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What is electricity
what is electricity Sunlight on power wires
Image shows 3-phase distribution lines traveling between local substation and end user homes and business.
The 3 larger wires carry 3-phase high voltage AC electricity.
These particular wires are 1" diameter bare aluminum alloy, a material selected for it's light weight, availability, durability, low cost, and conductivity.
Air space below wires is insulation, and the wires sit on an insulator at each pole.
The smaller top wire is the static wire or system neutral required for  protection against lightning, and to assist circuit breakers during overload etc. The neutral or static wire runs throughout the grid from power plant generator to end user.
The ground wire (not shown) runs down side of each pole into the earth. The ground wire is bonded (connected) to the Neutral wire at each pole. This means all grounds are bonded together into single Neutral-ground array that stabilizes the grid.

See inside main breaker box
Basic 120-240 volt single-phase house wiring
Troubleshoot household electric
What is 3-phase
How to wire commercial 3-phase
Name parts of electric power pole
It is NOT known exactly what electricity is.
That's the answer ...
But starting with the conclusion first, we can explore backward and find possible routes to the answer.

Electricity is a force that moves electrons.
That describes what happens. But it does not say what electricity is.
Like saying an engine moves a car. But doesn't explain what an engine is, just explains what it does.
So electricity is about electrons that are moving.
Electric rules
There are known rules or formulas such as 'volts x amps = watts' that let us understand the math behind electricity.
Producing and controlling electricity can be learned despite not knowing exactly what electricity is.
So electricity has some predictable characteristics.
"Volt: The unit of measurement used to quantify electrical pressure or the force that causes electrons to flow.
Amp: the unit of measurement used to quantify the rate of electrical current.
Ohm: The unit of measurement used to quantify the opposition or “resistance” to the flow of electricity.
Watt: The unit of measurement used to quantify the rate or amount of electrical energy being used."

Ohm's law
Figure volts amps watts
What is 3-phase: power plant to end user
What is amperage


All matter that we can see, is made from atoms. In a simple version of quantum theory, atoms have negatively charged electrons in orbit around positively charged protons.
Electrons are lighter weight than protons, and electrons tend to move more rapidly than protons.
Conditions of increased energy can cause electrons to get excited and jump into wider orbits around the proton where they can dislodge from orbit and come free.

Matter that gives up electrons at lower levels of energy is called conductive, and matter that does not give up electrons very easily is called non-conductive.
Conductive materials such as copper, silver and aluminum give up electrons more easily than 'non-conductive materials' such as rubber. However all matter is conductive when enough voltage is applied. Even rubber will conduct electricity in circumstances of extremely high voltage. 

Copper is used for indoor wiring because it is a strong material, holds it's shape under high amperage, and less expensive than silver, yet reasonably abundant. Aluminum is also very conductive, and used for overhead conductor on the grid, but is not used for indoor wiring because it expands and contracts excessively under the heat cause by high amperage, requiring special compression connections or lug connections on switches and outlets instead of simple screw connection, wire connectors or tape. Connecting aluminum wire improperly will cause fire. Most structures today are required to use copper due to electrical codes.

Because copper wire is a conductive material, the electrons in the copper atom become loosely bonded to the proton when heated.
When voltage is applied to copper wire, the loosely bonded electrons start jumping from one atom to the next where they dislodge more electrons, and the flow of electrons starts moving down the wire.
This explains what happens, but doesn't tell us what electricity is.

Temperature and material

Heat causes electrons in an atom to move to a more energized state, making them easier to dislodged from orbit.
So is electricity heat?
No, heat is a component that affects electricity. Low temperatures actually assist the flow of electrons by lowering resistance of conductive materials, while high temperatures increase resistance against moving electrons.
The study of super-conductivity is about delivering electrons at absolute zero degrees where certain materials offer no resistance to moving electrons.
Another example, solar panels deliver more electrons when panels and wires are cold.
However the reverse applies to ground rods. Ground rods require 0 resistance so electrons can reach soil without impediment. This is necessary to prevent hazard during a short circuit. However warm-dense-wet-salty soil is conductive, while frozen-dry-rocky soil is less conductive, which means the rules that govern ground rods vary by several factors including temperature.

