Electric charge: Difference between revisions

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{{See also|History of electromagnetic theory|Electricity#History}}
[[File:Bcoulomb.png|thumb|Coulomb's [[torsion balance#Torsion balance|torsion balance]]]]
From ancient times, persons were familiar with four types of phenomena that today would all be explained using the concept of electric charge: (a) [[lightning]], (b) the [[torpedo fish]] (or electric ray), (c) [[St Elmo's Fire]], and (d) that [[amber]] rubbed with [[fur]] would attract small, light objects.<ref>{{cite book |last1=Roller |first1=Duane |author-link1= |last2=Roller |first2=D.H.D.|date=1954 |title=The development of the concept of electric charge: Electricity from the Greeks to Coulomb |url=https://archive.org/details/developmentofcon0000roll|url-access=registration |location=Cambridge, MA |publisher=[[Harvard University Press]] |page=[https://archive.org/details/developmentofcon0000roll/page/n18 1] |isbn=}}</ref> The first account of the {{em|amber effect}} is often attributed to the ancient Greek mathematician [[Thales of Miletus]], who lived from c. 624 – c. 546 BC, but there are doubts about whether Thales left any writings;<ref>{{cite book |last=O'Grady |first=Patricia F. |date=2002 |title=Thales of Miletus: The Beginnings of Western Science and Philosophy |url=https://books.google.com?id=ZTUlDwAAQBAJ|location= |publisher=Ashgate |page=8 |isbn= 978-1351895378|author-link=}}</ref> his account about amber is known from an account from early 200s.<ref name=DL/> This account can be taken as evidence that the phenomenon was known since at least c. 600 BC, but Thales explained this phenomenon as evidence for inanimate objects having a soul.<ref name=DL>[https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Lives_of_the_Eminent_Philosophers/Book_I#Thales_24 Lives of the Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius, Book 1, §24]</ref> In other words, there was no indication of any conception of electric charge. More generally, the ancient Greeks did not understand the connections among these four kinds of phenomena. The Greeks observed that the charged amber buttons could attract light objects such as [[hair]]. They also found that if they rubbed the amber for long enough, they could even get an [[electric spark]] to jump,{{citation needed|reason=cannot find any source for this claim|date=April 2018}} but there is also a claim that no mention of electric sparks appeared until late 17th century.<ref>{{cite journal |last1=Roller |first1=Duane |author-link1= |last2=Roller |first2=D.H.D.|date=1953 |journal=American Journal of Physics|volume=21|issue=5 |doi=10.1119/1.1933449|page=348|title=The Prenatal History of Electrical Science|bibcode=1953AmJPh..21..343R}}</ref> This property derives from the [[triboelectric effect]].
In late 1100s, the substance [[jet (lignite)|jet]], a compacted form of coal, was noted to have an amber effect,<ref>{{cite journal |last1=Roller |first1=Duane |author-link1= |last2=Roller |first2=D.H.D.|date=1953 |journal=American Journal of Physics|volume=21|issue=5 |doi=10.1119/1.1933449|page=351|title=The Prenatal History of Electrical Science|bibcode=1953AmJPh..21..343R}}</ref> and in the middle of the 1500s, [[Girolamo Fracastoro]], discovered that [[diamond]] also showed this effect.<ref>{{cite journal |last1=Roller |first1=Duane |author-link1= |last2=Roller |first2=D.H.D.|date=1953 |journal=American Journal of Physics|volume=21|issue=5 |doi=10.1119/1.1933449|page=353|title=The Prenatal History of Electrical Science|bibcode=1953AmJPh..21..343R}}</ref> Some efforts were made by Fracastoro and others, especially [[Gerolamo Cardano]] to develop explanations for this phenomenon.<ref name=Roller356>{{cite journal |last1=Roller |first1=Duane |author-link1= |last2=Roller |first2=D.H.D.|date=1953 |journal=American Journal of Physics|volume=21|issue=5 |doi=10.1119/1.1933449|page=356|title=The Prenatal History of Electrical Science|bibcode=1953AmJPh..21..343R}}</ref>
 
