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Q & A: measuring conductivity with a light bulb

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Most recent answer: 04/09/2015
Q:
Is it possible to measure which metal is a stronger conductor of electricity..eg copper,gold,silver or aluminum. Using a lightbulb,insulated wire,a battery and the metal. Will the light bulb be brighter with a stronger metal conductor?
- Storm McDonald-Smith (age 12)
Rockaway Park,NY,USA
A:

Yes, it is possible, but not easy. If you have very long thin wires then the resistance of the wire will reduce the current a bit and make the bulb dimmer. To compare the metals you would need wires of the same diameter and length, so that any difference in resistance would just be due to differences in the metals. The problem is that all those metals are such good conductors that ordinary wires don't contribute much resistance, compared to the resistance of the bulb. 

Mike W.


(published on 04/09/2015)

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