Wrong. Actually, “Electricity” does not exist. The term “electricity” is a catch-all word with many meanings. Unfortunately these meanings are contradictory, and this leads to the unsettling fact that there is no single substance or energy called “electricity.” When we say “quantity of electricity,” we could be talking about quantities of charged particles. But we could also be talking about quantity of energy, quantity of current, or potential, forces, fields, net charge, power, or even about electrical phenomena. All of these are found as separate dictionary definitions of the word “electricity.” But current is not power, particles are not fields, and charge is not energy. “Quantity of Electricity” is a meaningless concept because of the contradictory definitions of the word “electricity.” Much of this problem would vanish if we used the word “electricity” only to refer to a field of science or class of phenomena. This is the way we use the words “physics” or “optics.” Then, if we needed to get down to details, we would never say “electricity.” Instead we would use words like “charges,” “energy”, “current,” etc. We do use the word “electricity” this way occasionally. But then we immediately turn around and do the equivalent of teaching our children that optics is a substance, or that physics is a kind of energy. “Optics” is a substance which comes out of the light bulb and passes through the lens, right? And when you ride a bicycle, “physics” comes out of your muscles and makes the wheels turn? That’s what we say when we tell kids that “electricity flows in wires”. Below are a few examples of errors caused by the contradictory meanings. In AC electric circuits the charges wiggle back and forth, but the energy moves continuously forward. This is analogous to the way that sound waves move continuously forward through the air, while the air itself wiggles back and forth. But if we teach our kids that “electricity” is made of electrons, and “electricity” is also energy, then we make a serious error. We unwittingly teach them that the electricity in wires sits in one spot and wiggles, but at the same time the electricity moves forward rapidly. Garbage! It’s like saying that sound and air are the same thing. And the error is directly traceable to the bogus “electricity” concept. Another: when a battery lights a lightbulb, we explain that the path of electricity is into, then through, then back out of the bulb, and that no electricity is used up. Then we say that electricity flows from the battery to bulb and is totally converted to light. Which one is correct? Does the bulb consume the electricity? Or, does all the electricity flow through the lightbulb and back out again? As far as students are concerned, we’ve just told them that it does both things at the same time! Another: There are two forms of electricity, positive electricity and negative. NO, the two forms of electricity are static and current. NO, there are many forms of electricity: triboelectricity, bioelectricity, myoelectricity, piezoelectricity. NO, electricity is a single form of energy called Electromagnetism. NO, electricity is power, it is watts, not energy. Which is right? All and none, because the word “electricity” has multiple contradictory definitions. None of the above statements are right because there is no “electricity” which is charge, energy, power, and phenomena all at once. And all the meanings are also correct, because the word “electricity” is commonly used to name all these different things, and these definitions appear in the dictionary. Who are we to argue with The Dictionary? Yet we SHOULD distrust the dictionary, since it just innocently records the words which people use. If people always use the word “electricity” in misleading and contradictory ways, then dictionaries will contain contradictory definitions.


About Rob W Harrison
There is a part of my mind that stubbornly thinks about science. I have a life, job, wife and family but without my Van Der Graaf Generator life would be incomplete. I am a great believer that this amazing universe came into being through process: movement >pressure > density > mass. Maybe I believe in an non viscous ether. Anyway this is where I can share my thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: