How Does Electricity Work


, we use electricity, in some way shape or form in almost all aspects of our life, but few people truly understand what electricity is or how it works. This is surprising, as electricity is such an integral part of our life, but electricity is usually taken for granted.

In order to have electricity, it is necessary for there to be some sort of electric charge, which can be either a positive electric charge or a negative electric charge. Most people are actually familiar with this concept to a degree, as most batteries have a plus side and a minus side.

Pulling and Pushing

One of the first observations made about electricity was that when an item is electrically charged, it will either push towards or away from other electrically charged items. This pushing and pulling, which is usually referred to as repulsion and attraction, is similar in some ways to the properties of a magnet, but it is not the same.

An electrically charged object can have either a positive charge or a negative charge.

If two objects have opposite charges, one positive and one negative, they will be attracted to one another.

If, on the other hand, they have the same type of charge, they will repel one another.

The rate at which objects attract or repel is dependent on the distance between the objects and the amount of charge each object has. Assuming the objects remain the same distance apart, the rate of attraction or repulsion is directly related to the rate of the charge.

A Look at the Atom

While it is hard to tell, objects aren't really as solid as they would appear. Instead, everything is made up of tiny particles called atoms. Each atom can further be broken down into protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Protons and Neutrons are dense and subsequently collect at the center of an atom, called the nucleus.

Electrons, which are less dense, orbit around the protons and neutrons. It is possible for the electrons to transfer to other atoms. As implied by the name, protons have a positive charge and neutrons have a negative charge.

The Role of Electrons

While electrons do sometimes stay attached to a specific atom, they can also transfer to other atoms. This ability to transfer is of specific importance when dealing with electricity.

When an atom contains extra electrons or fewer electrons, it is an electrostatic charge, which is also sometimes called a static charge. If there are more electrons than protons the charge is negative and, conversely, if there are fewer electrons than protons it is positively charged.

When dealing with a charged atom, the actual number of electrons can get very large. For example, when you create static electricity by shuffling your feet across a carpet, there are literally millions of electrons at work. When considering something like a lightning bolt, the number of electrons is exponentially increased.

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