The above information indicate that both temperature and type of conductor play a role in electricity.

Some materials conduct electricity better than others. Air is not a good conductor, and warm air is less conductive than cool damp air. Damp warm soil is a good conductor while frozen soil is not a good conductor. The difference is conductive, non-conductive materials, such as moisture. Non-conductive materials offer high resistance so electrons cannot easily move through or across the material. This means resistance is important for electricity.

Different materials offer different resistance. Resistance can be thought of as friction that stops you from pushing a disabled car uphill.
The steeper the hill, the greater the resistance and the harder it is to push the car.
Resistance is the amount of energy it takes to move electricity across a conductor. Remember any material can be a conductor if voltage is large enough.
With some materials, cold temperatures can be thought of as pushing a car downhill. It's easier to push the car because there is less resistance, for example a cool copper wire offers less resistance to moving electrons.
Very hot conditions will energize electrons into loosely bonded orbits, except it takes more energy to move the electrons across a very hot wire. The hotter the wire gets, the more resistance it offers. The problem can be solved using a larger wire because it offers less resistance, and this means size of conductor affects electricity.

Size of conductor
Large copper wires offer less resistance to electrons than small copper wire. The larger size wire can handle more electrons without getting hot and losing efficiency.
So cool, large, conductive materials are important for electricity.
However if the wire is too long, and the energy on the wire is too small, the reverse might be true. For example, if you connect a 9 volt battery to a 300' long wire then the electrons might never arrive at the other end because the wire itself has resistance. The battery will go dead as electrons trickle away but their arrival at other end will be difficult or impossible to measure.
If you connect 9 volt battery to one end of a steel bridge, and steel is very conductive with low resistance, except steel offers resistance at normal earth-temperatures, because every material has resistance. The steel bridge can equalize the battery by depleting available electrons but the resistance of steel exceeds the battery's ability to send electrons across the bridge and light up a bulb connected to other side.
The same steel bridge hit by strong bolt of lightning will energize the entire structure, requiring lighting rods and direct pathway to earth using more conductive materials such as copper wire.
This means size of conductor is a factor, but so is distance.

The longer the conductor, the more resistance and the smaller the number of electrons are able to arrive at other end. This is the problem faced by Thomas Edison and his DC electricity (direct current) ... DC has a very limited transmission distance. Edison's solution was to build a generator every few city blocks. Tesla's AC electricity (alternating current) generated by power company today has solved the problem up to a point, beyond which electricity cannot be transmitted. 
To increase distance without using larger and larger wires, the AC grid utilizes transformers to step up voltage and decrease amperage, which reduces the heat on the wire. Remember volts x amps = watts, so when voltage is increased, amperage is decreased. Amperage is heat, and less heat on wire means the farther electricity can be transmitted. A super conductive condition would let power plant transmit electricity thousands of miles to your house without consuming any energy or heat loss, but with present technology there are practical limits to electric transmission, with maximum distance topping out at 500-800 miles.

Review so far
Electricity is the movement of electrons.
Electricity follows rules of mathematics and physics.
Temperature, type of conductor, and resistance are important for electricity.
Size and type of conductor affect amount of energy needed to move electrons.
These things explain some parameters of electricity, but still don't tell us what electricity is.


Potential of electrons, or the attraction-of-unequal-charges, is a function of quantum mechanics. Electricity is somewhere in the realm of quantum mechanics.
The attraction of + to - charges, or more exactly, the attraction of unequal charges, can be seen with electricity caused by lightning.

It's not just attraction of + and - charges. Unequal charges means two negative charges can equalize too if one is more negatively charged than the other. When one area of storm cloud is more negatively charged than another, lightning can occur that equalizes the two.
So the value of  + or - charges is actually relative to other nearby charges
. Charge is merely a potential, not an absolute. For example, if we ask what is the average charge of earth? We can never calculate it because the earth is constantly bombarded by charged particles from the sun, often observed as the aurora or northern lights.

