I've been thinking about batteries a whole lot, and I've uncovered why the battery symbol looks like a pair of cap-like things in circuit diagrams: it's modeled as two cap-like things using an equivalent circuit diagram:
We see here that the two sides have a similar assigned voltage. The actual voltage is dependent on the chemical reaction. Here's the problem. I'm having quite an issue looking at the right side, the cathode, as a cap-like thing that has a direction pointing the way it does.
My issue is this: all cells want to dissolve. You may disbelieve this, but take a quick look at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_electrode_potential.
The article states that the "zero" hydrogen half-cell reaction does not have a voltage equal to zero, but in fact serves as a reference. You may have known this, but since the actual voltage of the oxidation of Hydrogen is 4.44 V, we must add this number to the oxidation reaction for the list of elements' oxidation reactions. Or, given the reduction reaction, we would subtract 4.44 V, because they are each measured in respect to a hydrogen half-reaction. Let us take a look at a table of reduction half-reactions:
After realizing that the actual reduction potentials need to have 4.44 V reduced from their total volts, we realize that not a single reaction wants to reduce at all! None of them!
So, my question is, given the equivalent circuit diagram, how can we say that any cap-like thing points the way it does? Its not like the positive ions in solution are attempting to form a metal (and get reduced) before the external circuit is closed. The electrons should be trying to escape the cathode just like the anode, you see what I mean?
Now let me be clear: I'm not talking about when the circuit is closed as it is in the diagram: I'm talking about before this moment, when the only thing connecting the cathode and anode is the electrolytic fluid. I get that when the circuit is closed the difference in potentials is all that matters (which would explain why two different metals are used for many galvanic cells). From my reasoning above, shouldn't even the metal in the right-hand area want to dissolve? Therefore, shouldn't both cap-like things point inwards? Basically, I'm saying that the direction of the cathodic cap-like thing should reverse.