February 11 - Be Electrific Day

Posted on February 11, 2019

Today we're supposed to think about the importance of electricity in our lives.

We're asked to reflect on the power of electricity.

And we're urged to celebrate the achievements of Thomas Edison - who was known for his work with electricity AND whose birthday this is!

Importance of electricity:

If you've ever lived through a multiple-day power outage, you know how important electricity is to our daily life. People in devastated areas like Haiti in 2010 and Puerto Rico last year know from months and months of power problems how important electricity is.

We depend on electricity to keep most of our food fresh and safe to eat. We depend on it to find out information and to communicate with family and friends. We depend on it to extend a day's length, to light up interior spaces, to go places safely, and to make most of what we eat and wear and use.

Even when we go camping, even when we "rough it," we almost always depend on electricity to some extent - because battery-powered flashlights, lanterns, etc., are using battery-provided electricity!

Power of electricity:

I hope you've never felt the power of electricity! Most of us have never been hit by lightning nor been electrocuted - and needless to say, some who have this unfortunate experience die from it! Safety is VERY important, when it comes to electricity. Check out these simple safety tips, plus this short article about avoiding lightning. 

Here are some ways to think about the power of electricity:

Just one bolt of lightning contains a billion joules of energy. That's enough to power 56 houses for an entire day.

Lightning striking sand can heat up the sand
enough to make glass!

Tesla coils (designed by inventor Nikola Tesla) produce high-voltage, low-current, high-frequency AC electricity. They can be used for entertainment and for educational displays.

Even static electricity has surprising power to give us mild shocks or to play with our hair!

Celebrate Edison

Thomas Edison (born in Ohio, in the U.S., on this date in 1847) was an inventor who worked a lot in the field of electrical power. He had more than 1,000 U.S. patents in his name, plus patents in other countries. 

Edison's inventions were big-time, world-shaking things such as the phonograph (or record player), the motion picture camera, long-lasting and therefore practical light bulbs, batteries, and telegraph equipment.

Edison did a lot of good things, including gathering a lot of other scientists and inventors into what could be considered the first research and development team. He knew the importance of hard work and perseverance - that is, sticking to a project - and he knew that every experimental "failure" was an important step to success. 

Edison was very oriented toward non-violence and was very pleased that he never invented weapons. He was vegetarian because he thought it was important to extend non-violence to other animals as well as to people. 

However, there are some negative feelings about Edison floating around these days, too. He was good at self-promotion, and some people thought he took too much personal credit for something his entire team worked on. Some say he stole ideas from others, and some are bitter about Edison gaining more fame and wealth than the brilliant inventor (and one-time employee of Edison) Nikola Tesla. The War of Currents between the two inventors got a bit ugly, I gather. There is no need to pit one inventor against the other, but people who have done so point out that Edison's name being on so many buildings and companies and awards and even several towns and colleges is a bit silly, since, they say, Tesla won the "War of Currents," was more brilliant and innovative, made the biggest impact, and even was more fashionable and charismatic!

Still, Edison showed us all that teamwork and persistent effort can pay off.

Also on this date:

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