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We know that all charges are caused by excess or shortage if electrons. Since electrons are negatively charged, it makes sense seeing negative charges in motion which we usually see in electrostatics. But how does positive charge move? I mean when we have a sphere that is positively charged,we say that the positive charges rearrange themselves in such a way that they reside at the surface of the sphere. But how can positive charges even move? What moves are the electrons and positive charge simply means electrons have left that place.So i don't understand this movement of positive charges intuitively. Also in circuit, we mention current is the flow of positive charge, when the scientists of that era came up with this definition, what particle did they mean by this positive charge? Was that the flow of proton as positive charge?

This doubt has been a hindrance in me feeling static electricity though i can solve problems using formulas but using formulas without understanding the concept doesn't help me much.

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But how can positive charges even move?

That depends on the nature of the conductor. In a metal a region of positive charge density is simply a region where negative charges have moved away. In an electrolyte the positive ions are roughly as mobile as the negative ions and so a region of positive charge density is both an excess of positive ions and a deficit of negative ions. From an electromagnetic perspective it doesn’t matter much which charge carriers are present.

when the scientists of that era came up with this definition,what particle did they mean by this positive charge?

At that time, there was no indication that there were charges particles. The available data was consistent with a continuum view of charge and current.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you but as you said in metals,positive charge density area represents shortage of electrons,in the books we see that metallic spheres are being charged,and there positive charges flow,now how can shortage of electrons flow?That's something i can't understand. $\endgroup$
    – madness
    Apr 2 at 5:09
  • $\begingroup$ @madness be careful here. Charge density does not flow, current density flows. In a metal sphere a positive charge density is a shortage of electrons. And the current density is simply defined to flow the opposite direction of the electron flux density. So in regions where electrons flow away, you get a shortage of electrons. Is that not clear? If water flows away from an area for a long time you get a drought, which is a shortage of water. Yes? $\endgroup$
    – Dale
    Apr 2 at 12:47
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Positive charge flowing in the examples you mention is a bit like the earth falling towards you and hitting you in the face when, in everyday terms, you fall down. It's a different perspective on/description of the same phenomenon. Positive excess of charge transported in one direction is equivalent to the same excess of charge with a different sign transported in the opposite direction (the same direction with different sign).

And btw. there are examples of actual currents produced by positive charge: positive ions in a particle accelerator.

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