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How does Static Electricity Originate

By Mary Smith. Updated: January 16, 2017
How does Static Electricity Originate

We know that rubbing two things can sometimes create static electricity, but what is it that produces this phenomenon? We've only had electricity for a short period of time, only since the end of the 19th century. Michael Faraday, Alessandro Volta, Thomas Edison and Joseph Henry were some of the most important scientists that figured out the powers of electricity.

Nowadays we use electricity for almost everything, but it is important to know that there are different ways of electricity we can find. One of these is static electricity. This kind of electricity is caused by rubbing things. You've most likely tried the trick of rubbing a balloon on your clothes and then leaving it to realise it's stuck on your clothes. The practice is clear, but how does this static electricity originate? If you want to know the answer to this question red on this OneHowTo article.

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Protons and electrons

Ultraviolet rays, cosmic rays and radioactive rays emitted by terrestrial bodies reach the atmosphere and then thermal fluctuations occur, which affect molecules in the air. We should remember that atoms that form molecules consist of a core of positively charged protons and negatively charged electrons, i.e. they are electrically neutral, since both charges balance each other.

How does Static Electricity Originate - Protons and electrons

The creation of static electricity

For the reasons mentioned in the previous point, radiation causes a change in this balance, either by losing or gaining electrons. Ions (charged atoms) are then formed, depending on the circumstances with either a positive or negative electrical charge.

The earth, which is full of negative electricity, repels ions of the same type and attracts positive ions. These enter in higher proportions in the lower layers, resulting in electrical discharges called rays. Static electricity occurs more in days of relatively low humidity and especially on days when we are more covered up. This is because clothes cause electricity due to friction. Synthetic materials are charged and while we are isolated we act as a kind of battery.

How does Static Electricity Originate - The creation of static electricity

Benefits of electric shocks

One of the beneficial consequences of shocks is that they facilitate the binding of nitrogen atoms, forming oxides which fall to the earth in rain. They are powerful fertilisers that plants can take advantage of for nourishment.

How to remove static electricity from your body

There are different methods to get rid of static electricity from your body, but it is also possible to prevent it. If you wear synthetic clothes it is easier for you to gather electricity, since synthetic materials are charged with electricity. Wearing natural fibers and shoes with natural rubber soles will prevent static electricity from forming on your body.

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