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A clearcut definition of Potential please

gkrause at med.wayne.edu gkrause at med.wayne.edu
Mon Feb 8 17:24:51 EST 1999

Michael Edelman wrote:
> Richard Norman wrote:
> > Wookie wrote in message <36bb94b0.44628370 at news.casema.net>...
> > >I know that a difference in charge between intracellular and
> > >extracellular is responsible for the membrane potential.
> > >But I just can't grasp the idea of a potential, the only thing that
> > >you can measure is a difference.
> > >As I understand correctly the membrane potential is the force
> > >experienced by a charged particle that's within this electric field.
> > >Can please someone give a better definition
> > >

You have the concept.  The language is sloppy.  When someone speaks of a
transmembrane potential they really mean transmembrane potential
difference.  Same thing happens when talking about the electrical
current coming out of a wall socket (in the US).  They talked about 60
cycle AC, when they really meant to say 60 cycles per second AC.  This
got to be such a problem, that frequency is now given in Hertz rather
than cps.

Gary Krause, M.D.
Wayne State University
Department of Emergency Medicine
51 Lande Bldg, 550 E. Canfield Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201 USA

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