Automobile Electrical and Electronic Systems Fourth Edition
The story of electric power can be traced back to around 600 BC, when the
Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus found that amber rubbed with a piece of
fur would attract lightweight objects such as feathers. This was due to static
electricity. It is thought that, around the same time, a shepherd in what is now
Turkey discovered magnetism in lodestones, when he found pieces of them
sticking to the iron end of his crook.
William Gilbert, in the sixteenth century, proved that many other substances
are ‘electric’ and that they have two electrical effects. When rubbed with fur,
amber acquires ‘resinous electricity’; glass, however, when rubbed with silk,
acquires ‘vitreous electricity’. Electricity repels the same kind and attracts the
opposite kind of electricity. Scientists thought that the friction actually created
the electricity (their word for charge). They did not realize that an equal amount
of opposite electricity remained on the fur or silk.