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

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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 ...
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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 ...
11
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8answers
9k views

What is the difference between electric potential, voltage and electromotive force?

This is a confused part ever since I started learning electricity. What is the difference between voltage and electromotive force (emf)? Both of them have the same SI unit, right? I would appreciate ...
7
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6answers
1k 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 ...
8
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8answers
29k 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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6answers
14k 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 - ...
6
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3answers
29k 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 ...
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3answers
5k 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?
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3answers
7k 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
641 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 = ...
7
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4answers
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Resistor circuit that isn't parallel or series

What's the equivalent resistance in this circuit (between points A and B)?
11
votes
8answers
16k 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 ...
10
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3answers
448 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
1answer
321 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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1answer
274 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 ...
23
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1answer
861 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 ...
28
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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 ...
7
votes
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
5answers
5k 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
713 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 ...
3
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4answers
6k 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?
3
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1answer
459 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 ...
10
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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?
2
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1answer
249 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 ...
34
votes
5answers
16k 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
10k 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
3k 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
18k 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 ...
5
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6answers
15k 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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1answer
277 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 ...
1
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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
926 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 ...
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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
2answers
632 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
352 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 ...
3
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2answers
116 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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2answers
922 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 ...
2
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2answers
5k 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 ...
2
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2answers
7k 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 ...
2
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5answers
20k 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
4answers
2k 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 ...
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vote
2answers
2k 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 ...
4
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3answers
4k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
204 views

Why is the anode (+) in a device that consumes power & (-) in one that provides power?

I was trying to figure out the flow of electrons in a battery connected to a circuit. Conventionally, current is from the (+) terminal to the (-) terminal of the battery. Realistically it flows the ...
3
votes
3answers
10k 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
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2answers
68 views

how to model the exponential growth of luminosity when you flick a light on

My original thought was: $$ L = L_0 \left( 1 - e^{-t/\tau} \right) $$ where $L$ = luminosity and $L_0$ = initial luminosity. But when I tested this I found that the time constant $\tau$ was higher ...
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5answers
556 views

Relativistic charge density in a closed loop

When charges of conductance are at rest, there is an average distance between them. The relativistic origin of magnetic field says that distances between electrons shrink when they are set into a ...