Comment book archive: 2002


Thank you for visiting SCIENCE MISCONCEPTIONS: ELECTRICITY. You can Add new questions to the list below. Also check out the other comment books for Science Hobbyist site

NO HOMEWORK QUESTIONS! No cheating. Do your own homework, don't ask others to do your research.

NO SPAMMERS! Submitted entries are NOT posted here automatically. They first are reviewed by the site owner. If you want to advertise on the internet you should pay for it.

Great info. I'm an electronics major at my college and it seems I'm lucky to have escaped public school with few misconseptions. Some, but not many. A lot of the topics were re-explained properly by my college teachers, but going over everything you have here would take a semester by itself. Electricity Re-education 101 :)
Rick <zerodeathatpcpostal dt com >
RI USA - Saturday, December 14, 2002 at 16:33:52 (PST)

Does a conductor with, say, 7200 volts of electricity on it, with no load/current have an energy field around it that is usable, say to light a light bulb. Let me say it in a different way, a noisy tester senses an energy field around a wire without touching it, is there any way to use that field to create a usable path of energy to specifically light a light bulb, I just need a few volts out of it. Please respond. Thank you
[Yes, but only if it's AC. You can suck energy from an AC power line without touching it. Place metal plates near the conductors, then connect the plates to a 60Hz resonant circuit (a large coil and capacitor.) A large current will build up. Hook your light bulb in series with the coil. -billb] paul adam ward <csuhovyatyahoo dt com >
mcguire afb, nj USA - Tuesday, December 03, 2002 at 14:36:40 (PST)
I have looked and looked and looked for an answer to this following question:"What does Electricity and magnetism have in common?"
[All magnetism is caused by moving or vibrating electricity. Whenever a charge of electricity moves, it creates a magnetic field -billb] Jordan <jordan193atknology dt net >
Huntsville, AL USA - Sunday, November 24, 2002 at 17:56:14 (PST)
Just found your site and enjoying what I have read. Regarding your reply to whether or not to shut off the lights for a short period "[Turn lights off. The turn-on process doesn't waste much energy. The suggestion to "leave lights on" is a widespread Urban Legend. - billb]" Part of the reason for leaving the lights on has to do with the impact of cyclic operation on the life span of the device (incandescent or HID lighting). Reportedly the turn-on event is the most stressful time for many electrical devices. The life of the device, cost of a replacement device, and cost of man hours to purchase and install the replacement are some of the factors considered in making the recommendation to 'leave the lights on'. Perhaps 'they' should produce a complex multidimensional chart to mount next to each light switch. You could then consult the chart each time you leave the room to determine whether or not the lights should go out (a programmable calculator would also do the trick).
Paul Berry <pberry2002ataol dt com >
Antelope, CA USA - Saturday, October 26, 2002 at 13:01:50 (PDT)
Where does electricity come from what source of energy is used? I wanted to know this because we have to do a science project and i dont have a clue to this and i cant find this
Kristin Honaker <ditzzy20athotmail dt com >
Pheonix, AZ USA - Thursday, October 24, 2002 at 19:16:48 (PDT)
hello, great site, but... in the 'electricity' part you mention somewhere that elektrons in a conductor move almost at ligthspeed. This isn't entirely correct I think. If you don't consider the random movements (with average velocity zero), a single electron moves even quite slow: a few kph is a lot. What is indeed true is that, when current begins to flow, the movement itself spreads at lightspeed.
jean <vanbruystelghematyahoo dt com >
zwevezele, Belgium - Tuesday, October 22, 2002 at 06:16:05 (PDT)
I have a small quibble. You refer to the building of an AFM as science, and that the people building the AFM as "doing science." Well, they aren't doing science when they are building the AFM any more than someone is doing science when they build a home. While the AFM is a new and important instrument, the people building it are doing engineering rather than science. Nevertheless, you do have a cool site.

