Great Minds Exercise Human Intelligence
To Know The How And Why

Part 14 - Part 13

Desire To Know

Applied Human intelligence moves beyond the immediately obvious, and takes it's initial cautiously tentative - and otherwise! - steps towards comprehending the phenomenon of Electricity.

Employing both Intuition, and Empiricism, great minds show determination to know the how and why Nature functions.

Electricity - or to define this Natural Force more accurately, Charged Particles - is an integral element of the fabric of the Universe. All Matter is composed of Subatomic Particles, in a balanced state.


This soon to be indispensable phenomenon made it's first impression upon Humanities Conscious Awareness in the form of static.

Electricity, in the form of Static, was known to Thales who lived in the sixth century BC.

As first Philosopher in the Western tradition of seeking Truth, Thales can be considered to be a Scientist. Or a Natural Philosopher.

In that same sense of being aware, Steam Power was known in the first century AD to Greek Inventor and Mathematician, Heron. Heron went one step further than Thales.

Heron took action, and put Steam to work.

Slow To Be Understood

Heron proved the power inherent in heated Water. His Steam Curio, the Aeolipile, was the initial step on the long road that exercised the Minds of purposely Thinking Humans.

Heron's proof influenced the Great Minds who oversaw the Evolution of that mighty Machine that underpinned the Industrial Revolution, the Steam Engine. A Machine of which the modern version, in the form of a Turbine, still provides the vast proportion of the Electricity Humanity consumes today.  
Electricity, akin to Steam, was slow to be understood. On this page, we have a look at a few participants and highlights though time.

Human Intelligence Creates New Scientific Discipline

One thousand years after Thales initial observation of Static Electricity, Human intelligence became Consciously Aware that there may be more to it, and it just may be useful.

Intuitive Thinking on a grand scale had to take place before this conclusion of useful though. Electricity can be felt but not seen. Ways needed to be found to expose it for study.

A new Scientific Discipline was in the womb, so to speak.

William Gilbert, (1544-1603) author of De Magnete, the previously mentioned tome, played a crucial role in the birth of this Discipline which affects every part of our modern lives, when he made the clear distinction between Magnetism and Electricity.

Other Great Minds, stimulated and encouraged by Gilbert's endeavors, contributed the power of their own Curiosity, Thoughts, and Reflections.

Otto von Guericke

German physicist Otto von Guericke, (1602-1686), labored tirelessly to comprehend the enigmatic phenomenon of the Vacuum. In another fine example of the integrated structure of Nature - via these Great Thinker's efforts - we can visualize the Relationship inherent betwixt Nature's seemingly diverse Elements.


Otto proved that the Vacuum existed, and established the potential the Vacuum offers, to extract power, to perform work, from the Atmosphere.

Useful Work, demonstrated by Newcomen's Steam Engine, and August Otto's Atmospheric Gas Engine.

Von Guericke's persistent investigations into the existence of the Vacuum were as equally significant to Humanities Technical Progress as were William Gilbert's investigations into Magnetism and Electricity.

Equally Keen Interest

Otto Von Guericke also possessed a keen interest in other Natural phenomena, including Electricity. During the early 1660s Otto invented a Machine to generate Static Electricity. An ever useful machine that would prove to be of indispensable value as an experimental Tool. An aid not only to his contemporaries, but to many others, in the years to follow.

Pause, if only for a moment, and reflect on the consequences of the, admittedly intellectually strenuous, efforts made by these hardy souls, compared to the destructive activities engaged in by mindless warmongers.

Stephen Gray

English born Stephen Gray, (16??-1736) who remains an obscure figure, - even his date of birth has not been ascertained - made several essential contributions to understanding the nature of Electricity.

Short of resources, apart from his innate ability to process Thought, Stephen Gray conducted experiments in the confines of his living quarters. In these modest surrounds of his home, he discovered that Electricity flows, just like water, but was not influenced by Gravity, requires a Conductor to enable motion, and that a conductor requires Insulating, from it's environment, to direct that flow from one point to another.

At this initial stage of their comprehension, tho Inquisitive Minds involved in investigation and research of Electricity believed they were dealing with one or more fluids. Today water flow is still used as an analogy to help us grasp the mysterious concept of Electricity.

Notwithstanding his obscurity Stephen Gray was a member of the Royal Society. Maybe, akin to this author, he was simply seriously introverted.

Charles Francois de Cisternay Du Fay

Charles Francois de Cisternay Du Fay, (1698-1793), a Chemist, who, you won't be surprised to learn, was French, differentiated between the aforementioned  fluids. Deciding there were two.

He defined the first as Vitreous, the charge obtained when glass was rubbed. And the second Resinous, the charge obtained when resin was rubbed.

These two charges proved to be opposites and attracted each other. Just as opposite poles do in magnetism. Like charges repel.

Charles Du Fay demonstrated that fundamentally all solid materials except metals could hold an electric charge when rubbed. This Reality can be vaguely annoying when handling delicate object such as contact lenses.  Most ferrous metals can hold a magnetic charge.

William Watson

William Watson, (1715-1787), English born Scientist, and Physician, who, later in life, held the office of Vice President of the Royal Society, expressed an earnest interest in the then mystifying momentum of the Charges of Electricity. Watson proffered that these two charges were part of one flow. In modern times, we refer to this combination of one flow, as Positive and Negative Charges.
Positive and Negative charge are descriptive terms that Watson and Benjamin Franklin coined independently.

Benjamin Franklin

 Meanwhile, American born Benjamin Franklin, (1706-1790) domiciled on the other side of the vast North Atlantic Ocean, was also engaged in earnest experiments to understand the baffling configuration that was Electricity. In a cogent example of Great Minds Thinking alike, Benjamin had arrived at the same conclusions concerning the Nature of Electricity, as did his European peers.

Akin to his European counterpart, Otto von Guericke, This phenomenon of Electricity was but one of Benjamin Franklin's Passionate Obsessions.

Lethal Games

Whilst experiments held an entertaining element, research was a deadly serious game. Mis-interpretation of an event could prove to be lethal. Safety - in all our dealings should be paramount. Safety is sensible, and essential. It is just one more consideration for a Thinking mind to be aware of when Action is contemplated.


Replicating Electrical Phenomena such as sparks and flashes of light, only obtainable using high Voltages and high Currents, was the order of the day.

Reproduced in boyishly enthusiastic experiments - by various participants - in what must have been one of the most exciting games in town at the time, these potentially lethal experiments had already been well compared to Naturally occurring Lightning.

Franklin would have been aware of these activities by the time he was conducting his well known Lightning experiments with a key attached to a kite.

His intentions were to prove Lightning and Electricity were one and the same. He also harbored a desire to harness Lightning so it could be put to beneficial use in the service of Humanity.

He succeeded with his first intention.

Franklin's second, altruistically grand, intention, is still waiting in the wings for a future bright spark to bring onto center stage. No apologies for the, as usual, unintended pun.

Imagine the benefits to Humanity if the Energy, inherent in lightning, could be harnessed and stored for industrial and domestic use. There is every chance that this will eventually happen.

Colossal Human Intelligence

Benjamin Franklin was prominent amongst the Pioneers to establish that Electricity was a part of Nature. Proving, in common with all other energy, it could neither be destroyed, nor created. But could merely be changed from one state to another. Contributing handsomely to our comprehension of the confirmation of the Law of Conservation of Energy.


Benjamin possessed a colossal intellect. His interests, and contributions to Society, ranging widely.

Among this active man's contributions are bifocal glasses, the ubiquitous lightning rod, and the Franklin stove.

Amongst his many other achievements he was a Founding Father of the US Constitution, and also a signatory to the Peace Treaty that terminated the Revolutionary war with England.

Politically, Benjamin Franklin was a believer and promoter of Smaller Government. Wisdom appears to have been an innate trait in his soundly astute Character. A worthy trait he developed and strengthened his whole Life through.

One can learn much by studying the inspirational fashion by which this exceptional Human Being lived his Life, and applied his Colossal Intelligence.

It would be no exaggeration to claim that Benjamin Franklin lived his Life at the leading edge of Personal Development.

Otherwise know as Mind Expansion.

Prescient Mind

The personal quality this author finds most impressive, and attractive, was his advocating Open Source Technology, by personal practice. Franklin foresaw that a selfish attitude to technology primarily for control and financial gain was, and would remain, counter productive to an equitable and safe world.

The Rational manner Benjamin Franklin conducted his presence in this World, offers modern Humanity a road map, which all but spells out the detail of how our, and future, generations must behave if we are to confront and overcome the multitude of challenges that threaten to annihilate that very future.

You, and I, are equipped with the same Mind as Benjamin Franklin, and every other, Genuine Thinker. If we allow it, on purpose, our applied Human Intelligence can and will prevail in the interests of the Common Good.

Human Intelligence Rocks!

Part 14 - Part 13

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