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How are electrons pulled ?

  1. Jul 16, 2010 #1
    How are electrons "pulled"?

    I'm currently trying to learn about electricity, and I understand that in a circuit, the electrons will go from the negatively-charged pole to the positively-charged one in order to restore the balance. But I can't grasp how the electrons "feel" the imbalance all the way at the other end of the copper wire. What pushes the very first electron out of the negative side? How does that electron "know" where to go?

    I know this is a n00bish question, but I really want to understand this!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 16, 2010 #2
    Re: How are electrons "pulled"?

    Each electron pushes against all the others without touching them like magnets that repel. This repulsive force pushes them (or pulls them) down the wire. The voltage is a measure of how hard they are being pushed in going from one to the other electrode.
  4. Jul 16, 2010 #3
    Re: How are electrons "pulled"?

    They feel the electric field. Its similar to how a rock "knows" to fall to the center of the earth, it follows the gravitational field. Similar to this electrons follow and electric field.
  5. Jul 16, 2010 #4


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    Re: How are electrons "pulled"?

    In a battery the reaction at the positive electrode consumes electrons, the reaction at the negative electrode produces electrons. The electrons are all "connected" by the electric field, one moves, they all move. So you are pushing electrons on the wire at one end and pulling them off at the other, the information travels between the electrons at the speed of light, but the electrons themselves move much slower. So current is developed very quickly throughout the wire.
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