The study of the presence and flow of electric charge. Charges, currents, fields, potentials.

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Why do birds, sitting on electric wires, not get shocked?

If we would touch electric wires, we would get a shock, even if we are not touching ground (so that no connection is complete form wire to ground through us). I always see that birds sit on electric ...
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Does Tesla's photoelectric “solar cell” really work?

Tesla patented a device for gathering energy from light, using the photoelectric effect. (US 685,957 - Apparatus for the Utilization of Radiant Energy): Basically just a sheet of "highly polished ...
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Why does electric field intensity $E$ can be uniquely determined by its divergence and curl? [duplicate]

My question is, the number of following equations $$\nabla\cdot E=\frac{\rho}{\varepsilon}$$ $$\nabla\times E=-\frac{\partial B}{\partial t}$$ is 4 while the number of unknown variables ...
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What's the source of electricity for the human brain?

I keep hearing that there's always electrical activity taking place inside the human brain. Our heart and various other organs function because it receives electrical signals called impulse. But, ...
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What’s the relationship between thermal radiation and Johnson thermal noise?

All objects above absolute zero emit radiation due to random collisions between the atoms they are made of. The spectrum of radiation emitted varies according to the temperature of the object, I ...
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What causes fluorescent light bulb to light up when it is near a plasma globe? Can this phenomenon be used to generate electricity in a circuit?

When a fluorescent light bulb is placed near a plasma globe, despite the fact there isn't a closed circuit, a part of the light blulb would light up. I tried measuring the voltage of the air ...
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Why does electrical current start to flow?

What happens microscopically when an electrical current starts to flow? I'd like to understand microscopically what happens in detail when electrons start moving (quasi-classically). Electrons can ...
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595 views

Relativistic drift velocity of electrons in a superconductor?

Is there a formula for the effective speed of electron currents inside superconductors? The formula for normal conductors is: $$ V = \frac{I}{nAq}$$ I wonder if there are any changes to this ...
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Tying knots in power cables to prevent power surge from lightning strikes

There are plenty of references to this claim on the internet that tying knots in power cables will prevent a piece of equipment e.g. television or computer from a power surge. How can this be ...
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Is a signal traveling through fiber faster than a signal traveling through copper?

Does the transmission medium affect the speed of a signal? For instance does light traveling through a fiber cable get a bit from A => B faster than copper can transmit a bit the over the same ...
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937 views

What happens if I throw a battery into water?

Today I have by accident thrown a AAA battery into a bucket of water. I fished it out of the water immediately (within 20 seconds or so) and nothing notable had happened and the battery is still full ...
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What is the current of a capacitor when the derivative of voltage is undefined?

This is from the textbook I am reading: I know this equation for capacitors: $$i=C\cdot \frac { dv }{ dt }$$ Here is my question: how can diagram (a) be allowed if the derivative of the voltage ...
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399 views

why is a resistor frequency independent

I had a doubt that why is a resistor, frequency independent? Since, as frequency increases the movement of electrons increases so heat increases which causes change in resistance. So my question is ...
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578 views

Conservation of Energy in a Capacitor

Consider a parallel-plate capacitor in free space. A negatively charged point particle with initial velocity $v$ passes through the space between the pair of parallel plates (with an initial path ...
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Why does Joule heating not occur when no current flows through a conductor?

Joule heating happens every time when the conduction electrons transfer kinetic energy to the conductor's atoms through collisions, causing these conductor's atoms to increase their kinetic and ...
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How do electrons “know” to share their voltage between two resistors?

My physics teacher explained the difference between voltage and current using sandwiches. Each person gets a bag full of sandwiches when they pass through the battery. Current = the number of people ...
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885 views

Why do charges enter the capacitor in the first place?

I have been studying Capacitors for the past year now and the one thing I don't understand is how a charge is stored on the capacitor. Essentially, a circuit with a capacitor is an incomplete circuit ...
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Ionized Depletion Region, Why aren't those charged being excited?

Ok so I understand the PN junction, and how when 2 Semiconductor materials are placed together the Electrons will jump into the Holes near the junction creating a Negatively Ionized Atoms on the ...
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246 views

Will I get a shock when I try to use my hair-dryer under water?

Occasionally people get killed in their bathtubs by having an electrical device such as a hair-dryer take the bath with them - in movies. It seems to be a common belief that this is realistic, even ...
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When mutual inductance is occurring between two coils, is self inductance always occurring in each individual coil?

When a coil connected to an AC generator creates an EMF in another nearby coil (mutual inductance), is self inductance simultaneously occurring in both coils?
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A circuit with no voltage difference, but current flowing

From Michael on Skeptics Stackexchange: How about a wire that's grounded? Safe to touch, right? WRONG. ...
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557 views

How are electric flux calculations not double integrals?

A disk of radius 0.10 m is oriented with its normal unit vector $\hat{n}$ at 30$^{\circ}$ to a uniform electric field $\vec{E}$ of magnitude 2000 N/C. What is the electric flux through the disk? ...
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Electrical force vs gravitational force

Given that the electrical force is so much stronger than gravitational force at atomic levels, why is it that it's the gravitational force between you and the earth that keeps you on the ground rather ...
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Why don't we use beta radiation for making electricity?

Why don't we use beta radiation to make our electricity? Since it is an electron being released/made, it would make sense to try and capture it. But, we obviously don't so. What am I missing in my ...
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540 views

Can electricity transfer radioactivity?

