. In the Beginning

Michael Brian Schiffer

in Draw the Lightning Down

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780520238022
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939851 | DOI:
. In the Beginning

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This chapter addresses the men who laid the earliest foundations of electrical science and technology. It also provides some basic principles of electrostatics along with the technologies that contributed to their creation. William Gilbert carried out the first sustained and influential research on electrical phenomena. Otto von Guericke's electrical investigations were only a tiny and seemingly insignificant part of his experimental activities. Francis Hauksbee's electrical experiments were remarkable. His earliest experiments dealt with a number of apparently unrelated effects involving the production of light. Stephen Gray invented a host of technologies that would become commonplace in the apparatus of many electrical experimenters. du Fay showed that electricity can pass through glass. The technologies invented by Hauksbee, Gray, and du Fay would be taken up, modified, and augmented by a sizable community of investigators, the electrophysicists, who, in the 1740s, sought to create new effects and new principles.

Keywords: electrical science; electrical technology; electrostatics; William Gilbert; Otto von Guericke; Francis Hauksbee; Stephen Gray; du Fay

Chapter.  8228 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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