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Electric energy: The engine of our lives

Trying to imagine life today without electricity would be almost impossible.

Thousands of appliances and systems that allow us to do the most ordinary things are possible thanks to this phenomenon of nature, which has always existed, and that man only discovered by chance.

Electricity, indispensable in our lives today, has travelled a long distance since the beginning of time. The reflection and hard work of many men have modelled and adapted it to every necessity of life.

All historians agree on designating the Greek philosopher Tales de Mileto (624-543 BC) as the first person to intuit that this type of energy existed. He discovered that by rubbing a piece of amber (fossilised resin) with a cloth, small particles such as dry leaves, feathers and threads were attracted. Tales de Mileto thought that this happened due to a "spirit" found inside the amber, called electron, from which the word electricity was derived.

It would be a monumental task to try and describe all the advances, up to the present time, on the question of electricity or its ensuing technological applications.

But we would not be exaggerating if we said that the present civilisation would return to a primitive state if the knowledge of this form of energy did not exist. Imagine your own life without electricity. There would be no electric light, nor telephone nor any way of communicating at a distance other than by letter. There would be no computers, nor cinema. Medicine would retreat to its origins, without X-rays, magnetic resonance, or medical scans, etc. The world of food would suffer a serious setback without refrigeration. Without communication satellites, meteorologists would be unable to predict hurricanes or phenomena such as El Niño. There would be no automobiles if the "Pistola di Volta", the precursor to spark plugs, had not been invented. If there were no automobiles, neither would there be construction machines. Would there be buildings, bridges, tunnels? Maybe a few. The advantage might be that we wouldn't have to face the problems created by these advances, but at what price?

Our surroundings are filled with electric systems.

Beginning in the kitchen, there are motors in:
  • The microwave ventilator.
  • The food blender.
  • The can opener.
  • The refrigerator.
There is also an electric motor in:
  • The washing machine.
  • The dryer.
  • The vacuum.
  • The electric drill
  • The electric saw.
Even in the bathroom there is a motor in:
  • Electric toothbrushes.
  • Hair dryers.
  • Electric shavers.
The automobile is full of electric elements:
  • Power windows.
  • Ventilation system and the radiator.
  • Windscreen wipers.
  • Starter motor.
  • Radio antennae.
Besides these, there are motors in many other places:
  • In the DVD.
  • In the CD player.
  • In the computer.
  • In many toys.
  • In electric clocks.
  • In the garage door opener.
  • In fish tank pumps.
  • etc...

Everything that moves uses an electric system to cause the movement

Electricity consumption and modern life are practically synonymous in the industrial world. Our communications, transport, food supply, the majority of the comfort devices and services in the home, offices and factories of today all depend on a reliable supply of electric energy.

As more countries are becoming industrialised, increasing quantities of energy are being consumed. The world consumption of energy has multiplied by 25 since the last century. The average consumption of electricity per capita is around 10 times greater in the industrialised countries than in developing countries.

But in reality the economies of many developing nations are expanding rapidly. For the coming 15 years an important growth is estimated in the demand for electricity. To satisfy this demand, a dramatic increase in the production of electricity will be necessary.