MadSci Network: Physics

Re: How does electricity work?

Date: Sat Nov 4 12:51:27 2006
Posted By: John Free, Post-doc/Fellow, MFA, MFA
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1162620369.Ph

Hi Mitchell

That is the question I was always asking when I was your age. To find the 
answer I got three encyclopedias and copied out EVERYTHING in them that had 
the letters electr in it. It only took me a year.

Here are some of the things I discovered:
In any material there are little things called electrons. They ARE electricity.

Maybe you know that a light bulb in your house gives out light because 
electricity is running through it. That bulb has LOTS of electrons going 
through it per second. How many? Well think of 6 and stick EIGHTEEN zeroes 
after it. 6,000,000,000,000,000,000 electrons per second. Millions of millions 
of millions!

You can think of it like water in a river, but the electrons are drifting, 
like gas, rather than flowing. That number of electrons per second is called 
an ampere (after Monsieur Ampere, of France).

You can find out LOTS of stuff about electricity - much easier now than when I 
was your age. Just think up an electric word, like "electric battery" and open 
Google on your computer and use "electric batteries" as search words, or get 
someone to let you use theirs and show you. It will tell you all about 
electric batteries, how to make them and use them to make magnetism (a good 
word to look up) and sparks, and motors, and do electroplating and build 
radios and so MANY fun things to do!

Be curious, think and do experiments. It is an exciting world, waiting for YOU 
to discover it.

It you like, write to us with seperate questions about each of the things you 
want to know about. We would like to hear from you!


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