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Inventors & Scientists

Energy Inventors

Apart from Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison, there are hundreds of other inventors who helped the world understand how energy works.

In fact, many energy words are named for the inventors who discovered them or first explained them.

Here are some of these famous scientists who changed the world with their experiments.

  Benjamin Franklin

Was born on January 17, 1706 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

He discovered Positive and Negative electrical charges, and that lightning is a form of electricity (the famous “kite and key” experiment).

His inventions include the Lightning rod, Franklin stove, swimming fins, bifocal lenses for eyeglasses, odometer (which measures distance).


 James Watt

Was born on January 19, 1736 in Glasgow, Scotland.

He invented an improved steam engine, which was a big part of the Industrial Revolution and made him wealthy and famous. He also created the term “horsepower” to measure the power of an engine.

Before he worked on steam engines, Watt made musical instruments. The word “watt,” which measures the amount of power something uses, was named after James Watt.


 Alessandro Volta He

Was born on February 18, 1745 in Como, Italy. He discovered Methane gas.

His inventions were the first battery, called the “Voltaic pile” and the electrophorus, which produced static electricity.

The words “volt” (a measure of electric pressure) and “photovoltaics” (converting light into electricity) were named for Alessandro Volta. Toyota named their new battery-powered car the “Volta.”


  Michael Faraday

Was born on September 22, 1791 in London, England.

He discovered Electromagnetic induction – if he moved a magnet through a loop of wire, the wire would become electrified,  the “Faraday effect,” that proved that light and magnetic force are related. Electrolysis, which uses electricity to separate matter and also the chemical benzene.

His inventions include the dynamo, which converted motion into electricity and the “Faraday cage,” which blocks electric waves.

He did not have a college education and was completely self-taught.


 Thomas Edison

Was born on February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio.

He discovered the “Edison effect,” or electric waves in space which allowed for the invention of radios, televisions, computers and other wireless products.

He invented an improved incandescent light bulb, sound recorder, movie camera, telegraph machines, electric vote recorder, stock ticker, microphone, batteries, X-ray machines – and more than 2,000 other devices.


 Nikola Tesla

Was born on July 10, 1856 in Croatia.

He discovered Alternating current electricity, hydroelectric power, radio waves, radar, robotics.

His inventions include the “Tesla coil” electric transformer, the first long-distance power system, electric motors, loudspeakers, X-ray machines, remote controls, man-made lightning bolts.

He worked for Thomas Edison, but they later became enemies. One of Tesla’s best friends was the writer Mark Twain.

He was almost completely deaf from an early age.

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