Back to Science Class: 10 Fun Facts About Electricity

back-to-scienceHit the rewind button.  Today, we’re going back in time to grade school science class.  Why?  Most of us take electricity for granted.  We rarely stop and consider how truly incredible it is.  We’re going to pay homage to this remarkable phenomenon by sharing with you the most interesting, and awe-inspiring electricity-related facts we could find.

Without further ado, here are what we consider to be the top ten most interesting facts about electricity:

  1. Did you know that electricity travels at the speed of light? It’s true; electricity travels at 186,000 miles per second.  Now that’s fast.
  2. There are different types of electrical currents: Alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC).  AC occurs when electrons move in different directions, while DC occurs when electrons move in one direction.  AC is what powers your home and DC is what powers a battery.
  3. Less than 10 percent of the energy used to power an incandescent light bulb produces light. The other percentage produces heat.  That’s why it’s more efficient to light your home with LED bulbs, which use energy more effectively.
  4. Thomas Edison invented the first commercially successful incandescent light bulb. However, he was not the sole inventor of the light bulb.  In fact, there were over 20 light bulb inventions prior to Edison’s model.  For instance, Humphry Davy created the first electric light decades before Edison’s contribution.
  5. Ever wonder how birds can perch on power lines without getting fried? Birds aren’t good conductors of electricity when they are sitting in one position, so the electrical current bypasses the feathered creature and travels through the copper wires instead.  However, if the bird was to move its foot or flap its wing so that it touched a second wire, it would become a path for the electrical current and, well, get electrocuted.  That’s why electrical lines are high up from the ground, and the wires have plenty of space between them so that humans don’t accidentally become a path for an electrical current!
  6. Time to take a deep dive: Electric eels can produce an electric shock of 500 volts.  They use their ability as a defense and hunting mechanism.  In other words, you wouldn’t want an electric eel as a pet.
  7. Benjamin Franklin proved that lightening is a form of electrical energy. Contrary to common belief, he did not discover electricity.
  8. Two negatively charged electrons repel each other, as do two positive charges. In electricity, and sometimes love, opposites attract.
  9. A bolt of lightning can hold up to three million volts, but it only lasts one second.
  10. Nikola Tesla favored the AC current for practical use, mentioned above, and Thomas Edison favored the DC current. During the 1880s the two argued over which current was safer and better for commercial use.  AC, the current used to power our homes, won.

Here’s a bonus fun fact:  In certain states, due to deregulation, homeowners have the option to choose an electricity supplier of their choice, rather than the state’s mandated utility.  You can learn much more about this by clicking here.  We hope you learned something new today!

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