Emma Herold Static Electricity                   To most people static electricity is just the shock that happens when you rub your feet on a carpet and touch a doorknob. In reality, it is a powerful force of electricity that significantly improves daily life. For example, static electricity powers things like printers, photocopiers, paint sprayers, air filters, and dust removal systems. In simple terms static electricity is explained as: an imbalance of electrical charges on or within the surface of a material. The charge will remain until it is able to move away by the means of an electric current or an electrical discharge.  Static buildup is the first step in the process of creating static electricity. In real life a vast array of things can cause static build up. Chances are, you have static build up on you right now. As humans,we have at least some, static buildup on us at all times. To create a static electric charge, or static build up, all you need to do is take two surfaces and contact and separate them again and again. I know what you are thinking, We do that all the time. You are right. It happens almost every time we touch something. What is needed for static buildup to become static electricity is an initiating action. Static electricity is all about when the static buildup gets released. That is the spark we see. A common misconception is that static electricity come from rubbing things together. Actually, it’s all about contact. Rubbing objects together, just puts them in contact repetitively. The more times materials are rubbed together the higher the chances are that electrons swap. That’s how static electricity builds up. The difference between static build up and just touching something is that during static buildup, at least one of the surfaces must have a high resistance to the electric current between them. That is what causes the imbalance of electric charges. Hence the fact that static electricity is the imbalance of electric charges on or within the surface of a material. Now that we have established what static buildup is, let’s explore static discharge. The spark or crackle that is often identified as static electricity is actually static discharge. Static discharge is the release of static electricity when two objects touch each other. Basically, when two surfaces touch each other, each one has a certain level of static build up. The amounts of static build up usually differ because some atoms have a more powerful pull than others. That is one of the main causes of static electricity. If the two different surfaces or materials are put into contact and one attracts more electrons than the other one, then when they are separated the electrons on the weaker material will transfer or “jump” to the material with the stronger pull. When it is all said and done, one material will have gained an electron and one material will have lost an electron. This is also why static electricity “sparks”. The spark is the static discharge, or when the electrons are switching atoms. It’s of the storm before the peace, if you will. After the discharge, the  two materials involved go back to having stable charges (whether they are positive or negative).”When two objects are rubbed together to create static electricity, one object gives up electrons and becomes positively charged while the other takes electrons and becomes negatively charged.”confirms the University of Hawaii. So, that is basically the process of static electricity.One real life example of static electricity is lightning. In fact, it is the most powerful form of static electricity. Lightning is actually electrostatic discharge during a thunderstorm. It could be between the clouds and the ground or between the clouds themselves. During a thunderstorm the heavy negatively charged particles will sink to the bottom of a lightning cloud while, the lighter more positively charged particles rise to the top. Eventually, when the opposing charges grow large enough a giant spark (lightning) will occur between the two. So lightning is basically static electricity on a larger scale with a slightly different environment. Another real life example of how static electricity is the damage it can do to computers. The inner workings of a computer, the hard drive especially, are extremely susceptible to static electricity. Static can even cause damage to the hard drive if it is zapped with a very small amount. Because of this, people who work inside computers have to wear an antistatic device that reduces the buildup of static electricity on your body. An antistatic device is a metal clip on a long cord that is attached to a wrist strap. To use it you attach the metal clip to the computer and put the wristband on your arm. The metal clip sends any static build up through the cord and the static fizzles out there. There are other antistatic devices such as antistatic bags and clothes, but the wrist strap is most common because, it is used in the industrial making of computers. In conclusion, static electricity is the imbalance of electrical charges on or within the surface of a material. To achieve static electricity all you need to do is create static build up and static discharge. To create static buildup two surfaces or materials must some in contact with each other again and again. Once you have static build up all you need is an initiating action to turn it into static discharge or the “spark”. This “initiating action” could just mean touching a piece of metal or even another person. Static electricity is a powerful force that can do equally wonderful and horrible things.

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