CourseNotes.27 - Just to be clear lets discuss what this...

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Just to be clear, lets discuss what this means. Current is the net flow of charges through a given area per unit time. In a metal, electrons are whizzing around at extremely high speeds in random directions, so if we look at a cross-section of area through the metal billions of electrons will flow through in a given amount of time. There will be just as many electrons passing through in one direction as the other though and hence, the current in the metal will be zero. If we hook the metal up to the battery, then the potential difference in the metal will cause the electrons to travel more in one direction than the other and hence will give a non-zero current. The direction of current is given by the direction that positive charges would move, even though we now know that electrons are the charge carriers in metals. This is due to an arbitrary choice made by Ben Franklin and has now become a matter of convention.
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