Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Amps and Volts
Name: N/A
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A

I am sort of confused as to the difference between amps and volts. I know that with very few amps you can take a lot of volts (such as the 5000 volt 10 microamp power supply we cannot feel anything when you hold d on). But, what are the two of them. Everyone that answers this question just seems to confuse me more! Thanks.

Amps and volts measure totally different things. For example, particle accelerators usually have starting sections with voltages in the millions of volts, but if that section of the chamber does not have any particles to move and create a current, the "Amps" are zero. Voltage measures a "desire" for charged particles to move, while current (number of amps) measures the actual number of charged particles that are moving (per second past any point). As an analogy, imagine you are driving to the superbowl in your car. There are tens of thousands of other people out on the road too, heading in the same direction for the same reason. The "Voltage" here is the desire of all these people to get to the stadium. The "current" is the speed with which they are getting there, which could be pretty small if traffic was really bad.

Arthur Smith

Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory