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

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Why does it spark when I push a plug in the electrical socket?

When I slowly push a plug into the electrical socket I can often see sparks. Can anybody explain why? Can this be possibly harmful for the devices I plug in?
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426 views

Balloon rubbing; where do the electrons go?

If you rubbed a balloon with a towel, where would the electrons go: the balloon or the towel? Why? I'm guessing the electrons would go to the object with a larger mass, but it's just a guess. :)
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Why does an electric motor burn up when you physically stop it?

As an electric motor spins, the energy from the electricity is 'conducted' to the rotor by the magnetic fields. However, when the motor is stopped, the energy becomes heat and burns up to motor. ...
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Applicability of the concept of voltage in electrodynamic circuits

In electrostatics, we have $$\nabla \times \vec{E} = 0$$. Hence, we can define a scalar potential $V$, where $$\vec{E} = -\nabla V$$. We know from Faraday's law that $$\nabla \times \vec{E} = ...
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Why does electricity flowing through a copper coil generate a magnetic field?

Can some one please explain to me why electricity flowing though a copper coil generates a magnetic field or where I could possibly find that information? Are there other materials that produce a ...
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142 views

maximum positive electric charge of solid body

What are the limiting factors on the positive charge of a solid body? If I assume a 'perfect insulator' environment that would not exchange charge with my solid body, I would guess that I can remove ...
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How to know what materials are good conductors of electricity?

I'm not asking a question like "Is the wood conductive?". No. I'm asking what properties do they have to have to be good conductors. Theoretically I mean. Thanks.
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487 views

Algorithm of Lightning Strikes? [duplicate]

Given an array of charge for a given area (2D or 3D), what algorithm would describe the path that lightning takes? An example algorithm would be from the highest charge of the cloud, find the lowest ...
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250 views

If atoms have specific energy levels, why do opaque solids absorb all visible light, not just some? [duplicate]

Here's my question: if atoms have well defined energy levels and those differences correspond to the frequencies of light that can be absorbed, how is it that opaque objects absorb all or most visible ...
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How electricity, and generating electricity works on the atomic level?

I am trying to understand the basics physics as to how electricity works. Unfortunately it seems most online material is either complex full blown mathematical equations, or water pump analogies. I ...
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108 views

Thermal conductivity affected by electrical current

Does anyone know of any materials whereby the thermal conductivity can be changed by passing an electrical current through the material?
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Using Electrostatic Force to Repel Dust From an Object

I have two 4,000V, 2.5mA, DC power supplies and am attempting to use them in such a way to cause a 6x4x1-inch ABS plastic object to repel dust from the ambient air and prevent this dust from settling ...
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558 views

Does light induce an electric current in a conductor?

I know that electromagnetic waves induce electric currents in conductors and that's the basis for radio, wi-fi etc. I also know that light is also an electromagnetic wave. So, can light induce a ...
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519 views

Is there something like the Poynting vector for hydraulic circuits?

The Poynting vector is a representation of the energy flux in electromagnetics, showing the amount and direction of power flow at different points in space. In electric circuits, the energy is not ...
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108 views

What exactly is ''electric energy''?

If the two fundamental types of energy are kinetic and potential energy, is electric energy simply the kinetic energy of charge carriers? Also, is the statement "A cell converts chemical potential ...
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102 views

Question on static electricity & electron transfer

Static electricity is caused by the transfer of electrons between substances right? For example, take a balloon and your hair. Both are stable and electrically neutral. So why would electrons jump ...
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78 views

How to get a function for the voltage across a capacitor connected to an AC voltage source? [closed]

I am looking for the way of obtaining a solution for $V_{c}$ ,as a function of $t$ depending of $\omega$, of the following differential equation related to an electrical circuit involving a low-pass ...
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Why does the comb attract the pieces of papers if they're neutral?

When we rub our hairs with a comb, and then try to attract small pieces of paper, they're attracted by the comb. The pieces of the paper were not electrified before they were attracted. Then they ...
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170 views

What happens to this potential energy?

Let's say I turn on a Van de Graaff which creates a large positive charge. Now let's say I have an object with a positive charge in my hand and I start walking toward the Van de Graaff from $x$ meters ...
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106 views

Superconductors and electrical fields

I have been looking around to figure out how superconductors are made. What ways are there to create a superconductor that don't involve a coolant like liquid nitrogen? Is it possible to cause a ...
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What is the source of high-frequency squeal in faulty CRT monitors and TV, and what is physics of generating this sound?

Sometimes old faulty CRT monitors generate nasty high-frequency squeal sound. What element might be responsible for generating such sound? I have heard that it might be dry electrolytic capacitor; ...
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111 views

Why can't an excess of electrons or holes by themselves cause current flow?

I am a beginner in electrical engineering. Often times (most cases actually), the underlying physics aren't really explained to us and we are just left to assume that it works "because it works." This ...
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Electric arc due to static discharge in a T-Shirt possible?

Yesterday, when I came home, I went to the bathroom (lights off) and i took off my T-Shirt (100% cotton) which I wore under a Shirt (50% cotton, 50% polyester). I believe to have seen a small but well ...
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162 views

Why do power lines buzz more when it is low-humidity outside?

