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Pith balls and cat hair

From physics books to electricity.  Magnetism could move things at a distance.  The physics I was reading taught me that only metals and then just certian metals were magnetic.  But all metals could conduct electricity.  Electricity was a lot like magnetism.  They both had fields but electric fields were much less strong, or so it seemed.  Digging deeper into physics books I discovered how to move things at a distance with electricity.  This fellow, Ben Franklin, who just happened to be involved with the creation of our nation, seemed to have played around a lot with electricity.

The physics books talked about Pith balls.  The closest thing I could come up with was a ping pong ball which actually worked just fine.  By rubbing it on my clothes, I could get the cats hair to stand on end.  Finding a glass rod was a bit more difficult until Christmas came and I got a chemistry set which just happened to have a glass rod!  And so, I began experimenting with electricity.  Unlike magnetism,  Electricity seemed to effect metals and not metals.  I could take two aluminum foil strips, hang them off a wire, touch the glass rod to the wire and the foil strips would repel each other.  I could do the same thing with ping pong balls.  Back to the books to find out why.

My study of static electricity soon led to dc electricity.  Pictures of dry cells with screw tabs for wire connections and light bulbs and wire coils were learning’s that led to real ‘bread board’ experiments.  The library soon produced books on simple electric circuits and I was wiring up light bulbs, switches and batteries on a wooden board.   Then came the coil of wire around a metal bolt that I had screwed into the bread board.   I hook up the switch and battery and a real world magnet from electricity was born.  How cool was that.  Magnetism was so much stronger then static electricity and now I could make magnetism from electricity!

The simple circuits got more interesting when I hung an iron metal strip above the magnet.  By connecting the switch, I could make that metal strip touch the bolt head of the electromagnet.  The final phase of this experiment was to use the strip as a switch so that when there was no magnetism the swith would be on and when there was magnetism the switch would be off.  And so I made a buzzer, my first (but not my last) oscillator.

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