Thursday, February 20, 2014

Watch the story of the birth of electricity in 'Genius of Invention'

For our generation, life without electricity is unimaginable.  But just 300 years ago, electricity was something unimaginable for us humans.  Have you ever wondered how we it started?  How did we find electricity in nature and how we produced it, harnessed it and used it to transform our lives?  I recently came across a television series by BBC called Genius of Invention which explains this beautifully.

The revolution started in the 19th century when the first steam engines were invented.  Until then, all manual labour was powered by domestic animals or humans, apart from wind mills of course.  But with steam engines, we had a way to create 'mechanical work' without manual labour.  Mechanical work is not the same as power or electricity.  Essentially, we had a huge steam engine that was directly connected by rods, levers and wheels to whatever (mechanical work) needed to be done.  Say for example, we needed to remove the water that was seeping into the mining caves, then, this huge engine would be set-up at the mine and used to automatically transport buckets of water out of the cave.

Then came along electricity which could be used to do the same mechanical work without having to connect an engine to it.  How?  Check out the first episode of the television series to find out more.  They have explained it in a very simple manner, using the original instruments that started the revolution.  The advantage of seeing the original instruments in action is that you can understand so much more than reading it from a book.  The principles and logic are so simple and yet, till date they power some the biggest machines in our world.  This is worth a watch for any curious mind, regardless of whether you are interested in electricity.