A Little Historical Perspective Can't Hurt...

Perhaps the best place to get it (on the web) is at Colin Pounder's site: An Electromagenetic Miscellany.

Benjamin Franklin's contributions to the science of electrostatics were basic, but incredibly important. A couple of things about Franklin's experiments that may capture your interest:

Contained in the first volume of Michael Faraday's Experimental Researches in Electricity is a description of the disc type static electricity machine he used:

"(paragraph)290. The plate electrical machine I have used is fifty inches in diameter; it has two sets of rubbers; its prime conductor consists of two brass cylinders connected by a third, the whole length being twelve feet, and the surface in contact with the air about 1422 square inches. When in good excitation, one revolution of the plate will give ten or twelve sparks from the conductors, each an inch in length. Sparks or flashes from ten to fourteen inches in length may easily be drawn from the conductors."

I look forward to the day when my frictional machines throw a spark ten to fourteen inches!

We should be thankful for Faraday's discovery that moving a magnet inside a coil creates an electric current. This indebts us to him for anything that uses a dynamo, electric motor, generator, alternator, etc. In other words, he made electricity "useful" in the sense of performing physical work. He also discovered a relationship between electricity and chemistry that profoundly changed the world.  Quite a guy.

A source tells me that the best book on the history of  the frictional electric machine is:
W. D. Hackmann, "Electricity from Glass, The history of the frictional electrical
machine, 1600-1850," Sijthoff & Noordhoff, The Netherlands, 1978. Discusses in great
historical detail the development of the frictional machine and its use in the early studies about electricity.

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