If you are handling real diodes to build a circuit, you have to figure out which way to point the diode. Real-world diodes are so small there isn’t room to paint a little diode symbol on them, so you need to identify the terminals some other way.
A forward-biased diode conducts current and drops a small voltage across it, leaving most of the battery voltage dropped across the lamp. If the battery’s polarity is reversed, the diode becomes reverse-biased, and drops all of the battery’s voltage leaving none for the lamp. If we consider the diode to be a self-actuating switch (closed in the forward-bias mode and open in the reverse-bias mode), this behavior makes sense. The most substantial difference is that the diode drops a lot more voltage when conducting than the average mechanical switch (0.7 volts versus tens of millivolts).
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