Ask an Electrical Contractor: Shocking Facts about Electricity
Electricity powers our lives. In fact, electricity is presently powering your computer or mobile device screen. Without it, you couldn’t read this article, but the reason might not be as obvious as you think. Our ‘Ask an Electrical Contractor’ series aims to answer common questions about electricity and provide useful tips to keep you safe or lower your bill. In today’s post, your 1-888-bunt-out? electrical contractor will share interesting facts about electricity.
Hair-raising Fact: Benjamin Franklin did not discover electricity but rather confirmed that lightning (which can measure 3 million volts in a single second!) is a form of electrical energy. In reality, electrical phenomena have been studied since antiquity. It is only recently, little more than a century that we fully understand the origins and composition of electricity and how to benefit from its use.
Breaking Down the Flow
Look around. Everything you see is made up of atoms, which are the basic units of matter. Atoms contain three important things: Positively charged Protons, neutrally charged Neutrons and negatively charged Electrons. A change in balance among the three causes electrons to flow freely—hence the flow of electricity.
More Fun, Interesting and Humorous Electrical Facts
è While it is true that Thomas Edison invented the first commercially practical incandescent light bulb, his employee, a dentist named Alfred P. Southwick, not Thomas, was the one who invented the electric chair.
è Human Voltage: All that we do is either controlled or enabled by electrical signals running through our bodies. Synapses pass (or fire) signals (chemical instructions) inside cells, sending them to their destination along the bloodstream. Synapses are essential to neural function, making it possible for you to read your computer screen.
è Electricity travels at or faster than the speed of light: 186,000 miles per second (!), the equivalent of traveling around the world 8 times in the time it takes to flip on a light switch.
è What’s in a name? Lacking a fancy Greek or highly scientific meaning, the word “volt” isnamed in honor of Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (1745–1827); the word “amp”or ampere is named after French physicist André-Marie Ampère (1775–1836), and the word “watt” is named after Scottish engineer James Watt (1736–1819).
è A shock can be a hair-raising event. An electrical contractor would warn that metal objects double as conductors of electricity. This is why an innocent walk across carpeting and reaching for a metal doorknob can be painful. Why? The walk (friction) across carpeting causes you to pick up excess electrons, which have a negative charge. The zap you feel is the electrons jumping from your fingertip to the metal, which has a positive charge.
Stay tuned for our next installment of the 1-888-burnt-out? “Ask an Electrical Contractor” series. Have a fun or interesting fact you’d like to share about electricity? Share your comments below.
Still have questions about electricity? Ask your 1-888-burnt-out? electrical contractor about electrical safety or energy-saving tips.