The Invention of Electricityor rather the elaboration of the science of the phenomena of electrification, was materialized by the Coulomb’s law (1785), allowed Volta to then create the first electric battery (1800). Thomas Edison to illuminate factories and houses (1879). If the electrical phenomena have always existed and been observed since antiquity had to be awaited Late 18th century to theorize them, and the 19th century to master them.
The Discovery of Electricity
The Discovery of Electricityby observing the phenomena of electrification, is attributed to the Greek philosopher and scientist Thais of Miletusto 6th century BC J.-C. : He had observed that a piece of amber that was rubbed vigorously acquired the property of attracting small, light bodies, such as balls of elder pulp.
Later, other substances with similar properties were discovered and the mysterious power that manifested was named electricity in 17th-century scientific Latin (from the Greek word êelektron, “amber”) and “electricity” in French, c. 1733. And 1752 Benjamin Franklin highlights the electrical origin of a second manifestation, which until then remained very mysterious: lightning and its impressive lightning.
These various observations and experiments have thus shown that the electrification of a body can be achieved in three ways: by frictionfrom Contact with an already electrified body or eventually through influencebring it close enough to an already electrified body.
But if discovering electrical phenomena is one thing, mastering them and theirs conversion into energy is another!
Who Invented Electricity?
Between 1785 and 1791, the French physicist Charles de Coulomb established the quantitative laws of electrostatic and magnetic attraction. He invented the torsion balance, which made it possible to accurately measure the forces exerted by electric and magnetic charges. Thanks to its balance, it formulates the law of attraction and repulsion of electrical charges. According to this principle, Volta built the first electric battery in 1800. To do this, he alternately stacked copper and zinc disks. Each pair is separated from its neighbor by a cloth soaked in salt water. Thanks to this arrangement, he receives a direct electric current. then Peter BarlowBritish mathematician and physicist, build them first electric motor (Barlowrad, 1822). But before the electricity arrives in the households, we still have to wait a bit.
This is what the American looks like Thomas Edison who takes care of the development of a in 1879 ampoule “safe and cheap” and built the first power plant in Manhattan (a coal-fired turbine spins an alternator), then in Paris (“City of Light”), London and Berlin. Thanks to these two great inventions Edison is therefore considered by many to be the “inventor” of electricity, although it would actually be more appropriate to quote him Volta.
Shortly after that Electricity replaces steam operate more demanding machines in the factories. It is the second industrial revolution which begins with among other variations of the modern electric motors and the electric batteries.
To go further into the history of electricity
– The Fabulous Story of Inventions – From the Mastery of Fire to Immortality. Dunod, 2018.
– History of Electricity: From Amber to Electron, by Gérard Borvon. Vubert, 2009.