What is electricity?

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Offline Patrick Tew

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What is electricity?
« on: 06/06/2009 17:20:12 »

I realise that my question may seem basic, but I have been struggling with some of the basic concepts of electricity. I really need some help and I wondered if anyone out here could please help me.

My problem is, I don't understand (at least I think I don't) what electrical power actually is. My theory, a mixture of proven science and my own thinking, is as follows (I understand it may be very wrong, please correct if it is :) ).

Each electron has a charge of 1.6 x 10^-19 Coulombs. Current is defined as: (Number of electrons x 1.6 x 10^-19 C)/ time (seconds). Thus, current is the amount of charge per second. Voltage is the potential energy used to move the electrons as it is a difference in charge between two points, i.e., if there is lots of negative at one point on a circuit and little negative (i.e. high positive)at another, the high negativity repels(whilst the positivity attracts) the electrons to the low negatively charged area(i.e. high positive charge area).

Power = Voltage x Current. Thus, if you use more volts (energy) to push the electrons, power goes up. But what does this exactly mean? If you use more volts, do you get more charge per second (which I would understand) as more energy is pushing the electrons so they move faster and thus more 'bits' of charge reach you per second?

As you can see, I am quite confused. At GCSE level, it isn't really explained much. Please could you help me understand what electricity actually is. I would be very, very grateful.

Thank you. :)
« Last Edit: 11/06/2009 04:16:34 by chris »


Offline Soul Surfer

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Re: What is electricity?
« Reply #1 on: 06/06/2009 18:03:41 »
You seem to have got the basic idea reasonably correct.  You also need to have in mind the concept of electrical resistance.  This means that you need a certain amount of voltage to push a given current through the resistive device.  Look up ohms law where the resistance  is the volts divided by the current   R = V/I  or V = RxI  Good conductors like the copper used for a lot of electrical cables have a low resistance and this is often ignored in simple experiments.
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