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Metaphors from the Physical Sciences

I was revising a subsection of my book about the way in which theories of electromagnetism were discovered.

Static electricity was known for ages. The first currents were produced via capacitors that stored static electric charge produced the traditional way, by rubbing. Discharging a capacitor yielded only a brief short-lived current. Then Alessandro Volta invented the voltaic pile, a chemical battery consisting of alternate pieces of metal and brine-soaked cardboard. Voltaic piles generated long-lived currents that opened up the investigation of the magnetic effects of currents, leading to Faraday and Ampere.

Section Heading: Chemistry is Better Than Friction

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