THE STUFF THAT FLOWS THROUGH WIRES IS CALLED ‘ELECTRIC CURRENT’?
November 15, 2010 Leave a comment
Horribly misleading! Most textbooks discuss a substance/energy called “current”. They constantly talk about flows of current. However, here is a pointed question: WHAT FLOWS IN RIVERS: Water, or “current?” If I fill a bucket from the faucet, is my bucket full of “current?” No! Another question: what if the English language had no word for “water”, but we called it “current” instead? What if we believed that rivers were full of “current” which flowed? Wouldn’t people tend to aquire many serious misconceptions about the nature of water? (They might imagine that it vanishes whenever it stops flowing, since a halted current is… nothing!) As far as elementary textbooks are concerned, we have no word for the stuff that flows inside of wires. The stuff, when it flows, is properly called “an electrical current”, but when the stuff *stops* flowing, what do we call it? Refer to advanced physics texts, and there we find its correct name: charge. An electric current is a FLOW OF CHARGE. Yet the K-6 books never mention this. Instead they say that “current” flows. Worse, most of them say that “current electricity” flows in wires. To this I say, “Is there a special kind of water called ‘current water?'” The answer obviously is NO. The same answer applies to electricity: electricity can flow and electricity can stop, and a flow of electricity (or charge) is called an Electric Current, but there is no such thing as “current” electricity. Here’s a useful hint for authors: in your articles, remove the word “current” and replace it with “charge flow”, then see if your sentence still makes sense. If the sentence states that charge-flow is flowing, then the sentence is confusing the students and teaching them to believe that a substance called “current” exists.