Elektron: Electrical Systems in Retrospect and Prospect|
Ausubel, J. H. and Marchetti, C., 1996
Daedalus 125(3):139-169 (Summer 1996)
In the ancient world, electrum (Hebrew) or elektron (Greek) was the material amber. Amber, when rubbed and electrified, preferably with cat fur, moved and lifted dust specks and small objects. The Greeks first identified electricity by its godlike capacity for action at a distance. This capacity and its control have been and will continue to be the trump cards in the invention and diffusion of electric machinery.
While its power and magic are old, electricity as an applied technology is young, with a history of barely more than a century. Two thousand five hundred years passed between Ezekiel and Thomas Edison. Today the electrical system can place power in precise positions in space with an immense range of capacity, from nanowatts to gigawatts. This spatial fingering is made possible by electrical conductors that are immersed in insulating space or solids. The conductors, which are basically metals, are impenetrable to electric fields and can modify and draw them into long thin threads reaching an office, home, or the memory cell in a computer chip.
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