Fun Facts About Electricity

Given that the entire tech industry is based on electricity and unicorn tears, I thought I’d offer some fun facts on the former.


  • Electricity is a surface effect. Most metals have a lattice-like arrangement of atoms, leaving no free electrons. It’s only on the surface of the metal, where the lattice “ends,” that you have free electrons to flow as electricity. This is why multi-strand wire can carry more electrons than a solid core – although they’re more susceptible to heat, since the individual wires are thinner.
  • volt measures the amount of electromotive force pushing electrons through a medium, past any resistance, and is measured as a difference between the force present at two points. An amp counts the number of electrons passing a given point.  An ohm measures the resistance to electron flow.
  • Volts don’t kill. You could survive a 10,000-volt hit at a very, very low amperage. Static electricity shocks can be up to 3,000 volts, but only consist of a few electrons – so, low amperage.
  • Edison pushed for a Direct Current (DC) system in the US; Tesla advocated for Alternating Current (AC). Tesla won in the end, because AC is easier to “step up” to massive voltages (overcoming resistance) for transmission over enormous distances, and then “step down” to reasonable voltages for consumption. Also, Tesla was better than Edison. Sound off in the comments.
  • Electrons carry a negative magnetic charge; in an atom, these balance against the positive charge in positrons. But when flowing, electrons’ charge creates a magnetic field that can be measured at some distance from the wire. This is the basis of induction charging. It’s also what makes high-speed data transmissions tricky – the magnetic field tends to disrupt the signal on adjacent wires.
  • You can’t be electrocuted if you don’t die. The “-cuted” comes from “executed;” if you didn’t die, you were just shocked. Walk it off.

Have a great rest of your week!

2 thoughts on “Fun Facts About Electricity

  1. Will Anderson (@GamerLivingWill)

    A good way to tell which current you were shocked by? AC grabs you, DC throws you.
    It’s also interesting how electricity follows many of the same laws that govern hydraulics. Ohm’s Law vs. Poiseuille’s Law for example.
    Also, Tesla’s story is a classic example of how effective marketing can overshadow innovation. One can only wonder what the world would look like today if Tesla was a better salesman than Edison.

  2. Godfrey

    Edison totally sucks compared to Tesla, a real case of marketing over innovation. I was boo-ing his exhibit at the Smithsonian and we’ll, it got ugly. Oh well keep it up Don!

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