Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The simplest electric circuit contains a source of electric energy such as a dry cell or wall outlet, a load such as a light bulb or fan, and conductors such as wires to provide a path for electric current to flow. The resistor, a load that converts electric energy to heat, will be used in all diagrams to represent the load. A dry cell will be used to represent the energy source.

When water flows through a hose friction between the water and the impedes the flow. Pinching the hose further adds more friction and reduces the flow more. Water pressure is what is needed to keep the water moving. The more pressure, the more water flows, the more friction, the less water flow.

As current flows through the conductor, the atomic structure of the conductor provides resistance to current flow in much the same way a hose impedes water flow. The more energy the source provides, the more current flows. With more resistance, less current flows. Unlike a water hose, an electric circuit has to make a complete circle from the source through the load(s) and back to the source again or no current will flow.

Resistance, R, is measured in ohms; current, I, (the amount of charge that flows with time) is measured in amperes (A), and the energy provided per coulomb of charge provided by the source is measured in volts (V). All resistance will be attributed to the load(s); the resistance of the conductors and the internal resistance of the power source will be considered negligible.

The relationship between these quantities is given by Ohm's Law:
V = IR


1. A 12 V battery causes 2.0 A of current to flow through a light bulb. What is the resistance of the bulb?

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