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Electric Charges and Poles: All About Batteries and how they work

Batteries are one of the most fascinating inventions of mankind, powering our lives in ways we barely even notice. On a very basic level, batteries are responsible for giving power to daily essentials including cars, remote controls, and cellphones. However, a battery and its circuit don't last forever. Although batteries can die when they run out of charge, the overall lifespan of the battery also naturally declines over time. Learning about how batteries work internally can promote better habits to help them last longer, and learning about their history and their impact on modern society can give users a new appreciation for these everyday technological marvels.

The first concrete concept of the battery was formed in the 1700s by an Italian scientist named Luigi Galvani. Galvani had been working on dissecting a frog when he stumbled upon an interesting find that would form the basis of this concept. While dissecting the frog, his iron scalpel touched the frog's leg, causing the leg to twitch. After noticing this reaction, Galvani spent the next few years testing and developing a hypothesis that electricity could penetrate a nerve and cause a reaction. Through his studies, he concluded that animal tissues contain their own electrical current as a form of electricity. However, his partner, Alessandro Volta, firmly believed the current was caused by two different metals coming in touch with a moist and humid conductor. Volta tested and developed his theory, and the result was the world's first battery.

Modern batteries come in many shapes and sizes and power different types of electronics, but they mainly function in the same manner. A battery is made up of an inner circuit containing three parts: the anode, cathode, and electrolyte. The battery is built with the anode connecting to the negative side and the cathode connecting to the positive side. The electrolyte stays in between. A chemical reaction within the battery creates a buildup of electrons in the anode, and the electrolyte acts as a buffer, keeping the extra electrons in the anode and away from the cathode. When the battery is connected to a circuit, these electrons flow through it as electricity until they reach the cathode.

A battery can last for however long the chemicals within them stay potent enough to work. Over time, the anode and the cathode begin to degrade, reducing the strength of the battery or its ability to hold a charge. Other factors, including the temperature of the environment, can also cause a battery to degrade, but its chemistry primarily determines its longevity.

Just as a human can't live without a heartbeat, many electronic devices cannot run without a battery. Batteries are the source of life for many common devices, including cellphones, laptops, flashlights, power tools, and children's toys. They're also present in important medical devices like pacemakers, hearing aids, and insulin pumps. Without efficient batteries, advancements in technology and science would be greatly slowed. And in a world without batteries, the fight against global warming would be a tougher battle: Battery technology is being used today to harness cleaner forms of energy, like wind and solar power, for use in electric vehicles, and it also captures energy that would otherwise be wasted while driving a hybrid vehicle. This reduces the amount of harmful carbon emissions created through the use of fossil fuels.

The History of Batteries

How Batteries Work

The Battery's Influence on Modern Society

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