At the Charter house, in the Great chamber Stephen Gray built a wooden frame. And from the top of the beam he suspended two swings using silk rope. He created electricity. He created another machine called the Hauksbee which created static electricity. With a large audience in attendance, he got one of the orphan boys who lived here at Charterhouse to lie across the two swings. Gray placed some gold leaf in front of him. He then generated electricity and charged the boy through a connecting rod. Gold leaf, even feathers, leapt to the boy’s fingers. Some of the audience claimed they could even see sparks flying out from his fingertips. Show business indeed. But to the curious and inquiring mind of Stephen Gray this said something else as well. Electricity could move from the machine to the boy’s body through to his hands. But the silk rope stopped it dead. It meant the mysterious electrical fluid could flow through some things but not through others. t led Gray to divide the world into two different kinds of substances. He called them ‘insulators’ and ‘conductors’. Insulators held electric charge within them and wouldn’t let it move, like the silk, or hair, glass and resin, whereas conductors allowed electricity to flow through them, like the boy or metals. It’s a distinction which is still crucial even today. Just think of these electric pylons. They work on the same principle that Gray deduced nearly 300 years ago. The wires are conductors. The glass and ceramic objects between the wire and the metal of the pylon are insulators that stop the electricity leaking from the wires into the pylon and down to the earth. They’re just like the silk ropes in Gray’s experiment. This observation is crucial even today. The power lines we have today work on the same system that Gray did his experiment did on almost 300 years ago.
What was his inspiration for the experiment?
How much energy did he use?
Why would he use this opportunity to get an audience?
I know understand about why they used power lines and how their important to our daily lives. You can also see the similarities between the insulators and conductors in power lines and in Gray’s experiment.