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What Do We Know About Electricity And How Does Current Flow?

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Rajesh Shri Profile
Rajesh Shri answered
Today electricity is the most widely used form of energy. It provides power for lighting, running appliances and for every conceivable day to day activity of modern life.

Benjamin Franklin in 1752 successfully proved that lightening was electricity. Alessandro Volta after whom the unit of electricity volt is named discovered that electricity was not just a spark but could be made to flow from one point to another and credit of actual generation of electric charge goes to Michael Faraday.

The important discovery that power lines could transport electricity at low costs across great distances led to centralized power generation. Rotating turbines are attached to electric generators which are large quantities of copper wires spinning around inside very large magnets at high speed. The turbine is made to spin turning the copper wire inside and generating electricity. The source that makes the turbine spin could be coal, natural gas, nuclear or hydro electric. Small amounts are also generated from solar energy, wind and geothermal sources. The electricity produced is same regardless of source.

All matter is made up of atoms. Atoms in turn are made up of protons, with positive charge, electron with negative charge and neutrons with no charge. Electrons can move from one atom to another and this movement is current of electricity. Electricity can pass through some material better than others. Electrons do not move through them easily, they are called insulators and good conductors like metals allow swift and easy movement of electrons.
Taylor Edgar Profile
Taylor Edgar answered
Humans have been trying to figure that one out for hundreds of years. To be precise, no-one really knows what electricity really is.

However, over these centuries of pondering we have worked out a few things about electricity. Most notably, that:
* there are positive and negative charges
* it can be stored
* and that electricity flows when in complete circuit.

The reason we can't see electricity is because it operates on an atomic level. Each atom is made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. Electrons are negatively charged and orbit the nucleus of the atom which is made up of protons and neutrons.

Electrons circle the nucleus because they are attracted, like a magnet, to the positively charged protons. In substances that conduct electricity well, such as copper, the electron-proton attraction is not strong and electrons can move from one atom to another.

However, this movement of electrons from atom to atom upsets the negative-positive balance and an existing electron is forced to move on as there is an excessive negative charge. This domino effect is known as electron drift, or electrical current.

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