What is it?
What is it? — Electricity is a wonderful mystery that provides society with the ability to use many technological marvels.
Do generators make electricity?
To answer this question, consider the household light bulb. Inside a lamp cord the charges (the electrons) sit in one place and wiggle back and forth. That’s AC or alternating current. At the same time, the waves of electromagnetic field move rapidly forward. This wave-energy does not wiggle, instead it races along the wires as it flows from the distant generators and into the light bulb. OK, now ask yourself this: when “electricity” is flowing, is it called an Electric Current? Yes? If so, then electricity is charge. And therefore we must say that the “electricity” sits inside the wires and vibrates back and forth. Generators do not create it, and it does not flow forward. Next, ask yourself if electricity is a form of energy. If it’s energy, then electricity is made of electromagnetic fields, and it doesn’t wiggle back and forth within the wires. Generators do create it, and it races along the wires at high speed. But electricity cannot do both! Which one is really “the electricity?” Is it the wiggling electrons, or is it the high-speed EM field energy? The experts cannot agree on a single definition. The reference books give conflicting answers, so there *is* no answer.
So never ask “WHAT IS ELECTRICITY”. Instead, discard the word “electricity” and begin using the correct names for all the separate phenomena. Here are a few of them:
- What is electric charge?
- What is electrical energy?
- What are electrons?
- What is electric current?
- What is an imbalance of charge?
- What is an electric field?
- What is voltage?
- What is electric power?
- What is a spark?
- What is electromagnetism?
- What is electrical science?
- What is electrodynamics?
- What is electrostatics?
- What are electrical phenomena?
from William J. Beaty, Electrical Engineer