Electronics Overview

What is Electronics?:

Electronics is the branch of physics that deals with the emission and effects of electrons and the operation of electronic devices.

What is Direct Current?:

Direct current electronics involves working with electrical systems where the flow of electrical current is constant through a conducting medium, generally a wire. Current and voltage in a direct-current circuit are conserved according to Kirchhoff's Current & Voltage Laws.

What is Alternating Current?:

Alternating current electronics involves working with electrical systems where the flow of electrical current varies cyclically in magnitude and direction. The form of electricity transmitted to business and residences is alternating current. Audio and radio waves transmitted through wires are in alternating current, as well.

Major Innovations:

For years, electricity was used as part of parlor tricks, creating impressive showers of sparks. Benjamin Franklin is known as perhaps one of the earliest experimenters in electricity, whose invention of the lightning rod was one of the first practical applications. Throughout the 1800's the practical and theoretical concepts of electrical circuitry were developed.

What are Electromagnetic Waves?:

Michael Faraday developed the concept of invisible waves of electromagnetic force, though he lacked the mathematical sophistication to fully quantify these concepts.

That was left to James Clerk Maxwell, in the famous Maxwell's equations, which predict the effects of stationary and moving electrons as a set of time-varying wave functions. These waves include electromagnetic radiation.

Preparing for a Career in Electronics:

Most colleges have courses in electronics, as well as electromagnetics, which someone going into electronics will need.

A knowledge of mathematics, especially wave functions, is necessary. Depending on the school, you may be considered an Engineering student instead of a physics student, but there will be a fair amount of overlap. This is one of the more practical fields of physics, so you will likely focus more on applications than theory.