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

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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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Capacitor circuits with light bulb

Let's say we have a normal circuit with a light bulb, with wires and a battery. When one places a capacitor in this circuit, how is the light bulb able to light up, even when the capacitor prevents ...
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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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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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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 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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Do high voltage power lines attract lightning strikes?

I always thought that high voltage power lines would attract a lightning strike more than other structures in the same area. Turns out I was wrong. My neighbor's chimney got struck by lightning and it ...
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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 ...
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What causes the buzzing sound when the electricity changes into heat?

When I turn on any kind of electric heating (kettle, cooker, heater, ...), it keeps producing a constant buzzing sound. What is the exact cause of that sound? Do the electrons of the electric ...
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Why does welding produce UV light?

Looking directly at a welder is dangerous because large amounts of UV light is produced. What makes this light? Is it electrons from the current that excites metal atoms, and these atoms sends out UV ...
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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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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.
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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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Does a Tesla coil work in space?

If I took a Tesla coil into space, and then turned it on near, but not touching metal objects- would charge jump to the metal objects? It's my understanding I wouldn't see a flash, since the lightning ...
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What's the difference between Capacitors, Ultra-Capacitors and Batteries

Capacitors are known to hold and release energy very quickly, unlike the slower release that batteries exhibit. If one were to bunch many (1000's of) capacitors together could they function as a ...
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How to calculate required current and specifications for a “wet coil” to generate x Tesla of magnetic field?

A water management project requires a "wet coil" (coil will be submerged in aqueous media) designed to generate a steady-state electromagnetic field of adjustable magnetic magnetic flux density at the ...
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Does current flow back to the source through earth?

We know that if Single Line to Fault occurs, then fault current flows to the earth. I want to know whether the current will return to the source or not. For the current to flow we need a closed path. ...
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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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Why and how exactly is electric motor torque limited?

Inspired by this question and specifically this answer to it. From my experience there's always some very specific limit to how much torque an electric motor can output. For example, an electric ...
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Charge signs in current

I've had recently an argument with my friend about different charge carriers in an electric current. Suppose that electrons and holes are moving in the same direction. It effectively means we have ...
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The possibility of free electrical energy?

Please excuse my lack of knowledge/understanding. Question: Why Nikola Tesla's Free Energy concept was never worked upon? Even today. Context: Now that we know Nikola Tesla was a genius and did ...
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Why are electric shocks felt asymmetrically?

I have been zapping people quite a lot recently (e.g. when shaking hands), probably due to new shoes. What I noticed is that usually I can't actually feel the shock, even though the other person quite ...
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Levitating capacitor

As the title already says, I would like to make a large capacitor levitate. Before you dismiss this question please hear me out: In essence, this is intended to be a way to avoid the constrains of a ...
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Potential difference between Earth's surface and 2 meters above

Assuming Earth is a charged sphere of radius $R = 6400\times10^3$ m with uniform surface charge density $\sigma = -10^{-9}$ C/m2 and with $\epsilon_0 = 8.85\times10^{-12}$ F/m I find that ...
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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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Can I feel (the results of) electromagnetic induction from overhead rail lines in the human body?

A few weeks back, I was standing at a Hornsey rail station (in the UK) which uses overhead lines, and particularly has a number of parallel rail lines, all close to the platform. While I was standing ...
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How does current flow in a irregularly shaped heterogeneous resistor?

The motivation for my question is understanding how electricity gets through your skin as opposed to running along it, and how the presence of things like water on the skin affect the relative ...
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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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Why chewing a battery increases its power? [closed]

I know almost nothing about physics. Last night my TV remote was not working. I chewed the batteries and woh! It still had power left. How does chewing a battery increases its power? I think it's a ...
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This sentence makes no sense, electrostatics and electrons moving in a conductor - current

I highlighted the part where the confusion is. The sentence said that the potential difference is 0, yet it then immediately talks about how electrons can have motion. What are they trying to ...
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Are square wave really square or are they always relative approximations using harmonics

I'm studying the properties of waves through different mediums, and got hung up on this. Is a square wave always a sum of harmonics or can we produce a square wave by quickly changing voltage? Is ...
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Why does connecting a battery's positive terminal to the negative terminal of another battery not create a short circuit?

This is a question regarding the physics behind the observation. I have guessed the answer to the question, but I may be wrong, so I want to wait for the responses before posting it. Some major ...
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Is a billion volt electrical transmission line possible?

Because $$ P_{\,\displaystyle\rm loss}=\frac{P^2R}{V^2} $$ in an electrical line where $R$ is the total resistance Why not use a $1$ billion volt line instead of a $800\,\rm kv$ line? Is there a ...
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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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Sign of Work and potential energy in electrostatics

Conceptual question: Suppose we have a configuration of point charges. If the potential of the energy of the system is negative, this means work is positive. I'm kind of rusty with my mechanics, ...
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Radiation due to current

Generally we equate change in potential energy to change in kinetic energy but in case of a charged particle like electron this is inconsistent. Consider a case: An electron(of charge e)from rest is ...
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Voltage in a circuit

Suppose I have a following circuit: I do not understand, why the potential difference between the points $c$ and $d$ is equal to the potential difference between the points $b$ and $a$? That is, ...
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General integral to find resistance

My question is: is there a simple and truly general equation for the resistance between two electrical equipotential surfaces?. Obviously, if so, what is it, and if not, why? It would be very ...
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Is the electric field strength along an equipotential surface constant?

I'm trying to determine whether or not the electric field strength $|\vec{\mathcal{E}}|$ is constant everywhere on an equipotential surface. I know an equipotential surface is defined as $$ S = ...
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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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Why is the voltage drop across an ideal wire zero?

I'm having trouble conceptualizing why the voltage drop between two points of an ideal wire (i.e. no resistance) is $0~V$. Using Ohm's Law, the equation is such: $$ V = IR \\ V = I(0~\Omega) \\ V = ...
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Why are $\mu_0$ and $\epsilon_0$, which appear in electrostatics and magnetostatics, related to the speed of light which appears in electrodynamics?

$\epsilon_0$ and $\mu_0$ appear in electrostatics and magnetostatics. When we include time varying fields we have electrodynamics and the appearance of c which turns out to be related to $\epsilon_0$ ...
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Why do electric pickles only glow at one end?

The electric pickle is often used as an example of a non-ohmic resistor. In the experiment, electric current excites the sodium ions inside pickle, producing very bright and intense light effect. What ...
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How can a material conduct heat but not electricity

Mica is a good conductor of heat but an electrical insulator. According to free electron theory (which applies only to metals) free electrons carry heat and electricity. Therefore, thermal ...
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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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How does lightning “know” where to go?

If lightning comes down in, say, a large flat field with a lightning rod sticking out of the middle, the lightning will strike the rod. How does it "know" the rod is there? Will it always strike the ...
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Voltage drop due to a resistor

I'm afraid this question is going to sound rather dumb but here it is: Suppose I have a very simple circuit: one battery and one resistor. The sum of the voltages in this circuit has to equal zero. ...
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Why does a Resistor cause a potential drop?

I need to know the underlying physics of what exactly happens different with the electric field in the resistor than in superconducting wires. Why is it that when I connect a resistor, potential ...
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Why do batteries work?

Consider diagram A. In diagram A a car is at the top of a cliff. Gravity is pulling it down, but it does't move since its on a flat surface. Even though it would be at a lower potential at point B, ...