Electricity is like magic to most, but to others, it is a product of applied science that has taken years of study. Whatever it is, it sure has a lot of stories to tell.
Here are 4 of the most interesting ones.
1. People fought over it for years.
Although Nikola Tesla’s experiments on electricity have immortalised him as the proverbial mad scientist, he was not a direct participant in the 1880’s War of Currents. The so-called war was between two other larger-than-life electricians, Fallon Solutions explains. Beenleigh might not be its battlefield but it sure benefits from the outcome of this trade war, where Thomas Edison wanted direct current to be the world standard, and George Westinghouse wanted alternating current to power homes. We know who won–that’s AC running behind the wall socket.
2. Your gadgets take advantage of its two forms.
Electric power is effectively harnessed by your phone every day via the wall charger when the alternating current gets converted into direct current, to be stored in your phone’s battery, where it will serve as the main power source. Amazing isn’t it, that the War of Currents didn’t stop us from enjoying the two sides of this coin?
3. Edison did not electrocute Topsy the elephant, but his company was involved.
It was January 4, 1903, when humanity learned that it took 2 minutes for alternating current at 6,600 volts to kill a 4-6-ton elephant. Topsy lived life as a circus performer, unfortunately killing a few men in self-defense during her lifetime, yet this was not the reason for her public euthanasia at Coney Island by the Edison Electric Illuminating Company of Brooklyn. She was bought from owners who no longer had the resources to take care of her, and she served her final moments as a filmed morning entertainment spectacle that was as painful to watch as it was sad.
4. Coupled with magnetism, it’s one of the four fundamental forces in the universe.
Almost like a mystic legend, combine electricity with magnetism and you get one of the four fundamental forces of the known universe: the electromagnetic force. This is the stuff that fuels the interaction between electrically charged particles and is responsible for the Earth’s magnetic poles, lightning in the sky, and the interaction of electrons in an atom. This is the force that holds matter together. It ranks among the gravitational force, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force in importance to our physical reality.
Electricity makes the world go 'round, but its story is far from being pedestrian, as attested by these four anecdotes.