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Encyclopedia > Quantity of electricity

In physics the term quantity of electricity refers to the quantity of electric charge. It is designated by the letter Q and is measured in terms of SI derived units called coulombs. The first few hydrogen atom electron orbitals shown as cross-sections with color-coded probability density. ... Lightning strikes during a night-time thunderstorm. ... Electric charge is a fundamental conserved property of some subatomic particles, which determines their electromagnetic interactions. ... Cover of brochure The International System of Units. ... The coulomb (symbol: C) is the SI unit of electric charge. ...

Historical drift

The term quantity of Electricity was once common in scientific publications. It appears frequently in the writings of Franklin, Faraday, Maxwell, Millikan, and JJ Thomson, and was even occasionally used by Einstein. Benjamin Franklin (January 17 [O.S. January 6] 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the most well known Founding Fathers of the United States. ... In physics, the faraday (not to be confused with the farad) is a unit of electrical charge; one faraday is equal to the charge of 6. ... James Clerk Maxwell (13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879) was a Scottish mathematical physicist, born in Edinburgh. ... Robert Andrews Millikan (March 22, 1868 – December 19, 1953) was an American experimental physicist who won the 1923 Nobel Prize for his measurement of the charge on the electron and for his work on the photoelectric effect. ... Sir Joseph John Thomson Sir Joseph John Thomson (18 December 1856 – 30 August 1940), often known as J. J. Thomson, was an English physicist, the discoverer of the electron. ... Einstein redirects here. ...

However, over the last hundred years the term "electricity" has been used by electric utility companies and the general public in a non-scientific way. Today the vast majority of publications no longer refer to electricity as meaning electric charge. Instead they speak of electricity as electromagnetic energy. The definition has drifted even further, and many authors now use the word "electricity" to mean electric current (amperes), energy flow (watts), electrical potential (volts), or electric force. Others refer to any electrical phenomena as kinds of electricity. Lightning strikes during a night-time thunderstorm. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... In electricity, current refers to electric current, which is the flow of electric charge. ... A multimeter can be used to measure current The ampere (symbol: A) is the SI base unit of electric current. ... The watt (symbol: W) is the SI derived unit of power, equal to one joule per second. ... Electrical potential is the potential energy per unit charge associated with a static (time-invariant) electric field, also called the electrostatic potential or the electric potential, typically measured in volts. ... Josephson junction array chip developed by NIST as a standard volt. ...

These multiple definitions are probably the reason that Quantity of Electricity has fallen into disfavor among scientists. Physics textbooks no longer define Quantity of Electricity or Flow of Electricity. Quantity of electricity is now regarded as an archaic usage, and it has slowly been replaced by the terms charge of electricity, then quantity of electric charge, and today simply charge. Since the term electricity has increasingly become corrupted by contradictions and unscientific definitions, today's experts instead use the term charge to remove any possible confusion. Electric charge is a fundamental conserved property of some subatomic particles, which determines their electromagnetic interactions. ...

Conceptual problems

However, new problems arise when we attempt to fix earlier problems by replacing the term "electricity" with the term "charge." Older scientific papers still exist, and their authors constantly discuss quantities of electricity and flows of electricity (meaning charge and current respectively.) Those historical authors know that their readers understand just one definition: the term electricity means charge and nothing else. Modern students who read physics papers from periods prior to 1930 (approx.) should make a continuous effort to remain aware of this issue. If historical physicists discuss quantities of "electricity" implying "electric charge," yet the modern reader assumes they're speaking of electrical energy, the writings of those physicists will be quite difficult to understand. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...

Another problem arises because the population of physicists abandoned the term "electricity" without much public discussion and perhaps without much awareness on the part of their community. By silently altering the meaning of common and heavily-used terms, the scientific community caused an immense confusion on the part of the public. Whereas in the past the question "What is electricity?" was more or less easily answered, today the question itself has become meaningless. Is electricity a form of energy? Is electricity the same as electric charge? Is electricity nothing but a class of phenomena, akin to concepts such as "weather" or "politics?" Should we measure the quantity of electricity in coulombs, or should we instead use amperes, joules, or watts, or even volts? Physics texts and reference books supply no solid answer, since physicists have gradually abandoned electricity as a scientific term.

And yet Quantity of Electricity still persists in its original definition in many contemporary references. For example, in the modern SI units of physics, the coulomb is defined both as the unit of electric charge and also the unit quantity of electricity. Encyclopedia Britannica defines the coulomb as the unit quantity of electricity. The Merriam-Webster dictionary, in definition 1a, defines electricity as charge. And until the late 1980s, the glossary in the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics used the term "quantity of electricity" in place of "electric charge" in most of its definitions. Chemistry students will be familiar with Faraday's discovery that a unit quantity of electricity, when passed through an electrolysis cell, liberates a certain number of atoms of metal or gas. Under these definitions, electricity is not a form of energy. Cover of brochure The International System of Units. ... 1913 advertisement for the 11th edition, with the slogan When in doubt — look it up in the Encyclopædia Britannica The Encyclopædia Britannica (properly spelled with æ, the ae-ligature) was first published in 1768–1771 as The Britannica was an important early English-language general encyclopedia and is still... The CRC Press, LLC is a publishing group which specializes in producing technical books in a wide range of subjects. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Electricity - LoveToKnow 1911 (13912 words)
The two great branches of electrical theory which concern the phenomena of electricity at rest, or " frictional " or " static " electricity, and of electricity in motion, or electric currents, are treated in two separate articles, Electrostatics and Electrokinetics.
John Canton (1718-1772) made the important contribution to knowledge that electricity of either sign could be produced on nearly any body by friction with appropriate substances, and that a rod of glass roughened on one half was excited negatively in the rough part and positively in the smooth part by friction with the same rubber.
Electric attractions and repulsions were, however, regarded as differential actions in which the mutual repulsion of the particles of electricity operated, so to speak, in antagonism to the mutual attraction of particles of matter for one another and of particles of electricity for matter.
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