Physics Electrostatic Generators: A Hair Raising Experience

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Physics Electrostatic Generators: A Hair Raising Experience

Ali Noorani

Ali Noorani

Ali Noorani

Ali Noorani, WIN-TV Reporter

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She placed her hand on the metal ball and her hair stood on end. Wakeland physics students experiment with what is  known as a “Van De Graaff” generator or commonly known as an electrostatic generator. This device is used to study the flow of positive and negative electric charges throughout objects. When touched by an outside source, such as a person, the positive charges given by the generator, separate the negative and positives in a person. The result is commonly known as “static”. This effect leads to the hairs on a person to rapidly stand up in wild directions and for them to feel funny sensations as the electrons run through them.

“It felt like my hair had a mind of its own or like I was standing upside down! It was all lot of fun; I would want to try it out again” said Junior Natalie Newton, pictured below.

Experimenting with the generator, Junior Natalie Newton experiences the effects of the device by having her hair stick up in wild directions.

Some cool effects given by the generator can include charges running through you, giving you the ability to bend water, shocking and zapping handshakes, and of course, bad hair days in an instant. This experiment is completely painless, safe and a fun way for students to learn about electrostatic physics in an interactive way. For those at home, try this experiment in a simple way by blowing up a balloon and simply rubbing it on your head. Doing this will act in the same way the generator does, causing your hair to stand up freely and make for a fun experiment.

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