We explain what electricity is and what is the origin of this physical phenomenon. In addition, its importance and its characteristics.

Electricity has endless important applications for humanity.

What is electricity?

Electricity includes a set ofphysical phenomena linked to the presence and transmission of electrical charges. There are several basic concepts that are closely related to electricity:

  • Electric charge. All known matter is made up of atoms that have an equal amount of electrons (with negative electrical charge) and protons (with positive electrical charge). The atoms and the molecules They can become electrically charged and this influences the way they attract or repel each other and the configuration of the matter they make up.
  • Electric current. The particles Electrically charged, usually electrons, can flow through a conductive material, such as a wire. This transmission of electrical charges is what is called electrical current.
  • Electric fields. Electric fields produce work, measured in volts, on the moving particles embedded in them. The electric potential at a point in space is the work that must be done per unit charge to move this charge through an electric field from a reference point to the point considered.
  • Electric potential. Electric fields can do different jobs, measured in volts. This is called the electric potential.
  • Magnetism. Electric charges in movement They generate magnetic fields, affecting (attracting or repelling) magnetic materials and moving charges found in it and being able, under certain conditions, to generate an electric current themselves.

Electricity represents for the humanity endless known applications.

The electrical properties of known materials depend on the configuration of the electrons in their atoms. Graphene, silver and copper are to date the most powerful conductors of electric power available, while other materials such as glass, lucite or mica are great insulators.

Although electricity has been known since ancient times, especially from the discovery of amber, a material that can 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 been around the world forever. Primitive man was able to perceive it through visible phenomena such as lightning, or experience it through electric fish such as the Nile River Thunderbolts, described by the ancient Egyptians.

Static electricity (which arises, for example, by rubbing an amber stick with wool or fur) was discovered by the ancient Greeks around 600 BC. C.

The first serious experiments with electricity took place around the 17th century. The field grew with the studies and contributions of Cavendish, Du Fray, van Musschenbroek, and Watson during the 18th century, and during the 19th century a unifying theory of electricity and power was developed. magnetism: Maxwell's equations in 1865.

The generation of electricity as an industrial activity began almost in the 20th century, after Morse demonstrated in 1833 how electricity could revolutionize the field of remote communications, and the possibility of generating light through an electrical line was verified, replacing the gas one.

Finally, Tesla and Edison's research pushed electricity as a basic requirement of the innovation scientific and technological in the framework of the Second Industrial Revolution.

Importance of electricity

Electricity is capable of generating heat energy that can be used for cooking.

Electricity is a versatile and transformative source, capable of being used in different ways:

  • generate light. Lamps and bulbs make it possible to take advantage of the electrical flow in a vacuum to radiate light, illuminating different environments and extending the daytime 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 used by means of resistors to heat, weld or even cook.
  • generate movement. Various types of devices are activated by electricity to generate movement, such as motors and rotors, which convert electrical energy into mechanics. On the other hand, electrical energy can be stored, for example, by batteries or batteries, and be used when required to generate movement, for example.
  • To transmit data. Through electronic systems, electrical circuits or wiring networks, electricity enables components of various kinds to be activated over enormous distances.

Characteristics of electricity

Electricity consists of the transmission of electrons from the last layer of the atoms (the furthest) to that of a following atom, flowing along the conducting matter and altering certain properties of it along the way.

On the other hand, electricity is accumulative, for which batteries were invented or batteries (accumulators), capable of absorbing electrical current and storing it in its chemical content, to be recovered later.

Electric current

Electric current is the movement of electric charges through a conductor. These charges are electrons, subatomic particles that orbit the atomic nucleus.

Electric currents are not harmless to the human body, which can withstand currents of around 16 amps. that is, electricity can be dangerous. Brief, moderate contact with a source of electricity can numb or numb the muscles, while more serious contact can cause burns or even death. death.

Thanks to the studies of Nikola Tesla, two forms of electric current are known: the DC and the alternating current (which varies cyclically in its magnitude and meaning).

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