Roadwolf's portal for his random thoughts and ponderings

Roadwolf's Electronics Series: Part 1, The Basics.


Electricity is an interesting topic. But don't let it scare you. It can be very simple to understand. Let us start out with a little comparison; The only difference between a bolt of lightning and the static shock you get after rubbing your feet across the carpet on a dry day, then touching a metal door handle, is quantity.

All matter has electrical components, in fact it is required for matter to exist. At the atomic level, the basic components are electrons, protons, and neutrons. Electrons orbit the nucleus of the atom, which is comprised of protons and neutrons. electrons are negatively charged, while protons are positively charged. Neutrons have no charge.

Normally atoms have a neutral charge, due to an equal number of electrons and protons. However most atoms are able to be altered by adding or removing electrons. An extra electron gives the atom negative charge, which is a Negative Ion. Removing an electron, gives the atom a positive charge. This is called a Positive Ion.

What gets interesting is when you have 'Free Electrons'. Free Electrons travel almost as fast as the speed of light. The can also travel through conductive materials, like metals, gasses, and even a vacuum. When they aren't zooming around, they can rest on a surface. This gives the surface a negative static charge. But when they are moving around, they are considered to be Electrical Current, often traveling in a flowing stream towards a positively charged area.

The opposite of a negative static charge, is a positive static charge, which is a surface which has had its electrons removed forcefully. This can be done with heat, light, friction or even chemical reactions. This is similar to what happens when you rub a inflated balloon against your hair, or a fabric, and then you can feel your arm hairs standing up when you hold the balloon near your arm. The surface of the balloon has had its electrons removed, and extra free electrons in your body are trying to reach out to make their way towards the large positive static charge of the surface of the balloon.

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