Fluid theory of electricity

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The fluid theory of electricity[1] (and "Two-fluid" theory[2]) is a now defunct theory that postulated an electrical fluid which was responsible for many electrical phenomena in the history of electromagnetism. The "two-fluid" theory was due to Robert Symmer (1759). The alternate simpler theory of Benjamin Franklin considered to develop the unitary, or one-fluid, theory of electricity. Franklin, however, was first to propose tests to determine the sameness of the electrostatic (influence machines) and electromagnetic (lightning) phenomena. The Leyden jar was seen as a confirming case for this unitary theory since it appeared to be a jar capable of holding the electric fluid.

The development of the fluid theory of electricity is briefly recounted in the 19th century book, A Guide to the Scientific Knowledge of Things Familiar by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer.

See also[edit]

Contact tension, Hydraulic analogy
History of the electric charge, History of electrochemistry


  1. ^ Theory of electricity and magnetism. By Charles Emerson Curry. p47
  2. ^ The Mathematical Theory of Electricity and Magnetism. By Sir James Hopwood Jeans.