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Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/12/2020 12:09 PM

I saw this question being answered elsewhere.. I'll share later, but very interesting replies.

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#1

Re: Is electricity the flow of electrons?

08/12/2020 12:31 PM

I believe it's more the flow of a charge...

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#5
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Re: Is electricity the flow of electrons?

08/12/2020 1:37 PM

interesting and to the point. must be mobile?

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#45
In reply to #1

Re: Is electricity the flow of electrons?

08/16/2020 3:41 AM

In general, we can say electricity is the flow of charge carriers.

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#2

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/12/2020 12:42 PM

That's an ambiguous or incomplete question that can be answered yes or no.

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#4
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/12/2020 1:36 PM

Can it be said that electricity is the flow of electrons?

less ambiguous?

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#7
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/12/2020 2:04 PM

Yes, electricity often includes the flow of electrons but electricity is not defined by just the flow of electrons. It's usually a net charged particle flow instead of an individual charged particle flow. Thus electron flow is not mandatory for there to be electricity for other charged particles can perform this. (Still, electrons are so ubiquitous that one can claim that somewhere nearby electrons flow when electricity is present.) As Rixter points out, the speed of the charged particle (electron) flow is frequently orders of magnitude less than the signal velocity. Lastly the charged particle flow is but one of many attributes of electricity. Depending on when one looks at a system with electricity there need not be electrons flowing but there probably are ones moving.

Is the ambiguity clearer now?

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#30
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/14/2020 5:39 AM

IMO it would be less ambiguous to ask "Is electric current the flow of electrons?"

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#32
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/14/2020 8:44 AM

Yes, that will make it less ambiguous but not completely unambiguous to a nit picker.

Electrons are what makes atoms neutrally charged and atoms make up everything in our macroscopic world. The virtually mass less electron is very easy to move. Yet as Erin described in his seminal work that movement is limited and constant. Thus electrons flow in insulators with no net current. Electrons flow in conductors with or without a net current. Electrons flow in everything.

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#33
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/14/2020 8:59 AM

Exactly, I didn't say it was completely unambiguous, just less ambiguous!

In a wire, current flow is carried by electrons. In a semiconductor, by electrons and holes. In a solution of an electrolyte, by ions. In a plasma or discharge tube, by electrons and charged nuclei they're stripped from (I think).

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#21
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/13/2020 11:14 AM

OK, I'll bite. The answer is yes or no, but could be maybe under certain circumstances.

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#22
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/13/2020 12:16 PM

Schroedingers electron?

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#23
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/13/2020 12:18 PM

GA You get my point.

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#3

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/12/2020 12:53 PM

It could be the flow of electrons in a metal or n-type semiconductor, the flow of holes (vacancies) in a p-type semiconductor, movement of ions in a solution such as a battery electrolyte, or polarization in a capacitor dielectric. Electron flow is the most common.

Interesting fact: Most people think that electricity in a wire moves rapidly, even light speed. The truth is that there are so many copper atoms donating an electron to the flow, that the electron drift velocity is practically glacial.

https://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/circuits/Lesson-2/Electric-Current

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#6
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/12/2020 1:41 PM

your getting to the nitty gritty.. The answer I'll share later came from an electrical engineer / phys professor. Some talk about ions, body chemistry, etc.. very interesting.

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#19
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/13/2020 9:05 AM

In the world I work in, the flow of electrons (or ions) is always in a vacuum, not along a wire or a surface. The distances the electrons cross might be microns or a couple of hundred mm, steered by magnetic fields. I don't pretend to understand it, it's all a black art.

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#8

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/12/2020 3:59 PM

Electron flow or hole flow...take your pick.

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#9

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/12/2020 5:13 PM

It is a bit of a word smithing game but if I recall from school the best answer is "no". It has been a long time since I was in school but I recall that depending upon your conductor I think the electrical energy will flow around 0.6 c to 0.9-something c. If I recall correctly the electrons will move down the wire at a drift velocity of about 1 inch per minute.

