What’s a WATT? Who cares, and why?

“No, Who’s on first, Watt is on second and I don’t care is on third!

The all-knowing Homewatts mascot

Abbott and Costello’s great tribute to America’s favorite pastime, the great “Who’s on first base” is one of the funniest comedy bits ever performed!

The only thing besides being so hilarious which has anything to do with this website, is the great baseball player named “What”.

“What”, you may recall, was on SECOND base and “Who” was on first base.


All humor aside, the WATT as a definition related to electronics has a very precise definition unrelated to the great comedy duo, and predates the national pastime.
The Wikipedia definition of Watt:
The watt is the unit of power or radiant flux in the International System of Units (SI), equal to 1 joule per second or 1 kg⋅m 2 ⋅s −3 . It is used to quantify the rate of energy transfer. The watt is named in honor of James Watt (1736–1819), an 18th-century Scottish inventor, mechanical engineer, and chemist who improved the Newcomen engine with his own steam engine in 1776.


An understanding of electricity has been a curiosity since the first lightning bolt was observed but was famously investigated by the legendary Ben Franklin’s kite on a stormy day. In the movie “Back to the Future, a lightning bolt produced the Gigawatts necessary to make the time machine travel as Doc needed to calculate the “amount , and how to produce so many Watts.
In the age of science and invention, tools were constantly being developed for everyday use by inventors and scientists with the hope of making life better for society. Science is a continuing quest to investigate categorize, and name every observed phenomenon. The naming of stars in the known universe is an impossible endeavor to complete, although one can now purchase a star which may be named after you for a nominal price.


You may have asked questions like ” Who decided to call that tool a pliar, screwdriver,r or wrench?”. Every tool needs a name to identify its use. The invention of the airplane may have taken a while longer if Orville had asked Wilbur to hand him that “Whatchamacallit” instead of a crescent wrench.
In the world of Physics and Electronics there is a need to name basic elements which enable continuing research and development, a sort of language of the trade. The WATT is one of the most useful definitions used in our modern world.


Simply put, when discussing a descriptive name for scientific phenomenon back in the 1800’s, a proposal to specify the property of electricity which produced power was suggested. The inventor of the steam engine, James Watt was proposed. Eventually the term WATT was used for units electric Power, as VOLTAGE was previously named after the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (1745–1827). The other phenomenon called the AMP is named after French mathematician and physicist André-Marie Ampère (1775–1836). Still another popular designation basic to the work in physics and electronics is the OHM, named after Georg Simon Ohm (16 March 1789 – 6 July 1854 ), who was a German physicist and mathematician.


All of these electronic elements have a predictable interactive relationship which allows anyone to create wonderful devices for modern society such as lights ,motors, and electronic gadgets

A simple algebraic formula allows us to design a device by interchanging voltage amperage and resistance to produce the amount of WATTS we need! Mr. Ohm has a law that basically says if you know how many volts and amps are in a circuit, the resulting power in Watts is predictable.


So what’s in a name? More than the eye can see!

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