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Electricity and Magnetism

Timeline of Electricity and Magnetism - Our timeline guides you through the highlights of electricity and magnetism across the globe, from the first compasses in China to the invention of magnetic core computer memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and beyond.

Pioneers in Electricity and Magnetism - Ampere, Celsius, Kelvin, Hertz, Tesla: These terms are familiar to all science students. Behind them is a group of scientists who went down in history for their groundbreaking work in magnetism and electricity. Who were these brilliant inventors, physicists and chemists, and what lasting contributions did they make to their fields and to our lives? Get to know these pioneers by visiting this section.

Museum of Electricity and Magnetism - From the world's first "south-pointer" (an early compass) to modern instruments such as the magnetic force microscope, the Museum of Electricity and Magnetism on our sister website at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory will introduce you to a variety of instruments, tools and machines devised over the centuries.

History of the Compact Disc - During the mid to late 1980's, compact discs began to take over both the audio and computer program market. By following specific standards in production known as the "Color Books," compact discs could be developed to the current technology.

How a Writable CD-R Works - After compact disc technology became mainstream for audio recordings, the use of compact discs as a storage medium for computers rose during the late 1980's. These discs are created by writable CD-R drives containing a write head, which sends a low-energy laser beam to the surface of the disc, recording data.

How a Digital Video Drive Works - The next evolution in compact discs, digital video disks are the result of four companies, Philips, Sony, Time-Warner, and Toshiba, collaborating on the standards for a dual-layered, high-density disk. Similar to CD-ROM drives, DVD players use light beams to read the information from the surface of a disc.

Capacitance - Discovered around 1745 independently by Ewald Christian von Kliest and Pieter van Musschenbroek, capacitance is the property of an electric conductor that allows the storage of an electric charge. Capacitance is the foundation for storing energy in an electric field between two conducting bodies.

Inductance - Defined as the property of an electric circuit by which a changing magnetic field creates an electromotive force in that circuit or a nearby circuit. Inductance is the basic principle for the operation of electric generators.

Resistance - Resistance is the property of a substance at the molecular level that hinders the flow of electric current through it. High resistance to electric flow is a requisite for insulators, while conductors require a low resistance.

Batteries - Consisting of two or more connected cells, batteries provide a direct current by converting chemical energy to electrical energy. The different types of batteries we use require different components for production and operation.

Generators and Motors - Generators and motors are two devices, which function almost oppositely; generators turn rotary mechanical energy into electrical energy, while motors change electric energy into mechanical energy.

Interactive Java Tutorials - Our interactive Java tutorials have been developed in order to assist with the understanding of the principles, physics, and devices used in electricity and magnetism, such as transformers, electrophoresis, and lightning.

Mag Lab U: Learning about Electricity and Magnetism - Visit our sister website for more interactive Java tutorials, a timeline of historical events, a museum of antique devices, and articles on topics related to electricity and magnetism.

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