Also, as a professional scientist, I would have to say that part of my day involves using the scientific method, but only when I am preparing or doing an experiment. And its only after doing the experiment that I can say ,"gee, thats funny..."
Mark Greenfield <greenfieldatscentczar dt com >
Richmond, VA USA - Thursday, October 17, 2002 at 12:29:00 (PDT)

if electricity flows from negative to positive then why is the switch put on the hot leg?
D.MCMurtray <n/a>
uvalde, tx USA - Monday, October 07, 2002 at 18:34:20 (PDT)
HEY!!! WAIT a minnit!!! in your incredibly concise explination of voltage you wrote "Voltage is like the height of the stream above the wheel, or like its slope from the top of the wheel to the pool below. Without a height difference, there can be no water current and no work done by the waterwheel. Without a voltage difference across an electric motor, there can be no electric current and no work done by the motor. but then right away you also claim [snip] "...But _current can exist without voltage_, and voltage can exist without current." i understand the 2nd half of paragraph 2, cause that's as you say, like a battery on the shelf. but how can current exist without voltage? i don't get it!
robert dennnis <robertattensionheadache.org>
nyc, ny USA - Friday, September 27, 2002 at 10:00:06 (PDT)
i would like to ask, "what is 'ground'?"... but i think that my real question is: "WHY is 'ground'?. sorry i can't be more specific. also... does air have mass?
robert dennis <robertattensionheadache.org>
nyc, ny USA - Wednesday, September 25, 2002 at 13:01:59 (PDT)
Why does water conduct electricity?
Loz <le.farlatvirgin dt net >
Nottingham, England - Wednesday, September 25, 2002 at 11:16:17 (PDT)
Name the generators of electricity and what they do to generate it !
london, england - Wednesday, September 25, 2002 at 08:53:21 (PDT)
Just want to ask. You see Ihave this assignment of mine.Is electricity matter?
Karen Fernandez <karz_ilvaathotmail dt com >
San Pablo City, laguna Philippines - Wednesday, September 25, 2002 at 00:13:23 (PDT)
Kindly could ypu tel me the address of semis (the germany factory)of HT circuit breaker 6.6kv, 630A. to know more about the price ...etc...
Tara Rauf <tararaufatyahoo dt com >
Sul., Sulaimaniyah Iraq - Friday, September 20, 2002 at 11:13:54 (PDT)
Why is it that a light comes on very fast when turned on , but the electrons move very slow?
Anesa Andrews <ajta007ataol dt com >
Austin, tx USA - Sunday, September 15, 2002 at 10:44:45 (PDT)
I disagree with your argument about electric current not neccessarily being electron flow.

A study of semiconductor operations will show that current flow is referred to as electron flow or hole flow. Hole flow is the flow of positive charge, but it is really a simplification of what is actually happening. Neither holes nor protons flow. Instead, electrons are flowing to the opposite side of the device. It is always the electrons moving, but the question is in which direction they are moving.

This can also be seen by analyzing how a capacitor can "pass" an AC signal. Capacitors do not have any connection between their terminals, but they do have areas (plates) where electrons can be stored. When an AC signal is "passing" across a capacitor, the electrons are really charging back and forth between one plate and the other through ground as they are pumped by the applied electromotive force. Nothing crosses the dielectric, and any "positive charge" felt on one plate is only a relative lack of electrons, which have gone to the other plate, not extra protons, which are all still where they started.
[ Where do I make arguments about holes in semiconductors? Are we talking about the same article? The one which discusses ion flow in water and electric currents in plasmas? Example: when you receive a shock, the electric current in your body tissues is NOT a flow of electrons. And when several hundred amperes flows through your car's battery acid whenever you start your car, that current is not flowing electrons. See True direction of electric current? - billb]
Paul Chambre <pchambreatearthlink dt net >
Kissimmee, FL USA - Tuesday, August 06, 2002 at 08:40:49 (PDT)

