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Our Electrical Beings

(The Compassionate Curriculum -Communicating how to 
make Wise Uses of our Electrical Potential.)

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Draft no 1 July 2008 - Page currently under construction


Teachers Notes re symbol use

The energy symbol

The power symbol

The electricity symbol

Useful symbols re grids

A moment of reflection on symbol use

Our Electrical Culture - a brief historical perspective

Measuring the sustainability of your community grid/meters


Students can:

*Conserve the potential of these prime symbols: energy power and electrical.

*Identify and use with wisdom the maximum range of resources available to humanity.

*Critically analyse cultural mores, institutions, legislation and symbol uses that destroy science and reduce their life options.   

Teachers Notes.

It is common to hear our media and policymakers talk of and write reports about something called “electricity”. New Zealand even has an Electricity Commission. It is important to know that there is no science underpinning this use of the “electricity” symbol. This is because no such thing as electricity exists!

The prevailing use of the “electricity” symbol puts us all at greater risk, as does any loss of science in our lives. However the popular use of the “electricity” symbol puts us at particular risk because electrical phenomenon constitute one of the greatest resources humanity has. How we use our electrical potential may determine if humanity survives in the Post Cheap Oil/Gas age. The current popular use of the “electricity” symbol destroys many vital options and generates unsustainable behaviour.

Another fatal error our culture is making is to confuse electricity with energy and power. In New Zealand even the Royal Society approves this practice and our Broadcasting Standards Authority has ruled that it is acceptable for electricity, power and energy symbols to be used interchangeably.   

It is helpful to understand that powerful bankers who control much of the world’s fossil fuel and Bulk-generated electricity resources promote this confusion. The confusion works to serve their short-term interests and in this they are aided by sophisticated PR companies and by well meaning and naïve individuals working as educators, media workers and policy makers. They spend billions attempting to reroute your body's electrical system so that your thoughts and emotions are wired to serve their interests.

You can avoid being an agent of confusion by conserving the potential of these prime symbols. The following suggestions are helpful in retaining science in our lives:  

The Energy Symbol

Understand that energy is the potential of the universe(s). No human knows what energy is. However we do have guidance as to its nature. The Principle of the Conservation of Energy  suggests energy is so bounteous it can be considered a constant and can be neither created nor destroyed. Energy is constantly transformed and is manifest in myriad forms. This may be as near as a natural law as we know, for no one has ever proved it flawed.

Conserve the potential of the energy symbol by naming the form you are talking about and avoid confusing it with energy. Thus our children can enjoy and be sustained by a greater vision of the nature of energy

  The Power Symbol

Understand that power is the rate at which the potential of the universe(s) is manifest. Energy forms can be categorised into types and we use a range of measures to quantify the rate at which they are manifest e.g. horsepower, British Thermal Units, watts, joules/second, manpower, calories etc. Many of these measures can be converted into each other.

Conserve the potential of the power symbol by naming the type of power you are talking about and avoid confusing it with power. Thus our children can enjoy and be sustained by a greater vision of the ways that the potential of the universe(s) can be manifest.

  The Electricity Symbol

Understand that there are many electrical phenomena and there is no such thing as electricity.

Electrical phenomena can be categorised into types of electrical activity and the characteristics of one type may contrast completely with those of another type. For this reason their measures cannot be converted into each other.

Conserve the potential of the power symbol by naming the type of electrical phenomena and avoid confusing it with electricity. Thus our children can enjoy and be sustained by a greater vision of the range of electrical phenomena that exist.

  Starter Lesson Activity: 
Conserving the potential of the energy symbol

Energy is manifest in a myriad of forms. These are manifest to us either directly via our senses or indirectly via our technology. Create a list of forms that expresses the range of forms that energy can be manifest in e.g. the brightest and darkest, loudest , most colourful, most fleeting and most permanent, hottest, most fragrant and most disgusting, the most distant and closest…...

  Extension Lesson Activity
Playing with potential

A drop of rain hangs in the air above a mountain. It falls. Imagine what happens to the force with which it hits the mountain. Suggest a chain of transformations that the drop of water might generate.

