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The discovery of the principles of electromagnetism began in the Industrial Age, and it leads directly to numerous Advances in the Modern Age.


The ancient Greeks were the first to study an electrical phenomenon in the form of static electricity. They discovered that, when rubbed with fur, amber stones attracted light objects such as feathers. The word electric comes from the Greek word "elektron", meaning amber. At the end of the 16th century, British physician William Gilbert investigated the relationship of static electricity and magnetism. American inventor and statesman Benjamin Franklin famously proved the electrical nature of lightning in his famous kite experiment of 1752 and he established the convention of using negative and positive to indicate different kinds of charge. By the mid-18th century, electrical materials were divided into two major categories: insulators, which, when rubbed, would get and keep a static surface electric charge, and conductors, mostly metals, which were able to carry away the charge from the insulator. In 1803 Alessandro Volta built the first electric battery as a source of electrical current. Practical applications for electricity followed almost immediately, starting with the first electric arc light in 1808. By the end of the 19th century, electromagnetism and electricity had been applied to almost every field of human endeavor, from transportation to communication to entertainment.