In July 1820, Danish scientist Hans Christian Oersted published a groundbreaking pamphlet on the relationship between electric current and magnetic fields, effectively kicking off our modern electric age. You may think about electromagnetism every July when you look at your power bill and see how it spikes when your air conditioner is on. In honor of everyone getting zapped by the electric company this month, we've asked Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings to set us straight on some high-voltage misconceptions about electricity, correcting all of our shocking ignorance. He knows "watts" up. He keeps current.
The Debunker: Are Power Lines Insulated?
Lightning kills as many as 24,000 people every year, and injures ten times as many. It's a real safety issue, not one of these overhyped 11-o'clock-news dangers, like shark attacks. When you've got bolts of electricity blazing out of the sky with a currents of 50,000 amps and temperatures up to 50,000 degrees, you don't want to fool around. Thank goodness Benjamin Franklin took the time in 1749 to dream up the lightning rod, a grounded metallic terminal that can be placed atop a lightning-vulnerable building. This way, lightning can be drawn to earth without causing too much damage on the way.