Gustav Robert Kirchhoff (1824 – 1887) was a pioneer in the study of the radiation given off by hot objects and was the first person to use the term ‘black body radiation’. He also made groundbreaking contributions to what was then the ‘new’ science of spectroscopy.
High school students first encounter his name when studying electric circuits. Kirchhoff developed laws which describe the behaviour of electric circuits and, rightly, these laws still bear his name.
Newton needed three laws to explain the whole of motion; Kirchhoff needed only two to explain the behaviour of all circuits.
Kirchhoff’s First Law (aka KCL or Kirchhoff’s Current Law)
This law is a consequence of the Principle of Conservation of Electric Charge.
The algebraic sum of all the currents flowing through all the wires in a network that meet at a point is zero
Oxford Dictionary of Physics (2015)
‘Algebraic sum’ means that we…
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