Who Discovered Electricity?

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who discovered electricityWhat would we do without electricity today? Can we say that anyone invented electricity?

These and other important questions about the electric power will be revealed in this article. Read on to learn about the actual facts when it comes to this most important discovery of all time, and the discoverers behind it.

Electricity, is a force of nature and it has been around since the creation of the universe. However, ‘Who was the first to harness electricity?’ It took a lot of time for us humans to realize how electricity could be harnessed to get things done, but once we did realize, it took us only about 150 years to apply it to every aspect of life and change the world!



Electricity, an effect of the electromagnetic force, is the flow of charged particles (electrons) through conductive materials. Electricity like water, flows from a higher electrical potential to a lower electrical potential. Almost every form of technology is made possible due to electricity and it is an integral part of biological life on Earth. From the beating of our hearts, to the working of our brains and muscles, everything is made possible due to electric currents!

We will take the question of who discovered electricity as who was first in known history to realize the power of electricity and identify its various manifestation in nature. It is such a universal phenomenon, that anybody who has seen lightning could be called the discoverer of electricity. However, it took time to observe all the electrical phenomena and classify it.



Who Discovered Electricity and How?

Since ancient times, people have come across various instances of electricity being manifested in nature. Here are some of the instances in recorded history where electric phenomena find a mention in chronological order.

The earliest mention of electric phenomena is found in ancient Egyptian texts from about 2750 BC (roughly 4750 years ago). These texts talk about electric fish that were known as ‘Thunderers’ of the Nile’ and defenders of other fish. So the earliest discovery of electricity in recorded history was in the form of bio-electricity! The mention of these electric fish like catfish and torpedo rays has been found in Greek, Roman and Arabic chronicles. In fact, in some instances, there is even a mention of electric shocks from these fish being used as a cure for headaches and gout.

Many ancient civilizations have reported the attractive effect that amber has on light objects like feathers when rubbed against cat fur.

The magnetic effect of minerals like magnetite was known to the ancient Greeks. Around 600 BC, a Greek philosopher, Thales of Miletus, investigated the static electric effect of amber and wrongly classified it as a magnetic effect arising out of friction. However, later in modern times, electricity and magnetism were proved to be the two manifestations of a single force of electromagnetism.

The first indirect evidence of reported similarity between lightning and the electric current delivered by electric fish, is found in the name given by Arabs in 15th century to these fish. The name is same as the word for lightning.

After that, in 1600 AD, an Englishman named William Gilbert studied both the phenomena of electricity and magnetism and distinguished between the electric effect of amber and magnetic effect of lodestone. It is he who gave the name ‘electricus’ (Latin) to the phenomenon of attraction showed by amber. Not surprisingly, it was derived from the ancient Greek word for amber, which was ‘elektron’. This gave rise to the modern word of electricity which first appeared in print, in the book Pseudodoxia Epidemica written by Sir Thomas Brown in 1646.

Many natural philosophers and mathematicians like Robert Boyle, Otto von Guericke, Stephen Gray and C.F. Du Fay investigated the phenomenon of electricity.

In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin is supposed to have first proved conclusively that lightning was indeed electricity, through some kite experiments.

In the year 1791, Luigi Galvani proved that nerves conduct signals to the muscles in the form of electric currents, thus giving rise to the science of bio-electricity.

Later in 1800, one of the first electric batteries were created by Allesandro Volta. Later, Hans Christian Oersted and Ampere proved the unity between electricity and magnetism and Micheal Faraday invented the first electric motor. James Clark Maxwell, through his theory of electromagnetism, conclusively proved the unity between electricity and magnetism and proved that light was an electromagnetic wave. This was later proved by Hertz and an Indian scientist Jagadishchandra Bose, through first transmission of electromagnetic waves.

Since then, electrical engineering developed as an applied science and eventually gave rise to telecommunication.

What are your thoughts on the subject of discovery of electricity?

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66 comments

Join the conversation
  • Sammy Minter

    Sammy Minter - January 5, 2017 reply

    Ancient black egyptians.

  • Clint Harrison Go

    Clint Harrison Go - December 11, 2016 reply

    Xyience Zachary Go

  • Favour Chikezie

    Favour Chikezie - December 10, 2016 reply

    All these scientists mentioned here has one contribution towards the discovery of electricity

  • Michał Piotr Sucharczuk

    Michał Piotr Sucharczuk - December 10, 2016 reply

    Mother earth

  • Jesse Quiroz

    Jesse Quiroz - December 10, 2016 reply

    tesla the father of electricity…

  • Vaughn Bennett

    Vaughn Bennett - December 9, 2016 reply

    Mi.

  • Drew Dunn

    Drew Dunn - December 9, 2016 reply

    Who was the first person to be struck by lightning?

  • Mike Frenez

    Mike Frenez - December 9, 2016 reply

    Invented or discovered? God created it and man discovered it. According to American record, Ben Franklin discovered.

