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A property of some elementary particles that gives rise to an interaction between them and consequently to the host of material phenomena described as electrical. Charge occurs in nature in two forms, conventionally described as positive and negative in order to distinguish between the two kinds of interaction between particles. Two particles that have similar charges (both negative or both positive) interact by repelling each other; two particles that have dissimilar charges (one positive, one negative) interact by attracting each other.

The natural unit of negative charge is the charge on an electron, which is equal but opposite in effect to the positive charge on the proton. Large-scale matter that consists of equal numbers of electrons and protons is electrically neutral. If there is an excess of electrons the body is negatively charged; an excess of protons results in a positive charge. A flow of charged particles, especially a flow of electrons, constitutes an electric current. Charge is measured in coulombs, the charge on an electron being 1.602 × 10−19 coulombs.

Subjects: Chemistry — Physics.

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