by Redwood Kardon Picture animations by Paddy Morrissey
The history of electricity is a history of humans discovering and harnessing an essential force in nature: electromagnetism.
Lightning is an awe-inspiring spectacle of electricity almost universally manifested across our planet, a common experience to nearly every human who has ever lived. Prehistoric depictions of lightning testify to its presence since the very beginning of human consciousness.
Magnetism is not so obvious. The first evidence of human interaction with magnetic fields goes back about 2200 years. A precursor to the magnetic compass was utilized by Chinese fortune tellers as early as 200 BC.
Electricity or just a bad hair day?