(Files in red–history)
3H. Birkeland 1895
3a. Loomis & Aurora
3b. Fritz & Aurora
3c. The Terrella
4H. Thomson, 1896
4a. Electric Fluid
5. Field Lines
5H. Faraday 1846
6. EM Waves
7a. Fluorescent lamp
7H. Langmuir, 1927
Experiments with beams of negative particles were performed in Britain by Joseph John ("J.J.") Thomson, and led to his conclusion in 1897 that they consisted of lightweight particles with a negative electric charge, nowadays known as electrons. Thomson was awarded the 1906 Nobel Prize.
The word "elektron" in Greek means amber, the yellow fossilized resin of evergreen trees, a "natural plastic material" already known to the ancient Greeks. It was known that when amber was rubbed with dry cloth--producing what now one would call static electricity--it could attract light objects, such as bits of paper.
William Gilbert, a physician who lived in London at the time of Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare, studied magnetic phenomena and demonstrated that the Earth itself was a huge magnet, by means of his "terrella" experiment. But he also studied the attraction produced when materials such as amber were rubbed, and named it the "electric" attraction. From that came the word "electricity" and all others derived from it.
During the 1800s it became evident that electric charge had a natural unit, which could not be subdivided any further, and in 1891 Johnstone Stoney proposed to name it "electron." When J.J. Thomson discovered the light particle which carried that charge, the name "electron" was applied to it. The many applications of electrons moving in a near-vacuum or inside semiconductors were later dubbed "electronics."|
Next Stop: #5. Magnetic Field Lines
Author and Curator: Dr. David P. Stern
Mail to Dr.Stern: education("at" symbol)phy6.org
Co-author: Dr. Mauricio Peredo
Spanish translation by J. Méndez