By: Gaurav Tiwari
//ok….thinking about what i have been since 8th grade….how did the universe all began and how was life created by amino acids molecules….i mean what caused them to combine and form DNA??….recently i got to know that electricity fundamentally consists of flowing of electrons from one point to another(may or may not be a back way) and was responsible for “destabilizing” the molecules in the oceans filled with dissolved iron to form the perfect life forming recipe… and now starting with the funny language English… he he …lol//
Every once in a while we think about how the universe began and why did it began in the way we see it. One of the mysterious things in physics, which appears almost magical to me, is electricity. This blog is about the formation of the first electric current in nature. I am talking about the lighting we get in the rains. How does that begins? If we find the way or cause of lighting in our time it is certain that all the lightning in the universe began in the same way.
It was the day before the BEEE(Basic Electrical and Electronics Engineering! Phew! The abbreviation is better! ) exam. I was studying or almost completing my portion for the big test the next day. We had DC circuits and AC circuits as two important chapters in the book and I was passing my time reading the fundamentals of electric current. One thing led to another and I started thinking about the fundamental cause of electric current in any conductor. The answer is simple. Potential Difference. Potential difference causes the randomly moving electrons to flow from point at higher potential to point at lower potential. The current will flow till the PD doesn’t becomes zero. Hence for setting up electric current in any material we need to create a potential difference across it.
How do we create potential difference? By supplying electrons on the negative terminal to make it more negative and taking electrons from the positive terminal to make it more positive. But this also constitutes electric current. Hence the question of how did the first electric current was formed hit me. The answer was hiding within the skies.
The air molecules in the sky move randomly move about in any free space available to them. In this process they often collide with each other. These collisions provide potential energy to the electrons in the air molecules.
We know that when a body (which is bound to another body due to various natural forces) gains potential energy and moves to a higher orbit. This state is often called the excited state. As a fundamental rule of all bodies that exist in universe the electron will definitely try to lose its potential energy. A ball when thrown upwards falls down because it tries to lose its potential energy. The same happens with the electron in the excited state. It tries to regain its orbit.
But we see that lighting often occurs from one cloud to another cloud and from a cloud to earth. This clearly shows that earth is at lower potential than the electron in excited state. The molecules or atoms on earth are comparatively immobile with respect to the molecules of air in the sky. The reason for that is gravity.
Now there are two ways the excited electron will behave. It will either fall towards the nucleus or move towards the earth.
There is a fundamental rule of the flow of current. It will preferably flow through the path which has low resistance. Hence if the electrons from the excited atoms in the sky are moving towards the earth it is certain that the air resistance suffered by the electrons is less than the resistance in the path which leads to the nucleus.
Now here comes the catch! What could possibly offer a resistance to the electron that is greater than the air resistance it goes through and makes it move the way it moves?
I think there are two possible answers to this.
One is Dynamic Screening Effect. And other is unknown resistance X.
I do not know whether the world knows about dynamic screening effect or something like that is ever used elsewhere. I created that word somehow.
We all know about the screening effect and what it does. Now suppose there is a bucket of water. I take a tumbler and take some water out of it. When the tumbler is removed the water molecules arrange themselves to take the shape of the bucket. Here water tries to regain its original arrangement thus minimizing the effect caused by removal of some of it by the tumbler. Consider another example. Around 7 billion people breathe oxygen every day. Every plant species gives out oxygen and takes in carbon dioxide. Many other processes tend to add and subtract some part of air. But the envelope of air around the earth remains in the shape as before.
Similarly when one electron is taken to a higher orbit other electrons in the electron cloud tend to minimize its effect by rearranging their positions. But the newly formed arrangement provides repulsion to the excited electron which is somewhat like the screening effect. Thus the electron suffers resistance in going back to the nucleus.
Now there are two questions to that thing. How does dynamic screening effect offers resistance more than air resistance? How does it explain lightning in the clouds of hydrogen where there is not enough electrons to build up the dynamic screening resistance?
By logic there has to be some kind of resistance. For hydrogen I can only think of an unknown resistance ‘X’.