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Translations of Encyclopedia about Physics


Electrical Circuits and the Effects of Current

An electric circuit (also referred to as electrical make) is a closed circuit of electrical conductors in which a current of electricity flows from one or more charged sources. Negatively charged electrons move within these conductors using electrostatic forces. The intensity of the current running through the circuit depends on the charged source, the device consuming the energy, the cross-sectional size and length of the conductor, and the temperature and nature of the substance the conductor is composed of.

A simple electrical circuit is made up of a source (a battery or other source producing electrical energy, such as a generator), a consuming appliance which, using this electrical current, executes some work (such as the light that a light bulb emits), and the wire (conductive substance) which joins the various components of the electrical circuit.

The [breaker] switch serves to disconnect or complete (connect) the electrical circuit. Most circuits can be disconnected by a single switch. A mechanical switch is made of moveable metallic parts which join together to allow the current within the circuit pass through. When the switch is turned "off", this section of the circuit becomes open, meaning a break in the circuit is created.

There are many types of switches which contain a minimum amount of mechanical components, like electronic switches such as transistors.

The magnitude of a current is measured in amperes. Electric output is the product of electrical charge (voltage) and current, whereby, with a constant electrical output, there is indirect proportion between voltage and current.

Because the electrical current serves to transfer energy to an appliance or some equipment, it may cause harm to organic matter, where touching a part of an electrical circuit charged under voltage may cause burning. The extent of damage depends on the magnitude of the current and on the duration of the contact.

Even with low voltage equipment, touching even one of the conductors poses a threat to life, in particular if the person is standing on good conductive material, such as a wet floor (amperage, or the speed of flow of electricity, is what can kill you, not voltage alone).

Electrical current can be harmful to skin (may cause burning) and can also induce a heart attack. Because our muscles are controlled by electrical currents coming from the brain, a body subjected to a current of electricity may induce a short circuit of the heart muscle, which can result in a cramp and a subsequent ceasing of heart activity.

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