How much does electricity weigh? And also, does computer data (not the media it's written on) have any mass and/or motion? How much, if any, would data on my computer's hard disk weigh, per kilobyte? Does a 400k Jpeg weigh more than a 400k mp3?
Russell McVeigh <infoatrussellmcveigh.info>
London, UK - Sunday, August 04, 2002 at 06:53:29 (PDT)
Great site, but as a 4-6th science teacher I'm feeling rather frustrated. Aren't there one or two good books (physical,earth and life science) that bring things to a level kids can begin to understand and I can really and truly facilitate in a classroom with limited time and resources? School starts soon and to be truthful I don't have the time or energy to spend hours researching the web or print, but I still want to "do right."
[ Not being a K-6 teacher, I don't know which books would be appropriate. Why not try ditching the books entirely and use hands-on activities such as the ones from TOPSCIENCE and others (see my links to sci. kits ) - billb]
Niki J Bowden <ladykaleatnerdnosh dt com >
Felton, CA USA - Thursday, August 01, 2002 at 14:56:36 (PDT)
i have a similar question as to asked by josh langacre on feb 20 which hasn't been answered yet. is it more efficient to turn off a light when you leave the room and then turning it on again when you enter, or just leaving the light on? i have been told it's not like a vehicle which is more efficient just to leave the car running for a minute.
[Turn lights off. The turn-on process doesn't waste much energy. The suggestion to "leave lights on" is a widespread Urban Legend. - billb]
lynn bauer <m2baueratmsn dt com >
colorado springs, co USA - Tuesday, July 23, 2002 at 16:21:15 (PDT)
Who invented electricity?
Nicholas Wilson <nickatrocknet dt net .au>
Yeppoon, Qld Australia - Tuesday, July 23, 2002 at 00:49:32 (PDT)
What is the purpose of the circular-shaped holes punched out of the line and neutral 'blades' of an American 120-volt electrical plug???? There are no corresponding nipples inside a receptacle, to help hold the plug in place! And one would expect that thers should be as much metal as possible in the blades to ensure good electrical contact -so why actually remove metal simply to make the holes?
Adrian Waygood <adrian.waygoodathct.ac.ae>
Abu Dhabi, UAE - Monday, July 22, 2002 at 03:22:15 (PDT)
what factors affect the resistance of a wire? with plans results coclusion Evaluations
jack kay
USA - Thursday, July 04, 2002 at 02:21:48 (PDT)
thanks for your great site.I would like you to answer my question,why is the electricity we get at home is ac. what advantages does it have?and is it true that in russia it is dc.why?
hameed <hameed_shojaeeatyahoo dt com >
tehran, Iran - Tuesday, June 25, 2002 at 12:28:04 (PDT)
1. What is meant by the 3 categories of electricity. 2. What wires are involved in the normal mode and in the common mode problems?
Bradley <nsbradley8athotmail dt com >
USA - Saturday, June 08, 2002 at 15:29:40 (PDT)
When first I saw Dr. Carl Baugh lecturing (on TV, back in '96) on the creation-model(http://www.creationevidence.org/), my bornagain spirit jumped inside me. Pieces came together concerning a lot of wrong concepts I had about the world, the physics and the origin of man... Wow what creation Adam was! And the superconducting firmament that floated on the eart's magnetic field (which was much stronger back then) and filtrated out the dangerous electromagnetic waves, recharging the magnetic field... and so much more... ANother thing: All this disinformation in the K6 textbooks is simply a result of an elite working behind the scenes, wanting to dumb the public mass down, so we will pose no threat to them, and be "robotlike" workers, like the platonic classes (gold=the elite, silver=the military, bronze class=the workers). Also, there is A LOT of research and information that they willfully keep from the public. A friend of mine was involved in "electronic warfare" in the mid 60's. He said "The equipment we had was the best available at that time. 20 years later, it became available to the public in shops."

I myself have an webpage (in norwegian - but with fragments of english in between...) at http://home.c2i dt net /phos God bless, and educate yourselves - withous knowledge my people perish, said God in the Bible...
Norway - Wednesday, May 22, 2002 at 23:44:58 (PDT)

