Is electricity an electromagnetic wave?

First, what exactly is electricity?

What does the term actually mean? Questions about electricity become meaningless if we don’t agree upon a single definition. (Heh Richard Feynman, a famous physicist, asks “What is Wakalaxies?” But until that definition is established, we can’t talk about Wakalaxies for ever.

Physics defines electricity as an electric charge. An electron or proton are small particles of electricity. Electricity is not considered a form or energy in science. According to the SI/NIST Mks definition, the Quantity of Electricity is to be measured using Coulombs.

To put it another way, electricity is not like wind. Instead, it is something like air. When electricity flows, it is called a “current” or “current of electricity.” However, the electric currents are not electricity. They are simply the flow of preexisting electricity. As with wind and air, if the electric currents stop, all the electricity in the conductors is stopped. This is because metal wires are partially made up of movable electrons. Even when there is no current, wires can be compared to pipes that are full of electricity.

We must always agree that conductors are partially made up of movable electric electricity when we use the term “electricity”. Conductors act like little electricity-tanks, electricity-aquariums. If all wires behave like “electricityhoses”, we can imagine them as pre-filled pipes.

However, in all of the science books for children and all of the books for the general population, they ignore the above physics definition.

Uh oh.

They instead teach that electricity is the flowing motion of charged particles. They believe that the scientific consensus is incorrect. In any event, the majority of non-physics books state that the amount of electricity should be measured in Amperes and not Coulombs.

This means that grade-school books can be mistaken for science. The electricity isn’t like the Air, it’s more like Wind. According to the school books, the electric currents are electricity. However, the electrons are not. The flow, or ‘electricity’, stops when the current is flowing. The wires are not like the electricity-filled pipes. These books may not be able to stop electrons, but they are showing us that all electricity has vanished.

This is what hundreds of school books for grades K-12 say. This is the consensus of hundreds of online-edu websites. How could so many books be wrong? They all contradict the standard definitions of Electricity used in physics. They don’t understand the definition of electricity that is given by the metric system. Also they ignore the central writings of Faraday/Maxwell/etc., who clearly say that electricity is the charge, not the current and not the energy.

Which source is right? Is electricity the same as wind?

Or, is electricity more similar to oxygen?

The utility companies, however, disagree with the above meanings. (Double uh-oh!)

They say that electricity is a form energy. They claim that Electricity does not refer to the coulombs and that it is not the amperes rate of coulombs/sec. The electric companies claim they’re selling people a few kilowatt-hours of electricity. They believe they’re sending “electricity” over 100KM three-phase power lines. This view suggests that electricity is not made of copper electrons. The back-and-forth movement, or tiny alternating movements of electrons, is not what electricity is. Instead, “electricity” refers to electromagnetic wave-energy. These EM fields travel along wires at light speed. So electricity is not like air and it’s not like wind. Instead, electricity is much like…sound waves ?!!!). According to utility companies, “Quantities of Electricity”, are to be measured either in KWh or in Joules of Energy: the metric energy unit. (But the metric system specifies that electricity is the charge. Electricity is to be measured using Coulombs. “Electricity” refers to the movable stuff contained within all metals. There are no “joules” of electricity. The electricity is only available in coulombs.

Okay, so who is right above? Are the joules or the amperes the electricity? Or the coulombs. Only one of these three options can be right. (In Science, words should have narrow, precise definitions. They shouldn’t have multiple meanings that contradict one another!) We cannot use the term “electricity” until we know what it really means. It is impossible to say whether electricity is an electromagnetic wave or not.

Here’s a simple solution for you: Just avoid saying “electricity!” and everything will fall into place.

  • Utility companies sell electrical energy. The same thing is electromagnetic field-energy as electrical energy, just like radio waves and light. This is a fact that isn’t really in question. It doesn’t matter how you define “electricity”. Electromagnetic Energy is a basic concept in Classical Physics, and is built into Maxwell’s Equations. It is composed of fields with a lower frequency than radio and light, but it has the same properties as electricity. EM fields are the only thing that carries the actual energy in electric circuits. (Electrons move around during AC, but the electrical energy flows in one direction, from dynamo, to household. When a dynamo sends electricity along conductors, the electric energy moves along the outside of metal surfaces. (Energy does not flow within wires! Wow. Wow. This EM energy is known as e-fields or b-fields. It rushes down wires at the speed light. It actually goes slower than “c” since power lines are enclosed by air and not vacuum. This slows down the EM waves even further if your wires don’t have superconductors that are submerged in liquid helium or if they are covered with plastic.

Rethink the original question. Do not mention “electricity.” Instead, say this: “All that electricity being sold by utility firms…is it really just electromagnetic wave?”

Answer: yep!


Each electric circuit’s EM-energy is stored in the space surrounding the conductors. It travels at the speed light because it’s the exact same thing as radio and light.

This fact was discovered for the first time in the late 1800s by scientists who began analyzing Morse-code telegraph signals that were flying along hundreds upon miles of telegraph lines. As they traveled along the wires, the dots and dits became distorted and spread out into ripples. This made it impossible to send Morse over long distances quickly. The too-fast dashes and dots became unintelligible mush. This problem was magnified by the cables of undersea telephones that ran across the Atlantic. This made long-distance phone impossible and turned voices into garbled musical notes.

The infamous Oliver Heaviside (above) is the one who made the breakthrough, creating the “Telegrapher’s Equation” which showed everyone the solution to the distortion problem. Because of Heaviside’s insight, finally Maxwell’s equations became useful to engineers and other non-Physicists. All the “telegraph signals” or “electrical waves” racing along the wires, they turned out to be just the same thing as those newly-discovered radio waves of Heinrich Hertz! But they were EM waves trapped by conductors, and forced to travel along wherever the wires led.

  • FIGURE 1: a battery, a resistor, and the EM energy. (Red is the b-field, grey is the e-field, with red and grey lines at 90deg.) Note that this is a DC system, with field-energy but no waves.

It’s a very strange idea. Every battery broadcasts EM waves. The voltage at the terminals creates an electric field around the wires while the current within the wires creates a magnetic field. Pure DC is not really possible, so batteries send long pulses of EM wave at, say, 0.0001 cycles per seconds.

As you can see in the diagram, the two invisible fields are perpendicular to one another. These are the “transverse fields” that propagate electromagnetism. The pure EM field energy from the battery is transmitted out! Radio is no longer just the watts and EM electromagnetic fields trapped in wires like these. Instead, it becomes “VI” watts, volts multiplied by amperes. Rather than calling it EM, perhaps call it “Voltage-Current-ism!”

Do you want a tldr? This is how it works: Conductors are always full of movable electricity, so when we form a long rod of metal into a closed metal circle, we create an invisible drive-belt within the metal. This “belt” can be made to move in a circular fashion even though the metal remains stationary. This effect can be harnessed to make two wheels turn simultaneously. The electricity is transformed into leather, which becomes the leather strap of an old-fashioned drive belt. The two wheels are called “motor” or “generator,” since all motors are generators and vice versa.

This is the essence of electricity and the secret to circuits and electric energy. Wave-energy is the source of electrical energy. Wave-energy travels through the metals’ electricity. An AC system’s electricity just moves back and forth while the energy speeds along.

Contrary to what they claim, electric utility companies do not sell electricity. They are merely a pumping-service. The electricity moves back and forth but not forward.


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