The Big Misconception About Electricity
The misconception is that electrons carry potential energy around a complete conducting loop, transferring their energy to the load. This video was sponsored by Caséta by Lutron. Learn more at
Further analysis of the large circuit is available here:
Special thanks to Dr Geraint Lewis for bringing up this question in the first place and discussing it with us. Check out his and Dr Chris Ferrie’s new book here:
Special thanks to Dr Robert Olsen for his expertise. He quite literally wrote the book on transmission lines, which you can find here:
Special thanks to Dr Richard Abbott for running a real-life experiment to test the model.
Huge thanks to all of the experts we talked to for this video -- Dr Karl Berggren, Dr Bruce Hunt, Dr Paul Stanley, Dr Joe Steinmeyer, Ian Sefton, and Dr David G Vallancourt.
A great video about the Poynting vector by the Science Asylum:
Sefton, I. M. (2002). Understanding electricity and circuits: What the text books don’t tell you. In Science Teachers’ Workshop. --
Feynman, R. P., Leighton, R. B., & Sands, M. (1965). The feynman lectures on physics; vol. Ii, chapter 27. American Journal of Physics, 33(9), 750-752. --
Hunt, B. J. (2005). The Maxwellians. Cornell University Press.
Müller, R. (2012). A semiquantitative treatment of surface charges in DC circuits. American Journal of Physics, 80(9), 782-788. --
Galili, I., & Goihbarg, E. (2005). Energy transfer in electrical circuits: A qualitative account. American journal of physics, 73(2), 141-144. --
Deno, D. W. (1976). Transmission line fields. IEEE Transactions on Power Apparatus and Systems, 95(5), 1600-1611. --
Special thanks to Patreon supporters: Luis Felipe, Anton Ragin, Paul Peijzel, S S, Benedikt Heinen, Diffbot, Micah Mangione, Juan Benet, Ruslan Khroma, Richard Sundvall, Lee Redden, Sam Lutfi, MJP, Gnare, Nick DiCandilo, Dave Kircher, Edward Larsen, Burt Humburg, Blake Byers, Dumky, Mike Tung, Evgeny Skvortsov, Meekay, Ismail Öncü Usta, Crated Comments, Anna, Mac Malkawi, Michael Schneider, Oleksii Leonov, Jim Osmun, Tyson McDowell, Ludovic Robillard, Jim buckmaster, fanime96, Ruslan Khroma, Robert Blum, Vincent, Marinus Kuivenhoven, Alfred Wallace, Arjun Chakroborty, Joar Wandborg, Clayton Greenwell, Michael Krugman, Cy 'kkm' K'Nelson,Ron Neal
Written by Derek Muller and Petr Lebedev
Animation by Mike Radjabov and Iván Tello
Filmed by Derek Muller and Emily Zhang
Footage of the sun by Raquel Nuno
Edited by Derek Muller
Additional video supplied by Getty Images
Music from Epidemic Sound
Produced by Derek Muller, Petr Lebedev and Emily Zhang

Коментара: 68 696
  • Haven DeZeeuw
    Haven DeZeeuw

    I’m so glad this video exists. I use to completely not even understand how electricity worked, and now I still don’t.

  • Coach

    I could watch this 1000 more times and my brain would still believe electricity is either witch-craft or magic.

  • Ingsoc

    So a question. If the energy doesn’t really flow and is conducted by fields outside of the wire, how does one get electrocuted by only touching the conductor vs the outer wire sheath, and why does the energy seemingly flow through a person and not around them like a wire?

  • AT

    The fundamental law of physics: electricity disappear if you stop paying bills.

  • Bee Dub
    Bee Dub

    This is precisely why a "ticker" or non contact voltage tester works. It will start to blink and tick, slightly before making contact with the wire, even through the wire's jacket or insulation.

  • Steven Lightfoot
    Steven Lightfoot

    You have blown my mind. I am a Mech Eng, and have never heard of the Poynting Vector, but have been struggling to understand power flow direction for at least five years. I think this will lead me to the answer.

  • MattMGK

    After watching this video I can confidently say I understand less about how electricity works than I did before.

  • docbrown237

    At last!! I had a high school teacher 54 years ago (Dr. Schoenfeld) that beat your electrical pressure/EM field transfer of 'electricity' through a circuit in our heads. Later, I recall on a test in college Physics 110 where the correct (or accepted) answer was always ' virtue of the flow of electrons through a conductor'. I always wondered how many of us students took a fraction of a loss in our GPA due to this belief. Excellent video explaining how capacitance (or inductance) play a role in something most everyone takes for granted. More I²R to you!

  • Lore M
    Lore M

    I LOVED this and you explained it so well, I thank you so much.

  • Freedomfixer_Flying

    Another thing that substantiates this is the fact that high power transmission lines are hollow. Not only to reduce weight, but the fields only travel along the skin of the conductor. Larger Solid conductors are less efficient at larger diameters because the fields only penetrate about 5/16" or 8mm. This is why they are hollow.

  • Best China Info
    Best China Info

    Excellent, informative, entertaining - good job! Quoting 'Haven DeZeeuw': I’m so glad this video exists. I used to completely not even understand how electricity worked, and now I still don’t. 😂 (I remember seeing a TV show with a scientist explaining some basic principles. When he was asked to explain electro-magnetism, he said: "I can't.. and won't.. You'll never understand it.." 😜

  • Fr34k 0.o
    Fr34k 0.o

    Love watching Your videos about mathematics and physics. A real good source of information and study for independent research :)

  • Dylan Dailey
    Dylan Dailey

    EE here; I think most of this info is technically correct, but potentially misleading in some areas.

  • John Romanus
    John Romanus

    Great video, and like the technical response from Dylan Dailey clarifying. I am very curious how this concept of electrons not flowing applies to a superconductor who whole purpose is to allow no resistance to electron flow.

  • Khalid Ismail
    Khalid Ismail

    Thank you very much for all the work you've done.

  • Georgi Georgiev
    Georgi Georgiev

    Having to do transformation using Maxwell's equations was both the most fascinating thing and the most computationally arduous in the classroom, but because the mathematics was so beautiful it did bring much joy. No regrets.

  • Cindy Norman
    Cindy Norman

    Fascinating! Can you solve the debate about high power lines? How close do you have to be to them to get effected (in any way, even minutely)?

  • Tim Appleby
    Tim Appleby

    If electricity didn't work this way, how would EMPs be effective at knocking out a grid? Seems reasonable to me that if the electromagnetism in closed end circuits opposite the energy delivery systems suddenly lost their energy, it wouldn't be able to be easily replenished.

  • Mr. Jason
    Mr. Jason

    This actually raises more questions than it answers.

  • MFM

    i would say yes, because i have seen multiple arcs from powerlines over the years from when people get too close with construction vehicles. the higher the voltage, the higher the wire, because you need it to be farther away, as the field is larger.