Electrons, Electric Current [closed]

In a DC circuit through a wire, is saying:

" Electrons are a flow of matter and electric charge. Protons are a flow of electric current and matter. "

the same as saying Electric Current/Electric Energy flows from the positive terminal through/by protons to the negative terminal while at the same time electrons with their electric charge flow from the negative terminal to the positive terminal.

If so, then an extension question the first is; why then is it said that in a DC circuit through a wire, it doesn't matter which way the current is said to flow as long as you are consistent with which ever one you pick in using it in the circuit,

if very clearly it is true that electric current and energy start from the positive terminal and flow to the negative.

EDIT:

" Electrons and protons are matter, not energy. A flow of electrons is NOT a flow of energy, it is a flow of matter and a flow of electric charge. Same goes for protons: moving protons are electric current, but they're also a matter-flow.

closed as unclear what you're asking by David Hammen, user36790, John Rennie, CuriousOne, unsymJun 12 '16 at 8:43

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• Where are you taking the quote from? Where "is it said that..."? Where are you getting your ideas from? – sammy gerbil Jun 11 '16 at 19:53
• @sammygerbil 3. Electrons are a kind of energy particle? Wrong. Electrons and protons are matter, not energy. A flow of electrons is NOT a flow of energy, it is a flow of matter and a flow of electric charge. Same goes for protons: moving protons are electric current, but they're also a matter-flow. And most important: if you have a certain amount of charge in one place, you'll have no clue about the amount of energy present. Charge is not energy. And if charge is flowing along, you won't know anything about the energy's flow or direction. – Max R. Jun 11 '16 at 19:56
• @sammygerbil Coulombs are not Joules, and knowing the amount charge does not tell you the amount of energy you have. A moving electron does not carry electrical energy along with it, any more than a moving air molecule carries a sound wave with it. – Max R. Jun 11 '16 at 19:56
• Yes, I see that you have made exactly the same comments to Kari below. So you are trying to teach people? Then you don't have a question which can be answered. – sammy gerbil Jun 11 '16 at 20:03
• @sammygerbil how so. when " is saying X statement the same as Y statement " ASKED, then I don't see why I have answerless question. – Max R. Jun 11 '16 at 20:10

The answer is no, the two statements do not mean the same thing. And the reason is that they are both incorrect in their details.

Statement 1: "Electrons are a flow of matter and electric charge. Protons are a flow of electric current and matter."

Electrons and protons are not a flow of anything, they are just particles (and they both have mass and charge). If they move we might call that a flow. And charges flowing is called electric current.

Statement 2: "Electric Current/Electric Energy flows from the positive terminal through/by protons to the negative terminal while at the same time electrons with their electric charge flow from the negative terminal to the positive terminal."

• Let's first get the definition clear: A terminal is the name of the end of a battery (so if the circuit contains no battery or some similar source, this makes no sense to mention). The positive terminal is the battery-end with highest electric potential.

Now, try to follow me in the next few lines of thought:

1. Electrons as negative charge are gathered at the negative terminal.
2. They repel each other, so electrons are squeezed up to the positive terminal. (You can say that they are repelled from the negative or attracted by the positive terminal - either way gives same result).
3. These electrons flowing is charge flowing so this is called an electric current.

Protons are not flowing in metal wire circuits, only electrons. In general, as another answer points out, the flow of charge doesn't have to be electrons (or protons), it could also be ions or "holes" and so on. That depends on the type of circuit. So in general, we can simply call it positive charge carriers and negative charge-carriers.

why then is it said that in a DC circuit through a wire, it doesn't matter which way the current is said to flow as long as you are consistent with which ever one you pick in using it in the circuit, if very clearly it is true that electric current and energy start from the positive terminal and flow to the negative.

Your second statement above was almost correct except the fact that protons do not move, only electrons do (when we are talking about regular usual wire-circuit). This is good to know to understand what happens - but it is not necessary to know if you just wish to work with circuits. Because

• negative charge (electrons) moving from negative to positive terminal corresponds directly to
• positive charge moving the other way.

Even if no positive charge actually moves, this is how it looks from the outside.

So, as mentioned, in some types of circuits (e.g. ion-based), positive (and negative) charge does move, while in others (wire-circuits) it doesn't and only negative charge moves. To avoid these details every time, we just always say that positive charge is moving as well.

And to agree on something, it has simply been chosen that the direction of current is always in the direction of the positive charge. Sometimes positive charge is moving, and sometimes it isn't and we don't care unless we need to look deeper into what charge-carriers we actually have.

