How electricity works. Part 1: charge

After checking through the posts I’ve made I found out that I haven’t yet explained one of the things that most
confused me growing up: electricity. So I will be attempting to explain how electricity works in a way that I think might be more helpful.

First let’s talk about charge.
When people hear the word “atom” they probably think of this:

“You’ve got your proton in the center, and your electron orbiting around it, and the proton has a positive charge, and the electron has a negative charge.” -Every teacher ever.

“Wait, am I supposed to know what this “charge” thing is? ” -My thoughts when I heard this as a child.

Charge is sort of like mass. All things in the universe have mass. If you have something in front of you then that has mass, and density, and volume, and a bunch of other things that describe it. Mass, and density, and volume aren’t things that exist inside of something (or at least I don’t think they do) they are properties OF that thing, and the same can be said of charge.

All things have a charge, but unlike mass, and volume, and density, the charge of an object can not only be zero, but it can be negative. Most objects we usually deal with have little to no charge because the world ordinary people live in is boring, and by extension they are too. because then things would be flying all over the place all the time.

Here’s some facts about charge:
*The standard unit for charge is the coulomb.
When two positively charged objects are close to each other one will be pushed away with a force equal to this:


K is coulomb’s constant, Q1 is the charge of the first object, Q2 is the charge of the second object, and r is the distance between their centers. It’s a lot like Newton’s formula for gravitation, except that the constant is way higher.

The first object will feel this force pushing it away from the second object, and the second object will have the equal and opposite force pushing it the other way as depicted in my crudely drawn diagram:

Two blue circles with black arrows that point outwards.

The same is true for two negatively charged objects, and a positive object will be attracted to a negative object with the same force, and vice versa.

So in other words: like objects repel, and unlike items attract.

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