If two 
unequal charges are too far apart, they will not equalize. All is stable and nothing happens until the unequal particles find a pathway to equalize.
For example, air is non-conductive. Air is highly resistant. Electricity does not travel through air very easily and the power company utilizes this by installing overhead conductor high off the ground, with higher voltages positioned on the tallest towers, and lower voltages set lower. In other words, the grid uses the air as an insulator. If high voltage lines are too close to ground, or a surge of voltage on the line is too great, the electricity can arc to the ground and cause fire etc.
A similar thing happens with lightning. Storm clouds generate energy that dislodges electrons. The charged particles will equalize with nearby particles except the air prevents this from happening. After a while the charge can build up in certain areas of the storm until the potential charge exceeds resistance of the air. When that occurs, there is a momentary bolt of lightning that equalizes the charge until the charge can no longer overcome the resistance of air. If air was highly conductive, there would be no lightning.

The question is,
don't we have to know what a + or - charge is before we can find out what electricity is? Probably yes.
It appears that electricity is somehow related to the movement of electrons caused by unequal charges, and that nothing happens until there is a pathway that lets electrons flow.
We can conclude that unequal charges are a potential for electricity until a pathway exists and electrons move, but that doesn't explain what electricity is.

Scale  of electricity
Does electricity only exist when we observe its affect? Or is that simply a name we apply to the phenomenon  when we observe it?
What about when one electron jumps into a higher orbit, or jumps into orbit around another electron? What is the scale of electricity? Every atom is involved, but when does it become electricity?
The attraction of unequal charges happens at many different scales, from individual electrons to massive numbers of electrons in a lightning bolt.
Take the anode rod for example. Water heaters, bridges, gas pipelines are made of steel that deteriorates when exposed to water. To prevent the deterioration, an anode made from less noble metal such as aluminum is bonded (connected) to the steel. The aluminum is then exposed to the water, and slowly the aluminum gives away it's electrons instead of the steel. The steel is saved, and the trickle of electrons leaving the aluminum is electricity.
A similar example is observed when copper pipe is connected to galvanized pipe. Slowly over many years the galvanized pipe loses electrons to the copper, until the galvanized pipe begins to leak. To prevent the problem, plumbers use a brass pipe between the copper and galvanized. As a result, neither the copper or galvanized react to the brass and movement of electrons is stopped.
Another interesting example is bonding or grounding a tall antenna to steel water pipes. It was discovered that a flow of electrons from the antenna could rust out a steel water heater amazing fast, within a couple years. After the water heater company had to replace the heater several times, the issue was investigated. They discovered the deterioration of a steel water heater was caused by the antenna receiving radio waves (energy from the electromagnetic spectrum) that energized the water heater with electric potential that made the steel more reactive to water, causing tank to rust. The problem was named 'stray current corrosion' and solved by bonding the antenna directly to a ground rod instead of water pipes.
This illustrates that electricity can do unexpected things, and the effect can happen gradually over several years with a trickle of electrons, or suddenly with a bolt of lightning.

Different types of electricity
This discussion about + and - is supposedly electricity, yet quite different in appearance from everyday 120 volt light switch isn't it? Well yes, but both are about movement of electrons. Let's look at the grid for more detail. The generator rotates a magnet past 2 or 3 coils of wire, thus creating a massive number of negatively charged electrons transmitted across electric wires. The charge on the wires is different from the charge of earth, and the unequal charge will always seek a path to earth to equalize the charge. So the grid is the same as lightning.
To help prevent problems, the grid builds a controlled pathway for electrons to reach earth in event there is a failure somewhere along the way. The pathway is the Neutral-Ground array.
The Neutral wire runs from the generator, across every tower, through every substation, along every pole, all the way to the circuit breaker box, and then to each electric outlet in your house. Along the way, the Neutral is continually bonded to the ground wire.
Now think about all those ground rods at each tower, substation, pole, home breaker box, and business breaker box. A single neighborhood contains hundreds of ground rods. Every building and store has ground rods. And all those ground rods are bonded together with the Neutral to form a giant array of ground rods.
Why? Because the grid would burn out within days without the the stabilizing effect of the ground. The ground rod provides a direct pathway for stray electrons, overloads, lightning, and short circuits to reach earth. Just like lightning equalizes charge by striking earth, the earth absorbs stray electrons from the grid and ensures safe control over generated electricity. This means the earth itself is a conductor, it has a charge, and is impacted by electricity.

