” It consisted of a pile of zinc and silver or copper discs separated by pads moistened with an acid solution. The unit for measuring a unit of electricity, a volt, is named after Count Volta.
During the 1860s, George Leclanche developed a battery which did not use dangerous acids, known as the dry-cell battery. The batteries we use in flash lights, portable radios, etc. are based on Leclanche’s design.
Every year thousands of people are electrocuted but few die of it directly. Instead, more people die in the almost 10 000 fires that are caused by overloaded receptacles.
Be careful! Don’t overload your plugs and limit the use of extension cords by using them only for temporary operations.