    James Armstrong

    James Armstrong - December 10, 2016

    God? Seriously..

    Mike Frenez

    Mike Frenez - December 10, 2016

    That’s right

    Daniel Bok

    Daniel Bok - December 10, 2016

    what ever makes you sleep at night ;)

    Don Reid

    Don Reid - December 10, 2016

    Prove it

    Mike Frenez

    Mike Frenez - December 10, 2016

    And you as well Daniel :-)

    Mike Frenez

    Mike Frenez - December 10, 2016

    @Don, prove otherwise

  • Michel Lonobile

    Michel Lonobile - December 9, 2016 reply

    Ancient greeks made batteries for electrolyser. Gold plating. We can reasonably think they took the know how from someone else.

  • Muhammad Shahbaz

    Muhammad Shahbaz - December 9, 2016 reply

    Fraday

  • Seewkumar Mahady

    Seewkumar Mahady - December 9, 2016 reply

    Find the guys who built the Baghdad ‘battery’. ; )

    Michel Lonobile

    Michel Lonobile - December 9, 2016

    No proof it was a battery

    Seewkumar Mahady

    Seewkumar Mahady - December 9, 2016

    The willpower of humans can turn hypothesis into proof and proof into empirical observation fellow human!

  • FranZzis Martinez

    FranZzis Martinez - December 9, 2016 reply

    franklin benjamin…

  • Lindsey Barber

    Lindsey Barber - December 9, 2016 reply

    Nikola Telsa ~ he discovered modern alternating currents

    Lindsey Barber

    Lindsey Barber - December 9, 2016

    Well crap~ I was wrong about the first initial discovery.

    Michel Lonobile

    Michel Lonobile - December 9, 2016

    But he used it the best

  • Joshua Siaton

    Joshua Siaton - December 9, 2016 reply

    I think, Thomas Edison.

    Kurtis Nelson

    Kurtis Nelson - December 10, 2016

    No… He was a thief who monetized AC current. Tesla wasn’t trying to make money off of us.

  • Ralph Bazzi

    Ralph Bazzi - November 28, 2016 reply

    Michael Faradays discovered electricity

  • Ronald Reyes

    Ronald Reyes - November 13, 2016 reply

    The discovery of this force “electricity” led to a more innovated world.

  • Darwin Largo Etang

    Darwin Largo Etang - November 12, 2016 reply

    “Benjamin Franklin” ~Discovered The Electricity~

  • Ethan Jacob Tundu

    Ethan Jacob Tundu - November 11, 2016 reply

    fuck you its Tesla

  • Anuska Das

    Anuska Das - November 11, 2016 reply

    Volta

  • Anuska Das

    Anuska Das - November 11, 2016 reply

    Volta

  • Ali Dayoub

    Ali Dayoub - November 11, 2016 reply

    Nowadaya and almostm six years ago we in Syria live in incridable situation in respect of supplying wuth electrecity

  • Nigel Connell

    Nigel Connell - November 11, 2016 reply

    It’s misleading to talk of ‘discovery’. As the article shows, Man’s thoughts about electricity have evolved over thousands of years. This is vastly different than, say, radioactivity, which was literally discovered by Becquerel when he noticed that photographic plates adjacent to a lump of pitchblende were fogged by a mysterious emanation

  • Suzanne Cable

    Suzanne Cable - November 11, 2016 reply

    Electricity is a naturally occurring force… ;)

  • Robert Emmett

    Robert Emmett - November 11, 2016 reply

    Mr Electric of course! Everybody knows that !

  • Melvin Tampoon

    Melvin Tampoon - November 11, 2016 reply

    Discover or rediscover?

  • Mark Mahanets - November 11, 2016 reply

    I read many, many years ago, that it was a French lady scientist, who discovered the electromagnetism, there was even a documentary on her findings , i’ll see if i can dig it out from this world of information….

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  • Stephen - May 6, 2012 reply

    Jacob Boehme. Not only did he anticipate the “science of electricity,” but also, the writer declares, “positive evidence can be adduced that Newton derived all his knowledge of gravitation and its laws from Boehmen, with whom gravitation or attraction is, and very properly so, the first of the seven properties of Nature. . . . Every new scientific discovery goes to prove his profound and intuitive insight into the most secret workings of nature; . . . Boehmen’s system, in fact, shows us the inside of things, while modern physical science is content with looking at the outside’ “

    abeer - May 6, 2012

    Dear Stephen,
    thank you for sharing the information.
    Abeer

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    abeer - April 18, 2012

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  • mena mohmed - March 15, 2012 reply

    wow nice i like science :)

  • mena mohmed - March 15, 2012 reply

    i learned lots of things but my question was who discovered electricity

    abeer - March 15, 2012

    Hi Mena,
    I am sorry I cannot answer your question, because no one knows who first discovered electricity.

