The most foolproof way to check a fuse is to pull it out of its receptacle and hook up a continuity tester to both blades of the fuse. But if you do this while the fuse is plugged in, you could get continuity through a path other than the fuse (for instance, both sides of the wire may be grounded when you check the fuse).
The conductor inside the fuse is made of a metal similar to solder. It has a lower melting point than the wire itself. The size of the conductor is calibrated very carefully so that when the rated current is reached, enough heat is generated to melt the conductor and so break the circuit.
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