The Big Misconception About Electricity

344 000 Vaatamised 8 mln

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


  1. Bahattin Bademci
    Bahattin Bademci
    2 minutit tagasi

    so does this mean that as long as there is electron flow there will energy flow consequently forever? But where does this energy come from? :/

  2. Michael Greenwood
    Michael Greenwood
    3 minutit tagasi

    That kind of reminds me of Einstein's spooky action at a distance or quantum entanglement.

  3. Leo Lee
    Leo Lee
    6 minutit tagasi


  4. Geistesblitz
    8 minutit tagasi

    How does thunder determine which path to take? Is it with this same electromagnetic field that scans the path of least resistance before choosing?

  5. S Schmachtel
    S Schmachtel
    21 minut tagasi

    Well. I think somebody should mention that there is also an electric field inside the wire and also a magnetic field inside the wire. I dont think either that energy appears magickally somewhere, something that you might get the impression of if you plot only the direction of the poynting vector, where the magnitude is important.... I am pretty sure you can follow the flow of energy all along the wire and in the wire. Respective all along the airgaps And ... since this writing here is kind of drawing the rabbit from the hat.... I think somebody could/should make a video showing the magnitude of the poynting vector as a function of time (even for a shorter wire which is closer this should light the lamp for all of us, not only literally but also in the "now I get it" sense ) I dont have the computer tools to solve maxwell equations otherwise maybe I would have tried. And I wouldnt anyway try to solve a wire without resistance, or a very long wire which both sound like there would be trouble ahead. That is ... in a zero resistance wire you probably dont have an E field and technically that would mean no energy losses inside the wire ... but then !actually! .... you'd have neither collisions nor drift but something called ballistic conduction. Yet electrons are getting accelerated inside the wire??? Actually that stuff is quite difficult because nobody so far I think has understand all the aspects of superconductors and I wouldnt wonder either if that kind of how does the energy transmit along super conducting wires is a pretty difficult question to answer. There is the Meissner Effect but I think there is still some skin into which magnetic field still might be able to penetrate. I guess with superconductors we are into quantumelectrodynamics and that is something I have no idea about whatsoever....

  6. Mimou Techy
    Mimou Techy
    22 minutit tagasi

    So what is the cables for ??

  7. Stanley Cubrik
    Stanley Cubrik
    27 minutit tagasi

    None of the above

  8. Roberto Fittipaldi
    Roberto Fittipaldi
    27 minutit tagasi

    Something is wrong, first because of the units (1/c is not secs) and second, if it is a constant that doesn't depend on distance, we could have communications faster than light. In the case of having a DC circuit, by the moment of turning on (or off) the switch, we have a fluctuation and a wave is propagated. Still not sure which is the correct answer. Derek, pls make a 2nd video clarifying this.

  9. Raul Glasgow
    Raul Glasgow
    28 minutit tagasi

    none of above

  10. Xandie Nutting
    Xandie Nutting
    36 minutit tagasi


  11. Utku Canbolat
    Utku Canbolat
    43 minutit tagasi

    I am going to disprove the argument with a gedanken experiment. Claim: In any closed circuit, the time it takes for a bulb to light up depends only on the distance between the bulb and the source. Proof: Consider the same circuit but the switch is located in the middle of the bulb and the source. So the switch is 1/2 light-second far away from both the source and the bulb. (The source and the bulb are still 1m away from each other). By opening and closing the switch, one can send information from the location of the switch to the light bulb. According to the claim, the information must send in 1/c s. However, the distance is 1/2 light-second. This requires that the information travels faster than the speed of light. Thus, the claim is wrong. Q.E.D.

  12. Daniel Finch
    Daniel Finch
    48 minutit tagasi

    The one that got it wrong became Lord Calvin. Same as it was Tesla that got it right and Edison got it wrong, electricuted a Elaphant and gets treated like a celebrity.

  13. Super Hiro
    Super Hiro
    50 minutit tagasi

    Electrons very clearly have potential energy. They carry energy when excited to a higher orbital, and release it when returning to ground state.

  14. Marcus Downing
    Marcus Downing
    50 minutit tagasi

    I really hope Veritasium do a response video addressing some of the confusion this video has created.

