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A Quick and Simple Guide to Electricity

Electricity in its simplest definition is electrons flowing from one area to another, but more precisely flowing along a circuit. When an electron is freed from an atom and required to move, it carries with it a charge that is then able to produce electricity. Valence electrons are the outermost electrons of an atom and need the lowest amount of force in order to be freed. The free electrons then search for new atoms to attach to, and must evict one of the existing electrons in order to make enough room for it. The process then starts all over again, and an electric current is created. Certain elements are excellent conductors of electricity due to the fact that they have electrons that are extremely mobile. This applies to elements such as gold, silver, and copper. Elements that are made up of atoms that do not allow current to flow easily are known as insulators.

Electricity can take two different forms, either static or current. Static, meaning at rest, electricity occurs when an object amasses opposite charges that are divided by an insulator. This type of electricity only exists until the clusters of conflicting charges are able to find a pathway to connect and thus balance out the system. When the charges equalize, a static discharge happens. An intense example of static discharge is lightening. Current electricity is what is utilized to power all devices and electronics. This form of electricity relies on charges that flow continuously. This is possible with the use of a closed loop of conductive material otherwise known as a circuit.  A circuit typically involves a combination of wire and other mechanisms to control the flow of electricity. The only restriction is that any insulating gaps cannot be included.

Electric fields in the space between charges act as the pushing or pulling force. This concept is similar to Earth’s gravitational field. The route of electric fields is always described as the direction a positive test charge would travel. If the positive test charge was dropped near a negative charge, there would be an attraction to it from the test charge. The electric field would then be drawn with arrows pointing inward to the negative charge. On the opposite side, if the positive test charge was placed nearby another positive charge the result would be outward repulsion. The electric field would be drawn with arrows going away from the positive charge. Electric fields preform a critical task in that it induces the current flow.

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