ElI5 : How do we explain the flow of current? As in, how does current flow in the direction opposite to electrons?

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ElI5 : How do we explain the flow of current? As in, how does current flow in the direction opposite to electrons?

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It’s just a definition issue but it washes out

Conventional current is written assuming a flow of positive charges from the positive terminal of a battery headed to the negative

Actual current flow is electron movement of negative charges going from negative to positive but since they are moving in the opposite direction *and* have opposite charge it cancels out and the math works out the same

You can treat current as positively charged pixies leaving the positive terminal (holes) or negatively charged pixies leaving the negative terminal (electrons) and the math works the same so we just work in conventional current and generally ignore actual electron movement

What you’re describing is known as *conventional* current. Before the existence of electrons was known, scientists just assumed that what they had called positive charges were what moved. When this turned out to be wrong, everyone just kind of kept using conventional current anyways since it didn’t change the mathematics.

Conventional current itself is not really a flow of current, it’s really just a tool for understanding electrical circuits.

Electrons flow, that’s how it works. But, electrons are “negative” so conventional current “flows” in the opposite “positive” direction. There was a 50/50 chance that the convention established with static charge, decades before the electron was discovered, would be right. We lost that one.

Current doesn’t flow in the opposite direction to electrons. That was a mistake early on because it wasn’t obvious that it was the negative charges rather than the positive that were flowing. It got baked into the language of electronics so that’s what we call “conventional current” now.

It doesn’t actually reflect physical reality, it’s just a convention and everything works out the same anyway as long as you’re consistent.