An electronic device for explaining electricity
A wire with giant moving electrons.
W. Beaty 1993
Build it yourself! Or if not, this device is available through Arbor Scientific. Contact them for a
current catalog and pricing. ( Catalog
page) Even if you don't intend to purchase this device, their catalog
is worthwhile for the science toys and demos.
This device shows you what "electricity" would look like if you could see
All metals are full of movable electrons (a physics teacher would call it
electron sea.") These electrons can be pushed around by a voltage or
"potential difference." Wires act like water-filled hoses, where voltage
is like water pressure, and batteries are like water pumps.
If we could SEE the electrons during electric currents in a wire, they
would look something like the following, although they would move
far more slowly:
See what these devices teach? Here's a list. The concepts are somewhat
(ahem) shocking. If electrons are the
"carriers" of charges of electricity; if electrons are "particles of
- In an AC wire, the electricity sits in one place and vibrates back and forth.
- All conductors are already full of electricity. Electricity is
supplied by the metal.
- Wires act like water pipes which are always full of water.
- The word "Conductor" means the same as "contains movable electricity."
- Electricity is not produced by batteries or generators, it flows
- Electricity is not consumed by motors or light bulbs, it all just goes
- Electricity does not flow at the speed of light. It flows quite
- Capacitors don't store any electricity (they store EM energy.)
- Individual electrons don't carry the electrical energy.
- Electricity is not a form of energy.
- Electric current is not a flow of energy.
- Circuits are like drive belts, not like strings of coal-cars.
- Electric energy and charges of electricity are two different things.
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Billb's other articles on making 'electricity' visible: