I’m Not Bragging, But I Can Run Faster Than Electricity!

3

MARCH, 2016

Yep, you read that right. Just like Forrest Gump could run faster than the wind blows, I can run faster than electricity!

Now before you fill my inbox with emails telling me I am wrong, let’s examine just how fast electricity is. This is where it is important on how you define electricity. For this blog post let’s focus on electric current and go for the quick answer instead of the complicated answer. Here’s the quick answer via Bill Beaty in his 1996 article The Speed of Electricity: “Inside the wires, the “something” moves very, very slowly, almost as slowly as the minute hand on a clock. Electric current is like slowly flowing water inside a hose. Very slow, so perhaps a flow of syrup. Even maple syrup moves too fast, so that’s not a good analogy. Electric charges typically flow as slowly as a river of warm putty. And in AC circuits, the moving charges don’t move forward at all, instead they sit in one place and vibrate. Energy can only flow rapidly in an electric circuit because metals are already filled with this “putty.” If we push on one end of a column of putty, the far end moves almost instantly. Energy flows fast, yet an electric current is a very slow flow.” You may be wondering “if electric current moves slowly, how can my lights turn on instantly?” Just as explained above it’s because the wires were already packed full of moveable electrons. In his article referenced above, Mr. Beaty even calculated out the math to show that the electric current in a normal lamp cord connected to a blight light bulb would flow at approximately 3 inches per hour. THREE INCHES PER HOUR! I am way faster than that. Eat my dust electric current.

So there you have it. If you do not have a box of first place ribbons from track and field events from your youth, or if you can’t run like the wind blows, you can still tell your friends that you too can run faster than electric current.

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