• " while in others (wire-circuits) it doesn't and only negative charge moves. " based on that sentence ELECTRIC CURRENT is negative. That is, it starts and " moves/flows/bumps " out of the Negative terminal in a progressive direction to the positive terminal. Whether " we" humans agreed to the " positive " definition of electric current is irrelevant because your sentence states that through a wire electric current is NEGATIVE. – Max R. Jun 11 '16 at 22:24
• @MacR. It is just a matter of words, yes. If you by saying that "electric current is NEGATIVE" mean that "electric current is constituted of negative charge-carriers"*, then you are absolutely right - but only for this type of wire-circuits. – Steeven Jun 11 '16 at 22:35
• I used a DC circuit with wire as a conductor for this question. – Max R. Jun 11 '16 at 22:36
• @MacR. Good for you. You are welcome to say that the current moves from negative to positive terminal if you also say what is moving (electrons in this case). Otherwise, if you just state that current moves in some direction, it is not enough and I can't know what you mean. Because of that issue, it has ben chosen that whenever someone just says that current moves in some direction, then that means that positive charge would be moving in that direction. Then we all know what is meant. – Steeven Jun 11 '16 at 22:40
• when I deal with 480 v 100 amp + power everyday at work I want to have the WORDS just right. An misguided error could cost me a lot. – Max R. Jun 11 '16 at 22:40

I think you need to rethink your first statement, "Electrons are a flow of matter and electric charge. Protons are a flow of electric current and matter," because it's simply wrong. Electrons are fundamental particles with various properties and protons are a combination of up and down quarks. They both have a charge and create a current when in motion but they are not "flows of matter" nor electric charge or current.

As for your second question, the reason it doesn't matter which way you say the current flows as long as you're consistent, is that a flow of positive charges in one direction is (as far as charge distribution is concerned) equivalent to a flow of negative charges in the opposite direction.

• 3. Electrons are a kind of energy particle? Wrong. Electrons and protons are matter, not energy. A flow of electrons is NOT a flow of energy, it is a flow of matter and a flow of electric charge. Same goes for protons: moving protons are electric current, but they're also a matter-flow. And most important: if you have a certain amount of charge in one place, you'll have no clue about the amount of energy present. Charge is not energy. And if charge is flowing along, you won't know anything about the energy's flow or direction. – Max R. Jun 11 '16 at 19:54
• Coulombs are not Joules, and knowing the amount charge does not tell you the amount of energy you have. A moving electron does not carry electrical energy along with it, any more than a moving air molecule carries a sound wave with it. – Max R. Jun 11 '16 at 19:54
• - That' was taken from this site amasci.com/miscon/eleca.html#frkel – Max R. Jun 11 '16 at 19:55
• None of what you are saying is even remotely relevant to the question or my answer. – fixgoats Jun 11 '16 at 19:55
• @MacR. : Are you asking about something you do not understand? Or are you trying to teach people that their way of thinking is incorrect? – sammy gerbil Jun 11 '16 at 19:59

Electrons and protons are not a flow of anything. They are particles which have charge and energy (along with other properties). Electric current is a flow of charge.

No the first statement (indented) is not the same as that underneath it. Electric current in metal wires is usually a flow of electrons from the -ve terminal to the +ve. But in some cases (eg in semi-conductors) it can be a flow of 'holes' which are the absence of bound electrons. Unlike conduction electrons which are not attached to any particular atom, 'holes' are bound to atoms and jump from one atom to the next.

In answer to your 2nd question, usually it does not matter which way round current flows because all we want to know is how much current is flowing, not which direction it is going. This is especially true where the current is alternating and flows in both directions (though not at the same time).

• " Electric current is a flow of charge " and if that is so then per the text provided in the question and comments it be starting from a positive terminal going to the negative terminal. And per common text in accepted academia the common explanation of charge flow is " given " to be from negative to positive by the step-by-step thought branching from the explanation that electrons with their charge are all that " flows " in the DC circuit through wire. – Max R. Jun 11 '16 at 21:11
• " Electric current is a flow of electrons (or positive charges). " physics.stackexchange.com/questions/21392/… – Max R. Jun 11 '16 at 21:21
• You seem to be trying to prove a point rather than ask a question. – sammy gerbil Jun 11 '16 at 21:33
• I am following up your answer with relevant information because it your answer seems incorrect. And as grateful as I am for your efforts, I am trying to get some correct answers to my question. – Max R. Jun 11 '16 at 22:10
• I see nothing incorrect in this answer, @MacR, but if you do, please point it out clearly to the author instead of just adding a chunk of further information that seems to come out of the blue. – Steeven Jun 12 '16 at 6:21