Extension Lesson Activity
Conserving the potential of the energy symbol.

There are many ways we can understand any activity in the universe(s). Each way or perspective has its own set of characteristics. Here are some useful perspectives:

Potential energy  
Kinetic energy
Gravitational energy  
Thermal energy
Light energy
Electromagnetic energy  
Nuclear energy
Mass Energy
Mechanical energy
Chemical energy

Note: Some activities are more obviously manifest from one of these perspectives. For instance kinetic energy is easily manifest in a speeding jet, thermal energy in a hot element on a stove and  mechanical energy in a seesaw. Find out the characteristics of each of these perspectives and create a list of obvious manifestations of each.  


  Starter Lesson Activity  
Conserving the potential of the power symbol

Power is the rate that energy or the potential of the universe(s) is manifest. Every element of the universe(s) is energy and thus every element has power. We can sense and measure the rate at which energy is manifest.

Enjoy a meditative walk in your neigbourhood. Identify a wide range of sources of power and make a list of them.


What is that sensation on my head? It is solar power. It has more power today because it is summer time/ it has less power today because it is winter time.

What is causing the movement of my hair? It is wind power. It has more power today because the mass of air molecules is flowing  faster today

What are these sensations of green? It is plant power or photosynthesis power.

What is this general sensation of movement? It is my body working and it is human-labour power.

What is this sensation on the soles of my feet? It is gravitational power. 

What is this hard, round thing in my pocket? It is a coin and it has purchasing power.

What is this small block? It is a muesli bar and it has fuel/food power.

What are these lines? They are utility wires and they have electrical power and communication power and civil power and education power and...

  Extension Lesson Activity

There are many types of power and we use different instruments to measure them. Draw a picture of the devices commonly used to measure the different sources of power on your list.  


  Lesson activity  
Conserving the potential of the electrical symbol

There are many types of electrical phenomena and they have very different and even contradictory characteristics. Do not be overwhelmed by this knowledge. The essential qualities you need to conserve the electrical symbol are a spirit of care and the knowledge that there are many types of electrical phenomena.

When talking about matters electrical simply ask the question, “What type of electrical phenomena am I talking about?”

You do not need to know all the name of the different types or all their special characteristics.

Here is a list of some the electrical phenomena that exist. (For more explanations of each type visit “What is electricity?”.

electric charge  
electrical energy  
imbalance of charge  
electric current  
electric field
electric power  
electrical science  
electrical phenomena

 Play with some of the phenomena. Construct a circuit using a battery and a loop of wire and generate an electric field and an electric current.

Break the circuit, hold the wires close together and generate an electric spark. Observe.

Install a light bulb in the circuit. Observe.

Place on the circuit a piece of paper with iron filings on it. Observe.

Simply play, observe and sense the electrical forces, both visible and invisible. Enjoy and give yourself to wonder and awe.

    Extension Lesson Activity 

We are Electrical Beings, formed of a complex array of electrical phenomena. 

Click here to read Daily Mail article about 
a person whose body lost control of its electrical system


So too are the dwellings that we reside in. How we use the electrical potential of our minds, bodies, dwellings and devices affects the balances and flows that sustain our society and life on Earth.  

Click to enlarge at and 
read about the electrical circuits in our bodies.

Humanity is now exiting the Cheap Oil/Gas Age that has sustained the increase in our population from 1 billion people a little over a century ago to the current 6.6 billion. If we are to avoid the catastrophic global collapse of humanity we will have to make very wise use of our electrical potential.

A requisite for this wise use is knowledge of the potential of our dwellings. Thus, for instance, it is helpful to understand how to make wise uses of the electrical potential of our dwellings. In order to do this the prime requirement is that we each identify and describe accurately the electrical phenomena we are talking about. Thus our children can know they have more options that just the “energy/power/electricity” sold by large corporations.

