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THERE is hardly a branch of experimental electricity which requires a closer observation of its functional details than Electro-statics. The field itself, seemingly unlimited, not only offers a great variety of experiments, finished and complete in themselves and clearly demonstrating the basic principles of this element, but an additional multitude of variations from these, due to more or less marked changes in their conduction, which in some instances exemplify the "Finer Workings" of this earth-endowed mysterious power to a remarkable degree.

Many things about Static Electricity have doubtless remained unknown, just as well as even the action of the Wimhirst Static Machine, so long and widely used, is as yet not understood to the fullest extent.

Electrical experiments in general teach much; static experiments, however, are in principle and in Part true replica of the great atmospherical movements and disturbances which occur above and around us, in consequence of which a favorable amount of conclusions regarding the latter may be drawn from these experiments. So much for static experiments in general.

Additional "clues" however, leading to the fuller understanding of this particular branch of the electrical science, may be gathered from experiments, which in a more or less pronounced way, expose the "Finer Workings" of static electricity.

Only the simplest apparatus is needed for their reproduction, in fact, weak charge - sources are a necessity to that end, since the more powerful generators (static machines) liberate entirely too much unwanted energy (influence) into the surrounding air, as well as deliver too strong a charge into the instruments in operation, as to ever allow these very tender static actions to evidence themselves.


Some light object (such as a pith ball), after suspending it by a silk thread from an insulating stand, is gradually approached by a charged electrophorus cover (a tin box fastened to a stick of sealing wax or hard rubber rod will do) until it moves toward the latter and is held under the influence of the charge in a position near the cover. "Near" means in this case the distance between the cover and the ball, when the latter, altho attracted, still hangs under medium tension and will not am ave further on its own accord. This has to be carefully worked out!

If now the cover of another electrophorus, not charged but in a so-called neutral condition, is brought near the tight object from the opposite side and moved slowly toward it, the (supposedly neutral) cover will during this motion "force" the suspended pith ball ahead of itself and "push" it thin the intervening space up to the charged cover. (Fig. No. 1.)

The phenomenon finds its explanation in that the positively charged cover in attracting the light object induces a negative charge upon it as well as upon the so far neutral electrophorus-cover, repelling at the same time all positive electricity.

(The small amount of positive electricity repelled on the light body (pith ball) is neutralized thin tile air (at a distance) by the induced (-) charge on the face of the second El-cover). Both cover No. .3, and pith hall, carrying a like charge, repel one another and since this cover, which has besides the larger amount of induced charge (reflex-energy, so to speak) of the two residing upon it, is moved steadily in the direction of cover No. 1, the light object can not help but make contact with the latter.

It goes without saving, that, if the experiment is interrupted before the hall reaches the charged cover and the latter is removed altogether, the field of influence vanishes automatically, and both ball and the other cover are once more restored to a neutral condition.

The insulating stand to be used in this experiment should contain no metal parts and the pith ball should hang well off the table surface, as in all static experiments of a similar character.

Another way of gaining similar results, the effect, however, will be not quite so pronounced, is by employing a charged hard rubber plate instead of the charged electrophorus cover, using otherwise the same instruments and tactics. In this case, as is quite natural, the polarity of the respective parts will be found reversed.

If in either of the above cases the neutral El-cover is replaced by a grounded conductor, such as the operator's hand, for instance, which changes the fundamental principle of the experiment, then the pith ball will he first attracted to the hand (providing the latter is brought close enough to it) where the ball "unloads" its complement of positive electrons and an instant after, fully negatively charged, fly over to the + charged El-cover and make contact with it, which it, again, would not accomplish "under its own power."

Concerning the first two instances, I may further add, that, whenever the induced charge is too weak to neutralize the positive element repelled on the pith ball at a distance, the ball will (quite naturally) be momentarily attracted to the second El-cover, which in turn is a sign only, that cover No. 1 is not properly charged.

(Electrophorus Cover Charged Thin Glass)

That an electrophorus cover will receive a charge, altho separated from its "cake" (charged hard rubber plate) by an insulating body, is proven by the following simple experiment:

The cover of an electrophorns (metal box used in experiment' No. 1) is charged in the usual way, discharged and charged again until the sparks are raised to their maximum value. The charge thus gained is then applied to the pith ball hanging from its insulating support, which was made use of in the preceding experiment (pith ball to be first neutralized, of course), with the result that the light body will be strongly repelled by the El-cover. This shows, that the former is fully charged. (It will retain the charge for quite a while!)

A sheet of glass, about 1/16 thick, of a somewhat smaller size than the hard rubber plate, is then placed between the latter and the metal cover (Fig. 2) and the charging process gone thru as before. The spark discharges will in this case, naturally, be of a weaker nature, but the polarity of the sparks will in both cases be the same, that is +, which is manifest thru the repulsive action upon the charged pith ball.