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#10

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/12/2020 9:08 PM

I think that the voltage is electrical potential, and the flow of electrons is the result, electrons have a side effect of heat. So electricity is voltage potential and the flow of electrons is heat?

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#25
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/13/2020 6:59 PM

Electricity cause and effect? (1) Cause, electrons and protons separated in atoms creating potential. (2) Effect , electrons are prevented from returning to there parent atom by some potential force (electricity?), and the effect of over coming that force is the flow of electrons by some alternative route?

Electricity is potential energy?

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#11

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/12/2020 9:48 PM

Well, if you speak of the flow of electricity, I suppose electricity would be the electrons. They move due to the electric field (voltage) applied by a generator or battery.

According to Dave Barry, electricity is actually made up of tiny particles called electrons which you cannot see with your naked eye unless you have been drinking.

"But the greatest Electrical Pioneer of them all was Thomas Edison, who was a brilliant inventor despite the fact that he had little formal education and lived in New Jersey. Edison's first major invention in 1877 was the phonograph, which could soon be found in thousand of American homes, where it basically sat until 1923, when the record was invented. But Edison's greatest achievement came in 1879 when he invented the electric company. Edison's design was a brilliant adaptation of the simple electrical circuit: the electric company sends electricity through a wire to a customer, then immediately gets the electricity back through another wire, then (this is the brilliant part) sends it right back to the customer again.

This means that an electric company can sell a customer the same batch of electricity thousands of times a day and never get caught, since very few customers take the time to examine their electricity closely. In fact, the last year any new electricity was generated was 1937. "

http://www.mit.edu/people/dmredish/wwwMLRF/links/Humor/Electricity.html

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#13
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/12/2020 11:01 PM

Gotta love Dave Barry!

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#14
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/12/2020 11:03 PM

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#43
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/15/2020 8:40 AM

"who was a brilliant inventor despite the fact that he had little formal education and lived in New Jersey"

Is that a slur against New Jersey in particular or the whole of the North East?

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#51
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/17/2020 11:10 PM

Boy, that Dave Barry guy sure knows his stuff. Though there is one error in his logic. He said no new electricity has been generated since 1937. I disagree. Since electricity is manufactured into carpet, there has to be new electricity generated, since we've had new carpeting since 1937.

Thanks for sharing!

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#12

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/12/2020 10:33 PM

"... Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?..."

No. A

It is made evident in examples above, electricity does not require a flow of electrons.

Moreover, a flow of electrons does not necessarily mean electricity:. A flow of uncharged water is a flow of electrons (and protons and neutrons) and is not electricity.

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#15

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/12/2020 11:59 PM

I've got one for you. Does an electron exist if it hasn't been observed?

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#16

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/13/2020 1:36 AM

Electricity is a word that describes a process, an action, a miracle.

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#17

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/13/2020 3:15 AM

Surely you jest! Everyone knows it is the flow of smoke for once the smoke escapes, electricity does not flow and the expense rises exponentially to the cost of the down time multiplied by the number of others who can be held accountable!

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#18

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/13/2020 7:56 AM

I don't know but it must be made out of the same thing as gravity because I don't know what that is either, and even though people have tried to explain both of them over and over, it never seems to make perfect sense to me...so it's an attraction or invisible force of some kind....and I don't think anybody knows the exact nature of either....

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#20

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/13/2020 10:04 AM

I cant say if they flow, but they damn sure make my car go!

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#24

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/13/2020 4:38 PM

Interesting question. I see electricity as a mode of transferring power using electrons across a voltage differential. If we consider AC electricity, the electrons don't really flow. They just move back and forth. If we consider DC electricity, the electrons do flow.

Some say the positive terminal creates the flow of power. I know the car field thinks of the positive battery terminal as the source of power and the ground just ties to the chassis. So in car electronics, we trace wires back from the + of the battery or fuse block (or relay). In the home, we think of the green wire as ground and the black is hot and white is neutral. As AC cycles through 360 degrees, the hot is +, then neutral, then - , etc.