Both lightning and 120 volt electricity are about movement of electrons. Except they come from different sources. 120 volts comes from a generator that spins a magnet past two or three coils of wire. That means a magnet with a north and south pole is responsible for creating man-made electricity. Without a magnet we could not produce household electricity.
So is it a coincidence that earth itself is a giant 'magnet' with north and south poles? And the earth somehow creates conditions for lightning bolts and absorbs stray electrons from man-made electricity and lightning. What affect does this spinning mud and nickel ball have on electricity? And if the earth is an electric generator of some sort, powered by gravity, what affect comes from bathing the planet in a constant barrage of charged particles from the sun?

Is it possible that the movement of electrons is an incidental observation that happens each time electricity occurs, and electricity is actually the effect of magnetism?
We know unequal charges are attracted.
So what attracts them? Is it the same force that holds electrons into orbit around a neutron.
Is electricity magnetism?
The electric generator requires a magnet. The earth's gravity acts like a magnet. The giant nuclear storm on the sun generates ch
Ultimately we have to know know more about magnetism and gravity to understand electricity.
What is 3-phase electricity
Difference between single-phase and 3-phase
Difference between surge protection and ground
How to wire GFCI

Voltage is the potential difference between both ends of wire, or between the wire and earth.
So voltage is a potential across 2 poles.

The only thing stopping unequal charge on electric wire from equalizing with the earth is the resistance of the surface, channel or material surrounding it, such as wire insulation. A wire might be sitting there doing nothing until you grab it while leaning into a metal fence. If you grab a wire with frayed insulation, the electrons will travel through the human body, into the fence , and then into the earth.
Results vary from death to severe burns, and long-term heart and nerve problems. What happens: electrons race through the body, trying to equalize the charge with nearby earth, except the charge cannot equalize because the generator at power plant keeps pumping out massive numbers of negatively charged electrons which are burning through the body at immense speed. At some point, the wire is carrying too many electrons, causing the wire to overheat, and finally the circuit breaker trips. But it won't be soon enough, the damage is already done to the human body.
If the person is lucky, the wire is protected by GFCI or ground fault interrupter. The GFCI trips sooner than breaker and is used to prevent electrocution. The GFCI monitors electrons across the two wires. If one of the two wires is suddenly carrying more electrons than the other wire, then the GFCI trips and cuts off the line, stopping electrons from flowing to earth.
I assume humans discovered a need for GFCI after applying science to a pattern of observable negative outcomes.

More people are killed by 120 volt that all other voltages. Do not touch a person being electrocuted, knock em loose with a non-conductive 2x4. Do not apply water to electrical burn. Get help immediately.
People making the error of stealing copper wire and transformer oil at substations are frequently burned into carbon. The suffering is quick once high voltage strikes a human body, except for folks who witnessed the event.

I don't mean to sound indifferent, more than advising caution. I was working on live 120 volt in customer's attic. Sweated shirt and leaning into metal AC duct, the next thing I remember was coming back to consciousness while crawling toward the attic stairway. I was unhurt because the contact was brief, but SWORE never to work on live power again. Good idea.

