# Levitation possible?

1. May 27, 2014

### skepticwulf

I was solving a static electricity/electric field problem and I came across with one saying earth has an electric field of roughly 150 N/C at the surface. The book also states that it's negative, direction is toward the center of earth's core.
So from the equation of F=qE one can find easily the necessary charge needed to counter effect the gravity:
mg=qE

so for a 187 pond man the charge must be something like 5.5 C. I assume that means if "somehow" I could charge my body 5.5C negative, that would balance my weight and I could levitate.
Is that correct? Is something missing with this picture?

2. May 27, 2014

Staff Emeritus
Yes. If you put 5.5C on your body, you would start discharging lightning bolts. The only thing levitating would be your ashes.

3. May 27, 2014

### skepticwulf

Ok maybe not by producing with my own body but within a gadget or something, some sort of costume like Iron Man has.
By the way and electric eel can produce about 100V without "levitating his ashes" so it's not that far-fetched idea.

4. May 27, 2014

### Staff: Mentor

Volts? Volts aren't relevant here. What is relevant is the charge.

5.5C would be the charge of a relatively small lightning bolt, but a lightning bolt nonetheless.

5. May 27, 2014

### sophiecentaur

100V for the eel but 1010V (shorthand of a vast amount) for the man to be charged with all those Coulombs. The two situations are not comparable.

6. May 27, 2014

### skepticwulf

OK, I'm not sure if I understood correctly , you mean to say if a person or his suit would have a 5.5C of electric charge on it, it would create a lightning bolt , so it's impossible to control it?
Is this due to air? electric charge that big can not be hold on a surface because en electric arc would form on air surround it and eventually jump around just like a natural lightning bolt would do?
How about space ? would that work on space?

7. May 27, 2014

### UltrafastPED

The spark depends upon the breakdown voltage of the air or other insulator. There are formulas for varying air pressures - Paschen's Law: http://home.earthlink.net/~jimlux/hv/paschen.htm

If you look carefully it involves the materials, the distances, and the voltages as well as pressure, temperature, and humidity.

If you were to discharge 5 coulombs over a period of 1 millisecond the current running through your finger/foot/nose ... the body part where the discharge occurs ... will be 5,000 amps. The voltage from your height to the ground is the value 100 volts per meter; so assuming your belt buckle, the power is 5,000 amps x 100 volts = 50,000 watts for 1 millisecond.

As was said earlier, this will be very bad for the affected body parts!

Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_electricity

8. May 27, 2014

### sophiecentaur

Forget the sparks. Just consider the coulomb force needed to keep 5.5C of charge within the space occupied by a man. Two charges of 2.5C each, separated by a metre (i.e. two halves of your man) would experience a repulsive force of around 1012N. Your experimenter would fly to pieces long before he managed to get a fraction of that amount of charge on him.