  15. aiman W
    aiman W
    52 minutit tagasi

    I just wonder, since the Energy flow through the field and not in the conductor, why someone can burn to ashes when touching the transmission line? I mean in term of the field?

  16. Ross Plays
    Ross Plays
    54 minutit tagasi

    I'm not a physicist. I have engineering background and think this is wrong. Because this is not how we calculate data rates in data communications over Copper wire or even fiber optics lines. 1m/c means we can communicate faster than the speed of light. There maybe some energy radiated to the wires closer to the lighbulb. But it not the same power that was delivered from the source. Even if those wires are superconductor. And it may not be enough to turn on the light bulb.

  17. Hungry Bear
    Hungry Bear
    59 minutit tagasi


  18. Shellour
    Tund tagasi

    Considering the fact electricity is roughly the same speed as light can be, which is 300 million meters per second, I'm going to choose 1/c s.

  19. magnamo1234
    Tund tagasi

    Wrong….so FOS ….ignorance and confidence are a bad combination however you might find an occupation in used car sales to be quite lucrative.

  20. OverloadDrake
    Tund tagasi

    how does impedence affect the energy flow if the wires dont matter?

  21. T Co
    T Co
    Tund tagasi

    Great explanation! Never heard of this before! But what with electrochemical reduction? For example electroplating. There electrons are used to reduce a metal ion. if electrons move so slow through material, how is this possible?

  22. Ted Thetford
    Ted Thetford
    Tund tagasi


  23. Steve Dimmick
    Steve Dimmick
    Tund tagasi

    Please continue with this topic. This sounds related to Tesla's towers. The US govt stole Tesla's work when he died. Energy is in the air, yet The Great Lie persists as we all still have to pay the power companies

  24. Dave Yates
    Dave Yates
    Tund tagasi

    Awesome video. Thanks

  25. Steve Dimmick
    Steve Dimmick
    Tund tagasi

    Edison was such a crook

  26. Howard Johnson
    Howard Johnson
    Tund tagasi

    h/t PP

  27. CaptianFluffy100
    Tund tagasi


  28. Charismatos Labiskun
    Charismatos Labiskun
    Tund tagasi

    Tesla was thinking about it when he make the tesla tower and use ground as the conductors.

  29. James
    Tund tagasi

    The guy looks very sexy

  30. Staarkalinou
    2 tundi tagasi

    another great video, as always ++

  31. Jeison Javier Virguez Castañeda
    Jeison Javier Virguez Castañeda
    2 tundi tagasi

    0 seconds since electrons located in the atoms of the wire would start to flow when the potential energy stored in the battery is released immediately as there is no resistency in the wire

  32. Alexis De Smet
    Alexis De Smet
    2 tundi tagasi

    So if electrons don’t flow in the wires, how does your ferrite meter in your house know when energy is being taken from the grid or when it is injected by your solar panels onto the grid. I always learned that electrically conductive materials have the ability to release and absorb electrons very easily.

  33. Manas Sarpatwar
    Manas Sarpatwar
    2 tundi tagasi

    1/c seconds

  34. Ro Ro
    Ro Ro
    2 tundi tagasi

    I hope it's b

  35. Wai Yu Chan
    Wai Yu Chan
    2 tundi tagasi

    If it is 1/c, How can the bulb know there is a completed circuit or is it broken in 1 lightyear away. if there is a break at the circuit one lightyear away, will the bulb goes off immediately?

  36. Blue Team
    Blue Team
    2 tundi tagasi

    Energy is constant and it will always exist...your just manipulating it.

  37. Zoya A
    Zoya A
    2 tundi tagasi

    Seems like the resistance and heating are not covered in the video concept.

  38. Dany poko
    Dany poko
    2 tundi tagasi


  39. F Fff
    F Fff
    2 tundi tagasi

    Should be relatively easy to test actually: Whatever happens within the first microsecond can not depend on any wire that is more than half a light microsecond (that is 150m) away (0.5µs forth, 0.5µs back). So just take 300m of wire with battery and switch in the middle, and another 300m of wire, 1m away, with some "light bulb" in the middle, then switch on... An incandescent or fluorescent won't switch on that fast, but a LED can. Also one should probably keep far away from electromagnetic pollution. Might give a short flash. Additionally one could use an oscilloscope to measure; also a resistor (instead or additional) to measure current. A somewhat shorter wire should also suffice, the 1µs is just an example.

