Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ohm’s Laws, the wonder of electricity, and Poppycock

(Note: for the interested student, we’re attaching a bonus item at the end of our own essay.  Please give it a chance – we think you’ll find it just as enlightening as the commentary that follows.)

Most of you probably don’t know this, but just about everything you need to know about electricity is expressed in Ohm’s 3 Laws, which are:

V = IR; I = V/R; and R = V/I.

These laws are incredibly elegant in their natural simplicity, yet my parents had to invest thousands for me to learn, and more importantly, understand them.

I was reminded of this as I reread Jacquie Sartoris’ heartfelt plea about transportation and the environment in her recent commentary in The Ostrich, as mentioned in this post.

As I did, I began to empathize with her point of view.  I realized that electricity is the answer to all of her concerns, and to every one of our energy challenges as well.  And I’m ashamed of myself for not realizing it earlier.

Think about it; electricity is a miraculous and sustainable source of energy.  For example, if you purchase one of the new all-electric vehicles now entering the marketplace, you completely eliminate your carbon footprint, because the vehicle burns no fossil fuels. 

It only uses perfectly clean electricity.  Like your cell phone.  No one’s ever seen exhaust coming from it, or blamed you for ‘changing the climate’ by texting or blabbing away while you drive or shop.  Each night, you simply plug in your vehicle, and the next day, it’s ready to go, with no penalty to the environment.  Same thing with your cell phone.

I’m confident our ecological agent provocateur already owns one or two of these pristine vehicles.  I know if I was ever to see her motoring around town or heading to law school in a conventional fuel burning machine, I’d have a case of the vapors that could stop a train in its tracks.

Here’s the really cool thing about electricity.  It’s totally environmentally friendly.  If you cut an electrical supply line in your neighborhood, or an act of nature does it for you, you’ll never find a big puddle of electricity on your road, getting bigger by the minute.  That cable is not a hose carrying a toxic substance that poisons the area.  There’s no need to call out the Hazardous Materials Team.

That’s because electricity is very safe and very clean.  You never have to wipe spilled electricity off your possessions or your garage floor.

No, electricity is a unique force of nature, and it behaves according to very logical laws.   You can’t hose your place down with it.  It only flows when there is a closed loop that takes it from the source, through your appliance or other use, back to the originating source.  It needs a ‘closed circuit.’  That’s why when you plug something in, there’s always two wires as a minimum.

Unless, that is, the electricity finds a path to ‘ground.’  Anyone familiar with electricity knows that ‘ground’ is a fundamental concept in its application.  While electrical energy generally flows to you and then back to the folks that sent it to you, it can sometimes decide to return to the ground.  That’s what the third wire in your plugs and outlets are for.  And why electricity is a ‘natural’ resource.

Don’t believe me?  The next time there’s a power line down in  your neighborhood, try grabbing it.  You’ll find out in no uncertain terms what if means for electrical energy to flow ‘to ground,’ and if you’re lucky enough to survive the experiment, you will not be a happy camper.

Since electricity you use either goes back to the guys who sent it to you, or in some cases, goes into the ‘ground,’ the guys who sent it to us can simply turn around the stuff that came back from us, and send it out again.  As for the stuff that flowed into the ‘ground,’ how hard could it be to find it and pull it back up with an electric pump?  Or an electro-magnet?

After all, we have heat pumps for pulling saved heat out of the ground; the same folks should be able to give us electricity pumps.  The green in me is palpitating with excitement over the possibility!

All of this makes me wonder why we have to pay so much for electricity.  If we return the vast majority of what we use to our supplier, so they can distribute it again, why are we paying what we do???  Shouldn’t we just be paying a very small service charge to cover the wear and tear on the wires that bring it to our houses?

You may find all of this surprising, but you can trust me on this.  I have a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering, and that means nobody can pull the wool over my eyes. 

Just like those with degrees in Ecology and Environmental Science can’t be fooled.  Hell, they’re all taught in the same schools as we engineers!


OK, here’s the bonus item; I hope ex-councilor Sartoris won’t be too angry that it’s from a Boy Scout site.  The theory seems gender-neutral, and her daughter(s) should be able to get by any perceived slight with a little coaching from her.

Dark Sucker Theory

For years, it has been believed that electric bulbs emit light, but recent information has proved otherwise. Electric bulbs don't emit light; they suck dark. Thus, we call these bulbs Dark Suckers.

The Dark Sucker Theory and the existence of dark suckers prove that dark has mass, is heavier than light, and is faster than light.

First, the basis of the Dark Sucker Theory is that electric bulbs suck dark. For example, take the Dark Sucker in the room you are in. There is much less dark right next to it than there is elsewhere. The larger the Dark Sucker, the greater its capacity to suck dark. Dark Suckers in the parking lot have a much greater capacity to suck dark than the ones in your room.

As it is with all things, Dark Suckers don't last forever. Once they are full of dark, they can no longer suck. This is proven by the dark spot on a full Dark Sucker. A candle is a primitive Dark Sucker. A new candle has a white wick. You can see that after the first use, the wick turns black, representing all the dark that has been sucked into it. If you put a pencil next to the wick of an operating candle, it will turn black. This is because it got in the way of the dark flowing into the candle. One of the disadvantages of these primitive Dark Suckers is their limited range.

There are also portable Dark Suckers. In these, the bulbs can't handle all the dark by themselves and must be aided by a Dark Storage Unit. When the Dark Storage Unit is full, it must be either emptied or replaced before the portable Dark Sucker can operate again.

Dark has mass. When dark goes into a Dark Sucker, friction from the mass generates heat. Thus, it is not wise to touch an operating Dark Sucker. Candles present a special problem as the mass must travel into a solid wick instead of through clear glass. This generates a great amount of heat and therefore it's not wise to touch an operating candle.

Also, dark is heavier than light. If you were to swim just below the surface of the lake, you would see a lot of light. If you were to slowly swim deeper and deeper, you would notice it getting darker and darker. When you get really deep, you would be in total darkness. This is because the heavier dark sinks to the bottom of the lake and the lighter light floats at the top. That is why it is called light.

Finally, we must prove that dark is faster than light. If you were to stand in a lit room in front of a closed, dark closet, and slowly opened the closet door, you would see the light slowly enter the closet. But since dark is so fast, you would not be able to see the dark leave the closet.

Next time you see an electric bulb, remember that it is really a Dark Sucker.

1 comment:

  1. A friend of mine read this post and later then immediately called me to apologize for laughing hysterically at my electrical outlet covers which are designed to keep electricity from leaking out of unused outlets on to the floor.

    I accepted his apology.

    Thanks Mr. Poppycock for being here for us.