In playing Capture the Flag or some variant thereof, Electricity is the process by which teammates who have been tagged and thusly jailed create a human chain by holding hands and or touching foot to foot. If tagged by a free teammate, the freedom flows (like an electric current, I suppose) throughout the chain and all members of the chain are liberated.

By creating a long chain, the inmates can extend themselves closer towards their playing field, thus making it much easier for a free teammate to run over and release them from jail. Should someone on the chain be tagged by a free teammate, then everyone currently on the chain is freed from the jail and are given a free walk back to their side.

Electricity, from the Greek elektron (amber), the name applied originally to the unknown cause of the attractions, repulsions, sparklings, etc., which attend the friction of amber and similar substances. The same cause is now recognized as giving rise, under various circumstances, to many phenomena.

Many attempts have been made to ascertain the true nature of electricity, but it cannot be said that we have yet any sure knowledge of what this subtle agent really is. Electricity behaves as if it were an incompressible fluid substance, but it differs from all known fluids in so many particulars that it may be asserted that whatever else it may be, it is not a fluid in the ordinary sense of the word. Neither is it a form of energy, though electrification as distinguished from electricity certainly is such. Many scientific men hold the view that electricity is the ether itself (the elastic, incompressible medium pervading all space and conveying luminous and other vibrations), and that the phenomena of positive and negative electrifications are due to displacement of the ether at the surfaces of bodies. The researches of Hertz, who, by direct experiment, verified James Clark Maxwell's brilliant theory that electrical action is propagated through space by wave motion in the ether, differing only in respect of wave length and period from the vibrations which constitute light, have been of the utmost value in helping to arrive at a solution of this question. Investigations into the phenomena of electric discharges in high vacua, followed by the discovery of Roentgen of the X-rays, have also thrown great light on the subject.

The applications of electricity are extremely varied. Its employment for telegraphy and electro-metallurgy, for chemical and for medical and physiological purposes, for the production of light to illuminate streets and buildings, for driving vehicles and machinery of various kinds, may be mentioned as examples.

Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

KANJI: DEN (electricity)

ASCII Art Representation:

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Character Etymology:

The character for raincloud, combined with , a Chinese character carrying the phonetic meaning "extend"; hence, "that which extends from a raincloud," meaning lightening, and by extension, electricity.

A Listing of All On-Yomi and Kun-Yomi Readings:

on-yomi: DEN
kun-yomi: none

Nanori Readings:


English Definitions:

  1. DEN: electricity

Character Index Numbers:

New Nelson: 6526
Henshall: 180

Unicode Encoded Version:

Unicode Encoded Compound Examples:

(denkou): lightning
(denshi): electron
(denbun): telegram
(densou): fax

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Electricity is so familiar, and yet, so elusive.

What is electricity? There is electricity when your lover touches your hand or strokes your hair. There is electricity when two powerful people are on the point of an argument. The air might be electric before a great sporting occasion.

Or maybe electricity is the solution to the Maxwell’s equations, or the transfer of charge from one ion to another. Maybe electricity is what is stored in batteries or what comes out of the socket on the wall.

Or is electricity about lighting and thunderstorms, making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up? Or is it the aurora, lighting the arctic sky with rippling curtains of transparent colour?

Electricity is so familiar, and yet, so elusive.

Along with mass, length and time, scientists say, electric charge is a fundamental property of everything. The physicists of creation talk about the electro-weak force as one of the three vital forces of nature. Strong, electro-weak, gravity.

Neuro-biologists know that our nerves and brains run on electricity. Ions jumping the synapses, triggering more ions to jump more synapses, and in a waterfall of electric impulses, this is what memories are made of. Makes you think.

And then electronics. Humans, attempting to build an analog of the brain turned to voltages and transistors and printed circuits to make ever-more complex processing units, capable of rendering ever more detailed streetscapes, all based on the difference of a couple of volts.

Pure energy

An electron-volt is the charge on one electron raised by a single volt. It is pure energy. 1.5 x 10^18 electron volts is one calorie. A Butterfinger McFlurry has 620 Calories. A trillion electrons, each raised to a trillion volts.

Electricity flows. Down a wire, along a lightning bolt, through the interstellar dust. We can add and subtract voltages and currents. Divide volts by ohms to get amps: Coulombs per second.

By flowing, the charge creates magnetism, A single electron, flying through space, or down a wire sends out a magnetic field, radiating magnetic force. Enough magnetic force to move another moving charge. Enough to make a motor. The motor inside your CD drive is just electrons flowing in a magnetic field. And those electrons push the silver platter around

Electricity is static.

The charge that prickles the back of your neck? Static charge, forcing one hair away from the others. Electric potential twisting the hairs, forcing them apart. Strong enough to make your nerve endings tingle.

The hairs twist their roots and the nerve endings there make more electricity. Calcium ions swapping electrons, making electricity to run up and down your spine, awaking your synapses, recalling echoes of past lovers.

The boys in the physics lab, playing with Van de Graaff generators and Tesla coils, holding a million volts like it was nothing, except that it made their greasy hair struggle to rise, and stung when they pointed.

Electricity is power

Mmmm, rotating machinery! Turbogenerators, transformers, diesel-electric locomotives. Think humming machinery. Shafts weighing ten tonnes, spinning 50 times a second, perfectly balanced. Their coils passing so close to a hundred poles of the static electromagnets that it’s hard to slip a piece of paper between. Magnetic flux penetrates the flowing charge, electrons interact with magnetism. Vectors combine and give birth to raw, mechanical power.

Crossing the country at the speed of light on aluminium conductors, the power spreads like a river, keeping the wheels of industry turning, the office lights burning and powering the phones and computers that keep us in touch with friends and lovers.

