Bob and George
Monday, August 21st, 2000 #143
The First Megaman Game Elec Man's Power
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One of the things I love most about electricity-based characters is their ability to move very, very fast. How do you fight someone who can transform himself into a bolt of lightning, zip around the room, write a novel, and then zip up behind you and smack the crap out of you before you even realize anything's happened? I always imagined George could do this sort of thing if he really put his mind to it.

Actually, to tell you the truth, electricity doesn't really work that way. While a light might come on nearly instantaneously after you flip a switch, the actual flow of electricity, the flow of electrons in a wire, is really quite slow. In many cases, you can walk faster than the electrons move through a wire.

You see, while individual electrons might be able to move at nearly the speed of light in certain situations, their movement in a wire is pretty random and non-directional. That is, they're moving very quickly, just in a completely random direction, bouncing off any and every atom they encounter in that wire, resulting in a god-awful mess of electrons zipping all over the place, ultimately going nowhere. You see, the net effect of all this random movement is that they don't end up moving anywhere relative to where they started. And even when a voltage difference is applied across the wire, it only encourages them to move in one direction or another. The individual movement is still fairly random, but the overall movement, which is what we actually think of when we think of current, is fairly slow and known as electron drift velocity.

So, if the electrons are actually moving slowly through the wire, why does the light come on immediately? Because while electrons don't move very fast though the wire, the voltage travels at the speed of light, and causes all the electrons in the wire to start moving, including the electrons already sitting in the light bulb. It's those electrons that actually provide the power to illuminate the bulb, not the electrons near the light switch.

But, all that being said, for the sake of the comic, let's pretend we didn't know any of that and say electricity moves really, really fast.
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