In contrast to [[astronomy]], [[mechanics]], and [[optics]], which had been studied quantitatively since antiquity, the start of ongoing qualitative and quantitative research into electrical phenomena can be marked with the publication of ''[[De Magnete]]'' by the English scientist [[William Gilbert (astronomer)|William Gilbert]] in 1600.<ref>{{cite book|last1=Roche|first1=J.J.|title=The mathematics of measurement|date=1998|publisher=The Athlone Press|location=London|isbn=978-0387915814|page=62}}</ref> In this book, there was a small section where Gilbert returned to the amber effect (as he called it) in addressing many of the earlier theories,<ref name=Roller356/> and coined the [[New Latin]] word ''electrica'' (from {{lang|grc|ἤλεκτρον}} (ēlektron), the [[ancient Greek|Greek]] word for ''amber''). The Latin word was translated into English as {{em|electrics}}.<ref>{{cite book |last1=Roller |first1=Duane |author-link1= |last2=Roller |first2=D.H.D.|date=1954 |title=The development of the concept of electric charge: Electricity from the Greeks to Coulomb |url=https://archive.org/details/developmentofcon0000roll|url-access=registration |location=Cambridge, MA |publisher=[[Harvard University Press]] |pages=[https://archive.org/details/developmentofcon0000roll/page/6 6–7] |isbn=}}<br>
{{cite book |last= Heilbron| first= J.L.|title= Electricity in the 17th and 18th Centuries: A Study of Early Modern Physics|publisher= University of California Press|year= 1979|page= 169|isbn= 978-0-520-03478-5|url= https://books.google.com/?id=UlTLRUn1sy8C&pg=PA169}}</ref> Gilbert is also credited with the term ''electrical'', while the term ''electricity'' came later, first attributed to Sir [[Thomas Browne]] in his [[Pseudodoxia Epidemica]] from 1646.<ref>{{cite book |last1=Brother Potamian |author-link1= |last2=Walsh |first2=J.J.|date=1909 |title=Makers of electricity|url=https://archive.org/details/cu31924004627059 |location=New York|publisher=[[Fordham University Press]] |page=[https://archive.org/details/cu31924004627059/page/n81 70] |isbn=}}</ref> (For more linguistic details see [[Etymology of electricity]].) Gilbert hypothesized that this amber effect could be explained by an effluvium (a small stream of particles that flows from the electric object, without diminishing its bulk or weight) that acts on other objects. This idea of a material electrical effluvium was influential in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was a precursor to ideas developed in the 18th century about "electric fluid" (Dufay, Nollet, Franklin) and "electric charge."<ref name=Baigrie11>{{cite book|last=Baigrie|first=Brian |title=Electricity and magnetism: A historical perspective|year=2007|publisher=Greenwood Press|location=Westport, CT|page=11}}</ref>
 
Around 1663 [[Otto von Guericke]] invented what was probably the first [[electrostatic generator]], but he did not recognize it primarily as an electrical device and only conducted minimal electrical experiments with it.<ref>{{cite journal|last1=Heathcote|first1=N.H. de V.|title=Guericke's sulphur globe |journal=Annals of Science |date=1950| volume=6|issue=3| page=304|doi=10.1080/00033795000201981}}<br>{{cite book |title=Electricity in the 17th and 18th centuries: a study of early Modern physics |last=Heilbron |authorlink=John L. Heilbron |first=J.L. |year=1979 |publisher=[[University of California Press]] |isbn=0-520-03478-3 |pages=215–218 |url=https://books.google.com/books?id=UlTLRUn1sy8C&pg=PA215}}</ref> Other European pioneers were [[Robert Boyle]], who in 1675 published the first book in English that was devoted solely to electrical phenomena.<ref name=Baigrie20>{{cite book|last=Baigrie|first=Brian |title=Electricity and magnetism: A historical perspective|year=2007|publisher=Greenwood Press|location=Westport, CT|page=20}}</ref> His work was largely a repetition of Gilbert's studies, but he also identified several more "electrics",<ref name=Baigrie21>{{cite book|last=Baigrie|first=Brian |title=Electricity and magnetism: A historical perspective|year=2007|publisher=Greenwood Press|location=Westport, CT|page=21}}</ref> and noted mutual attraction between two bodies.<ref name=Baigrie20/>