Is electricity weightless?

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The understanding is that electricity simply *passes* through a conductor pushing electrons but isn’t mass required to be able to “push”?? And while at it I wonder… Is there evidence of electricity being present in other planets? or in open space? Please ELI5

In: Physics

Electricity is caused by the movement of electrons. Electrons are very light, but they do have mass and therefore, weight.

Further, all energy is equivalent to mass, and even light has”weight” in that it is affected by gravity, as predicted by Einstein in 1911 and proved by Eddington in 1919.

Electricity is electrons moving around, so yes, there’s mass passing through a conductor. But free-moving electrons make up less than 0.01% of a conductor, so it’s barely noticeable.

There’s of course electricity on other planets, e.g. lightning flashes have been recorded in Saturn’s atmosphere.

As others have mentioned, electrons do have some tiny mass. Like, really tiny. Something yet to be mentioned is the correlation of wattage to joules. Wattage represents the electrical ‘work,’ Volts x Amps. Whereas Joules represent physical work. Even though these concepts are somewhat separate, there is enough overlap as to allow for a conversion between Watt and Joule. This insinuates that some form of ‘work’ is done within a given a circuit. Work only occurs from moving/displacing masses.

Electricity flowing is the flow of free electrons (charged particles). In nonconductive materials, the electrons are held tightly to their atoms; for conductive materials, some electrons can pass quite easily between atoms of that material. Technically electrons do have mass. But the mass of an electron is so incredibly tiny that it’s insignificant in almost every application. The flow is created by a charge imbalance (a higher concentration of free electrons in one body than there are in another). Electricity is definitely in space and other planets, though obviously it’s not contained in wires and such. Spacecraft often have issues with static electricity buildup, and lightning has been observed on other planets.

So mass is just a property of an object, electrons have mass, so technically it is not weightless. What is “pushing” are the different forces, like gravity, or like in an electric current it is the voltage (emf). Electricity itself can be created in different situations, like with the static found in nature (lightning). Electricity can be found all over the universe, from man-made forms (space shuttles) or lightning on other planets (Jupiter).

Electrons have weight and mass, but electric*ity* isn’t quite the same as electrons. Electricity is the movement of electrons. So your question is a bit like like asking “does sound have weight?” Like, air has weight, but maybe the vibrations *of* the air don’t count as having weight.

The explanations are good but I’d like to add a clarifying point: each individual electron isn’t flowing down the wire, exactly. Its like, the atom loses an electron to the next one, which loses one to the next one and so on. Like peas in a straw, they all move but each one moves one space.

> Is there evidence of electricity being present in other planets? or in open space?

Yes! Lightning (which is a form of electricity, kind of) has been spotted on Jupiter and Saturn, and there is some evidence of it on Uranus, Neptune and Venus (although there seem to be [conflicting positions](https://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/solarsystem/venus-20071128.html) over [lightning on Venus](https://www.space.com/venus-missing-lightning.html)).

Electricity is just the flow of things with charge. Pretty much all stuff has some charge (or parts with charge), and lots of stuff moves around, so electricity is everywhere.

Good answers to the main question already, so I’ll answer the side questions.

Mass is not required to push, only a force is. One example of the difference is light, which is massless but does push on things it hits (very, very weakly).

Electric current is just moving, charged particles, and there are lots of sources of these in space and other planets. The largest source is the sun itself, as charged particles constantly stream off it in what’s called solar wind. This interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field to create the auroras, and similar auroras have been detected on other planets with magnetic fields. Another source is weather. Other planets have lightning, which is electricity. So yes, lots of naturally occurring electric currents in space and on other planets.

Very insightful answers, u/dragonfiremalus made me wonder who would a Tesla coil behave in space.