A Presbyterian minister Joseph Priestley, one of the
greatest inventor of all times had donned the role of a
historian and presented the world the first history of
science The history of electricity. It was published in the
year 1767 and contained all knowledge available on
electricity unto that period. The versatile author of the
book, who was also authority on law, physics, chemistry,
religion as well as a mastermind behind early electrical
investigations argued that writing history of scientific
discoveries were important as it showed how human
intelligence discovered and directed the forces of nature.
Of the important subjects discussed in the book one was the
phenomenon of capacitance invented by the Dutch physicist
Pieter van Musschenbroek the discoverer of first
capacitor with due importance. The important discovery
known as Leyden Jar which could store the electricity was
the first capacitor developed. Inspired by this finding In
1747 Franklin began his electrical experiments. He
supported the hypothesis behind Leyden Jar and proposed
that lightning is an electrical phenomenon. He also framed
and publicized a plan for an effective demonstration of
this fact; his celebrated experiment with the kite in 1752.
He invented the lightning rod and offered what is called
the "one-fluid" theory in explanation of the two kinds of
electricity, positive and negative.
The book records some of the important findings on
dissipation of electric charge and electrical resistance
deduced from the writers own experiments. Joseph suggested
that the force caused by electricity was likely to follow a
mathematical relationship called the ‘Inverse-square law’.
Using this idea, Coulomb made quantitative measurements of
the force of attraction and repulsion between charged
objects. The equation for this effect is now known as
Coulomb's law and the unit of measurement of charge as the
He also explained the formation of rings when a electric
body is discharged now known as priestly rings. The most
significant contribution of the book is that it created
awareness about the vast potential of the electric force
amongst scientific community and made them feel that
electrical theory can become an exact science.