Simple as the experiment itself is, its underlying principle is of a more complicated character. There seems to exist only one tangible explanation for the whole action, which, broadly speaking, touches upon the condenser principle in a modified form. It is well to observe, that the glass, not being a conductor, will not take a charge directly applied, but will hold such of opposite sign (+) to that of the charging body (-) on its face next to the same as long as it is in con tact with the latter, while this induced charge, on the other hand, superinduces such of, again, opposite polarity (-) upon the upper surface of the glass sheet.

What finally becomes of both these induced Electro-static charges remains an open question, since the glass plate can not be tested for its respective former polarities after being removed from the charging body; and so this particular problem winds up in a case of "Spurlos Versenkt"!

The fact remains, that, in the above connection, a negative charge is found upon the glass's upper side and is retained there (it is never repelled there as it would on a conductor!) gradually diminishing in value with that upon the hard rubber plate.

For the sake of the uninitiated or some "Doubting Thomas" and to emphasize the fallacy of another possible (on their part) version of the principle action, I may state here, that in the above case the original charge does not penetrate, unchanged in sign and simply lessened in power thin the sheet of glass, for this fact alone would be sufficient to eliminate the use of glass for a condenser as well as insulating purposes and, for that matter, would have done so long ago.

The diagram in Fig. 2A. shows the distribution of the electrostatic charges upon the various parts of the apparatus, while the latter are in electrical contact with one another.

(Inductive Action Upon Neutral Body)

This experiment, although again simple in its conduction, "Teaches a lot", as it demonstrates the inductive action of an electro-static charge upon a neutral object, from start to finish, in a very clear manner.

In order to make such a clear demonstration possible, a neutral insulating body (sheet of glass or hard rubber) is needed in conjunction with the other necessary instruments ; electrophorus. insulating stand, and suspended pith ball, with which alone the very fine inductive action can be worked out only to a certain, limited extent.

The addition of the sheet of glass is essential, because it "slows down," as well as exposes (as far as this possibly can be done) "those workings" of, the action, which ordinarily take place, but do not manifest themselves, all of which will be more fully understood later on.

Fig. 3 indicates the respective positions of the instruments to one another, which are to be placed in line, with the insulating sheet very close to the neutral body. This is important as the success of the experiment depends upon this factor more than on anything else. Care must, consequently, be taken in finding the proper distance between the sheet of glass and the pith ball, which, generally speaking, is about equal to the thickness of the glass itself, but which has really to be found by experimentation, since this is subject to the volume of the induced charge, the size of the pith ball, the temperature of the surrounding air, etc., etc.

With the apparatus arranged as above suggested, the charged El-cover is moved slowly in the direction of the pith ball, whereupon the latter, altho separated from the cover by several inches, will be "pushed" onto the insulating sheet and cling there. At this very juncture, that is, without bringing the charged cover any closer, all action on the part of the operator should cease for a while. Thus keeping the cover in its last position, the pith ball will soon loose its hold upon the surface of the glass and swing over toward the charged cover.

As the gap between both is shortened or widened by the operator, so will the light object, naturally, be more strongly attracted or allowed to swing back onto the sheet of glass, as the case may be, but it will not cling to the latter any more. (Under no circumstances and at no stage of this experiment should the pith ball be permitted to make contact with the Electrophorus cover, for this would destroy the principle of the inductive action with one stroke!)

On getting the light object once more "under control" by shortening this gap, the opportunity offers itself for the removal of the insulating body, which is then done. After this the charged cover is also removed. An investigation will show the existence of a small charge upon the pith ball, which the latter acquired during the process and which is evidenced thru its attractive properties when in contact with any neutral object.

Although quite a few things happen in this little experiment, the explanation for the whole action is very clear and as follows: The (+) charged El-cover, on being approached to the pith ball, induces a negative charge upon the part of the latter facing it, while a charge of opposite sign is repelled to the other side of the ball. This repelled positive element does under ordinary conditions, that is, without the addition of the insulating sheet, not manifest its existence. In the above case, however, it will find a complement of negative electrons on the sheet of glass, to which, in accordance with the law of attraction of opposite polarities, it will attach itself.

This negative element, again, is the result of the disturbance of the "electrical balance" upon the insulating body, while under the influence of the repelled positive charge (if not even under that of the original [ Electrophorus cover] charge); and to enable both these weak charges to reach one another, the sheet of glass must find its place close to the pith ball, which was clearly pointed out in the foregoing. Since a second object is absolutely imperative in order to bring out this, otherwise, "lost action", which will now be fully understood, and since a conductor has, for obvious reasons, to be avoided, an insulating body, as the "last best thing", is consequently chosen.

The latter (sheet of glass in the above case) possesses qualities which tend to retard the process to a certain extent and which is clearly demonstrated, when the pith ball clings to the insulating sheet for a while. In doing so, the small amount of repelled positive charge becomes neutralized and neutralization of a charged object in contact with an insulating body takes place very gradually, which accounts for the "slowed down" action. The negative element induced upon the pith ball remains there, however, as at this stage of the experiment the electrophorus cover (+) is still held in its rigid position. Upon separating itself from the sheet of glass again, the ball will be evenly charged negatively and consequently strongly attracted by the (+) charged cover.

