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HowStuffWorks = Bad?

Discussion in 'Electronics Resources' started by tannercollin655, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. tannercollin655

    Thread Starter Member

    Jul 23, 2009
    I was casualually taking a battery quiz on HowStuffWorks when I came across this question:


    ... I nearly fell off my seat!
    What do you guys think about this? Is it a simple mistake? Or a compromisation of a great resource?
  2. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    A simple, yet stupid, mistake.
  3. tannercollin655

    Thread Starter Member

    Jul 23, 2009
    Yeah I guess so :D

    The site has tought me lots along with wikipedia and these volumes...

    I couldn't find a contact or a way to correct the mistake so I carried on :p
  4. jpanhalt


    Jan 18, 2008
  5. HarveyH42

    Active Member

    Jul 22, 2007
    Read at the bottom where it gives the answer and explanation. They are talking about the discharge, but they didn't mention it in the question. It's one of those trick question. Either, would have been the better answer, since the battery just self-discharges until connected to a circuit, or charger (if it's a rechargeable type, not mentioned either).
  6. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
    If electrons are flowing from the negative to the positive terminal through the circuit, then "within the battery", they flow from positive to negative. It requires energy for the electrons to go against the electric field (upstream, if you will allow the analogy), which comes from the chemical reaction.

    Note the quotations above. This critical information is easy to miss if you read the question quickly.

    The question could have been worded much better.
  7. jpanhalt


    Jan 18, 2008
    I don't think it is a trick question at all. It is more simply just a poor question and a poor explanation.

    The explanation at the bottom reads,
    That is also true when charging a battery, so one cannot conclude from that statement that the question merely applied to discharge.

    I think the author(s) wanted to emphasize the chemical nature of batteries, which is good, but failed to think the question through. Writing good questions is very difficult but can be done, and the quality of questions can be assessed. A problem with our current pop culture (e.g., such shows as, "Are you smarter than a 5th grader" and many of our standardized proficiency examinations) is emphasis on recitation of facts rather than analysis and reasoning. It's Sunday afternoon here, so I will get off the pulpit now.

  8. studiot

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 9, 2007
    Just underlines my conviction that considering electrons only serves to confuse those beginning electric circuits and even those with some experience.

    Steve is essentially correct.

    Of course, within the cell the electrodes we label as positive or negative when viewed externally, don't seem anything like that. Also the current within the cell may be transported by positive ions.

    The situation is much more complex than simplistic explanations can cover.
  9. count_volta

    Active Member

    Feb 4, 2009
    Ahhhhh Conventional current. Runs. :eek:

    Its as bad as when people use λ for example in different related fields. In differential equations it means one thing, in calculus another thing, and in circuits something else.

    Why did Benjamin Franklin and others have to use the words positive and negative. Or rather why did Rutherford call electrons negative? It confuses the heck out of some people and then you have to explain to them. Opps historic misconception. :rolleyes:

    I still remember the argument I had with my grandfather and uncle about conventional current. It was impossible to convince grandpa that electrons travel from negative to positive and when I showed him this little animation I made about how batteries work for my website he was yelling change it its wrong!!!


    Uncle on the other hand was on my side and attempted to explain to grandpa that there was a historic misunderstanding. Nice loud and fiery argument it was.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2009