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18th Century electrical experiment

18th Century electrical experiment

C009/5627

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Credit

SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Igniting spirits of wine by means of an electrostatic discharge. A man, standing on an insulating wax tablet, holds a charged glass rod in his left hand and a sword in his right. An electrostatic charge is created by the frictional electrostatic generator on the right. This passes through the glass rod, the body of the man standing on the wax tablet and down through the sword where a spark passes between the sword and the spoon setting light to the spirits of wine in the spoon. During the 18th century there was huge interest in electrical studies in England, France and Germany, particularly after the Leyden Jar was invented in 1745. The experiment shown here is one described by William Watson in 1748.

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