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What Is Electricity?


Where does electricity come from? What is electricity made of? Who invented it? How does electricity work? What are electrons made of? Where does static electricity come from? How is it generated? Why don't we use lightning as a power source? How does electricity power things? Electrical Engineer Paul Hines answers our questions, in part one of our live call-in program. Hines is a professor at the University of Vermont and co-founder of Packetized Energy.

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"What is electricity?" - Julian, 8, Memphis, TN

The answer is no one invented electricity, and it's just always there. "Electricity is the flow of electrons. Electrons are one of the basic building blocks of the universe," Hines explains. "Everything is made of three basic particles, neutrons, protons and electrons. Whenever those electrons start moving, that's electricity."

Humans have always known that electricity is there, because we've known about lightning and static electricity. But we've figured out how to get electricity to move in the right direction using generators, we can generate all the electricity we need to power our world.


Melody is the Contributing Editor for But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids and the co-author of two But Why books with Jane Lindholm.
Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
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