What Is Electricity?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 13,551
    Science expert Emerald Robinson explains what electricity is and how it was discovered.

    Emerald Robinson: Hi! Im Emerald Robinson. In this What Is video were going to take a closer look at electricity.

    Electricity is a natural force that weve harnessed for our energy needs. To understand the electricity we need to know a little about atoms, the tiny particles that make up our universe. Three smaller particles make up atoms, neutrons, electrons, and protons. Electrons have a negative charge, protons have a positive charge, and neutrons are neutral. The center of the atom includes neutrons and protons, while the electrons orbit the center like the earth orbits the sun.

    Stable atoms have an equal number of protons and electrons, and have no charge. If a material holds on to its electrons tightly, it is known as an insulator. If its electrons are more loosely bound, its called a conductor. When a large number of free electrons pile up at one end of a conductor, particles that have the same charge repel each other, while particles that have opposite charges attract. These negative electrons push each other apart, jumping from atom to atom through the conductor, creating electricity.

    There are two forms of electricity, current and static. Current electricity travels. It is composed of flowing electrons passing from one atom to another through a conductive material. It is this form of electricity that powers our homes.

    Static electricity is a charge that rest on an object. Sometimes your body picks up extra electrons through friction and becomes negatively charged. When you touch a conductor, like a metal door knob, you experience a small shock as this static charge jumps from your body to the door knob.

    Electricity is a secondary energy source, meaning, we have to convert energy from another source into the electric power. Sources of electricity include burning natural gas and coal, nuclear power, and natural sources of power, such as wind, water, and solar energy. And thats the shocking truth about electricity.