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

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7answers
12k views

Why is the charge naming convention wrong?

I recently came to know about the Conventional Current vs. Electron Flow issue. Doing some search I found that the reason for this is that Benjamin Franklin made a mistake when naming positive and ...
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5answers
2k views

Does alternating current (AC) require a complete circuit?

This popular question about "whether an AC circuit with one end grounded to Earth and the other end grounded to Mars would work (ignoring resistance/inductance of the wire)" was recently asked on the ...
5
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3answers
8k views

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?
8
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7answers
2k views

Is electricity instantaneous?

My question is basically what exactly is electricity? I've simply been told before that it's a flow of electrons, but this seems too basic and doesn't show that electricity is instant. What I mean is ...
3
votes
6answers
19k views

What causes an electric shock - Current or Voltage?

Though voltage and current are two interdependent physical quantity, I would like to know what gives more "shock" to a person - Voltage or Current? In simple words, will it cause more "electric - ...
11
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8answers
10k views

What is the difference between electric potential, potential difference (PD), voltage and electromotive force (EMF)?

This is a confused part ever since I started learning electricity. What is the difference between electric potential, potential difference (PD), voltage and electromotive force (EMF)? All of them have ...
12
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9answers
41k views

How to avoid getting shocked by static electricity?

sometimes I get "charged" and the next thing I touch something that conducts electricity such as a person, a car, a motal door, etc I get shocked by static electricity. I'm trying to avoid this so if ...
2
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1answer
68 views

Ambiguity on the notion of potential in electrical circuits?

As everybody else I have been taught elementary electrical circuits from secondary school to engineering level in analog electronics at university. Invariably, the notion of potential used to ...
7
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3answers
40k views

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 ...
6
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3answers
9k views

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 ...
4
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2answers
955 views

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 = ...
34
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3answers
2k views

Wind generators - why so few blades?

Why commercial wind generators usually have just 2-3 blades? Having more blades would allow to increase power OR decrease diameter. Decreased diameter would also reduce stress due to different wind ...
8
votes
4answers
5k views

Resistor circuit that isn't parallel or series

What's the equivalent resistance in this circuit (between points A and B)?
11
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8answers
20k views

Electricity takes the path of least resistance?

Electricity takes the path of least resistance! Is this statement correct? If so, why is it the case? If there are two paths available, and one, for example, has a resistor, why would the ...
5
votes
1answer
520 views

Why doesn't the electric field inside a wire in a circuit fall off with distance from the battery?

We studied electric fields due to point charges. The magnitude of these fields decreases with the square of the distance from the point charge. It seems to me that we could treat the positive ...
10
votes
3answers
485 views

Current in a simple circuit

I was going over my notes for an introductory course to electricity and magnetism and was intrigued by something I don't have an answer to. I remember my professor mentioning, to the best I can ...
4
votes
2answers
816 views

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 ...
2
votes
2answers
9k views

current in series resistors and voltage drop in parallel resistors

when we have resistors in series, the current through all the resistors is same and the voltage drop (or simply voltage) at each resistor is different. Question 1: it is fine that voltage drop ...
4
votes
1answer
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 ...
3
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2answers
2k views

Relating milliampere-hours to watt-hours for batteries

I've seen many batteries that are measured in milliampere hours (mAh), while others are measured in watt hours (wh). How can I convert them between each other so that I can actually compare them? It's ...
24
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1answer
936 views

Can lightning be used to solve NP-complete problems?

I'm a MS/BS computer science guy who is wondering about why lightning can't (or can?) be used to solve NP complete problems efficiently, but I don't understand the physics behind lightning, so I'm ...
7
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1answer
2k views

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 ...
4
votes
2answers
402 views

Sum total distance of electrons on a spherical surface

What is the sum total distance between every possible pair of point charges when there are n point charges on a spherical surface? All point charges can only and are located on the infinitesimal ...
4
votes
5answers
7k views

Can the lightning be captured and used as power source?

I would like to update my knowledge in this area, that is really out-of-dated and stopped somewhere like ten years ago. I asked the very same question on my physics lecture at my studies and got the ...
5
votes
1answer
858 views

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 ...
5
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5answers
2k views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
521 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 ...
3
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4answers
7k views

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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2answers
1k views

Do electric and magnetic lines of force physically exist?