Power over life and death. Electricity is a killer. An eel hides in the rocks, but when a fish swims by, the discharge is enough to stun it, and then sharp teeth spell death. The state sponsored executioner throws a switch, and flesh burns. Justice. Power.

The Path of Discovery: Electricity

The curious thing about electricity is that it has been studied for thousands of years, and we only very recently learned how it actually functions. Today, all matter is though to consist of tiny charged particles, called neutrons, electrons, and protons. Electricity, according to this theory, is simply a moving stream of electrons or other charged particles (yes, you can make protons jump atom to atom! Takes allot of work, but it can be done).

The word "electricity" comes from the Greek word electron. Electron is their word for the stone amber. As far back as 600BC, the Greeks knew that when amber was rubbed for a while (building up a static charge), it became capable of attracting light bits of cork or paper to itself. They never understood exactly how static forces worked, but accepted them without proof. The English scientist William Gilbert, in 1600, was the first one to tie the Greek word to its meaning today. As a result, Gilbert is called the father of modern electricity.

Not much progress was made in the study of electricity until 1672. In that year, a man named Otto von Guericke produced a more powerful charge of electricity by holding his hand against a ball of spinning sulfur. 'Successors, such as Francis Hauksbee, made improvements that provided experimenters with source of static electricity. Today's version of these early machines is the Van de Graaf generator, which is sometimes used as a particle accelerator. Also, in 1675, Robert Boyle realized that attraction and repulsion were mutual and that electric force could be transmitted through a vacuum.’ (History, 3)In 1729, Stephen Gray found that some substances, such as metals, carried electricity from one location to another. These became known as "conductors." Then, it was discovered that other substances, such as wax, glass, and cloth, cannot carry electricity, and are therefore known as "insulators."

The next important step took place in 1733, when a Frenchman called du Fay discovered positive and negative charges of electricity, although he thought these were two different kinds of electricity.

But it was Benjamin Franklin who tried to explain what electricity was. His idea was that all substances in nature contain "electrical fluid." Friction between certain substances removed some of this "fluid" and placed an extra amount in the other. Today, we would say that this "fluid" is composed of electrons which are negatively charged.

A new interest began with the invention of the battery. In 1786, Luigi Galvani figured out that a jolt of electricity made a (dead) frog's leg jerk. Based on this idea, he managed to produce a simple cell using the fluids of the leg as an electrolyte and the muscle as a circuit and indicator. Galvani thought the leg supplied electricity, but Alessandro Volta thought otherwise, and he built the voltaic pile, an early type of battery, as proof. Probably the most important developments in the science of electricity started with Volta's invention of the first battery in 1800. This battery gave the world its first continuous, reliable source of electric current, and led to all the important discoveries of the uses of electricity. (sections from History, 4-5)

In 1819, Hans Christian Oersted discovered that a magnetic field surrounds a charged wire. Within two years, Andre Marie Ampère had put several electromagnetic laws into mathematical form, D. F. Arago had invented the electromagnet, and Michael Faraday had devised a crude form of electric motor. He managed to make a disk start and stop spinning by either adding or removing electrical current to an apparatus. A practical use of the motor had to wait 10 years, however, until Faraday invented the electric generator with which to power the motor. A year after Faraday's laboratory approximation of the generator, Hippolyte Pixii (what a name...) constructed a hand-driven model. From then on engineers took over from the scientists, and a slow development followed. The first power stations were built 50 years later. (History 5-6)

The History Channel:
Sources from History Channel: See D. L. Anderson, Discovery of the Electron: The Development of the Atomic Concept of Electricity (1964); W. T. Scott, The Physics of Electricity and Magnetism (2d ed. 1966); M. Kaufman and J. A. Wilson, Basic Electricity (1973); E. T. Whittaker, History of Theories of Aether and Electricity (1954, repr. 1987).

E`lec*tric"i*ty (?), n.; pl. Electricities (#). [Cf. F. 'electricit'e. See Electric.]


A power in nature, a manifestation of energy, exhibiting itself when in disturbed equilibrium or in activity by a circuit movement, the fact of direction in which involves polarity, or opposition of properties in opposite directions; also, by attraction for many substances, by a law involving attraction between surfaces of unlike polarity, and repulsion between those of like; by exhibiting accumulated polar tension when the circuit is broken; and by producing heat, light, concussion, and often chemical changes when the circuit passes between the poles or through any imperfectly conducting substance or space. It is generally brought into action by any disturbance of molecular equilibrium, whether from a chemical, physical, or mechanical, cause.

Electricity is manifested under following different forms: (a) Statical electricity, called also Frictional or Common, electricity, electricity in the condition of a stationary charge, in which the disturbance is produced by friction, as of glass, amber, etc., or by induction. (b) Dynamical electricity, called also Voltaic electricity, electricity in motion, or as a current produced by chemical decomposition, as by means of a voltaic battery, or by mechanical action, as by dynamo-electric machines. (c) Thermoelectricity, in which the disturbing cause is heat (attended possibly with some chemical action). It is developed by uniting two pieces of unlike metals in a bar, and then heating the bar unequally. (d) Atmospheric electricity, any condition of electrical disturbance in the atmosphere or clouds, due to some or all of the above mentioned causes. (e) Magnetic electricity, electricity developed by the action of magnets. (f) Positive electricity, the electricity that appears at the positive pole or anode of a battery, or that is produced by friction of glass; -- called also vitreous electricity. (g) Negative electricity, the electricity that appears at the negative pole or cathode, or is produced by the friction of resinous substance; -- called also resinous electricity. (h) Organic electricity, that which is developed in organic structures, either animal or vegetable, the phrase animal electricity being much more common.


The science which unfolds the phenomena and laws of electricity; electrical science.


Fig.: Electrifying energy or characteristic.


© Webster 1913.

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