  40. chrupek
    2 tundi tagasi

    Thank you. I've learned something new today... and it blew my mind.

  41. Пряник Муханов
    Пряник Муханов
    2 tundi tagasi

    I think the answer is 1/c s

  42. Mongoose Hunter
    Mongoose Hunter
    2 tundi tagasi

    2 second

  43. Hbferri
    2 tundi tagasi

    Absolutely clarifying.

  44. Mino Arno
    Mino Arno
    2 tundi tagasi

    I think none of the above. That it is more like a pushing motion making it somewhat instant

  45. Gabby Khaos
    Gabby Khaos
    2 tundi tagasi

    Derek, you created quite the stir with this video. What is your favorite youtube/video response to it?

  46. Pragya Singh
    Pragya Singh
    3 tundi tagasi

    Question: what is the form of energy that we receive in this way according to this theory (light, mechanical, heat or what) how does it knows where to get converted into mechanical energy, light or heat energy

  47. Francis Lapointe
    Francis Lapointe
    3 tundi tagasi

    I guess that's why if you stand unshielded between electromagnetic energy you'll get cancer or fry up! You're direct in the path of the flow of energy!

  48. WoF Aman
    WoF Aman
    3 tundi tagasi

    none of the above

  49. Danny Coltrain
    Danny Coltrain
    3 tundi tagasi

    I hit the switch the light comes on, end of.

  50. Owen Martin
    Owen Martin
    3 tundi tagasi

    I think the answer is that you must not confuse force and energy. The electric and magnetic fields are the force. The energy in the battery is converted to a force, in this case a field. That force runs through the wires and is then converted back into energy in the light bulb. Same as in a steam train the energy stored in coal is converted to a force that turns the pistons . That force is then converted to energy which turns the wheels. Or more accurate to say the force is used to do work and Energy is released at each stage.

  51. Pragya Singh
    Pragya Singh
    3 tundi tagasi

    Question: can we produce wireless electricity then? By placing electric and magnetic fields perpendicularly

  52. Christian Hamann
    Christian Hamann
    3 tundi tagasi


  53. Baka Kafka
    Baka Kafka
    3 tundi tagasi

    @Veritasium please do an update video on what this means for how we see superconductivity!

  54. Andrew Voigt
    Andrew Voigt
    3 tundi tagasi

    Yeah no that is not a correct statement Energy does flow through a wire. Just because the wire is not the only path. Just because the energy doesn't use the wire in the way some would think. Does not change the fact that. Energy absolutely does flow through a wire.

    1. Andrew Voigt
      Andrew Voigt
      3 tundi tagasi

      Also given that a change in the magnetic field of the wire would require energy and is therefore an energy loss. Any other condition than all the energy flowing in the wire is forbidden by the stipulated conditions of the experiment.

  55. Deep Patel
    Deep Patel
    3 tundi tagasi


  56. Billy Hamilton
    Billy Hamilton
    3 tundi tagasi

    Hmmm so are you in a way saying you can send/transmit information faster then the speed of light?

  57. shachar kuduri
    shachar kuduri
    3 tundi tagasi

    I must ask sorry if it is stupid but if you say 1 over c seconds and c is constant but it is describing velocity so it needs to have units of velocity which is a meter over second or some variation of that , is it mean that 1 over c does not have a units of seconds cause it will be second over meter per second if we calculating units which means second need to be cancelled out? Where am I wrong?

    1. Pragya Singh
      Pragya Singh
      2 tundi tagasi

      The unit of one over c is: sec/m, that is the time taken by light to travel 1 metre of distance. That's it.

  58. Kristoph321
    3 tundi tagasi

    1 second

  59. Billy Hamilton
    Billy Hamilton
    3 tundi tagasi

    I'm guessing 2 sec

  60. Gabani Ammar
    Gabani Ammar
    3 tundi tagasi


  61. Brevan H
    Brevan H
    4 tundi tagasi

    So why do we bother with fiber optical cables and experience delay increasing with distance?