In engineering, we look at the source of electrons - that's what pushes the power.

Sorry for such a long winded answer, but it depends on the perspective of the audience.

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#26

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/13/2020 8:13 PM

Maybe we need to differentiate between electron flow, electron movement, and energy transfer.

From my perspective, when an EMF is applied to a circuit, the electrons in that circuit are put under stress and, as like charges repel, those electrons tend to move away from the -ve side of that EMF and towards the +ve side.

The flow of any one electron through that circuit could be quite slow compared to the actual energy transfer as each electron would simply be moving to an adjacent atom, which would then become negatively charged and thus cause one of its other electrons to depart to a more receptive atom. The energy transfer on the other hand, is almost instantaneous and in concert with the applied EMF.

The electron movement may not be in a straight line, it could be sideways to nearby atoms, but the overall energy transfer would be uniform and in the direction imposed by the applied EMF. In the case of an applied AC, any one specific electron might just move back and forth in a very limited section of the circuit without ever getting to the end, but its limited movement does cause a corresponding movement of adjacent electrons and therefore an energy transfer

Depending on the physical properties of the conductor, and the length of it, there could be a relatively very large movement of energy through the circuit before that original electron ever makes it out of the other end, and possibly never in an AC circuit.

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#27

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/13/2020 9:04 PM

Apparently you have never seen my magic show! Pick an electron, any electron, and write your name on it...

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#34
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/14/2020 9:36 AM

Classic..

May I encode my name onto the electron via frequency vibration instead?

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#28

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/13/2020 10:38 PM

You have probably seen the steel balls,hanging by wires,pendulum fashion.

If you pull one ball back and release it,the one on the opposite end will move.

The ones in the center are relatively stationary.

If you pull back two,and release them,two balls at the opposite end will move,while the others will remain nearly stationary.

This is similar to electron "flow".

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#29

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/14/2020 3:22 AM

In AC they don't flow ... they wobble ... but they don't fall down
Del

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#31

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/14/2020 6:30 AM

It's both a particle and a wave...

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#35

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/14/2020 9:42 AM

I've been edjumecated durring all of this.. Thanks for all the replies.

I haven't looked at all the replies stemming from the answer below, but I look forward to the comparison..

the number of replies is about the same?

without further adiu.

enjoy Ω

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Is it correct to say that electricity is flow of electrons? William Beaty · Updated June 17, 2020 Electrical Engineer 35yrs, electrostatics hobbyist, Amasci site

No, it’s not the flow.

Yes, the electric currents inside metals are a flow of the metals own electrons. And the currents inside solid, unmoving metals, (also in vacuum tubes and resistors, and in spark discharges,) are almost entirely made of electron-flows.

But the electric currents inside human bodies aren’t flows of electrons. There are no free electrons in salty meat! In human nerves, and also whenever humans are zapped by high voltage, the electric currents are flows of charged atoms: sodium, potassium, chloride, protons (+H), and negative OH ions. No electrons.

Electric currents in acids are flows of protons. (We might miss this fact in chemistry class, since the textbooks call protons by the name “+H hydrogen ions.”) So, when your car battery is putting out several hundred amps to start the engine, all those amps are made of proton-flows inside the battery acid.

During electric currents in the ground, the currents are similar to those in salt water: ion flows, mostly flows of charged sodium and chloride atoms. Well, unless the ground in your region is acidic. In that case the currents in the ground are partly proton-flows.

In wires, the currents are actually the difference between the flows of movable electrons versus the copper’s own protons. If you move the wire, then the electrons move. But also the protons move at the same, and the two cancel out, so moving the wires does not create electric currents. However, if we rotate an operating circuit slowly backwards, we can make the electrons halt in place. In that case the entire electric current has become a proton-flow. The current inside wires was never purely a flow of electrons. After all, if it was, then moving the wires would create enormous amperes.