Turn power off. Always stand on dry insulated surface such as boards when working with electricity.
Turn off breaker, but do not assume power is off. Test with non-contact voltage tester.
When testing live power, tape tester leads to wood sticks to keep hands away from power. Paint sticks and masking tape work fine.
Do not lean over and put head into live circuit. Step back and then pick up tools.
Stay off aluminum ladder. Use approved fiberglass ladder, or safest plan: hire licensed electrician and go out and buy a newspaper.
Buy from my affiliate links:
Electric testers
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Voltage is a potential. For example, commercial high-leg delta installation, when testing across any 2 of 4 wires in circuit: the test reveals 120 volt potential high-leg to phase A, and 208 volt potential high-leg to neutral, and 240 volt phase A to Neutral, and 240 volt phase A to phase B. The electrician has 4 wires available to choose from, and can achieve 3 different voltages by selecting different combinations.
Residential electricity shows same result: Test shows 120 volt potential Hot wire to Neutral, and 240 volt Hot wire to Hot wire. Electrician can achieve 2 different voltages.

The potential voltage is only realized if both conductors are connected. In other words, after we connect the conductors, a pathway is open for the charged particles. 
120 volts only becomes 120 volt when both conductors meet and the potential difference is discharged.

In the case of lightning, the potential exists everywhere, is continually moving and changing, and the discharge of lightning is momentary until resistance of air exceeds potential. If the potential charge is not released by lightning, it is dissipated more slowly as atmospheric conditions change. The mathematics for worldwide conditions would be immense, and perhaps incalculable except as theory.

In the case of generated AC electricity traveling down a wire, the potential only exists on the conductor as long as generator is running, and the discharge is continual and uniform until a switch is turned off. The mathematics for AC electricity is more knowable since each component of the grid is engineered to meet the practical mathematics of volts x amps = watts.

This still doesn't explain what electricity is. It only describes the narrow way we control
electrons by utilizing the physics of loose electrons following a pathway.
What is 3-phase
How to wire 3-phase
See inside household breaker box
Electromagnetic spectrum
resistance causes the attraction and resistance
can resistance be the force that overcomes resistance
Generator magnetic field on a conductor
Solar, wind, water, battery

Different kinds of electricity/ lightning

In the previous section we mentioned a few kinds of electricity where electrons move slowly between different conductive materials.
Everyday examples discussed below are probably more common to us.
Lightning bolts and static discharge are a form of electricity where unequal charges are equalized.
Under conditions such as warm air rising into storm clouds, positively and negatively charged electrons group together on atoms inside the storm. The storm clouds have areas that becomes more positively or negatively charged ... resulting in a differential of charge. There is a force that wants to equalize the charge.
Air is the non-conductive insulator that stops electrons from equalizing. The non-conductive air also helps cause areas of unequal charge. Breathable air is a collection of gases that is non-conductive, except at extremely high voltage, and is used by the power company when calculating safe distance between conductors and distance away from the ground.
When the force is large enough to overcome resistance or insulation of air, the electrons discharge in a bolt of lightning (electricity) that equalizes the charge between clouds causing lighting across the clouds. The uneven charge is also present on the ground below the clouds, and when the resistance of air is less than the differential charge, there is lightning between the clouds and the earth below.
The electrons quickly flow into orbit around other atoms until the charge is reduced to an amount less than the resistance of air.
This explains one condition that causes observable electricity, but does not tell us what electricity is.
Anode rods

History of electricity

We can probably assume that electricity has been around since the the universe started, except we don't know what electricity is or all the forms it it has taken over time, or the variations within different gravitational fields, or what happens out there in the cold void between galaxies, or how electricity varies with different planetary chemistries.
In any case, the universe has been churning out charged particles for billions of years, while man-made electricity has only been around for a few 100 years.

Man-made electricity didn't happen because of 1 or 2 people, or even a handful of people. It took sustained effort by millions of people over many centuries and ranged from the development of metallurgy to stable food production for large populations. Man-made electricity required sustained cultural encouragement, co-invention by people working on different things such as magnetics, plus long a history of previous inventions including copper etc.
As improbably as it seems, somehow things combined into the invention of modern electricity. And the amazing developments continue, including a method for generating electricity using radioactive rocks, and another peculiar discovery that silicone exposed to light produces electrons, leading to solar panels.