  62. Antonio Martos
    Antonio Martos
    4 tundi tagasi

    I really like other Verisatium videos but this one is not great, sorry. A much more correct, complete and simpler answer IMHO is that the bulb might experience just a tiny and very short flick after 1/c (actually 1m / c or ~3 nanoseconds) due to the EM transmission between the two parallel cables which act virtually like antennas.This is the transient state which depends on how sudden the switch is, the impedance of the battery itself, air, etc. This will happen regardless if the lines are connected at the end or the circuit are actually open. Charge / current will have no time to reach there anyway and most transmission will happen in the part of the wires close to the switch and bulb. For that the explanation of the video is mostly good, but neglects to explain that this effect is transient and very faint. In reality only after one full second the DC steady state will be reached in this circuit, and only then the bulb will turn on again and stay on with the full voltage of the battery. So this is a much more correct answer if you have to pick only one. For this state the video is sadly quite wrong. The Poyting vector is negligible, irrelevant and if any in the opposite direction (into the wire). Actually the more conventional wisdom about current flowing through the wires is much more correct and pragmatic that this convoluted and wrong explanation for the DC steady state. Aside from clarifying that electron current flow (a few mm/s) does not equal to energy transfer speed (close to speed of light), the rest of this video is just introducing a lot of confusion in the topic.

  63. THE 48DU1
    THE 48DU1
    4 tundi tagasi

    C) 2 seconds

  64. Csongor Szántó
    Csongor Szántó
    4 tundi tagasi

    Well, there's a reason for why Tesla's work was destroyed - electricty behaving differently from what we believe it to.

  65. leon coetzer
    leon coetzer
    4 tundi tagasi

    0.5 secs

  66. Andrew
    4 tundi tagasi

    Could make a lot of sense why people got very sick or died after the huge roll out of electric - Arthur Firstenberg invisible rainbow. Could be what’s causing pandemics? EMF?

  67. Syilver A. Wors
    Syilver A. Wors
    4 tundi tagasi

    Less than 1/c seconds, so none of the above

  68. Allan Sejr Christensen
    Allan Sejr Christensen
    4 tundi tagasi


  69. DiMiTRiOneAndOnlyPAT
    4 tundi tagasi


  70. Toby Hunter
    Toby Hunter
    4 tundi tagasi

    This is what leads to the wrong conclusion: "What keeps it all together?" Instead "What is keeping it all apart in oscillating potenials of elektricity, geometrically organised, synchronised , harmonic and resonant? There is no whatsoever "dynamics" without a cavitation of space, the only mechanics in "Quantum Mechanics". The " Information" we use on a daily base, sonic, pure Vibration! We are electro cymatics, fractalised - Not pixelated. ! ---- OM ---- !

  71. Jon Anon
    Jon Anon
    4 tundi tagasi

    The chain analogy is good, the comment about transformers is wrong. A transformer would be like two wheels of different radius joined together, one wheel presses on the main chain loop from the power station to the transformer, the other wheel presses on a new chain loop that starts at the transformer and goes to the home (or another transformer).

  72. Александр Золкин
    Александр Золкин
    4 tundi tagasi


  73. Stanimir Razvan
    Stanimir Razvan
    4 tundi tagasi

    As others pointed out, your answer seems wrong as it breaks the speed limit for the transfer of information. You seem to suggest that the only thing that matters is the distance from the battery to the light bulb. That means if you put the switch to one of the sides you can affect the bulb faster than the speed of light. I don't know the answer, but intuition tells me it's the distance from the switch to the bulb that counts.

  74. Åce The Åłien
    Åce The Åłien
    4 tundi tagasi

    What does "potential energy" mean? Energy that the COULD produce, but may not necessarily produce?

