"I think I'm fortunate to have discovered this. Who is to know what it is?

Perhaps you've seen the glass or porcelain objects on telephone pole crossarms and tops, but have you ever pondered why and what they represent? Hold on tight, because I'm about to reveal the identities of these unsung heroes in the field of communication.

The strange-looking devices known as insulators serve a very important purpose. Their function is to prevent the electrical cables they support from conversing with the pole or, worse still, the ground below. All that power (or those priceless phone conversations) would simply evaporate if they failed to do their duties. Imagine your voice trailing off after a few hundred feet on a long-distance conversation. Not enjoyable, is it?

A multitude of insulator types and colors are available. Many of the earlier ones were made of glass or porcelain, but others were constructed out of even more unusual materials including wood and glass, animal parts—yes, you read that right—and more. Size also matters; bigger insulators partied with the high-voltage electrical cables, while smaller insulators hung around with the telephone and telegraph people. Depending on the voltage, it's similar to a VIP zone for insulators!

You see, the larger the insulator required for electrical lines, the greater the voltage. Why? Because electricity may be a bit of a show-off, it may decide to leap across a considerable distance if the voltage is high enough. This phenomena is called "flashover." Like nightclub bouncers, insulators with broad "umbrella" disks and wide bottom skirts make sure the wire remains at arm's length from the pole, preventing this exciting dance motion.