Home - Education Resources - Science of NDT - Electricity


After reading this section you will be able to do the following:

  • Define electricity and identify the origins of the term.
  • Discuss how electricity can be observed in the world.

What is Electricity?

Electricity is a naturally occurring force that exists all around us.  Humans have been aware of this force for many centuries. Ancient man believed that electricity was some form of magic because they did not understand it. Greek philosophers noticed that when a piece of amber was rubbed with cloth, it would attract pieces of straw. They recorded the first references to electrical effects, such as static electricity and lightning, over 2,500 years ago.


It was not until 1600 that a man named Dr. William Gilbert coined the term “electrica,” a Latin word which describes the static charge that develops when certain materials are rubbed against amber. This is probably the source of the word “electricity." Electricity and magnetism are natural forces that are very closely related to one another. You will learn a little about magnetism in this section, but there is a whole section on magnetism if you want to learn more.

In order to really understand electricity, we need to look closely at the very small components that compose all matter.


  1. Electricity occurs naturally and has been observed for thousands of years.
  2. Electricity and magnetism are very closely related.