  75. Christina Mehew
    Christina Mehew
    5 tundi tagasi

    2 seconds

  76. Lisha
    5 tundi tagasi


  77. Jason Allison
    Jason Allison
    5 tundi tagasi

    None of the above

  78. Akshay Thakare
    Akshay Thakare
    5 tundi tagasi

    How do wire testers work? As they connect to only one cable

    5 tundi tagasi

    None of the option

  80. enstamud
    5 tundi tagasi

    He says "what we've learnt in this video" is... No, this is just stated in the video. It's not demonstrated so can't really see that. We've learnt it per se. It's a shame because it's pretty fundamental concept that I don't think I have any more insights into having watched the video, beyond my very basic response to the beginning being " it's Fields isn't it?"

  81. Aurelius 843
    Aurelius 843
    5 tundi tagasi

    Yeah! Electrical engineering!! You should cover harmonics and power generation side

  82. Red Panda
    Red Panda
    5 tundi tagasi

    once again,mind blowing ,excellent.thank you very very much for such enlightening video

  83. Rnd 314
    Rnd 314
    5 tundi tagasi

    ur so dangerous. ur messing with my mind :)

  84. Ophir Memories & Illusions
    Ophir Memories & Illusions
    5 tundi tagasi

    So why we do not get electrified simply by standing near a powerful power lines when they powering a big power consumer? Why I have to touch a bare line to be electrified? Oh and don't forget that all this sophistication was created by chance...

  85. M E N T A L
    M E N T A L
    5 tundi tagasi

    If I cut a wire it won't work

  86. Aaron Gabbard
    Aaron Gabbard
    5 tundi tagasi

    Then....what are we paying for and why are we paying for it...if we can make out own for free?

  87. XDSDDLord
    5 tundi tagasi

    D) 1/c s

  88. Tinker Tailor
    Tinker Tailor
    5 tundi tagasi

    The Universe is electrified.

  89. Hari Krishnan
    Hari Krishnan
    6 tundi tagasi

    All hits, no misses

  90. CB Radio CB Radio
    6 tundi tagasi

    I dont really care, just as long as when I press the Mic button someone responds to my electric/magnetic transmission from somewhere! Preferably from interstate or overseas which happens often. BTW the secret of anti-gravity lurks in there somewhere.....

  91. J A
    J A
    6 tundi tagasi

    2:58 "These are the lies you are taught about _____" I believe this is true of all scientific models.

  92. Djtumble69
    6 tundi tagasi

    I just got schooled. Time to hit some more books.

  93. LL Kg
    LL Kg
    6 tundi tagasi

    If the energy Is transferred directly from the power source to the light bulb (although “the bulb won’t receive entire voltage of the battery immediately”) via the electro-magnetic field and not by the electrons flowing around the electrical circuit, why do we need wires at all? If we removed the conducting wires from the experiment, the battery should be still able to power the light bulb because of direct energy transfer by the way of electric and magnetic fields. So if the answer is that we need the wires to sustain the power delivery after the initial almost instantaneous injection from the electro-magnetic field, then the next question is what fills that time gap between nanoseconds for EM field and slow crawl of electrons that require more than 15 minutes to move 10cm (according to the stated speed of tenth of a millimetre per second)?

  94. Abiy Fantaye
    Abiy Fantaye
    6 tundi tagasi

    Based on modern physics theory 2 seconds

  95. Lucky Sakonta
    Lucky Sakonta
    6 tundi tagasi


  96. KonradT4
    6 tundi tagasi

    First we would need to know the inductance of the loop. V = L di/dt, so di/dt = V/L. Then we would need to understand how much current would be needed through the bulb before it could be considered to be in the ‘on’ state. So: ‘none of the above’.

  97. QFAN
    6 tundi tagasi

    I still can't understand this. If the answer is 1/c seconds, does that mean faster than light communication is possible and practical? I mean, can you detect whether the wire is cut open 1-light-second away from here, within 1/c seconds?

    1. QFAN
      6 tundi tagasi

      OK never mind, just saw Sonans Bodø's comment and I think that one makes more sense.

  98. Ben Lucy
    Ben Lucy
    6 tundi tagasi

    This video is so bad and misleading I think it is deliberate

  99. OrangeC7
    6 tundi tagasi

    I'm going for B, although I have a really strong feeling the answer is going to be E for some reason

  100. gaming with poiklow
    gaming with poiklow
    6 tundi tagasi

    e) it would take a lot of energy