How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 734

How does electricity travel through wires?
When the atoms that make up a metal assemble together, some of their electrons become delocalized—they stop associating with specific atoms and can move throughout the overall metal. Most importantly, these mobile electrons can respond to the presence of electric fields and electric forces by accelerating and traveling through the metal. When you turn on a flashlight, you are creating a system in which positive charges on one terminal of the battery and negative charges on the other terminal can begin to push electrons through the flashlight's wires. The mobile electrons in those wires are negatively charged and they accelerate toward the positive terminal of the battery. New electrons from the negative terminal of the battery replace the departing electrons and soon a steady flow of electrons through the flashlight is established.

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