Today on Discovery Enterprise we seek to understand the life force that is the impetus of our technological civilization – Electricity.
Our technological civilization depends on electricity, on the electrons in motion within copper wire. Electrons flow through countless switches and machines not unlike water through aqueducts and canals. Electricity also flows through our very bodies and brains as if it were the divine spark that gives us life. And, electricity may have indeed been the spark of life itself.
Electricity may even have helped in the genesis of life, when it provided the energy that synthesised the first organic compounds in the primordial oceans of our infant planet. These prebiotic compounds would eventually give rise to the first replicating molecules and ultimately the first living cells.
In 1996, electricity helped usher in a brave new world, when researchers successfully cloned a sheep named Dolly. A tiny spark of electricity was used to fuse cells and start the egg growing into an embryo.
In 1752, Benjamin Franklin stepped out into a storm armed only with an iron key, Leiden jar and a kite and showed that lightning was electrical in nature. The of ongoing work of Benjamin Franklin, along with that of his contemporaries Luigi Galvani and Alessandro Volta, helped humanity snatch lightning from the heavens and led us into a new Promethean Age, permanently keeping the darkness of night at bay.
And, through the later work of their intellectual heirs – André-Marie Ampère, Michael Faraday, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison our technological civilization came into being.