Matter & Energy

Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.

Series Circuits

If various objects are arranged to form a single conducting path between the terminals of a source of electric current, the objects are said to be connected in series. The electron current first passes from the negative terminal of the source into the first object, then flows through the other objects one after another, and finally returns to the positive terminal of the source. The current is the same throughout the circuit. In the example of the light bulb, the wires, bulb, switch, and fuse are connected in series.

When objects are connected in series, the electric current flows through them against the resistance of the first object, then against the resistance of the next object, and so on. Therefore the total resistance to the current is equal to the sum of the individual resistances. If three objects with resistances are connected in series, their total resistance is . For example, if a motor with a resistance of 48 ohms is connected to the terminals of a current source by two wires, each with a resistance of 1 ohm, the total resistance of the motor and wires is 48 + 1 + 1 = 50 ohms. If the voltage is 100 volts, a current of 100/50 = 2 amp will flow through the circuit.

Voltage can be thought of as being used up by the objects in a circuit. The voltage that each object uses up is called the voltage drop across that object. Voltage drop can be calculated from the equation V = IR, where V is the voltage drop across the object, I is the amount of current, and R is the resistance of the object.

In the example of the motor, the voltage drop in each wire is V = IR = 2 × 1 = 2 volts, and the voltage drop in the motor is 2 × 48 = 96 volts. Adding up the voltage drops (2 + 2 + 96) gives a total drop of 100 volts. In a series circuit the sum of the voltage drops across the objects always equals the total voltage supplied by the source.