The history of discovery and evolution of electricity has taken over 26 centuries. Today we will try to understand what kind of monster illuminates our homes, charges apples and green robots, warms the food in the microwave in the morning, washes things. And finally, who is he? The one who shakes and can stop his heart from meeting, the one without whom we cannot think our age and so diligently trying to save his life?
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Actually, he’s not a monster, but a complex physical phenomenon. It was discovered many years ago. The first mention comes from Ancient China and India. Electromagnetic properties had been known there for over 600 years before our era. Then the path leads to ancient Greece, where one of the mysteries will be solved. Why in the title of the article there is a word amber? Actually, everything is elementary. The Greek word “electron” is the ancestor of the word electricity. And the word is, translated as amber. I feel like you’re completely confused. Actually, it’s very simple. The discoverer of modern electricity, whose name, as the adducts say, is Thales of Miletus, observed an interesting property of amber rubbed on a piece of wool – he began to attract small pieces of cork wood and some other tiny objects. So the property of electrifying objects was discovered.
For the next few millennia nothing new has happened to our monster, and only at the end of the 16th century do we find new references to the study of electricity. In London, under Queen Elizabeth, there was a doctor who conducted many experiments on everything ancient Greeks knew. Including experiments on magnets, whose properties he described in his works. His name was William Gilbert. By the way, he was the first to introduce the term “electricity” in his works.
Later in 1729, two very significant discoveries were made at once. The first belongs to Willer and Gray, who discovered the properties of conductors, or rather the fact that materials are differently conduct electricity. The second was made by Peter van Muschenbroek, who invented the first battery, that is, discovered the ability to accumulate energy. It is fair to say that his battery did not look the same as the modern one. Peter van Muschenbroek’s invention, called the “Leiden jar”, was more like a glass jar wrapped on both sides in tin foil. Further in the 18th century, scientist Stephen Grey will study the possibility of transmitting electricity from a distance.
Few people know the funny fact that the same “hundred-dollar” Benjamin Franklin, also had a hand in the study of electricity, or rather, he wrote the first electrical theory. And that’s how he started a thorough study of electricity. This is followed by many scientists who have contributed to the study of electricity. Here and Pendant with its laws, and Ohm with the works on resistance, and Amper, and Joel, and Gauss, so you can enumerate to infinity. This includes all the scientists I’ve described in “The History of the Lamp or Why is the Lamp Round?” But the great Nicola Tesla is the mansion of all electricians. He invented generators, those that are now used in all modern power plants, radio-controlled robotics, electric motors – and this is only a small part of the inventions. Many jokingly, but not without reason, say that Nicola Tesla is the man who invented the 20th century. In the future we will definitely write an article about this great inventor, perhaps even in two parts, subscribe to our blog and you will not miss it.
So, let’s sum it up. As Wikipedia says, electricity is a set of phenomena caused by existence, interaction and movement. If you explain it in simple terms, there are two types of charged particles, positive and negative. Between them and a charge that’s called electricity. And now, after more than two thousand years since Thales, you and I can’t think of a life without electricity. And the subway, and trams, and trolleybuses run on electricity. Cell phones and computers, all appliances and even cars are beginning to need a power outlet. So you should think about saving the power of that monster that sits in our sockets. Let’s save energy and nature!
The history of electricity creation
Now you’re looking at a smartphone or tablet screen, sitting with your laptop in your hand or in front of a desktop computer, right? In order for all this to work, you need to find an outlet. We find the socket, we plug it in, and…
On the other side of the socket, a monster is clinging to our plug with its teeth. So aggressive, with white and blue teeth. These teeth also snap from time to time and sometimes even crack. Who he is and why he’s amber, you and I have already figured it out in the first part of this article. But who locked him up with two small round windows, we haven’t figured it out yet. I think it’s time we fixed that.
It’s worth noting that since time immemorial, man has tried to harness the power of nature. For example, water mills and windmills, or the white sail of a ship, is nothing but the use of the power of nature. Just remember how on the fifth point they rode from the slide under the influence of the force of earthly gravity. Well, not the use of natural forces?
Also since then, man has tried to transmit this very force at a distance, for example, the wheel of the mill rotated the shaft, which in turn rotated millstones, etc.
And now, let’s get back to the monster. To send the monster to the other side of the world, he needs to build a road, and if no one knows how? Now we’re serious. As soon as Lodgygin got a patent for the lamp he invented, there was a need to transmit electricity over long distances, and even more power. Why enormous power? Because a weak one will light a lot of lamps.