Separate topic: “Electricity,” under the scientific definition of the word, is the quantity called electric charge. Electricity is electrons. But it’s also the protons, and also various charged atoms (ions) in acidic or salty liquids. So, we wouldn’t say that electricity is a flow of electrons. (Electricity is not a motion!) Instead, we’d say that a flow of electricity is a flow of electrons. All metals are full of movable electricity. A closed metal circuit forms a closed ring of electricity, with no beginning or end. During an electric current, the metals’ own electricity is forced to move along a closed circular path.

So, “electricity” isn’t a flowing motion of charges.

Instead, electricity is the charges themselves.

And, back to the original question about electrons. Yes, a flow of electrons is a flow of electricity …but a flow of electricity isn’t always a flow of electrons. Protons flow in acids, ions flow in the ground and in human tissues, electrons and ions flow in sparks and other plasmas, etc.

—-

Here’s some disturbing/enlightening trivia: during Ben Franklin’s famous kite experiment, for the conductor, he used slightly-humid twine in damp air. Twine is not a metal, and it has no free electrons. Twine may be a bit salty. But more likely, Franklin’s kite-twine was conductive like wood and paper: an acidic conductor, containing mobile +H ions (protons.) When Franklin was gathering some storm leakage-currents in order to charge his Leyden-jar capacitor …those currents were probably made of proton-flows! So, Franklin was right? His “electric fluid” was made of positive charges?!!! Heh, except when metal foils in Leyden jars were involved.

(view answers from Quora)

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#36
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/14/2020 10:21 AM

All current flow is accompanied by a magnetic field,the two are inseparable.

My question is,how does a permanent magnet maintain a magnetic field without generating heat?

Perhaps I dozed off during this lecture in physics class.

The present theory of aligned magnetic moments atoms does not satisfy my curiosity about this.What powers this magnetic moment,electrons in motion?

Can a magnetic field exist without current flow,and how can current flow without resistance,except in superconductors,which,curiously expels a magnetic field.

So in both cases,it seems that current flow and magnetism are in fact separated.

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#38
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/14/2020 9:49 PM

"...Can a magnetic field exist without current flow,..."

.

Yes, consider an EDFMG. This device will function in a vacuum. When the charge is detonated, a magnetic wave expands outward from the magnet. In the time between that wave's creation and the time it reaches the winding surrounding the former magnet, there is no current flow (there is no charge in the vacuum to support current flow), yet this wave has all the characteristics of a magnetic field expanding.

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#41
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/15/2020 12:34 AM

There is absolutely nothing flowing in a static permanent magnet.

You have to move it to induce current flow (whatever that is), and you might actually get an eddie-current or two going in the surface of that permanent magnet, but that will stop when the movement stops. And, the magnetic field still exists once that magnet stops moving.

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#49
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/17/2020 10:54 PM

"... There is absolutely nothing flowing in a static permanent magnet ..." How do you propose to explain the magnetic field?

The movement of charge, e.g., orbit and spin of electrons, is a flow of charge in closed loops. The nonzero net cumulative flow is a useful model for permanent magnetism consistent with observation.

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#50
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/17/2020 11:00 PM

"...You have to move it to induce current flow ..."

You need not move the field to induce current. The field can be quickly obliterated to induce large currents as noted in the link provided in the comment to which the above replied.

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#39
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/14/2020 10:39 PM

I see a problem with the definition. Let's take a lead acid cell. The H2SO4 (Sulfuric acid) will break down into 2 H+ and SO4 --. The H+ will move to the positive plate (Lead Oxide) and form a plate of excess + charges. The SO4 -- will move to the negative plate (Lead) and form a plate of excess - charges.

There is movement of both + and - in a cell. So the concept of protons flowing in a cell is only half correct.

