Electricity & Magnetism

Pacific Gas & Leather

This exhibit shows how use of language in connection with electricity is misleading. We talk about "making" and "using" electricity but we don't make or use up electricity any more than this exhibit makes or uses up leather. What electric utilities sell is not electricity but energy—the energy it takes to get electric charges to move. The exhibit also shows how a back-and-forth motion can be transformed into a continuous motion in one direction. Likewise electricity that moves back and forth (alternating current or AC) can be transformed into electricity that moves steadily in one direction (direct current or DC). The transformation of AC into DC is called rectification.