The minute charge found finally upon the pith ball, that is, after both sheet and cover have been removed, is acquired by the latter upon contact with the insulating body and is really not to be included in the inductive action of an electrostatic charge upon a neutral body, (altho similar conditions may prevail [for all we know] in space, where the "bigger workings" occur, and give reason for just such an action).

It should, in the above case, rather be considered a "necessary evil", which finds its way into the experiment, with the operator not finding a way out of preventing it from getting in there. For with the elimination of the insulating body a successful "workout" of the whole action is impossible, which is now quite clear; nor is it possible, while employing this very essential insulating factor, to prevent the pith ball from making contact with it, and yet observe the minute manifestation of the repelled element by way of attraction only; the close proximity of the two, necessitated by the very weak nature of the charge, stands against this.

If in this experiment the pith ball, after its separation from the sheet of glass, should again cling to the same, this shows that the repelled positive charge (on the ball) has not been completely neutralized, which, as pointed out in Experiment No. 1, finds its main reason in too low a potential of the Charge-source (El-cover) and, consequently, of the "counter-charges" induced upon the other instruments. The proper charge, neither excessively higher nor too low, for such purposes as the above, has to be found by actual experimentation.

The diagram in Fig. 3-A illustrates the experiment in its various, principal stages.

(Imprisoning Charge Upon Neutral Body by Induction)

Many things, indeed, may be studied in this experiment, the main object of which is to prove the fact, that a neutral body may be put in a charged condition entirely thru the power of induction of an electrostatic element.

Depicted in Fig. No. 4 are the instruments, required for the experimental work-out", which eliminates a further description of the same, beyond stating, that the two neutral bodies (pith balls) must hang side by side (touching one another) in the same plane and that they are suspended from separate silk-threads, so as to enable the operator to remove one of them, when the necessity arrives; the reason for this will be clear after a while.

The charged hard rubber plate is approached to the light objects in the manner that the plate faces only one of the balls, whereupon, at a certain distance, both of the latter (still keeping contact with one another) will be slightly attracted by the charged hard rubber sheet. Here the sheet should become "rigid," that is, not be moved any closer. After a short while the two bodies will separate; one will swing over toward the charge-source and attach itself to it, while the other (the one further away from the plate) evidences a repulsive action. The sheet of hard rubber (ebonite) and ball No. 1, are then removed together, by simply lifting the latter with the plate from its support (which is easily accomplished as long as the ball has not lost its "hold" upon the electrified sheet!)

Great care must, however be taken in doing so, not to bring these two objects any closer to the remaining ball; not to speak of permitting any contact between them. After this has been carefully done, the solitary ball will, upon test with a neutral body, be found to be in a charged condition, although in the above arrangement it never came in direct "touch" with the charge-source.

The explanation for the above will be found in the following: on approaching the two neutral bodies with the electrified hard rubber plate, its negative charge induces a (+) charge upon the side of the first ball, which it faces, repelling at the same time such of its own sign (-) to the other side of that ball. This repelled negative element, again, attracts the positive electrons found in the second pith ball to the part of the latter, which is in contact with ball No 1, while a charge of opposite polarity (-) will be repelled toward its part farthest away from the charged plate.

With the latter approaching gradually closer both balls will be moderately attracted to the same (to be exact: the nearest ball is attracted, while the other one is simply pulled along!); and that they still keep together during this motion, is due to neutralization of their "inner charges", which invariably manifests a "clinging action" while taking place.

After the act of neutralization has been completed, both separate, whereupon the first ball, now left (+) charged will be strongly attracted to the (-) electrified sheet and consequently attach itself to it while ball No. 2, will be distinctly repelled on account of its now evenly negative polarity. At this stage of the experiment both, charge-source and ball No. 1, are re moved, as was outlined before; and I may mention here, that the (in the above connection) slow process of neutralization of the (+) element induced upon that pith ball makes this "holding together removal possible. (This ball will finally, that is, after being neutralized, be negatively charged [higher potential of plate!] and repelled, which, however, has no bearing in this experiment).

The negative charge, which in the end is found imprisoned upon the remaining pith ball, is the direct result of neutralization of the induced "inner" charges between the bodies, with their immediately following separation and simultaneously that of their "spell-bound" charges, all happening under the influence of the inductive energy emanating from the charge-source; and, consequently, this negative charge is of a truly induced character.

Fig. 4-A, gives a clear demonstration of the principal actions which take place in this experiment.

Concerning the apparata themselves I may say, that they should be kept clean and In a dry condition, in which they always are, when in their proper place in a comfortably heated room. In case of excessive dampness of the atmosphere they may be placed upon a radiator for a short while, but must never be heated nor employed while in such a condition, because some of the apparatus (hard rubber sheet, for instance!) will doubtless suffer under such treatment and because thermo-(heat-) waves upon the apparatus will introduce erroneous manifestations into the experiments, which do not belong in there, thus counteracting the desired actions, if not nullifying them entirely.

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