We explain what electricity is and what is the origin of this physical phenomenon. In addition, the importance it has and its characteristics.
What is electricity?
Electricity means a set of physical phenomena linked to the transmission of electric charges , that is, with the atomic dynamics of electrons (hence their name). Being a very versatile form of energy, it can manifest itself in very different forms and phenomena:
- Electric charge . Atoms and molecules of substances can be electromagnetically charged (negative or positive charge) and this influences the way they attract or repel each other, in the configuration of their structures and in biochemistry.
- Electric current . Electrically charged particles can flow through a conductive material, transmitting their charge from one site to another.
- Electric fields . Electric charges produce a field around them even when they are not moving , influencing the susceptible particles that are in it.
- Electric potential . The electric fields can perform different jobs, measured in volts. That is called electrical potential.
- Magnetism . Moving electrical charges generate magnetic fields, affecting (attracting or repelling) the magnetic materials that are in it and can, in time, generate electricity again.
Similarly, electricity represents for mankind endless known applications .
The electrical properties of the various known materials depend on the configuration of the electrons of their atoms. Graphene, silver and copper are to date the most powerful conductors of electrical energy available, while other materials such as glass, lucite or mica are great insulators.
Although electricity has been known since ancient times, especially after the discovery of amber, a material that could be electrically charged, its formal study began in the 17th and 18th centuries , and it was only at the end of the 19th century that it could be used industrially and domestically.
Origin of electricity
Electricity has always been present in the world, and primitive man was able to detail it through visible phenomena such as lightning , or experience it in electric fish such as the Thunder of the Nile River, described by the ancient Egyptians.
Likewise, static electricity, created by rubbing an amber bar with wool or skin, was discovered by the ancient Greeks around 600 BC
However, the first experiments proper with electricity would take place around the 17th century and would be considered little more than a hall show.
The field would grow with the studies and contributions of Cavendish, Du Fray, van Musschenbroek and Watson during the eighteenth century, but only in the nineteenth century would a unifying theory of electricity and magnetism be developed : Maxwell’s equations in 1865.
The generation of electricity as an industrial activity would begin almost in the twentieth century, after Morse demonstrated in 1833 how electricity could revolutionize the field of remote communications , and that the possibility of generating light through an electric power line was checked, replacing So the gas one.
Finally, Tesla and Edison’s research boosted electricity as a basic requirement of scientific and technological innovation in the framework of the Second Industrial Revolution.
Importance of electricity
Electricity is a versatile and transformative source, capable of taking advantage of different ways:
- Generate light . Lamps and bulbs allow to take advantage of the electric flow in the vacuum to radiate light, thus illuminating the different environments of everyday life and extending the useful life beyond the fall of the sun.
- Generate heat . The Joule effect describes how the passage of electrons through a conductor generates caloric energy, which can be harnessed by heating, welding or even cooking resistors.
- Generate movement . Various types of apparatus are activated by electricity to generate movement, such as motors and rotors, which convert electrical energy into mechanics .
- Transmit data . Through electronic systems, electrical circuits or wiring networks, electricity allows to activate components of different nature over huge distances.
Electricity consists in the transmission of electrons from the last layer of atoms (the farthest) to that of a next atom , flowing along the conductive matter and altering certain properties of it along the way.
For example, generating heat energy in the driver’s body, which can cause the destruction of the charged material, which means that electricity is also dangerous.
A brief and moderate contact with a source of electricity can numb or numb the muscles, while more serious contact can cause burns or death .
On the other hand, electricity is accumulated , for which the batteries were invented or batteries (accumulators), able to absorb and store electricity in chemical contents to be retrieved later.
Electric current is nothing more than the movement of electric charges , which can come from any electrically charged particle that is in motion.
This charge is housed in electrons, subatomic particles that orbit the atomic nucleus, and depending on the conditions they can flow in one direction or another, which has been interpreted as positive or negative.