I have observed that the power lines buzz louder when there is less moisture in the air. Why is this? If it will help the lines are located on the foot hills of a nearby mountain.
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Why does hair stand up when standing under power lines?

My initial guess would be the immense electric field around the lines, that causes hair to get charged and due to each hair having the same charge they start to repel each other. So what is exactly ...
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How can a conductor be grounded yet there are induced charges on it?

A classic example for the method of images is the following, quoted from Griffiths's Introduction to Electrodynamics, page 121: "Suppose a point charge $q$ is held a distance $d$ above an infinite ...
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lifetime of a PN junction in a diode

diodes are made of silicon, which have been enriched in phosphorus and boron to create the PN junction. Since the electrons are always going in the same direction, from N to P in the junction, I was ...
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98 views

Current Electricity and E.M.F of a cell

The E.M.F of a cell is the work done in moving a unit positive charge in a loop or from the terminal to the same terminal. The force it experiences is a conservative force. Therefore, the work-done in ...
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Why do some (older) wind generators have more than three blades?

Based on my personal observations, newer windmills seem to have three blades while older ones tend to have four or even more. This question has excellent discussion on my three is an optimal number. ...
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309 views

Impurity scattering temperature dependence

Is there any temperature dependence of relaxation time in impurity scattering of conducting electrons? It seems to me that there is none. But, some people claim that there is. So if you could ...
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992 views

Why are downed power lines dangerous?

A friend of mine was telling me about a storm that knocked down a power line over at their place, and it got me to thinking. Why are downed power lines dangerous? I don't see any good reason for it. ...
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Distribution of current of a rotating cone

If I have a hollow cone (surface with no bottom cover ) as the one in the picture. The cone has surface charged density $\sigma$. It rotates around the symmetry axis with an angular velocity ...
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What is a virtual ground?

What is a virtual ground? I would like to know what it is.
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How much energy was consumed when we turn on/off light?

My parents told me to turn off the light when I am not using it. But I remember my physics teacher told me that the action of turning on/off a light can cause huge energy. I am wondering how much is ...
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Will adding heat to a material increase or decrease entropy?

Does adding heat to a material, thereby increasing electrical resistance in the material increase or decrease entropy? Follow up questions: Is there a situation were Heat flux ie. thermal flux, ...
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Would you die if you put your hands on a powerline?

You know how birds perch on powerlines without getting electrocuted? What if by some chance that I find myself falling and I grab on one of them? Let's say both of my hands are on the same line, would ...
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424 views

Power dissipation in circuits:Why is high voltage used in power lines?

I know this question has been asked before, but there is one doubt I still cannot clear. Power dissipation is proportional to $I^2R$. Does this not mean that it is also proportional to $V^2/R$? If ...
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How can two different 12V batteries have different amperage for same resistance?

My local car parts dealer presented me his inventory of car batteries. One 12V battery had a 'cold crank amperage' of 600amps. The other 12V battery had a 'cold crank amperage' of 585amps. ...
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Why is the steam from cooling towers not used?

If I see the steam coming out of cooling towers at an altitude of 200 meters, I cannot help but think that this energy is wasted. My question is: Why isn't this steam cooled enough to become water and ...
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Understanding the relationship between electricity and magnetism

I keep on hearing that magnetism is just another form of electricity and vice versa. If that's the case why can't we use magnets as batteries, and why aren't my batteries magnetic?
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Will the current carrying solid conductors emit light?

If we pass current through a gas, like in the discharge tube, the electrons will accelerate in the electric field. The accelerated electrons will collide with gas molecules, and transfer some of their ...
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439 views

Charge of an electric wire

If an electric current is flowing through an electric wire, can we consider that wire charged? The answer is required with a proof. Can we consider the wire to be charged positively or negatively?
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Why are electrons defined to have negative charge? [duplicate]

We normally think of the "default" or "root" state of things as being on the positive side of the spectrum. For example, we don't normally use a + symbol to ...
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computer vs heater coil comparison

If I have a computer and a heater coil that consume exactly the same amount of energy, which would be more efficient at heating my room? This is assuming that they both have the same fans and heat ...
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Can Gases conduct Electricity?

Liquid electrolytes ionize and hence a current can pass through them. So if a gas can ionize, can it conduct electricity too? If so, what are a few such gases?
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Are all metals good conductor of electricity?

I am writing an article for kids, which is on conductors and insulators of electricity. If I make a statement that "All metals are electrical conductors and all non-metals are electrical insulators" ...
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What is the difference between induced and motional emf?

At least from their names, it seems motional emf is induced, so what's the difference?
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Why does smashing a TV remote load its batteries?

Many times I had the same problem: my TV remote's batteries were too weak for it to operate, but then, when I shook the remote a bit and smashed it on my palm, somehow the remote regained its ability. ...
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189 views

'ting' 'ting' sound from a tube-light?

Whenever I light up a tube-light it makes 'ting' 'ting' sound every-time it blinks. I am talking about this tube-light Why is it so? I think its because of sparking(inside glass tube) ...
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640 views

Electric field in a wire?

The electric field in a wire is parallel to the wire's surface (it is always pointing "to the front"). If the electric field did not point in this direction, surface charges would build up and ...