You Switch, We Deliver?
||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 5 to 7
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||deliverymen, magnetism, phenomenon, ingenuity, voltage, incoming, electromagnetic, production, generate, generator, nuclear, resistance, downed, electromagnet, geoelectric, induction
||Hans Christian Oersted, André Ampere, William Sturgeon, Joseph Henry, Englishman Michael Faraday, When Faraday, Aswan Dam, Three Gorges Dam, Niagara Falls, New York
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You Switch, We Deliver?
1 Imagine a world where you could call a special number and instantaneously your electricity would be delivered to your door. Well, unlike pizza, electricity doesn't come to our doors in boxes. In fact, our ability to receive and produce large amounts of electricity comes from the work of many "scientific deliverymen" from the 1800s. The work of these scientists is the basis for the electrical power plants that we rely on in our daily lives.
2 In 1819 Danish scientist Hans Christian Oersted discovered accidentally that electricity and magnetism were connected. Oersted was demonstrating how electrical currents in wires produced heat when he noticed a strange phenomenon. The needle of a compass on a nearby table swung around when the wires on Oersted's circuit were connected. When he disconnected the wires, the compass needle returned to its normal position pointing toward the magnetic north pole. It was at this point that Oersted realized electricity and magnetism were related.
3 In 1820, French scientist Andrï¿½ Ampere proved that parallel wires carrying electrical currents in the same direction in a circuit would attract each other like unlike poles on the ends of bar magnets. He also proved that wires with current flowing in opposite directions would repel each other. Ampere used this knowledge to create a cylindrical (circular) coil of wire that behaved like a magnet. Today we call cylindrical coils of wire solenoids.
4 William Sturgeon, an English scientist, discovered in 1825 that he could increase the power of an electromagnet by placing a horseshoe-shaped piece of soft iron inside a coil of wire. By 1831, Joseph Henry, an American scientist, had made improvements to Sturgeon's electromagnet by insulating the wires to hold in the heat produced by the electrical current. Henry realized that insulating the wires would increase the power of the electromagnet. During that same year, Henry also helped to develop an electromagnet that was capable of lifting over a ton (2,000 pounds).
5 The scientist who had the greatest impact on future electricity production was Englishman Michael Faraday. Faraday conducted an experiment using two bar magnets wrapped in electrical coils and sprinkled iron filings onto a piece of paper above the two electromagnets. After observing the iron filings form around the electromagnets, Faraday stated that the lines of iron filings represented the real lines of electromagnetic force. He coined the phrase magnetic field to represent the area around the magnet. Faraday's scientific discovery was not only an important concept in the area of physics, but it was the basis for electricity production today.
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