If a cable used to power something is exposed to a radioactive source will it over time make the entire cable radioactive?
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What voltages are used to “safely” shock someone (as in a carnival game)

I've had this debate with some coworks. What voltage (rough order of magnitute) is used to safely shock people? "Safe" is a vague term, but as an example, there are arcade games where you hold onto ...
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In an alternating current, do electrons flow from the source to the device?

If electrons in an alternating current periodically reverse their direction, do they really flow? Won't they always come back to the same position?
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Difference between current and voltage sources

I am confused about the current and voltage. My intuitive example would be that of a pipe of say water. The diameter of the pipe determines the amount of water flowing per second but the pressure is ...
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287 views

Why doesn't a neon sign seem that hot?

I heard that neon signs contain plasma, why aren't they hot? is it because the electrons and ions do not hit the lamp's wall? Is it because it is non thermal plasma and electrons and ions are not in ...
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What happens when we connect a metal wire between the 2 poles of a battery?

As I remembered, at the 2 poles of a battery, positive or negative electric charges are gathered. So there'll be electric field existing within the battery. This filed is neutralized by the chemical ...
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Can the Earth's magnetic be used to generate electricity?

Since the Earth has a magnetic field, can it, in theory, be run through a conductive metal coil to create electricity?
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Is there a travelling speed of for electric field? If yes, what is it?

Consider a conducting wire of 1M and 1000KM. Now if we connect a battery and a bulb to both these wires. Bulb glows instantaneously its because (my guess:) electric filed travels from positive ...
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467 views

Why do physicists believe protons and electrons are present in equal numbers?

I tended to consider that negative and positive charges are present in equal numbers in the universe to be a known, obvious fact. But is it so? How can we rule out the possibility that there is some ...
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677 views

What happens if you connect a hot resistor to a cold resistor?

Kind of an extension to this question: If you heat up an object, and put it in contact with a colder object, in an ideal insulated box, the heat from one will transfer to the other through thermal ...
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Help fill in my understanding of the Polywell fusion reactor

Polywell is a proposed new type of fusion reactor, which is designed to use magnetic fields to overcome the problems with the Elmore-Tuck-Watson fusor. I'm trying to understand exactly how it works. ...
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Why does electricity need wires to flow?

If you drop a really heavy ball the ball's gravitational potential energy will turn into kinetic energy. If you place the same ball in the pool, the ball will still fall. A lot of kinetic energy will ...
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Does rubber insulate lightning more effectively than air?

Last week, an Ars Technica writer was struck by lightning. He says that the 911 operators were concerned about whether or not he was wearing shoes at the time, but he didn't think it would make much ...
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Why does increasing the temperature of a thermistor decrease it's resistance?

Surely, upon an increase in temperature, the atoms within the thermistor would vibrate with more energy and therefore more vigorously, hence making the electrons flowing through the electric circuit ...
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How long would it take for electricity to flow from one terminal to other, via a 1 LY long wire?

Basically, how long does it take for electricity to determine there is a closed circuit and how does it know that the circuit exists? I'm curious to know how it knows there is a closed circuit at any ...
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581 views

why sometimes touching old flickering tube lights starts them properly

In my old house there are two old tube lights. Some times they don't start properly, (specially at evening time, may be it is because of low voltage), they starts flickering i.e. on and off ...
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how calculate resistance between two points for arbitrary resistor grid?

I need to calculate resistance in an electrical grid. Grid is a graph. Edges of a graph are resistors. How calculate resistance between any two vertexes for arbitrary graph? I know Kirchoff law and ...
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How can I prevent being zapped by static electricity every time I touch a doorknob or handle in the office?

I don't know what it is about this office, but it seems everything I touch (doorknob, bathroom faucet, edge of kitchen sink in the break room), I get zapped by static electricity. It's getting old. ...
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What happens to a fully charged battery, when you continue to charge it?

If I leave my cell-phone charging the whole night, it will be fully charged after a while. What happens with the battery and the excess energy I add? Also, I noticed my charger emitting a different ...
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How fast do electrons move through a conductor?

If I apply $1 \text{ V}$ across a $1 \text{ }\Omega$ resistance, I'd get $1 \text{ A}$ flowing. $1 \text{ A}$ is defined as $1 \frac{\text{C}}{\text{s}}$, and $1 \text{ C}$ is equivalent to ...
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is it possible to flow current in open circuit?

First , i don't know much about chemistry and physics. I'm just a graphic designer but i have this question in my mind. I'm sorry if this question is too basic and use 'generic' language. As i know ...
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432 views

Why does a faraday cage protect you from high currents?

In an electrostatic case it is clear that that in a space enclosed with a conductor (without charge in it) the electric field is zero. This is often demonstrated in physics shows like on the ...
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927 views

Salt water conduction

Does salt water conduct mostly by the ions travelling through the solution, or by electrons collectively flowing or hopping through the solution like in metals?
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How much of current flows through a bird sitting on a power line?

I've been googling for hours and went through over a hundred answers. Now, some say the bird doesn't form a closed loop, some say the current is so small that it doesn't kill the bird. From as much as ...
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Calculating engine starter’s energy use

During a discussion on start-and-stop vehicle technology some bloke began pushing the point that re-starting the car uses stored energy from the battery, which needs to be replenished by increased ...
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What happens to capacitor’s charge when the plates are moved further apart?

In my physics textbook there is an example of using capacitor switches in computer keyboard: Pressing the key pushes two capacitor plates closer together, increasing their capacitance. A larger ...