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?
If you've ever watched birds sitting idly on power lines, footloose and electrocution-free, you might have inferred that the black coating on the outside of the wires is rubber or some other kind of insulating material. After all, as a nation, we wouldn't be stringing hundreds of thousands of miles of hot electric death across the landscape, would we? Surely we're better than that.