 Useful symbols that evoke some of that potential include:

Bulk-generated electricity (Electrical resources generated by massive plant such as large-scale dams, windfarms, combustion plant, nuclear reactors etc. Typically hundreds of megawatts.

Micro-generated electricity (Typically one megawatt or less)

Dwelling-generated electricity (Typically one kilowatt or less)  

Click to enlarge on BBC article of wind turbine on a school

Photovoltaic or PV generated electricity ( electrical resources generated from sunlight using technology.)

230 Volt systems/wiring/sockets (standard wiring and terminal in streets and dwellings in New Zealand)

utility grid/poles/wires (Typically the technology has a wide range of uses including transmitting electrical resources, communication and social values)

Neural electricity (The biological neural networks, which enable creatures including humans to act/think)  


click here to view full picture at

Neuro-fussy (NF) electricity (Artificial Neural Networks , including community wiring grids)  


Click here to enlarge at

Collect news items and text book articles discussing our use of electrical resources in our dwellings.  What key symbols do they employ? Can you suggest alternative symbols?

See how your list compares with the sample list of sustainable symbol uses.

  A Moment of Reflection

Maybe you are seeing a pattern emerging? The person who conserves the fuller potential of the  energy, power and electricity symbols rarely uses them. They reserve their use of the energy and power symbols for the universal and refrain from associating them with any particular form or element of the universe(s). Similarly they know that there is no such thing as electricity. Thus they free themselves and our children from the “energy speak” of “energy merchants”.

  *Be mindful – at all times ask, “What am I really talking about and what is its most accurate name?”

  *The electrical device that most determines the shape and sustainability of electrical systems is the brain of the average citizen. It determines the limits of technology.

 Our Electrical Culture  

The 1980s saw the emergence of four great technologies, all linked by the development of computers. These are:

  • Small-scale electrical generators, sometimes known as Distributed Generation or DG because they are dispersed around networks and sited close to the point of use of the electrical resource.
  • “Smart” appliances, which includes electrical household appliances such as switchboard meters, fridges, washing machines, heaters etc that can digitally store and transmit large amounts of data over electrical grids and respond to load fluctuations.
  • Broadband, including the potential of transmit broadband through the 230-volt circuitry in dwellings.
  • Localised radio networks or cellular networks.

The confluence of these technologies is a source of great potential wealth to those that control it and it is critical to the successful transition of humanity beyond the Cheap Oil/Gas Age. Since the very first community-wide wiring grids of the 1890s a few merchant bankers have sought to gain control of them as a means of extracting great wealth from communities. Thus there has been constant conflict between the bankers’ interests, which is in Bulk-generated electricity, and community interests, which is in Distributed Generation.

The conflict has intensified with the advent of the new technologies and with the recent exponential growth of the human population. The survival of our children depends on whether we develop intelligent grids or the grids collapse in incoherence. Here is a framework for evaluating local utility grids. It is primarily designed for electrical grids provide 230 volt electricity to dwellings. However it can be adapted to evaluating other service grids such as roading, communication and water.

 * Be mindful – Merchant bankers, the media and many in the Green Movement portray the options as either “On Bulk-generated electricity grid” or “Off Bulk-generated electricity grid”. The bankers know the latter is seen to be a prohibitively expensive option for most people. This frames out the most sustainable and democratic option –grids powered by an intelligent combination of Bulk-generation plant and dwelling-scale generators.  

  Measuring utility grids 
on an intelligence.............incoherence continuum

Reticulation grids and metering systems can be understood from a number of perspectives:

One is that the grid is a system that transmits electrical resources and data. The meter measures the flow rate of the resource.

A second perspective is that it is simply a system for generating and monitoring cash flows. “Infrastructure bankers” and allied industries view it this way.

A third perspective is that the utility grid is an essential component of health and Civil Protection/Defence structures.

A fourth perspective is that it is a civil structure incorporating a country’s sense of nationhood and justice. 

A fifth perspective is that the utility grid is a communication system. An important element of this system is capacity of the end user to be aware of and respond to the impacts of their use of the system.

