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The fluid theory of electricity[1] (and "Two-fluid" theory[2]) is a now defunct theory that

postulated an electrical fluid which was responsible for many electrical phenomena in the history
of electromagnetism. The "two-fluid" theory was due to Robert Symmer (1759). The alternate
simpler theory of Benjamin Franklin considered to develop the unitary, or one-fluid, theory of
electricity. Franklin, however, was first to propose tests to determine the sameness of the
electrostatic (influence machines) and electromagnetic (lightning) phenomena. The Leyden jar
was seen as a confirming case for this unitary theory since it appeared to be a jar capable of
holding the electric fluid.

The development of the fluid theory of electricity is briefly recounted in the 19th century book, A
Guide to the Scientific Knowledge of Things Familiar by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer.

the fluid theory of electricity

While Franklin's fateful date with a kite and key is debated, Benjamin Franklin is the first person
to correctly suggest the positive and negative nature of electrical charge. In Franklin's Fluid
Theory of Electricity, he posited that electricity acted as a fluid moving through the planet. The
theory called for "electrical fluid" to move through the ether as a single substance and not two
completely different fluids per the contemporary belief of the time.

Franklin's mid-18th Century theory called for a neutral equilibrium of electrical fluid, with
electricity flowing from an area of electrical excess to areas lacking the electrical "fluid".
Franklin deemed the areas of excess "positive" - a flipped viewpoint from our current scientific
understanding wherein electron rich areas likely hold an overall negative charge or a negative

The previous theory of Franklin's day called for two competing fluids, one vitreous and one
resinous, that flowed through the air. Franklin also suggested that deposits of excess electrical
fluid repelled each other, in line with the positive-positive repulsion of charges. While the idea of
a fluid may sound unusual, it is a quite good approximation for the time, as Faraday's electric
field theory would not surface for decades.

The electric charge moves to create the current. How quickly the charge changes in a set amount
of time determines the electric current.

This current flows in the opposite direction of the way the electrons flow in the circuit. Because
the electrons always flow from low potential to high potential (negative to positive), the electric
current flows from positive to negative.

The current will always take the path with the lowest resistance.

Basic Electrical Theory: Electric Resistance

How much opposition the conductor or metal wire presents to the electric current flow is the
electric resistance.
The lower the resistance, the easier current will flow.

Ohms Law

Ohms law was named after Georg Ohm, a German physicist who published a treatise in 1827.

In it, he explained measurements of applied voltage and current by using a simple electrical
circuit made with varying lengths of wire.

The law states that electrical current in a circuit or conductor will always be proportionate to the

An electric circuit provides a path for the current to flow to a from a point. The electric current
always flows from positive to negative, and takes the path with the least resistance.

An example of this is often seen when someone is working without wearing properly insulated
footwear. The worker will experience an electrical shock, because the body offers a path towards
the ground with very low resistance.

This means the body has become part of the circuit.

age across the conductor or circuit, and inversely proportional to the total resistance.

Electric potential
In general, this is equivalent to hydraulic head. This model assumes that the water is
flowing horizontally, so that the force of gravity can be ignored. In this case electric
potential is equivalent to pressure. The voltage (or voltage drop or potential difference) is
a difference in pressure between two points. Electric potential and voltage are usually
measured in volts.
Equivalent to a hydraulic volume flow rate; that is, the volumetric quantity of flowing
water over time. Usually measured in amperes.
Electric charge
Equivalent to a quantity of water.

Basic circuit elements

Conducting wire: a simple pipe.

Resistor: a constricted pipe.

Node in Kirchoff's junction rule: A pipe tee filled with flowing water.

Conducting wire
A relatively wide pipe completely filled with water is equivalent to a piece of wire. When
comparing to a piece of wire, the pipe should be thought of as having semi-permanent
caps on the ends. Connecting one end of a wire to a circuit is equivalent to un-capping
one end of the pipe and attaching it to another pipe. With few exceptions (such as a high-
voltage power source), a wire with only one end attached to a circuit will do nothing; the
pipe remains capped on the free end, and thus adds nothing to the circuit.
A constriction in the bore of the pipe which requires more pressure to pass the same
amount of water. All pipes have some resistance to flow, just as all wires have some
resistance to current.
Ideal voltage source (ideal battery) or ideal current source
A dynamic pump with feedback control. A pressure meter on both sides shows that
regardless of the current being produced, this kind of pump produces constant pressure
difference. If one terminal is kept fixed at ground, another analogy is a large body of
water at a high elevation, sufficiently large that the drawn water does not affect the water
level. To create the analog of an ideal current source, use a positive displacement pump:
A current meter (little paddle wheel) shows that when this kind of pump is driven at a
constant speed, it maintains a constant speed of the little paddle wheel.

A multimeter is a combination of a multirange DC voltmeter, multirange AC voltmeter,

multirange ammeter, and multirange ohmmeter. An un-amplified analog multimeter combines a
meter movement, range resistors and switches.

For an analog meter movement, DC voltage is measured with a series resistor connected between
the meter movement and the circuit under test. A set of switches allows greater resistance to be
inserted for higher voltage ranges. The product of the basic full-scale deflection current of the
movement, and the sum of the series resistance and the movement's own resistance, gives the
full-scale voltage of the range. As an example, a meter movement that required 1 milliampere for
full scale deflection, with an internal resistance of 500 ohms, would, on a 10-volt range of the
multimeter, have 9,500 ohms of series resistance.[3]
For analog current ranges, low-resistance shunts are connected in parallel with the meter
movement to divert most of the current around the coil. Again for the case of a hypothetical 1
mA, 500 ohm movement on a 1 Ampere range, the shunt resistance would be just over 0.5 ohms.

To measure resistance, a small battery within the instrument passes a current through the device under
test and the meter coil. Since the current available depends on the state of charge of the battery, a
multimeter usually has an adjustment for the ohms scale to zero it. In the usual circuit found in analog
multimeters, the meter deflection is inversely proportional to the resistance; so full-scale is 0 ohms, and
high resistance corresponds to smaller deflections. The ohms scale is compressed, so resolution is better
at lower resistance values.