On September 4, 1892, in New York, Thomas Edison flipped the switch on the world’s first commercial power plant, ushering in the new electrical age.This marked the pinnacle of Edison’s electrical achievements, and paved the way for the electrification of the world.

Born in Milan, Ohio in 1847, Edison first took an interest in electricity during the Civil War. However, his interests spanned further than the creation of the incandescent light bulb. Over 1,093 patents bear Edison’s name, and he is credited with the invention of such items as the electronic vote taker (a machine that could register a yes or no vote with anonymity), a phonograph sound recorder, and even an ore separator to separate magnetic and non-magnetic materials.

Edison built a large research laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey and it was there that he and his team of scientists created the world altering inventions, including the Kinetoscope, Kinetograph, and Kinetophone - the first devices used to capture moving picture and sound. Edison and his team influenced and inspired generations of inventors and innovators, as seen in this World War II poster.



NASA may have just confirmed a theory revealing the origin of life 

New science from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory may finally have an answer to a question billions of years old: Where did life come from?

The study, led by Laura Barge and published in German science journal Angewandte Chemie, demonstrates how vents on the ocean floor can generate enough electricity to power a small lightbulb. It was a eureka moment, one that seems to support a theory first formed in 1989: that these ocean floor vents were the source of an electric zap that may have shocked the first life on Earth into existence. To prove it, they grew their own electric ocean vent in a lab.


Extreme physics BBQ!

This is what happens when you pump mains electricity through a steak (using a kettle as a resistor), when you focus the beams from a strong light source onto one piece of steak, and when you try to fry prawns using a bottle rocket.

As electricity is forced through the steak, electrons interact with the atoms and molecules of the meat. As the steak doesn’t conduct very well, the electrons have to push very hard, and in doing so transfer energy to the meat - a process known as joule heating.

Parabolas focus all the incoming energy into one spot. We harnessed that to cook a steak.

And we whipped out our old favourite - bottle rockets - to fry our prawns. Had to sort out a projectile prawn issue first, though.

Click here to watch the whole video on our YouTube channel. And check out the extreme chemistry approach over at Brit Lab.


If you don’t know, now you know. 

Read the electrifying history behind this great mind, courtesy of Matthew Inman, author/illustrator of oatmeal​ edutaining web series of comics. It pairs well with the erb​ between Tesla and Edison (below): 

And in continued celebration of Tesla’s legacy, watch ‘The Prestige’. Directed by Christopher Nolan, the 2006 film follows two rival stage magicians (Christopher Nolan and Hugh Jackman) in London at the end of the 19th century who are obsessed with creating the best stage illusion. 

David Bowie portrays the role of Nikola Tesla. Enough said. 

Also recommended by endeavorist:  

scishow​ | Nikola Tesla: Great Minds

The Story of Nikola Tesla (Animated)

The History of Nikola Tesla: A Short Story (Animated)

Nikola Tesla Predicted Smartphones in 1926 | HuffPost

When Woman Is Boss: Nikola Tesla on Gender Equality and How Technology Will Unleash Women’s True Potential | BrainPickings

Happy Birthday, Nikola Tesla: How This Eccentric Scientist’s Inventions Still Affect Your Life | Tech Times

And if you’re looking for your next great read: 

[Tesla: A Portrait with Masks by Vladimir Pistalo]


In Hawaii, rooftop solar panels threaten 'utility death spiral' | Al Jazeera America
Energy experts worry that the rise of solar power will raise prices for utility customers left to subsidize the grid

Hawaii’s electricity prices are higher than anywhere else in the nation. The burdensome cost of power, paired with the island state’s plentiful sunshine, has led to an unparalleled adoption of residential rooftop solar energy. On the island of Oahu, where 80 percent of the state’s population lives, more than 12 percent of Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) customers have rooftop solar systems — about 20 times the solar penetration rate of any mainland utility. As homes increasingly morph into mini power plants, some residents are winding down their HECO bills to net zero.

The problem is this: When solar customers provide their own power, they don’t pay for the fixed costs the utility has outside of electricity generation. As more and more people switch to solar, an ever-shrinking pool of utility customers still connected to the grid are left to cover these operating and maintenance expenses. This causes bills to spike for traditional customers, which incentivizes even more people to switch to solar, raising bills for nonsolar customers even more. Every new rooftop solar installation added to the grid contributes to this cost shift.

Interesting market effect in Hawaii. Likely has mainland utilities shaking in their boots.

Benjamin Franklin - Magic Circle, “Experiments and Observations on Electricity”, 1750.

Each radius of this Magic Circle (including the center entry) sums to 360, as does each annulus. Franklin has also highlighted 20 “excentric” annuli, each of which, together with the central 12, sums to 360. 


Sharks and Rays Sense Electricity - Fish Can’t Hide 

When it comes to spotting prey, sharks and rays have a secret sense beyond sight and smell. Tiny goo-filled organs called Ampullae of Lorenzini detect the invisible electric fields produced by all living creatures.

Watch the newest Deep Look video from kqedscience and read the blog post!

For those who have been breaking their backs trying to drive their wives into early graves with endless chores, the Willesden Electricity Department has a more elegant solution: Just let electricity do it! If your wife is a shrew or a prettier future wife has caught your eye, harness a force of nature to murder your spouse for you.

But don’t worry: When the Willesden Electricity Department finally realized that they put out literature that advocated electrocuting people, they cleared up the confusion by adding a picture.

10 Nightmarish Health And Safety Posters From Decades Ago