AC and DC electricity
AC is alternating current where electrons alternate or change direction on the wire 50 or 60 times per second, depending if the generator rotates 50 or 60 times per second. In the Americas, the standard is 60 Hz, or 60 cycles, while Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia is 50 cycles. The standard for exactly 60 cycle is being relaxed, but reliable electric waveform starts with integrity of rotation.
AC electricity generally comes from generators where a coil of wire is exposed to a magnetic field.
Very literally, the electrons move one direction down the wire at nearly the speed of light, and gradually slow down to a stop, and then accelerate back the other direction until they slow to a stop. The sine-wave oscillation of AC electricity repeats over and over, back and forth on the wire, with voltage rising and then falling to zero, and then rising again, 50-60 times per second ... with an average voltage above zero ... and happening so fast that a light bulb filament doesn't flicker.

DC is direct-current where electrons flow only one direction.
DC voltage comes from solar panels, batteries, and from AC electricity that is transformed into DC.
The flow of DC electrons is uniform, and voltage does not rise and fall like AC, nor change direction.
Switching high voltage DC is a bigger challenge than AC because of arc extinction, or spark when the blades of a switch are disengaged. With AC, the voltage reaches zero so there is a moment when the electrons have stopped moving, making the spark fairly easy to extinguish. However, high voltage DC has a larger arc because the voltage never drops to zero. Instead the electrons in a DC circuit keep pushing, and trying to jump across the switch. The solution is to have multiple switches disengage at the same time on both negative and positive wires.

Both DC and AC can be converted into either AC or DC.
DC can be stored. AC is either used or lost, and cannot be stored unless put into heated water, or some type of storage such as converted to DC and stored in a battery etc.

Solar panels produce DC electricity but, to make is more useful, it can be converted into AC electricity using an inverter.
Likewise AC electricity can be turned into DC electricity using a transformer.
Most electronic circuits are DC electricity.
For example a computer uses DC electricity for the circuit board. The source of power for the DC circuit board is AC electricity.
So we are still explaining electricity by looking at its moving parts without saying what it is.
Generators explained
Read how to convert AC water heater to DC/ high voltage
Convert AC water heater to DC/ low voltage

Electricity is mathematical and predictable
Household electricity has mathematical properties that predict what will happen under certain conditions. It is also known that when conditions exceed safe margins, or safety margins missing, then electricity does predictable things such as short out and burn down a house.
Lighting bolts are measurable and slightly predictable, as are consequences from a direct encounter with lightning.

Electricity is measured in volts, amps and watts etc, reflected by the basic formula V x A = W.
The basic formula is key for converting electricity into usable forms.
For example the conversion of voltages from an AC outlet to your DC cell phone battery requires a transformer with two coils of wire. The coils of wire do not touch, nor are they connected except by a bar of metal. The two coils are merely next to each other, and energizing one coil of wire with cause the other coil of wire to become energized. Different number of winds on each coil produces different voltages. For example the 120 volt household power is run into one of the coils of wire. The other coil has more winds and is energized at lower voltage. The lower voltage travels into the cell phone where the battery is charged.
Ohm's law
Figure volts amps watts

Standard voltages
Electric power is standardized so that appliances, motors and electronics receive predictable voltages.

In the US, standard voltages include 12 24 36 48 120 208 240 277 440 480 600 4400 7200 69,000 500,000 etc
Let's look at the electric grid supplying power to your town. The power company generator produces large amounts of electricity that is transmitted across aluminum-alloy wires, at very high voltage, to local substations.
High voltage means the electricity can be transmitted long distance without power loss.
Transformers at the local substation reduce voltage further for subtransmission and distribution.
Each house or building receives a distribution line from the substation transformer that carries 4400 to 7200 volt.
Since it is impractical to use 4400 or 7200 volts to run appliances, the voltage is reduced at each location using a transformer.

