Electric power is a fascinating concept. From traditional fossil fuels like oil and gasoline to newer electric sources like solar and wind, which spins turbines to generate power, there are many sources that produce electricity. Whatever form of energy you use, there are many surprising electricity facts to learn. Aside from powering modern appliances, electricity is also found in forces of nature, such as thunderstorms and lightning bolts, which can create tremendous electric charges. If you’re curious about the tremendous forces behind electric power and your favorite energy source, here are seven electricity facts to know.
Electricity travels at impressive speeds. In fact, electricity travels at the speed of light. It can surpass 186,000 miles per hour!
Along with speed, static electricity power can generate a tremendous amount of energy. Despite the fact that they sound benign, static electricity charges can produce significant amounts of electricity, too. A single spark of static electricity can produce a tremendous positive charge. Static charges produce up to 3,000 volts of electricity.
Lightning is a short, intense, and sometimes frightening discharge of electricity in the earth’s atmosphere. Lighting bolts, which form an intense electric field, can easily exceed 130,000 MPH. They can also exceed 54,000ºF.
Much of what we know about the powers and applications of modern electricity can be attributed to Benjamin Franklin, who invented the lightning rod. In the 18th century, Franklin conducted extensive research about electricity. Consequently, he invented the lightning rod, which is a handy tool that deflects the power of lightning strikes away from homes and buildings. In turn, this prevents structural damage and reduces the risk of a building catching on fire after it is struck by lightning. When lightning strikes, the lightning rod safely directs the energy through a ground wire.
When it comes to energy, opposites attract. Two positive charges will repel each other. Similarly, the same thing happens with two negative charges. A negatively charged ion will also repel another ion with a negative charge. Opposite charges, on the other hand, which means a negative and a positive charge, will attract each other in the context of electric power.
Birds on Power Lines
On any given day, you might see birds resting on power lines and wonder why they don’t get shocked. After all, if you reach over your neighbor’s electric fence, you are bound to get zapped! The catch is that birds can only safely sit on one electric line at a time. If the bird sits on just one electrical line at a time, it is safe from harm. But if it touches multiple electric lines at once, it creates a deadly electrical circuit that allows electricity to flow unimpeded through the bird’s body. When this happens, the bird is electrocuted.
Electricity and the Heart
Like most people, you might not know that electricity influences the way that your heartbeats. But an electrical generator can actually influence your heart’s rhythm. Electric waves, regardless of the source, cause your heart’s muscles to contract. Some electrical sources can, therefore, be dangerous to people with heart conditions. But others can be advantageous. Electrocardiogram machines, for instance, which are usually referred to as “ECG” machines, are used by cardiologists to detect heart problems. These machines use electricity to display a moving line of a person’s heartbeat. In the end, the machine can detect any abnormalities in a person’s heart rhythm that warrants further investigation.
From nature to manmade applications, electrical energy is found in many places around the world. From nature to large solar and wind turbines attached to generators, there are many creative and novel solutions for deriving energy today. Fossil fuels and alternative sources of energy alike are responsible for producing electricity in modern homes today.