Electricity And Magnetism – Early Studies And Applications
Electricity is defined as the presence and movement of electrical charges. Magnetism on the other hand is the property of an object to attract another object. Science historians say that ancient Greeks and maybe even earlier civilizations were already aware of electricity and magnetism but not much work was done on these two interesting phenomena then.
It was around the year 1000 when a new development related to these phenomena was made by the Chinese when they began to use a magnetic compass for navigation. In 1269 some of the basic laws that apply to magnets were written down. By the end of the 16th century William Gilbert studied static electricity and magnetism. After this however these two phenomena were not given much attention anymore not till the 18th century when some scientists started to focus on the study of static electricity again. It was during this time when Charles Augustin Coulomb made careful studies of the forces exerted by both static electricity and magnetism. It was Coulomb who gave the conclusion that both electric charges and magnets follow the same rule where like charges repel and unlike charges attract. This conclusion implied a connection between electricity and magnetism. Hans Christian Oersted announced in 1807 that he will pursue the study of the relationship between these two phenomena. By accident, he did discover the relationship between electricity and magnetism. While giving a class demonstration, Oersted unknowingly placed a compass near an electric current and noticed that the needle of the compass was deflected to a direction perpendicular to the current. This observation made him conclude that there was indeed a direct relationship between electricity and magnetism.
Oersted’s announcement of the results of his study on electricity and magnetism provided the impetus for more in depth studies on the two phenomenon. These resulted in more and more discoveries, which gave scientists a clearer and better understanding of electricity and magnetism. Applying principles of these two phenomenon, devices that changed peoples’ lives dramatically were then invented. These new inventions include the electromagnets, electric motors, electric bulbs and the electrical relay, which is the forerunner of the first telegraph.