I often go through my day, like many others, taking the most basic building blocks of society for granted. I'm too busy wondering why my phone is taking so long to perform some operation that only requires it to travel to space and back then to inquire about the world around me.
But a little knowledge can go a long way, especially in making you a smarter consumer. Let's focus on something everyone uses, everyone needs, and few people think twice about: electricity.
Be honest, when was the last time you looked up at the power wires that crisscross your town or city and asked yourself, "huh, I wonder what type of current those use." Unless you were born during the invention and adoption of that technology, there's a fair chance you haven't. Before we get around to answering that question, let's start at the beginning.
In the beginning, there was a state that physics describes as "nothingness," from which proceeded the big bang. Let's fast forward a bit. In the 1880s, two men were having a quarrel over who had the biggest dic--I mean whose electric current would eventually run the world. In one corner, Thomas Edison was the champion of DC (direct current), and in the other corner, the eccentric Nikola Tesla was pushing his AC (alternating current). In the end, both men wasted a ton of energy competing against each other because both AC/DC have strengths and weaknesses and both are still used in different applications today.
Fun Fact: You know those unsightly bricks in the middle of laptop charging cords? Those are required to convert the AC coming from your outlet into the DC used to run your device.With a direct current, electrical charge always flows in one direction, while the in an alternating current periodically reverses direction. Think of a circle. Now place a dot on that circle to represent an electrical charge. In DC the dot would always move clockwise along that circle in a loop. In AC the dot would look like a see-saw, periodically moving counterclockwise, then clockwise, then back to counterclockwise. Because it takes less power to move the dot back and forth than it does to move it all the way through the loop, alternating current is far more reliable for long distances and is what we use to power our homes and business via those electric wires that you see on the side of the road (question answered!). Direct current works better in digital circuits, like the batteries in your laptop. If we used it for our infrastructure, however, we'd require a power plant every five miles.
Let's talk a little bit about how you measure electricity.
Voltage is the force of the flow. Think of high voltage as peeing insanely hard. When you get older, your voltage decreases, and often with men they can barely force any out at all. Voltage is measured in Volts and is energy per unit of charge. 1V = 1 Joule.
Current is the amount of flow coming through. Once again, you can think of it as how much urine is coming out, not to be confused with voltage (how much force is behind that urine). Current is measured in amps and is the rate of flow of charge.
Resistance is the opposition to the current, measured in Ohms. It is a blockage that decreases the rate of flow of charge.
The relationship between these three measurements is "Ohms Law" (not to be confused with that hippy Buddhist shit). Voltage is equal to the Current x Resistance or "V = IR."
Understanding the relationship between voltage, current, and resistance has some real life applications and can help you better understand how to charge your devices efficiently. The cables and adapters you purchase can have radically different performance value.
Check out the video for an in-depth discussion of how these concepts apply to your devices at home and what you can do to get the most out of them.
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Ryan Alexander Kavanaugh | email@example.com
Director of Brand Development
Ryan enjoys video games, long naps on the beach, and humanity's most difficult existential questions. His long list of influences includes Christopher Hitchens, Ocarina of Time, that one time he stubbed his toe, and his first ex-girlfriend. Ryan also works as development producer in the television industry and still retains most of his soul at this time.