Resistance and Static Electricity
As we have learned, some kinds of atoms contain loosely attached electrons. Electrons can be made to move easily from one atom to another. When those electrons move among the atoms of matter, a current of electricity is created.
Take a piece of wire. The electrons are passed from atom to atom, creating an electrical current from one end to the other. Electrons are very, very small. A single copper penny contains more than 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (1x1022) electrons.
Electricity "flows" or moves through some things better than others do. The measurement of how well something conducts electricity is called its resistance.
Resistance in wire depends on how thick and how long it is, and what it's made of. The thickness of wire is called its gauge. The smaller the gauge, the bigger the wire. Some of the largest thicknesses of regular wire is gauge 1.
Different types of metal are used in making wire. You can have copper wire, aluminum wire, even steel wire. Each of these metals has a different resistance; how well the metal conducts electricity. The lower the resistance of a wire, the better it conducts electricity.
Copper is used in many wires because it has a lower resistance than many other metals. The wires in your walls, inside your lamps and elsewhere are usually copper.
A piece of metal can be made to act like a heater. When an electrical current occurs, the resistance causes friction and the friction causes heat. The higher the resistance, the hotter it can get. So, a coiled wire high in resistance, like the wire in a hair dryer, can be very hot.
Some things conduct electricity very poorly. These are called insulators. Rubber is a good insulator, and that's why rubber is used to cover wires in an electric cord. Glass is another good insulator. If you look at the end of a power line, you'll see that it is attached to some bumpy looking things. These are glass insulators. They keep the metal of the wires from touching the metal of the towers.
But What Is Static Electricity?