Written by Sophia

Modified & Updated: 28 Apr 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith

Electricity facts
  1. Electricity is energy produced from charged particles.
  2. Electric fish were man’s first encounter with electricity.
  3. Matter is made of atoms. 
  4. The nucleus contains differently-charged particles: the proton (+), neutron (no charge) and electron (-).
  5. Normally, these particles are in equal amounts and charges. 
  1. Electric current occurs when outside forces break the balance of electrons and neurons.
  2. Unbalanced charges make atoms “lose” or “gain” an electron. This motion creates an electric current.
  3. Electricity flows easily through conductors.
  4. Insulators are materials that cancel out electric flow.
  5. Electricity is measured in watts.
  6. Static electricity was the first form of electricity discovered in 600 B.C.
  7. Ancient Mediterranean people discovered how friction between cat fur and amber can attract light things such as feathers.
  8. The word “electricus,” was coined by William Gilbert from the Ancient Greek word for “amber.”
  9. The use of the words “electric” and “electricity” was first seen in Thomas Browne’s scientific journal, Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646).
  10. Battery cells were used as early as 700 B.C. based on an artifact recovered from the Parthians.
  1. Electricity and lightning were first linked when Arabic naturalists and physicists called electric rays ra‘ad (رعد), the Arabic term for lightning. 
  2. Benjamin Franklin did not invent electricity. He simply discovered that lightning is electric.
  3. Ben Franklin sold all his possessions to fund his 18th Century research.
  4. The typical lightning bolt emits 100 million volts.
  5. Leyden jars are an antique electrical component that “stores” high-voltage electric charge.
Table of Contents

It’s easy to overlook something when it’s always there. Electricity is an everyday thing. However, that wasn’t always the case. These electricity facts will make you appreciate the energy that lets you read this paragraph.

Platypus' bills are covered in 40,000 electroreceptors.

No wonder Perry was such a great detective. This trait helps them navigate underwater.

Ancient civilizations used electric fish for medical procedures.

The Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans used electric fish or rays to treat ailments. Such ailments include gout, headaches, and childbirth. 

Brains transmit signals through electricity.

Our brains’ neurons are filled with electric charges that carry signals to our bodies.

Electricity facts

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has been used for 80 years.

This is something out of a horror film. ECT sends small electric currents through the brain, triggering brief seizures to alter a person’s brain chemistry. it’s supposed to minimize the effects of mood or psychological disorders. However, it is still heavily debated whether it is good, bad, or just a fad. 

The 19th century was the age of electricity.

Electrical science rapidly grew in the early 1800s. The second half featured advances in electrical engineering. This was a time for many firsts, such as the first telephone and lightbulb among other things.

Ancient Egyptians had electric lamps.

Freshly-opened Egyptian tombs did not show any soot or smoke residue. Scholars believe that they used electrical lamps to navigate and design the dark crypts.

Electronic cabs were the first functional electric vehicles.

Walter Bersey designed these cabs and introduced them to London in 1897. They were nicknamed “Hummingbirds” due to the humming noise they made.

Thomas Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb.

However, he was able to create a fully-functional one in 1879. Earlier versions made by Warren de La Rue and Joseph Swan had the lightbulb concept down, but their inventions were not suited for practical use.

Saltwater conducts electricity better than fresh water. 

The ions in salt molecules carry electric current better than freshwater.

Electric eels can generate 600 watts of power. 

This lethal amount is over two times the power output of a regular household.

California consumes energy worth two large nuclear reactors pumping water.

Known for temperatures reaching 42°C, California’s energy output rivals that of two nuclear reactors.

Birds can get electrocuted on power lines.

Birds usually don’t interfere with electric current when perched on one line. However, if any other part of their body touches the next line, it’s bye-bye, birdy.

Coal is the world’s biggest source of electricity.

In the U.S. alone, coal is the most widely used energy source. However, coal emits greenhouse gases that damage our ozone layer. Sustainability movements call for an end to this practice.

Tasers emit 50,000 volts of electricity.

The average taser fires up to a distance of 35 feet. 

Thomas Edison built the first power plant. 

Edison Illuminating Company built New York‘s first power plant at Pearl Street Station. 

Echidnas and platypuses use electricity to locate food.

No, they don’t go on Postmates or UberEats – these animals locate their next meals through electrical signals.

Poop can provide electricity.

Next up in weird electricity facts: biomass gas from 500 cows‘ excretions creates enough electricity to power 100 homes.

Refrigerators in the U.S. consume about the same amount of energy as 25 large power plants produce each year.

Aside from higher energy consumption, most fridges are high in chlorofluorocarbons that damage the environment. 

Copper is the best conductor of electricity.

Though silver is a better conductor of electricity, copper wire is more widely used. This is because it has a greater capacity for electrical conductivity and mechanical strength. 

Rubber is the best insulator of electricity.

Take one look at your nearest cable and you’d know why: rubber is flexible and malleable yet keeps your wires from shorting.

Geckos stick to walls with static electricity. 

This ability comes from electrostatic forces on the gecko’s toe pads. The difference in charge between its feet and the surface helps it stick to the wall. 

Electricity can be made from cheese.

To make Beaufort cheese, bacteria is added to the whey, turning it into biogas. This gas is fed through an engine heating water to generate electricity.

Ore trains in Sweden produce 5 times the amount of electricity they use.

This sustainable effort powers nearby towns and the return trips for other trains. 

Electricity makes your heart beat.

One of the more fascinating electricity facts: Electric charge makes our hearts contract. As the heart beats in a healthy person, the ECG machine displays a line moving across the screen with occasional peaks.

A microwave oven consumes more electricity on its digital clock than it does heating food. 

Microwaves often use up more energy to power up its display rather than the actual heating process.

LED light bulbs use one-sixth of the electricity conventional bulbs do.

They also cost almost ¼ the price of a traditional bulb and lasts 40 times longer.

Americans’ energy consumption doubles every 20 years.

Consequently, the U.S. is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases.

The world’s biggest blackout occurred on August 14, 2004.

A massive power outage occurred in Northeastern U.S. and Ontario, Canada. The incident affected 50 million people.

From 2008 to 2030, the worldwide energy output is estimated to increase by 55%.

If this trend continues, we must reduce the use of fossil fuels to save our environment.

The energy it takes to conduct 100 Google searches is equivalent to a 60-watt light bulb burning for 28 minutes. 

Google uses around 0.0003 kWh of energy to answer average search queries, which means about 0.2 g of carbon dioxide is released.

Coal generates the most electricity out of any energy source.

Coal produces twice as much electricity as natural gas. As a result, it is the most widely used energy source.

Every minute of sunlight that reaches Earth provides enough energy for an entire year.

Solar energy doesn’t sound too bad. However, securing solar-powered alternatives can be expensive.

Energy cannot be destroyed or created. It can only be transformed.

Early generators used motors that transformed mechanical/kinetic energy into electricity. For example, the mechanical energy of a wind turbine transforms into electricity.

Only ⅓ of the energy in burning coal reaches consumers as electricity.

It’s not really worth it.

Light bulbs only use 10% of its energy to emit light.

The remaining 90% of a lightbulb’s energy output is for heat.

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