    rahul - April 2, 2012

    The earliest mention of electric phenomena is found in ancient Egyptian texts from about 2750 BC (roughly 4750 years ago). These texts talk about electric fish that were known as ‘Thunderers’ of the Nile’ and defenders of other fish. So the earliest discovery of electricity in recorded history was in the form of bio-electricity! The mention of these electric fish like catfish and torpedo rays has been found in Greek, Roman and Arabic chronicles. In fact, in some instances, there is even a mention of electric shocks from these fish being used as a cure for headaches and gout.
    Many ancient civilizations have reported the attractive effect that amber has on light objects like feathers when rubbed against cat fur.
    The magnetic effect of minerals like magnetite was known to the ancient Greeks. Around 600 BC, a Greek philosopher, Thales of Miletus, investigated the static electric effect of amber and wrongly classified it as a magnetic effect arising out of friction. However, later in modern times, electricity and magnetism were proved to be the two manifestations of a single force of electromagnetism.
    The first indirect evidence of reported similarity between lightning and the electric current delivered by electric fish, is found in the name given by Arabs in 15th century to these fish. The name is same as the word for lightning.
    After that, in 1600 AD, an Englishman named William Gilbert studied both the phenomena of electricity and magnetism and distinguished between the electric effect of amber and magnetic effect of lodestone. It is he who gave the name ‘electricus’ (Latin) to the phenomenon of attraction showed by amber. Not surprisingly, it was derived from the ancient Greek word for amber, which was ‘elektron’. This gave rise to the modern word of electricity which first appeared in print, in the book Pseudodoxia Epidemica written by Sir Thomas Brown in 1646.
    Many natural philosophers and mathematicians like Robert Boyle, Otto von Guericke, Stephen Gray and C.F. Du Fay investigated the phenomenon of electricity.
    In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin is supposed to have first proved conclusively that lightning was indeed electricity, through some kite experiments.
    In the year 1791, Luigi Galvani proved that nerves conduct signals to the muscles in the form of electric currents, thus giving rise to the science of bio-electricity.
    Later in 1800, one of the first electric batteries were created by Allesandro Volta. Later, Hans Christian Oersted and Ampere proved the unity between electricity and magnetism and Micheal Faraday invented the first electric motor. James Clark Maxwell, through his theory of electromagnetism, conclusively proved the unity between electricity and magnetism and proved that light was an electromagnetic wave. This was later proved by Hertz and an Indian scientist Jagadishchandra Bose, through first transmission of electromagnetic waves.
    Since then, electrical engineering developed as an applied science and eventually gave rise to telecommunication.

    abeer - April 2, 2012

    Thank you Rahul for the information.

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  • Who Discovered Electromagnetism? | Science and Inventions - December 30, 2011 reply

    […] the year 1873, James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) the Scottish mathematician and physicist was able to combine electricity with magnetism […]

  • Jean - December 19, 2011 reply

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  • Jean - December 19, 2011 reply

    This website is really reliable, and I did most of my research for a project from this! :P

    abeer - December 19, 2011

    Dear Jean,
    Thank you. Please visit other posts in our site, you can find posts in every field. Hope that it will help you in other researches.
    Abeer

  • Bri - December 9, 2011 reply

    it was Luigi Galvani

    abeer - December 9, 2011

    Dear reader,
    Luigi Galvani was the first to discover the bioelectricity, while we were trying to figure the discoverer of the electricity.
    You can find more about the bioelectricity in the following site of wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioelectricity
    Hope that you visit other posts in the site, and thank you.

  • Joao - October 13, 2011 reply

    Who said anyone invented eletricity? Dumbass…

    Eman - October 16, 2011

    Hello Dear,

    If you have read all articles about who invented electricity, you will find out that it was found gradually by many inventors and it developed by time.

  • Nwanbeze - October 2, 2011 reply

    I need to know what is the name of first man that discovered electricity and how he did it?

    Eman - October 2, 2011

    Electricity was not ‘invented’ : its characteristics and uses have been known about and developed over hundreds of years. Static electricity produced by rubbing objects against fur was known to the ancient Greeks, Phoenicians, Parthians and Mesopotamians. Greek philosophers discovered that when amber is rubbed against cloth, lightweight objects will stick to it. This is the basis of static electricity. When you touch something and get a shock, that is really static electricity moving through you.

    Despite what you may have learned, Benjamin Franklin did not “invent” electricity. In fact, electricity did not begin when Benjamin Franklin flew his kite during a thunderstorm or when light bulbs were installed in houses all around the world.

    The truth is that electricity has always been around because it naturally exists in the world. Lightning, for instance, is simply a flow of electrons between the ground and the clouds. Hence, electrical equipment like motors, light bulbs, and batteries aren’t needed for electricity to exist. They are just creative inventions designed to harness and use electricity.

    Over the centuries, there have been many discoveries made about electricity. We’ve all heard of famous people like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison, but there have been many other inventors throughout history that were each a part in the development of electricity.

    Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Who_discovered_electricity_and_when#ixzz1ZeGjAqxD

    Ssam - April 18, 2012

    yeah that’s right.

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