Physics Help Forum Does the copper wire holding the current lose mass?

 Electricity and Magnetism Electricity and Magnetism Physics Help Forum

 Jul 26th 2017, 08:10 AM #1 Member   Join Date: Feb 2017 Posts: 88 Does the copper wire holding the current lose mass? Does the copper wire holding the current lose mass? We know that electrons have mass and when a copper wire holds a current then the electrons from the copper wire are made to move and that is electricity. So does this result in mass loss for the copper wire? What is electricity? Electric current is electrons moving in an organised way. Now these electrons move and cause the lamp to light and from the lamp these electrons move back to the wire. So the amount of electrons remains the same. If the copper wire were to lose electrons then it would have become positively charged and would attract things towards it. But does that mean that the electrons from the power station move to our homes and then they move back to the power house. Such that no mass is lost?
 Jul 26th 2017, 08:15 AM #2 Member   Join Date: Feb 2017 Posts: 88 Is there a loss of electrons? Once we use electricity, which is movement of electrons. These electrons are converted to heat, light, sound, whatever, and are lost.
Jul 26th 2017, 08:48 AM   #3
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 Originally Posted by avito009 But does that mean that the electrons from the power station move to our homes and then they move back to the power house. Such that no mass is lost?
They would if the power station provided direct current (DC) power. I'll touch on how alternating current (AC) behaves in a moment, but first let's consider a DC power source, such as the batteries in a flash light. When the flash light is turned on electrons flow in a loop from negative terminal of the battery through the bulb and back to the positive terminal of the battery. They are not lost out of the system - after all, as you note, if electrons are lost from a system then the system becomes positively charged. And since those electrons would have to go somewhere, then wherever that is would become negatively charged. We don't see that happening. Also as these systems became charged it would become more and more difficult to extract electrons from the negatively charged things and add them into the positively charged things. Clearly this doesn't happen either.

Now, about AC systems: because power from an electrical power station is alternating current, the electrons don't really flow from the station to your house. Instead the electrons in the wires oscillate back and forth in the wires at 60 Hz. The electrons actually physically move only a few centimeters with each cycle.

Jul 26th 2017, 08:55 AM   #4
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 Originally Posted by avito009 Once we use electricity, which is movement of electrons. These electrons are converted to heat, light, sound, whatever, and are lost.
No, electrons are not lost, and they are not "converted" to energy. But some of the electrical potential energy in the electrons is lost as that energy is converted to heat (for example in a light bulb, electric heater, or through electrical resistance in the circuitry of an electronic device) or kinetic energy (such as in an electric motor or other moving device, like a loud speaker coil).

 Jul 27th 2017, 06:35 PM #5 Senior Member   Join Date: Apr 2017 Posts: 133 with an electrostatic charge there is a change of mass ... this can only occur in isolated bodies (no connecting wires) ... if you touch a door handle and feel a spark , a change of mass has occurred in your body ...you have just been 'grounded'....
Jul 29th 2017, 10:21 AM   #6
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 Originally Posted by avito009 Electric current is electrons moving in an organised way.
The flow of electrons in a current are anything but organized. In fact they each move in a chaotic fashion with the average movement in one direction.

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