How Electricity may be Measured
Since resistance plays so important a rôle in electricity, it becomes necessary to have a unit of resistance. The practical unit of resistance is called an ohm, and some idea of the value of an ohm can be obtained if we remember that a 300-foot length of common iron telegraph wire has a resistance of 1 ohm. An approximate ohm for rough work in the laboratory may be made by winding 9 feet 5 inches of number 30 copper wire on a spool or arranging it in any other convenient form.
We learned that substances differ very greatly in the resistance which they offer to electricity, and so it will not surprise us to learn that while it takes 300 feet of iron telegraph wire to give 1 ohm of resistance, it takes but 39 feet of number 24 copper wire, and but 2.2 feet of number 24 German silver wire, to give the same resistance.
NOTE. The number of a wire indicates its diameter; number 30, for example, being always of a definite fixed diameter, no matter what the material of the wire.
If we wish to avoid loss of current by heating, we use a wire of low resistance; while if we wish to transform electricity into heat, as in the electric stove, we choose wire of high resistance, as German silver wire.