Static Electricity

Electricity is often described as being either static or dynamic. The difference between the two is based simply on whether the electrons are at rest (static) or in motion (dynamic). Static electricity is a build up of an electrical charge on the surface of an object. It is considered “static" due to the fact that there is no current flowing as in AC or DC electricity. Static electricity is usually caused when non-conductive materials such as rubber, plastic or glass are rubbed together, causing a transfer of electrons, which then results in an imbalance of charges between the two materials. The fact that there is an imbalance of charges between the two materials means that the objects will exhibit an attractive or repulsive force.

Attractive and Repulsive Forces

One of the most fundamental laws of static electricity, as well as magnetics, deals with attraction and repulsion. Like charges repel each other and unlike charges attract each other. All electrons possess a negative charge and as such will repel each other. Similarly, all protons possess a positive charge and as such will repel each other. Electrons (negative) and protons (positive) are opposite in their charge and will attract each other.

For example, if two pith balls are suspended, as shown in Figure 10-5, and each ball is touched with the charged glass rod, some of the charge from the rod

is transferred to the balls. The balls now have similar charges and, consequently, repel each other as shown in part B of Figure 10-5. If a plastic rod is rubbed with fur, it becomes negatively charged and the fur is positively charged. By touching each ball with these differently charged sources, the balls obtain opposite charges and attract each other as shown in part C of Figure 10-5.

Although most objects become charged with static electricity by means of friction, a charged substance can also influence objects near it by contact. This is illustrated in Figure 10-6.

If a positively charged rod touches an uncharged metal bar, it will draw electrons from the uncharged bar to the point of contact. Some electrons will enter the rod, leaving the metal bar with a deficiency of electrons (positively charged) and making the rod less positive than it was or, perhaps, even neutralizing its charge completely.

A method of charging a metal bar by induction is demonstrated in Figure 10-7. A positively charged rod is brought near, but does not touch, an uncharged metal bar.

Electrons in the metal bar are attracted to the end of the bar nearest the positively charged rod, leaving a deficiency of electrons at the opposite end of the bar. If this positively charged end is touched by a neutral object, electrons will flow into the metal bar and neutralize the charge. The metal bar is left with an overall excess of electrons.

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