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22.1: Electric Charges

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Electric Charges

22.1: Electric Charges

From lightning during thunderstorms to electronic devices, the phenomenon of electromagnetism is all around us. The electromagnetic force is one of the four fundamental forces of nature. It has been known to humanity in various forms for thousands of years. For example, the ancient Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus recorded his experiments on static electricity using amber and fur in the sixth century BC.

The English physicist William Gilbert studied the phenomenon of static electricity in sixteenth century AD. In addition to amber, he used rock crystals, various precious stones, and semi-precious gemstones. The experiments led to the development of the idea of electric charge, a fundamental property of matter. Moreover, it was understood that the property is of two types, leading to attractive and repulsive forces between different objects, called electric forces. However, objects like metals could not be subject to electric forces. When electric forces did exist between objects, primarily minerals, they could act over a distance without direct contact.

The American physicist Benjamin Franklin further developed the idea, leading to the description of electric forces between positive and negative charges, which can flow. It is this model that we use today, with minor modifications.

The experiments also quantified that the electric force between electrically charged objects decreases with distance rapidly.

Suggested Reading


Electric Charges Electromagnetism Fundamental Forces Of Nature Static Electricity Amber Fur William Gilbert Rock Crystals Precious Stones Semi-precious Gemstones Electric Charge Attractive Forces Repulsive Forces Metals Benjamin Franklin Positive Charges Negative Charges

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