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

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25
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8answers
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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 ...
6
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3answers
19k 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?
3
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6answers
50k 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 - ...
22
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5answers
5k 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 ...
16
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11answers
19k 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 ...
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 ...
15
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9answers
104k 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 ...
9
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5answers
8k views

Resistor circuit that isn't parallel or series

What's the equivalent resistance in this circuit (between points A and B)?
7
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2answers
2k 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 ...
4
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2answers
2k 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 = ...
9
votes
3answers
77k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
18k 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 ...
38
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2answers
3k 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
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6answers
36k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
14
votes
8answers
38k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
7k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
685 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
138 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
votes
6answers
40k 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?
45
votes
6answers
45k 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. ...
11
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3answers
6k 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 ...
6
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3answers
20k views

Is the Earth negatively or positively charged?

The Earth carries a negative electric charge of roughly 500 thousand Coulombs. Does that mean the Earth is negatively charged?
6
votes
1answer
1k 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
votes
5answers
13k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
303 views

Induced magnetic field produces electric field and vice versa forever!

So here are the two of Maxwell's laws that I am interested in: So we have the simple circuit (from google): So, before the system goes into steady-state we know that charge slowly accumulates on ...
4
votes
2answers
2k 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
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3answers
1k views

How fast does an electron travel in a circuit?

How is it possible to calculate the speed of an electron in a circuit? What factors does it depend on?
5
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4answers
17k views

Is it possible to flow current in open circuit?

As I know a battery is an example of a closed circuit where it can then produce electricity , electrons will flow from negative pole to positive. A chemistry representation of this battery is for ...
3
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2answers
3k 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 ...
2
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1answer
3k views

Why does rubbing feet against sheets create a spark?

Sometimes when I'm in bed at night, I rub my feet against the sheets and light is created. What exactly is going on? I'm familiar with static electricity, and the triboelectric effect (creating a ...
1
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3answers
22k views

Definition of electric charge and proper explanation

Is there a definition of electric charge and proper explanation of it? It is said "Electric charge is the physical property of matter that causes it to experience a force when close to other ...
31
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1answer
1k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
6
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1answer
743 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 ...
6
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5answers
5k views

Is there a travelling speed of for electric field? If yes, what is it?

Consider two circuits containing a battery, bulb, switch and conducting wires but of length 1 meter in one case and 1000KM in other. When switched on at the same time both the bulbs glow ...
3
votes
2answers
11k 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 ...
5
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5answers
5k 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 ...
5
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5answers
13k 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?
4
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1answer
1k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
467 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 ...
1
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3answers
6k views

How do I calculate the power consumed by a lightbulb?

I'm studying a lightbulb and its variable resistance, given by the expression: $R(T) = Ro[1 + α(T-T_0)]$, where $R_0$ is the resistance of the lamp at $T_0$. In this case, $R$ is not given by Ohm's ...
0
votes
2answers
11k views

How does current flow from the emitter, through the base and to the collector in a NPN transistor?

So, I understand that for a NPN transistor to work the emitter-base junction needs to be forward biased and the collector-base junction needs to be reverse biased. I understand how current flows from ...
10
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5answers
2k 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?
7
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3answers
7k views

Which dissipates more power, a small or big resistor?

I was talking to someone about trying to dissipate the most heat from a metal crucible (essentially just a resistor $R$). He argued that you wanted the resistor to have a high resistance because ...
3
votes
3answers
42k views

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 ...
2
votes
4answers
424 views

Justification of root mean square [duplicate]

In the top answer to the question Why do we use Root Mean Square (RMS) values when talking about AC voltage, the following was stated: This RMS is a mathematical quantity (used in many math ...
1
vote
1answer
889 views

Excess charge on an insulator and conductor

So I was recently wondering what happens to the excess charge when it is placed on an insulator or conductor e.g. rubbing two objects together. I know in the conductor the electrons are free to move ...
22
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5answers
82k views

Why is AC more “dangerous” than DC?

After going through several forums, I became more confused whether it is DC or AC that is more dangerous. In my text book, it is written that the peak value of AC is greater than that of DC, which is ...
7
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2answers
74k views

Why does a salt solution conduct electrical current?

How does e.g. sodium chloride (aq) conduct electricity? By accepting electrons (unlikely since they already have a full outer shell)? But they can't be hopping around themselves, can they? I mean, if ...