UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
Hello! My name is Chloe and my class has been working on energy. I have been studying electricity and I know that lightning is static electricity, when electrons expand they cause the thing to melt, and that static electricity was found in 600 b.c. Oh also I'm in 4th grade.I need your help, I want to know more about electricity. I want to know, are there more types of electricity? Can you survive being struck by lightning? Is it possible for the whole world to run out of electricity? I need to know. If you could help me that be great. Thanks a lot for taking time to help. Sincerely Chloe.
Question Date: 2019-02-27
Answer 1:

First, a sort of definition: Electricity refers to phenomena associated with electric charge. For much of everyday life, the charge is due to the electrons in materials. [For those looking to go deeper, protons, ions, and holes (essentially missing electrons) can also carry charge. ]

1. As indicated in the question, one form of electricity is static electricity. This is a stationary buildup (hence the name static) of electrical charge which occurs when electrons which are weakly bound to one material are transferred to another, such as by rubbing two objects (e.g., a balloon and your hair) against one another. (Note that the objects should be insulators rather than conductors, to prevent the electrons from moving around and eliminating the buildup.) The alternative is current electricity. This electricity is said to flow, meaning charge ( i.e., electrons) moves past some point in an electric circuit. The current is identified as either alternating or direct current based on how it flows: alternating current changes directions periodically while direct current flows in one direction. (See advantages and disadvantages of each here.)

Note that the assertion in the question, that lightning is static electricity, is incorrect. Lightning is an example of electrical discharge, meaning it involves the flow of electricity between two regions of different electrical charges, typically a negatively charged region of a cloud and a positively charged part of the earth. However, those regions of different charge states are due to buildup of charge, i.e. static electricity.

2. Most people who are struck by lightning survive. In both the USA and the world in general at a rate of nearly ten to one (though developing countries tend to have higher rates of fatalities). This is for a combination of reasons.

One is that people rarely experience a direct strike, instead being secondary effects with lower current from being near a taller object which is struck, such as side flash or ground current. In addition, skin prevents much of the current from passing through and disrupting the electrical signals that make the heart and other organs work properly. Although there strike causes intense heat, it lasts for so little time that it is not usually deadly.

3. Since electricity is "composed" of electrons, the world won't "run out" of electricity. The closest would be losing the ability to generate and store electrical energy. The fossil fuels currently used to generate much of our electricity will eventually be exhausted, but electricity can be generated with sunlight , wind , and water. Water can also used store energy (see bottom of page on generating electricity with water); other technologies like batteries are more familiar.

Answer 2:

(1)There are tiny particles called electrons that are part of atoms. Electricity is just electrons moving. Moving electrons release energy, and that energy is what we notice when we see electricity doing stuff.

(2) Yes, people can and have survived being struck by lightning.

(3) The world could run out of energy, but that would just mean that the electrons would stop moving. Electrons are not destroyed by moving.

Answer 3:

1.There is electric current, which is what we get when we plug something into the wall or connect it to a battery. With a battery, the electrons go around and around the circuit, for Direct Current - DC. With electricity from plugging into the wall, the electrons go back and forth, for Alternating Current - AC. When the first companies were deciding how to bring electricity to our buildings, one wanted AC and one wanted DC. AC won out.

There's also 'piezo-electricity,' which comes when some materials are squeezed.

2. Here are 3 stories of people who survived lightning strikes:
click here

3. Our electricity comes from fossil fuels, renewable energy, and nuclear power. I don't think the whole world can run out of electricity. Electricity is a kind of energy we use. When I was little, we used to watch a video called "Our Mister Sun" in school, and it explained how we'd get energy from the sun if we ran out of fossil fuel.

Answer 4:

1. Static electricity stands in contrast to current electricity, which can also be called electric current . The word "static" means that the electricity cannot flow freely, whereas electric currents are like water currents, meaning that the electricity can travel from one place to another. Both types require an electrical difference, and we can think of this difference as different numbers of very small electric particles. (The word particle just means a small amount of "stuff," or what we commonly call matter. ) A simple way of looking at it is that sometimes, a lot of these little particles can gather in one place or one object. They then like to go to a place with fewer particles, so their traveling direction is not random. Electricity that travels as currents will travel from a place with more electric particles to a place with fewer electric particles, IF there is a way for the particles to move smoothly, and these particles can only move smoothly in conductors such as metals. So, broadly speaking, there are two types of electricity: static electricity and current electricity.

2. People have, in fact, survived lightning strikes, but these experiences often leave the survivors with lasting illnesses that can be physical or psychological.

3. Technically, it can happen. There is a possibility that the entire world will lose electrical power, say in an apocalyptic scenario. However, if we only look at how likely it is that in a short period of time (and by "short", we mean years, not days), the entire world will have no resource with which to generate electricity, then it is extremely unlikely, so unlikely that we can say it's basically impossible. A large part of the reason that this scenario is not possible is that we humans understand how important electricity is to our daily lives and will do everything we can to keep it as a usable resource. Another large part of the reason is that we have wind, water, solar, and geothermal resources that can help us generate ("make") electricity, and these resources take a long time to deplete; wind, water and geothermal resources will exist as long as the Earth exists, and solar energy exists as long as the sun is here. Therefore, we can say that it is not possible for the entire world to run out of electricity.

Answer 5:

To answer your first question, yes! There is static electricity, current electricity, hydro electricity, and solar electricity.

Static electricity is nothing but the contact between equal amounts of protons and electrons, or positive and negative charges. Current electricity is the flow of electric charge across an electric field, lead through a conductor. Hydro electricity is generated by harnessing the power of moving water. Finally, solar electricity is generated from the sun by converting sun rays into electricity.

To answer your second question, you can survive being struck by lightning. The shock you feel from lightning (300KV) is much more intense than a shock you would feel from an industrial shock (20-60KV), but the duration is much shorter (3 milliseconds). The power of the strike heats the surrounding air to 50,000 degrees F, causing third degree burns to the body. The damage can be even worse if you are holding a metal object. Besides burn, a strike can cause a heart attack. However, most lightning strikes aren’t direct and are far less deadly, so a lot of people survive them.

To answer your third question, we will never run out of electricity but we may run out of the fossil fuels that make the oil we use to make electricity. However, that type of electricity can be replaced with wind energy, solar energy, and other renewable sources.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use