Why are transformers located all along the grid?
The reason transformers are used is because of heat.
Remember how electrons leave their orbit under conditions of heating? Electricity causes heat.
Humans made several discoveries over the past centuries: Electricity can be measured by two inversely proportional properties which they called volts and amps. When volts go up, amps go down. It's similar to a workplace.
If more men (volts) are at work, the amount-of-work (amps-heat) needed from each man to reach the goal is LESS.
Fewer men (volts) at work, the amount-of-work (amps-heat) needed from each man is MORE.
Humans also discovered that 2 coils of wires placed next to each other could manipulate the volt-amp relationship at very high efficiency. They also discovered that decreasing amps (heat) meant less power loss on a wire, and that high voltage could be sent long-distance over small-size economically-priced wire on towers that could be spaced far apart from each other.
They discovered that high-voltage switchgear is very expensive and heavy, and high voltage extremely dangerous, and thus impractical for house-sized appliances.
Therefore high-volt-low-amp (500,000 volt etc) is used for transmitting electricity long distance. Less-high-volt-lower-amp (4400 volt etc) is used for local distribution. And low-volt-high-amp (120-440 volt/ 100+ amps) is for end-user appliances, lights, and machinery.
We are explaining some of the basic principles of manipulating electricity, but haven't come close to saying what it is... because we don't know.

Questions for the scientists and quasi-scientists trying to answer what electricity is: The clues might be out there.
Here are some questions and let's assume that 'probably' and 'probably not' are suppositions that limit possibilities. Or if you think you know some answers based on known science, push your thinking forward and take all the questions as a whole.

Is electricity the same across the universe? Can you set up an AC generation grid on a planet that does not have a metallic core? Or an atmosphere? Would the ground rods and neutral system work? Is electricity a product of gravity? Does electric current flow across the universe like light? Is electricity a form of light? Or a product of light? Electric wires capture radio waves and transmit the interference - would the wires on another planet need to be shielded from radiation? Are radio waves only caused by electricity? Do our electronic circuits work in very high heat and cold? Are the physics governing electrify the same everywhere? Do those rules evolve? Do atoms evolve? What kind of electricity is needed for life? The conductive element nickel if necessary for living organisms as we know them, and the earth's core is nickel, the metal is abundant and our nervous systems are electrical - is there a relationship?

Ah here's an idea that somebody is 'probably' working on .... an easily-transportable metal or conductive material that can be shaped into a wire or surface, and exposed to high levels of solar radiation, on the surface of the moon for example, that will produce a one-directional flow of electrons similar to battery or solar panel ..... plus an equally conductive material than can be cooled in a shaded area on moon that will allow rapid acceleration of atoms from the hot conductor to the cold conductor? ... Reasoning that present-day electronics that function on earth must be shielded from charged particles of radiation via atmosphere, or by physical shielding in space. ... implying that electricity on earth has unique properties due to the specific environment here, and therefore conditions in space might likewise offer undiscovered properties that allow new opportunity ... particularly since we know that radiation is absorbed by materials, and will dislodge electrons, and in fact damage exposed materials because radiation carries huge energy potential.
And let's add a caveat that the conductive material harvest all wavelengths of light including the visible spectrum, thus making the electric output far more powerful than solar panels.
Small household transformers.
If household 120 volt was connected to a cell phone, the switches inside the phone would have to be robust enough to handle the arc, and the phone would not be small. In order to make the phone small enough, the voltage has to be very low so the switches can be small.
There are a wide variety of transformers and transformer configurations that allow for the production of different voltages.
For example
208 V DC can be achieved using solar panels, but more typical would be 208 V AC from the electric grid
208 V AC is one of many standard voltages available in the US and around the world

208 V is a standard voltage derived from using a specific transformer
Let's say the distribution voltage is 4400 and the end user wants 208 volt
Inside each transformer are two coils of wire the primary and secondary
The primary coil converts electrical energy into magnetic field that is converted back into electrical energy in a second coil.
The metal core of a transformer is made from silicon-steel alloy to avoid magnetic field loss.
When the primary coil is energized with 4400 volts, the secondary coil starts flowing with electricity also
When each coil has a different number of winds of wire around the metal core then the voltage can be changed
The ratio of windings on each coil is the turns ratio
There are a specific number winds for 4500 volts and specific number of winds for 208 volt
The power company connects 4500 volts to the primary coil and the secondary coil has more winds and produces the needed 208 volts
Turns ratio = number of turns on primary number turns on secondary
4500 208 = 21.6
primary voltage = secondary voltage x turns ratio
208 volt
.pdf file
Transformer pdfs

Start with the molecule.