Officially, the first to transmit electricity was Fyodor Apollo Pirotsky. In 1877, he transmitted electricity of about 6 horsepower to a distance of just under a kilometre. He is also known as the creator of the world’s first electric tram. The second was Marcel Despres. He transmitted energy capable of driving a half horsepower pump to a distance of 57 kilometers. The energy he transmitted was generated by a water turbine. It is also an important fact that the efficiency was only 22 percent at the time. All other studies began with these experiments.
In 1888, Nicola Tesla received a patent for a two-phase power grid. Two-phase power transmission meant four conductors, usually made of metal. The conductors were made of metal and distributed in two on each circuit or in another way – phase. At the same time, Nicola Tesla discovered that a high frequency current, over seven hundred hertz, moved on the surface of the human body and did not cause any damage. Also, this current does not affect the heart or other internal organs. On the basis of that discovery, a huge number of medical devices have now been built. After all, it is interesting that those things that now seem to be the last word of technology, invented more than a hundred years ago. But we have moved away from the subject. I suggest everyone who is interested in the discoveries that Nicola Tesla made subscribe to our blog. We will soon be publishing an article about the man who invented the twentieth century, Nikola Tesla. In the meantime, back to the narrative.
We owe the next and, perhaps, the main turn in the development of electricity to Russian engineer Mikhail Osipovich Dolivo-Dobrovolsky. By the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-first, he had developed and built all the components needed to create a three-phase electricity network. In the same year, the first three-phase power line was built. It was connected to a 300 horsepower hydroelectric power plant. Which equals about two hundred and twenty kilowatts per hour. By modern standards, that’s not much. So much energy is consumed by a small apartment building in 24 hours. The power line that was built was about a hundred and seventy-eight kilometres long. Through this network it was possible to transmit electricity from the hydroelectric power plant of the above capacity and voltage of thirty thousand volts. It is worth noting the main breakthrough of this event – the efficiency factor was equal to seventy seven percent.
Very quickly it turned out that in all parameters the three-phase network exceeds all other networks in times. It was possible to transmit higher voltage and higher power currents through such a network. Since the three-phase network had three circuits, there were also three conductors in it, and they were of a smaller cross-section, since the load was equally divided between the phases. A two-phase network had four conductors of a greater cross-section than a new network and was more expensive because of the high metal costs.
In this connection, the construction of three-phase power transmission networks has started actively. So by 1908-1910 the network with capacity of one hundred and ten kilowatts was already constructed. Later on, a network of one hundred and fifty kilowatts appeared. By one thousand nine hundred and twenty-third year, this figure was already two hundred and twenty kilowatts. By the end of the thirties of the twentieth century in Los Angeles was built electricity transmission line with a capacity of two hundred and eighty seven kilowatts. The branch was one hundred and fifty five kilometers long. And then all records were set in the Soviet Union. First, a branch with a capacity of five hundred kilowatts was built from the Volga Hydroelectric Power Station. Then by seven hundred and fifty from the Konakovskaya hydroelectric power plant to Moscow. Today, AC power lines have a voltage of one thousand one hundred and fifty kilowatts, or just over one megawatt! And the DC lines have a power of as much as one and a half megawatts.
Household voltage is two hundred and twenty volts. Why is that? Because that’s what happened historically in the 50s and 60s of the 20th century. One reason is the optimal ratio of the price of its transmission to the end point and its performance. It’s also a relatively safe voltage. So, if you are bitten by a monster in a finger, you are likely to feel only discomfort, nothing terrible will happen. It is worth noting that in all countries, the voltage is different in the domestic network. For example, in Europe, the voltage of two hundred and twenty volts is prohibited. They have all their sockets under voltage of one hundred and ten volts.
In our homes, as a rule, comes a three-phase network, and in the wiring inside the house is divided into single-phase branches. If you don’t live in a private home, you’re likely to have two wires coming in the socket. Zero and phase. The phase is live, and zero takes up the current when you connect, because current is the movement of electrons in the conductor. Including the light, you close the phase and zero, and the light comes on.
So who invented a dungeon with two holes for our monster? Actually, like the tension, it has different shapes and looks in every country. But the history of its invention is covered in darkness. The basic version sounds like this. After moving to the United States, Nicola Tesla took a job with Thomas Edison’s company. Edison promised the then young physicist an astronomical sum of fifty thousand dollars, which, given the inflation in translation today would be more than a million dollars. The amount was promised for work to improve DC machines. In a short period of time, Tesla presented more than two dozen options and a certain power switch. Edison accepted the inventions, but did not pay the promised amount, accusing the great inventor of a lack of sense of humor. Tesla took offense and quit. Shortly afterwards, an electric exhibition was held, where Edison showed a socket that was almost the same as the switch invented by Nicola Tesla. And the patent was for another person, unfortunate as it may seem.