As per my imagination any thing can't impose force on the other by not giving even a touch(i,e action at a distance). So I thought there must be some physical existence of lines of force. Although ...
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5answers
1k views

Can someone explain the science behind MIT's 230% efficient LEDs?

I was reading Gizmodo the other day and I didn't quite understand the Physics behind this. Could anybody shed some light on how this effect actually works?
5
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4answers
6k views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
316 views

Would Beetee's electrocution plan work and kill the tributes in the lake?

In Catching Fire, the second episode of the Hunger Games trilogy, one of the characters (Beetee) proposes a plan to kill some of the remaining tributes. He proposes wrapping a special wire that he has ...
38
votes
5answers
21k views

Why do power lines buzz?

When near high tension power lines, particularly after a good rain, the lines themselves emit a buzzing noise. A similar noise can be heard coming out of the electric meters attached to my apartment. ...
5
votes
6answers
12k views

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 ...
11
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2answers
4k views

Does Fire Conduct Electricity? Why?

Recently, I have stumbled upon a YouTube video by Veritasium describing the conductivity of fire. My question is: how exactly does fire conduct electricity? I am a high school student; therefore ...
10
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3answers
3k views

Is it possible to mathematically derive the formula for resistance?

Resistance is given by $\rho L/A$, where $\rho$ is the material constant, $L$ is the length, and $A$ is the area. Is there any way that this can be derived mathematically, or is the only way ...
7
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6answers
21k views

Why does my wife's skin buzz when she's using her laptop?

When my wife uses her laptop, if I touch her skin, I can feel a buzz. She doesn't feel the buzz, but she can hear it if I touch her ear. So I'm guessing it's a faulty laptop, and she's conducting an ...
7
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4answers
5k views

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 ...
5
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6answers
19k views

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?
3
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2answers
346 views

Thermo-Emf variation with temperature

In the following experiment for seebeck effect After a certain temperature, the thermo-emf begins to fall. Why does this happen? What is happening microscopically at this level to cause such an ...
3
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1answer
319 views

Batteries and voltage?

The voltage of a battery gives you the difference in potential energy 1C of charge would have at the positive terminal vs the negative terminal. If I connect a wire to both terminals, the battery ...
2
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2answers
6k views

How can I calculate the wave propagation speed in a copper wire?

First of all: I am a computer science student, so I don't have much knowledge of physics. So please keep your answers simple. I recently learned something about circuit design and its problems ...
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2answers
1k views

Can energy be extracted from clouds?

Can cloud charge imbalance be used as an energy source? First off quite some energy must be present in clouds: a lightning path is quite long, and electrical breakdown of air requires about 1MV/m. ...
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1answer
4k views

Current against the inverse of resistance graph, $I = V/R +c$

If I have a plot of current ($y$ axis) against 1/Resistance ($x$ axis). The circuit it is measured from is a simply 2 resistors connected in parallel to battery, where the potential across the ...
7
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1answer
1k views

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 ...
3
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2answers
118 views

A problem of approximation [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why are continuum fluid mechanics accurate when constituents are discrete objects of finite size? When we apply differentiation on charge being conducted with respect to ...
2
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3answers
106 views

The Difference Between voltage and current

I know that this question has been asked many times before, and I have read over several of the threads asking this question, but they do not include the gripe I have with my problem of understanding ...
2
votes
5answers
24k views

Charging 12V 150Ah battery

I want to charge a 12V battery of 150Ah with a solar panel. The solar panel specs is 12V, 25 Watt. Can anyone please provide me how to calculate that how much time it will take to charge the battery? ...
1
vote
2answers
137 views

Why isn't resistance proportional to distance squared

Here we have a wire. At both ends there is an equal and opposite field caused by a chemical reaction. So, if we decrease or increase the distance between the two points, the strength of the field ...
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4answers
3k views

Capacitor Charging and Discharging when connected to the ground

When we charge a capacitor using a battery and then remove the battery, the plates of capacitor becomes charged. One holds positive charge and the other one gets equal negative charge. o. k. ? Now ...