December 23, 2012

A Real Education: The Discovery Of Electricity

Unfortunately we were, and still are, being taught a bunch of incorrect crap in history. This truly disgusts me, I mean we are in 2012 and our children are still being taught that George Washington didn’t tell a lie, that Columbus discovered America, and that Benjamin Franklin invented electricity.

Personally I blame Texas, not just because I live here and don’t like the majority of Texas, but because that’s where the majority of our school’s text books comes from. That’s a whole other jacked up story in itself.

So one of the lies still being taught is that Benjamin Franklin invented electricity, and that he did this by flying a kite with a key on it; the story goes, that lightening struck the kite thus electrocuting Franklin. Well if this happened he would have been fried to smithereens. It doesn’t take more than a little bit of common sense to figure this out.

This reportedly happened in 1752, but electricity was already being used by then. Franklin did this experiment not to discover electricity, but to prove the electrical nature of lightning. So he flew the silk kite around a bit, then he felt the key, and the electrical charge was significant enough evidence. Plus he did this all with a tiny talking mouse according to Disney.

Fun fact; Professor Georg Wilhelm Richmann of St. Petersburg, Russia, tried this experiment a few months later and he was struck by lightning, and he died. Because when humans are electrocuted from lightening, they die.

So who invented electricity?

Electricity was never invented, but it was discovered. Many names should be accredited to this discovery.

In sixth century B.C., Thales of Miletus discovered static electricity. He did this by rubbing fur with other objects and saw that they were attracted to each other. It may seem simple enough but this was a breakthrough back then. He recorded his findings although he incorrectly stated that static electricity was a type of magnetism resulting from friction. But hey, it was sixth century B.C., cut the guy some slack.

The invention of the electrical capacitor in the 18th century was a huge breakthrough. This is also where Franklin comes into play because during this time scientists realized that static electricity could actually be transformed into an electrical current.

Many other people helped push the discovery and advancement of electricity along, but none more important than George Westinghouse, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla. Once Edison invented the light bulb, the world would change; Westinghouse would then use electricity to power his trains, and Tesla invented the alternating current (AC) electrical supply system.

By the beginning of the 20th century these three individuals would rally for public support of either direct current or alternating current, but ultimately both were being used.

So the story of who invented electricity is not as clear cut as the BS school books would have you believe, in fact the truth is more interesting and should be told. But who cares about telling the truth when it comes to our youth? They’re only our future.

Image Credit: Disney

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