Neria - chapter 7
7 – Electricity
- wild and tamed
As soon as we were back at my home Neria started asking about "The Electricity Magic" - she really wanted to understand how all the "magic" worked but there weren't many of her questions that I could answer myself. But there was one I could try:
She asked "Why isn't there any electricity in my world?". I told her I thought there was - "Do you remember that storm when we were going to bed?" "Yes, but that was just a flash and a loud bang. It often happens." "Well, the flash is electricity jumping from the sky to the ground. It's kind of wild electricity and quite dangerous. Lightning killed one of our cows once. The tame electricity we keep in wires is connected to the things we want to work. The electricity is still a bit dangerous if it gets out, so the wires have stuff round them that electricity can't get through and that keeps it in. If you take an electric machine apart the electricity can get out and might hurt you."
Dad suggested we went round the house and found all the different things that used electricity and see what they did. Electric lights you could switch on and off were everywhere but lots of the more complicated machines were in the kitchen. Then there were the things with screens you could watch.
When Neria and I had found more than fifty things you could switch on and off, she asked me to show her how to make electricity (or did you catch wild electricity and tame it like we had animals)?" I knew it had to be made but had no idea how it was done, so we asked Dad.
He told us to come with him when he went to fetch the cows for milking and he would show us some ways of making electricity.
He asked us "What are those things up on the roof of the barn?" They looked like windows on the sloping roof of the barn. Lots of them, side-by-side, but you couldn't see through them or open them. I said "I'd forgotten about them, they make electricity when the sun shines on them. I don't know how they do it though."
Dad said he didn't know either. They were clever inventions and didn't need any moving bits to work. He said "I suppose it's a bit like the leaf of a plant when the sun shines on it. The leaf makes energy that keeps the plant alive but the solar panels make electricity which is just a different sort of energy.
Dad said that the other ways of making electricity had to have moving bits because spinning a magnet around inside a coil of wire was an easiest way of making electricity. When we got home I had to show Neria what magnets were and let her play with them but first Dad pointed out a wind turbine a long way up the valley near where the people from the next-door farm live. "That makes electricity by turning round magnets quite fast when the wind blows well. It only makes a small amount of electricity - just enough for the one house and only when the wind is blowing."
Finally he pointed out the line of huge pylons that held up six thick wires going across the valley. "Where do you think they come from?" I said "Isn't there a big lake at the top of that valley?" and Dad said I was right. "The lake was made by building a big dam across the valley and there are long pipes that carry the water down to where they make the electricity. The water whooshes out of the pipe like a waterfall and turns huge wheels that turn the magnets. It makes lots and lots of electricity - enough for a small town. That's where the wires go. You can choose when to let the water go down the pipes so you get the electricity just when you want it.
Neria had been interested in trying to understand what Dad said but she soon realised that it would never work in her world. "We haven't got wires, we haven't got magnets, we haven't even got metal to make the wires. I think, when I'm grown up, I'll try and find a way of taming wild electricity. But it might be more use to tame some wild animals."
Things to think about
- Count how many things are electric in your kitchen? What do they all do?
- What electric things are there in your bedroom?
- Is the electricity that works a torch dangerous?
- What are the old-fashioned ways of making electricity - ways we are trying to give-up to stop the World getting too hot?
- Can you explain to Neria how mobile phones work?
- If Neria ever does find out how to tame animals, what sort of animal will probably be the one she and her people tame first?
Read the next chapter
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