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#37

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/14/2020 7:11 PM

Most do define electricity as the flow of electrons. But the "flow" is only a vehicle for charge alignment, both the electric and the magnetic fields. This field alignment can change in an ordered rate at very high velocity. The alignment gives the speed. The flow goes nowhere.
And In some media, a portion of the non-free electrons can be aligned and maintain that alignment........a magnet. A self maintaining collective alignment. Frozen current.
The perpetual power of charge rotation comes from the self repulsiveness of the charge. The charge is trying to expand from itself at a V of c. Like a super nova. This common outward acceleration direction causes a common magnetic torque and spin direction at a V of c also. The result is a rotating ring of charge, which is current....a ring of current. At c. The diameter or size of the particle is set with spin. All V's remain at c. So when energy is induced into the charge, and we are already at c, the charge has to contract in size, so the it can rotate at a faster rate......while maintaining c.
Particles expand and contract with quantum levels changes.
Parson's Magneton is the zenith of classic theory. It's never taught.

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#40

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/15/2020 12:09 AM

Maybe electromagnetism is the prying off of a portion of the strong force that binds atoms together...a sort of cold fusion lite as it were, where only the most loosely held electrons are displaced...

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#52
In reply to #40

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/18/2020 2:00 AM

When passing a copper conductor through a magnetic field, does the strength, if increased, of the magnetic field, increase the voltage, the current, or both? Does the speed of the conductor passing through the magnetic field, do the same?

https://www.electronics-tutorials.ws/electromagnetism/electromagnetic-induction.html

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#42

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/15/2020 5:44 AM

Typically we say that Current is the flow of electrons. It could be said that Electricity is the result.

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#44

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/15/2020 8:56 AM

Not when it's static electricity!

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#46

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/16/2020 3:43 AM

I think in general, electricity is the flow of charge carriers.

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#47
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/16/2020 10:35 AM

Electric current is the flow of charge carriers. "Electricity" just refers to the whole field. That's my take on it anyway.

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#48

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

08/17/2020 11:32 AM

If direct current electricity can be said to be the ''roll'' of charges in one direction, then, can alternating current back and forth be said to be the ''shimmie'' of charges?...

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#53

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

11/17/2020 10:10 AM

Funny to think of... what is Electricity in fact ? What is magnetism (and considering they are inseparable twins) - Electricity and Magnetism - has everything to do with movement of Charges, but the charges not necessarily move where you fiddle (magnet makes ferro/ ferri magnetic powder move where ever they are free to) - so does electricity - or for that matter the coarse equivalent of Electricity is Fluid - Is fluid same as flow ?

What was mentioned in the explanation is the Electric Current - which naturally is movement of Charged particles - Positive or Negative, depending on which is allowed to - or at least less constrained to - move (we learnt ages ago flow of current in SC through holes in one doping- p type- and electrons in other).

But to go to the root- it isn't the electron or hole (ion) which make electricity - but the establishment of the field. The flow is the effect.

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#54

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

11/17/2020 4:01 PM

Years ago I taught a class on electricity to kids and to explain that electricity is the flow of a CHARGE, not the flow of the actual electrons, I used a line of pennies between two rulers on the overhead protector to represent a conductor (wire). When I flicked the end penny a little with my finger, the one on the other end shot out, but the ones in the middle of the line barely moved. I would explain that the pennies represented the electrons in the conductor and my finger was the generator at one end. It's not a perfect model, it just shows how electrons can transfer energy without actually moving very much themselves.

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#55
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Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

11/17/2020 5:12 PM

Ingenious model!
I think the electrons do move, but only at a fairly small fraction of c. (Whereas the charge does move at c.)

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#56
In reply to #55

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

11/18/2020 9:20 AM

v/c = 0.045757

From https://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/electronrevolve.htm#:~:text=This%20is%20about%207%20quadrillion,orbit%20is%20its%20dynamic%20appearance.

But of course because the orbit is so small that still works out at a fantastic number of revs per second.

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#57
In reply to #56

Re: Is Electricity the Flow of Electrons?

11/18/2020 11:09 AM

Is it really known to that many significant figures? Does it matter what the conductor is? (Other idle questions...)

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