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Charge leaks out?

  1. Jul 3, 2010 #1
    What is the meaning of the statement "charge leaks out"?Or how charge leaks out?
    As charge is a property, how can we say that a property leaks out?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 3, 2010 #2
    I think this might be referring to the fact that there is a maximum charge that any conductor can hold.If at any point around the conductor the electric field builds up to such a value that it breaks down the insulation of the surroundings then this can cause discharge as a result of the movement of a stream of charged particles,a mechanism known as corona discharge.Try googling for details.
  4. Jul 3, 2010 #3
    There are lots of mechanisms by which charge 'leaks'.
    It's just an expression of the fact that some interfering mechanism is messing with your ideal situation.

    You get 'leaky' capacitors - that's a typical example. Batteries leak (in more senses than one sometimes!)

    Even an isolated, charged conductor will 'leak' as charge gets carried away by ionising radiation.

    Note to the OP.
    The concept of charge as some sort of 'fluid' is an ancient and venerable one - we know it isn't exactly true now, charge is quantised and comes in lumps. Its not like a liquid leaking, more like bits dropping off. But we still like to use the old expression out of deference to the ancients who coined it.
  5. Jul 3, 2010 #4


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    Liquids are composed of bits too ... so even a liquid leaking is "not like a liquid leaking" :wink:

    Well, charge could never leak out of an electron or other fundamental particle. But electrons can leak out of macroscopic objects, so in that sense charge can leak out of things. Don't know if that helps clear things up.
  6. Jul 3, 2010 #5
    Yeah, but what if the Earth springs a leak and all the gravity escapes?
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