If you take a drop of water, and divide into smaller and smaller parts.
Eventually you arrive at the water molecule.

If water is further broken down it becomes one separate atom of hydrogen and two separate atoms of oxygen.
The smallest molecule of water is made of one atom of hydrogen and two atoms of oxygen.
If water is broken down further than a molecule, then it is no longer water.
Water is also known as H2O.
H2 is two atom of hydrogen.
O is one atom of oxygen.
When put together, they form a molecule of water.
When broken apart they become separate atoms.
Looking at the atom.

Hydrogen is the simplest atom with one electron, and a nucleus made up of one proton.
The electron has a negative charge.
The proton nucleus has a positive charge.

The negative electron rotates around the positive nucleus.
This can be compared with the moon orbiting around the earth, or the earth orbiting around the sun.

Oxygen is more complex than hydrogen.
The oxygen nucleus has one proton and one neutron.
Oxygen has seven electrons.
Again the nucleus had a positive charge.
The electrons have a negative charge.
Electrons orbit at specific distances from the nucleus.
Again, it can be compared with the Earth orbiting the sun and remaining same distance.
Each electron has a specific path or orbit that it follows around the center nucleus.

Oxygen has 7 electrons.
2 electrons on the oxygen atom share same orbit, and each is located on opposite side of the center nucleus.
Imagine if the earth had a twin planet that followed the same orbit as the earth, but was on opposite side of the sun.
5 electrons on the oxygen atom share a different orbit, and that orbit is located farther away from the center nucleus.
The 5 electrons are spaced evenly in their orbit.

Since the nucleus is positive and the electron negative, that shows atoms have electrical charge.
In that sense all matter is said to be electrical in nature.
Apply energy to the atom.

If energy is applied to the atom then the electrons change orbit.
What would happen to earth's orbit if more energy entered our solar system?

With more energy the electrons begin orbiting farther away from the center nucleus.
The nucleus does not move because it is heavier than the electron.

If enough energy is applied then electron breaks free from its orbit.
This is called a free electron

Some materials can be energized by electricity better than other materials
Some metals have electrons that are very loosely bound to the nucleus
These electrons can become free electrons very easily
This is called conductivity

For example copper conducts electricity better than other materials because copper electrons are loosely bound to the nucleus

When power is applied to copper wire  it energizes the atoms of copper
Energizing copper causes free electrons because the electrons are loosely bound to the nucleus

The same amount of energy put into rubber will not produce free electrons
So copper is a better conductor than rubber
Good conductors have low resistance to the movement of electrons
Flow of electrons is the current
Materials that release electrons at low energy level and easily allow the flow of those electrons are considered good conductors

The free electron starts moving when electric power is applied
So the free electrons start moving along the copper wire
The electrons migrate from atom to atom
Each free electron jumps a short space to the next atom where it begins to orbit
This causes one or more electrons to come free
Then those free electrons jump to the next atom
Then more electrons are displaced at the next atom
The pattern is repeated until there's a flow of electrons down the wire
At this point the entire length of wire is energized

Energy is transferred through copper wire by the movement of free electrons

Each of the replaced electron repeats the same thing, jumping from atom to atom and causing more displaced electrons

The flow of electricity is the current
Is called the transmission of electric power

The flow of electricity is controlled by using conductive and non-conductive material
And by controlling the amount of energy flowing across the conductive material

For example wood is not a conductive material
If enough power is put into the wood it will conduct electricity
Evidence of this is a lightning strike or high voltage arcing to ground through branches of a tree

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