1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Definition of Static electricity

  1. Jan 8, 2004 #1
    I have come up with the following definition of static electricity , which I hope is acceptable to all , if not I would be only too glad to hear any opinions. “Static electricity may be defined as the forces of attraction or repulsion felt between an imbalance of charges on isolated conductors separated by a di-electric. “ Note that the operative word here is isolated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 8, 2004 #2

    The static electricty is simply the fringing of the charged molecules off of an isolated or non-isolated object. I really wouldn't equate it to capacitance.

    Just my opinion

    Good definition though.

  4. Jan 8, 2004 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    But static electricity does not require any conductors or dielectric.

    "Static electricity" can really only be defined one way: "charges that are not moving."

    - Warren
  5. Jan 8, 2004 #4
    I would agree with Warren.
    The term "static electricity" can be defined through the use of the first word, static, which means "not moving", as Warren simply put.
    As a side note, remember how one can shuffle themselves over carpet and "shock" someone else? This is static electricity, but not entirely.
    The building up of excess charge within the body involves charge movement, so that stage is by no means static. When the "spark" or "shock" occurs, the charges are obviously moving, so, that is not static electricity either. In this scenario, the only true "static electricity" is involved with the interval between being charged and releasing that charge.
  6. Jan 9, 2004 #5
    So electric current is charge in motion right?
  7. Jan 9, 2004 #6
    Electric current begins when electrons begin randomly bouncing off of the ion lattice within a conductor. A charge is required to start the current in a direction whether induced or not. Therefore, I would define it more as electrons in motion rather than charges in motion, even though electrons carry a charge of 1.60x10^-19 Coulombs.

    Last edited: Jan 9, 2004
  8. Jan 9, 2004 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    A more general definition of current is charges in motion. What you say is correct for metallic conductors. Solutions can also carry current in which case the current carriers are ions.

    A definition of static electricity should not involve the term "conductor" since it is very common for a charge to accumulate on non conducting surfaces. Consider on of the original methods of generating a charge. Rubbing cat fur on amber, both of these materials are non conductors.
  9. Jan 9, 2004 #8
    Of course. I meant electrons, not charge. Silly me..
  10. Jan 10, 2004 #9
  11. Jan 10, 2004 #10
    You were better off with charge. See Integral's example of ions in a solution.
  12. Jan 10, 2004 #11

    I wasn't commenting on static electricty

    I was commenting on this:

  13. Jan 11, 2004 #12
    A definition of static electricity should not involve the term "conductor"

    If you notice in my post I took care not to mention the term electrical conductors but had merely used the term “conductor” which in view of the fact that static charges do tend to accumulate on them seems to be acceptable . Secondly the term “isolated” has been used to indicate that an isolated conductor gains a very high voltage potential. If this were applied to electrical conductors it would be totally unacceptable , for instance the Coulomb repulsion between two 120 watt electric bulbs turned on for a second and separated by 1 metre would be in excess of I million tons of force !
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2004
  14. Jan 11, 2004 #13


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I'm sorry McQueen, it won't help you to try redefining the term 'conductor.' Your definition is simply not correct.

    - Warren
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Threads for Definition Static electricity Date
I Static Friction on a Ramp Mar 25, 2018
B Definition of transmission & reflection in TE/TM Feb 12, 2018
B Heat Definition Jul 17, 2017
I Definition of efficiency of a thermodynamic cycle Mar 28, 2017