Electricity, History Of - Research Article from Macmillan Encyclopedia of Energy

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Electrical effects were known to the ancients through the attraction that amber, when rubbed, had for lightweight objects. They were also aware of the seemingly unrelated phenomenon of lightning. There is the further possibility that a form of electric battery was used for electroplating in Mesopotamia, but the evidence is meager and, even if true, there were no long-term consequences.

The term "electric" comes from the Greek word for amber and was coined by William Gilbert in his book on magnetism, published in 1600. Gilbert showed that other materials had this same attractive property and made the important observation that it was quite different from the attractive property of magnetism.

Although the subject was not abandoned, serious experimentation arguably began with the work of Francis Hauksbee, Stephen Gray, and Charles Dufay in the early decades of the eighteenth century. By rubbing glass rods to generate...

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This section contains 2,999 words
(approx. 10 pages at 300 words per page)
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Electricity, History Of from Macmillan. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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