According to Webster, the word "electricity" dates back to the early 1600s. Who "discovered" electricity? Under which circumstances? Who "invented" the word?
Barbara Zepeda <bzatexecutive-design dt com >
Sacramento, CA USA - Monday, May 20, 2002 at 10:07:10 (PDT)
You say that salt water is made up of water, sodium ions and "chlorine ions". There is no such thing as a chlorine ion - it is a chloride ion
Jonathan Payne <superfreak_shu_tupathotmail dt com >
Crowthorne, Berks England - Thursday, May 16, 2002 at 13:23:55 (PDT)
Hi, do you have to worry about living to close to power lines. It looks like we might be getting a house across the road from a small power sub station and we dont know what to believe. Is there a reason to worry or not?
Jenny <stevosfamataustarnet dt com .au>
Tumbarumba, NSW Australia - Sunday, May 12, 2002 at 19:47:19 (PDT)
How can I convert an 80 KW 3 phase .120/208V load bank into 150 hp on a 60 kva generator. Or what is the difference between KW & KVA?
sean w. dooley <sdooleyatstic dt net >
san antonio, tx USA - Friday, April 26, 2002 at 19:38:31 (PDT)
I came to know that the people living around 220k and 300k suffers from brain tumer and skin diseases.Is it true? If yes tell me what exactly the safe difference should be from that high tension wire, and from where I get the proof of the same.An early reply will be solicited. thanks
Sanjay Sinha <sinha_sanjay123atindiatimes dt com >
N. Delhi, INDIA - Monday, April 22, 2002 at 04:38:56 (PDT)
While I agree with what you are saying that some of the terms used to explain electricity in American schools is wrong, I myself had what I consider to be a good grounding in electrical theory I was taught to see electric current as you see water (water after all is made up of more than just its flow), I take exception to the comments on power flow as this is a concept that allows not only professional electrical engineers like myself to quantify supply and demand of both real and reactive power but also allows the general public at least enough knowledge to understand how much the magical wiggly stuff is going to cost. It is great that you correct some of the misconceptions but your explanations are mostly far above what school children of the age you are targeting can grasp. Remember that we cannot see electricity normally and that if children have a visual stimulus or a common frame of reference to which they can link the theory, they have a better chance of understanding the truth later on when they can follow the maths. I would try to tone the site down a bit and pitch it at the level you intend it for, if you can, then this would become a very worth while site. Ian Render B.Eng(Hons), AMIEE
Ian Render <ian.renderatntlworld dt com >
UK - Monday, April 15, 2002 at 10:12:36 (PDT)
Other misconceptions--1.) electricity takes the path of least resistance--no, it takes all paths. 2.) electricity seeks the ground--no, it seeks to return to its source but it may use the ground to get try and get there.
wayne knowles <userdude9549atcs dt com >
sapulpa, ok USA - Saturday, April 13, 2002 at 19:57:16 (PDT)
THis is a great site. My son is studying a chapter called electricty and this has been a great help. I've probably learned more than my son. It is also entertaining. Thanks, Ren?
Renee Wallace <rlaw641ataol dt com >
Mandeville, LA USA - Tuesday, April 09, 2002 at 16:55:29 (PDT)
how has the main source of domestic power changed over time
USA - Monday, April 08, 2002 at 16:29:44 (PDT)
I would like to know how if there is a way to get shocked or electricuted through a headset that wear over your ear. And if so should there be a point of exit for the electricity?
Sabrina <dlosmomatyahoo dt com >
Mobile, al USA - Monday, April 08, 2002 at 04:02:47 (PDT)
what's happening when a light bulb "pops?"
margaret <mthaysatattglobal dt net >
ny, ny USA - Monday, April 01, 2002 at 07:52:36 (PST)
How does a circuit breaker work? If the circuit is broken by a short or something, how can I restore the circuit breaker?
H S Rockwood <rockwoodatadelphia dt net >
Pittsburgh, PA USA - Wednesday, March 27, 2002 at 08:20:51 (PST)
I have some questions about resistors. I have heard the terms ISOLATION resistor and PULL-UP resistor used in electronic circuits. What are they and how are they used? Is the isolation resistor part of a voltage divider? I have noticed that Isolation resistors are often 1K Ohm and Pull-up resistor are usually 10K Ohms, Why is this? Thanks, This is a great website.
Timothy May <Timothy.Mayatcolorado dt edu >
Boulder, CO USA - Tuesday, March 26, 2002 at 16:24:33 (PST)
Can static electricity ignite combustible dust? I work in confined space rescue and cannot find an answer to this question. Any insite would be appreciated.
Jim <nelsonjatwi.rr dt com >
USA - Monday, March 11, 2002 at 12:19:32 (PST)
I was wondering, can you tell me why the RMS value of a sine wave is higher than the average of that same wave, over say 1 cycle. I got to wondering when I found that a fully rectified wave uses the average (DC) value, but the unrectified (AC) version uses the RMS value. I have searched a lot to find the answer; plenty of places quote the figures 0.637 and 0.707 but not the reason for the difference between them. Great site
Jamie <carey_jatbigpond dt com >
AUS - Thursday, February 28, 2002 at 20:26:00 (PST)
You have a very thought provoking page. I see you are trying yourself what electricity is. And the truth is nobody knows what exactly is electricity. And all the confusion among regular folks even scientists derive from that. But I find in too many instances you are self-contradicting your own desription of electricity. Words are poor indeed in describing something that is not a substance but a quality. We only see the qualtitative manifestations. I do not agree with your assertion in many places where you say it cannot be both. Yes it can when you are not describing matter or substance, as in quatum physics a subatomic quanta can behave both as a particle and a wave, and the observer's expectation (setting up of the experiment) actually determines the outcome. So electricity is neither a charge or current and both a charge and current! It may be confusing but I beleive everything in the Universe is held by electromagnetism. Anyway i found your page quite interesting. It makes people to think for themselves. Thanks.
Susmita Barua <ms2dataatjuno dt com >
Lexington, KY USA - Monday, February 25, 2002 at 21:12:49 (PST)
I'm doing a research paper called "Why is it that Europe uses a 220 voltage and North America uses 110 voltage? I'm looking for the history of the above subject.
Patti Lloyd <plloyd1790atearthlink dt net >
Snohomish, wa USA - Monday, February 25, 2002 at 20:05:10 (PST)
My roommates and I have an ongoing argument we'd like to get resolved. They maintain that if you leave your light on for one minute it uses less energy than if you turn off your light for that minute and then turn it on a minute later. They say it takes more energy to turn on the light, but I say that it takes less energy if you just turn off the light for a minute. Can you help us?
Josh Longacre <jlongacre712athotmail dt com >
San Diego, Ca USA - Wednesday, February 20, 2002 at 17:29:45 (PST)
What other things is the electrostatic motor used for
Abraham Valenzuela <eminem93241atyahoo dt com >
Lamont, Ca. USA - Wednesday, February 20, 2002 at 08:31:06 (PST)
Hi, I just wanted to thank you very very much for helping me understand many things about "electricity" that I found confusing and contradictory. It is a big problem that so many books are filled with false knowledge. Thank you very much Igor Kulasin Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Igor Kulasin <gigaattravnik.net>
Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Wednesday, January 30, 2002 at 08:33:36 (PST)
Great site, lots of really helpful stuff. I do have one question though. It should be simple though. What is a short? I've heard people say this before but I don't know what they are refering to. Thanks.
CA USA - Saturday, January 19, 2002 at 23:37:04 (PST)
On your page about what is the difference between static electricity and normal electricity. Many dictionaries do indeed fail to make it clear.

