Physics Help Forum basic but very important and fundamental electromagnetic question!

 Electricity and Magnetism Electricity and Magnetism Physics Help Forum

 Feb 11th 2010, 07:21 PM #1 Junior Member   Join Date: Feb 2010 Posts: 2 basic but very important and fundamental electromagnetic question! Question : If you connect the negative and positive ends (of say a battery) how do the electrons know to move through the wire to the positive end (wires are pretty long)? I mean, I know that in a battery, there is a positive and negative end that is separated from each other, but wouldn't there still be an electric attractive force between them that pulls them closer to each other (even though they are resticted by the sticky material that separates the charges)? Then why would the electrons move away from each other temporarily and travel a long distance to get to the positive side? But note that whenever you cut the wire or something and you lose the connection, the electrons stop flowing to the positive side (like in a lightbulb). I researched in a couple of books and all they said was that there is an electric field in the wire and that causes the electrons to move. BUT a wire is usually pretty long (especially compared to the miniscule electron, relatively speaking) and thus the electric field would be virtually zero, right? Thanks!
 Feb 11th 2010, 09:11 PM #2 Junior Member   Join Date: Feb 2010 Posts: 2 And I don't even know how to show my work for this, because it's all conceptual. And if I knew how to start thinking about this problem, then I'd know the answer and wouldn't have to post this question on a forum
 Feb 14th 2010, 07:48 AM #3 Junior Member   Join Date: Feb 2010 Posts: 2 phenomenon of potential difference As we are familiar with the fact that every charged species has a tendency to move to that potential where its potential energy decreases(or the species stabilises itself,like water always flow from high altitude to low).thus in case of battery,it creates a potential difference between possitive and negative terminal and this makes the electron to move towards positive terminal where its potential energy decreases.

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