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Whats the difference between an electric field and an electric current?

  1. Jul 13, 2007 #1
    My physics textbook talks about them like they are two different things. Can someone explain further?

    Thanks for the help!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 13, 2007 #2
    Electric current is equal to one direction moving electrons in closed circular loop. We visualize the electric force (the "negative" force of the electrons) with the electric field. Also the protons have electric force.
  4. Jul 13, 2007 #3


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    Gold Member

    An electric current is simply the flow of charge per unit time. Hence I = q/t

    An electric field is the space around charged particle which it effects. Electric field lines are abstract; they simply show the space around a charged particle that will influence other charged particles.
  5. Jul 13, 2007 #4
    Hm ... I'm not sure I like everything in those previous responses ...

    But here's my 2 cents: the electric field gives the force per unit charge, i.e. if you put a unit "test charge" in the field and measure the force that would be exerted by it, that's the value of the field at that point. In other words, electric fields apply forces to charged particles.

    Now, if those charges are free to move, as they are in a conductor for example, then they will move, and the rate at which they do (charge per unit time) is the electric current.

    - Bruce
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