For instance until the 1990s the “ripple” system of New Zealand’s main electrical grid enabled individuals in their communities to reduce their negative impacts on the grid and the atmosphere, valleys, forests, rivers, lakes and oceans by altering their activities at times of peak loads on the grid. The ripple system involves switches that respond to wave frequencies sent over the grid. These switches traditionally turned electrical-heating storage devices such as hot water cylinders and other heat storage devices on and off a as the grid load varied.

New technology now exists that enhances this communication potential on scale. However the development of the potential depends on who owns and controls the technology. Thus the capacity of any community to make sustainable uses of their electrical potential varies widely. The evaluation resource below enables teachers to work with their students to establish the relative intelligence –incoherence of their local grid. Some learning activities are suggested below.

Useful symbols (grids):

Community grid – This is the local (city or borough) reticulation network. In New Zealand the owner was traditionally the local community. Since the Electricity Reforms of 1993 the owners are now often large overseas-based bank corporations. It is now illegal for communities to own both their local wiring network and its intelligence. The common name for its intelligence is now it "retailer" division, which reflects the commodified state of New Zealand citizens now.

Activity: Find out who owns your community grid and who owns its intelligence (retailers).

Central grid – This is the main national reticulation network. In New Zealand the grid is operated by a corporation called TransPower.

Activity:  Find out who owns Transpower.

Peak load. The amount of electrical product being transferred over grids varies with the time of day, the weather and the needs of consumers at any moment. The “Peak load”  or spike in demand occurs when the amount of product has to be generated and transmitted is at its maximum because consumption is high.

Activity: Find out when the “peak load” periods occurs on your community network.  What causes them? What way can you and your community do to reduce them?

Ripple control system. A small signal of a certain frequency can be sent over the HV (high voltage) and MV (medium voltage) networks that turns special switches on and off in dwellings and streets

Activity: If you live in or visit a town you can see the ripple control system in action each day in the streets. What gets turned on and off?

Low Amp dwellings. These are dwelling grids that can only transmit relatively small electrical loads. For instance they have only 5 amp fuses that are typically used for lighting circuits. This puts low limits on the amount of electrical product they can use at any time. This reduces to demand they can make on the community grid.

Activity: Create your own electrical circuit with a battery, wire and very fine fuse wire. Observe.

Bulk-gen electricity. Electrical resources generated using very large machinery or plant. Typically the plant have the capacity to generate hundreds of megawatts of the resource.

Activity: Find out all the different types of Bulk-gen electricity plants in your country.

Activity: A one bar heater typically uses one unit of 230 volt electricity an hour (a unit is 1000 Watts per hour or 1 kwh). How many one-bar heaters can a 500 Megawatt Bulk-gen electricity plant keep going? How many 20 watt lamps?

Civil Protection. Another name for this is Civil Defence. It refers to strategies and resources created to reduce the destructive impacts on societies of war and other disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, firestorms, snow and/or ice storms etc.

Activity: Compare Dwelling-gen electricity, Micro-gen electricity and Bulk-gen electricity systems. How are they different? What do you think might happen to them in a disaster?  

The grid evaluator is on a separate page. It employs six categories varying from high intelligent meter/grid to high incoherent meter grid. Meters and grids may exhibit the characteristics of more than one category. Pictorial versions of them will be added to this page.

     Click here to visit The Grid Evaluator

Learning Activities topics

What is democracy?  

Find out about the electrical grids in your body.

Rate the intelligence- incoherence of your community grid.

Compare the Civil Protection risks of using Bulk-generated electricity compared to Micro-generated and Dwelling generated electricity (Distributed generation)

DG etc Why cant our community do this?

What is energy/power? Why would people change these definitions?  

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Information is physical - we are our symbols


  Be mindful – at all times and ask, “What am I really talking about and what is its most accurate name?” 


How we use our electrical and solar potential will determine how and if humanity survives in the Post Cheap Oil/Gas era.


The electrical device that most determines the shape and sustainability of electrical systems is the brain of the average citizen. It determines the limits of technology.