It can be an excess, or a deficiency of electrons, but for simplicity's sake, lets consider an excess of electrons.

In normal electricity, it is an excess of electrons on a conductor, but because it is a conductor, the electrons are free to flow along it to another conductor.

In static electricity, there is an excess of electrons on an insulator, but because it is an insulator, the electrons are not free to flow along it, but are trapped on the surface of the insulator. They can be dissappated from the surface only.

Does this help? Best wishes, Anthony
Anthony <temp_y2kathotmail dt com >
UK - Saturday, January 12, 2002 at 13:24:50 (PST)

Language and tradition often get in the way of scientific understanding. Electricity is one of them. Albert Einstein gave us a better understanding of energy's relation ship to matter with E=mC2. Energy = mass times the speed of light squared. Mass or substance in this equation has a connection to energy. Mass at any mole equals energy when multiplied by the speed of light squared. ... It is a hard thing to grasp but it is true. Matter and energy are one and the same at the molecular level. Alberto Volta proved that chemicals reactions sometimes shed electrons which can be extracted with two wires as electricty. Electrons = Electricity. Every time you turn on a flashlight you prove Volta's theory. Those batteries aren't charged. Its a chemical reaction that takes place and electrons ie. Electricity flow. The Bohr model of the atom doesn't fit E=mc2. And Van de Graff's generator collects positively charged flowing particals which also conflicts with Bohr's model of the atom. Since we know the atomic bomb works science still has to fully explain electric phenomina that is compatible with E=mC2.
Joseph Lado <Joeladoatyahoo dt com >
USA - Wednesday, January 09, 2002 at 22:15:35 (PST)

New comments

Old comments: 2007

Old comments: 2006

Old comments: 2005

Old comments: 2004

Old comments: 2003

Old comments: 2001

Old comments: 2000

Old comments: 1999

Created and maintained by Bill Beaty.
Mail me at: .

(Original scripts and Guestbook software created by Matt's script archive and can be found at Matt's Script Archive)