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I Sparks in dark room

  1. Jan 26, 2017 #1
    I saw strange flashes of light last night in a dark room and am wondering what caused them. They seemed the only happen when I moved the comforter, but it was not always in the same area. I thought at first it was a brief reflection of light, but I couldn't find a source for the reflection that would have matched. I also considered that it might be some sort of static energy. I have no idea if static energy is visable as sparks in the dark or not, so that's why I'm posting here. I don't know if this makes a difference, but I had just put the sheets/duvet covers back on the beds after being washed, so there almost likely was more natural static energy present anyway. Also, I saw them both in my sons bed when putting him to sleep and in my own bed when I woke up randomly at 3am. Insight appreciated!
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  3. Jan 26, 2017 #2


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    Static electricity can produce sparks bright enough to see them in daylight. It can certainly produce sparks visible in a dark room when there is relative motion between things in contact.
  4. Jan 26, 2017 #3


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    Do other people see them? Do the flashes occur when you move your eyes, or when your eyes are held steady?

    If you see flashes of light when you move your eyes quickly, please see an eye doctor to have your eyes checked. Flashes of light when moving your eyes can be a sign of retinal detachment. (If it seems possible that it is an issue with your eyes, try not to move them until you can have them checked -- have somebody else drive you to the eye appointment)
  5. Jan 26, 2017 #4
    I was a little bit concerned about retinal detachment after googling this to see if I came up with an answer, but I am fairly certain that that is not the case. My eyes were never moving when I saw the flashes, only the comforter that I saw the flash is on was moving at the time. Also, my son is too little to confirm the flashes with, and my husband was asleep so I will ask if he sees them if it happens again. Thanks for the help!
  6. Jan 26, 2017 #5


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    Aha! That's an important clue. Almost certainly static electricity.
  7. Jan 27, 2017 #6


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    A freshly washed and dried comforter is probably a very good generator of static electricity. You might even hear it crackle when you move it. Try putting one on top of another then peel off the top one while looking at the gap between them.
  8. Jan 28, 2017 #7


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    I have observed triboluminescence when stretching some thermal underwear. The flashes of light were quite bright. I do not remember the exact composition of the polymer but I believe it was a hydrophobic synthetic carbonate. It is not static electricity so there is no fire hazard.
    Triboluminescence. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triboluminescence
    I suspect you are seeing the same effect in the synthetic fibre used for thermal insulation in some clothing, bed covers, and synthetic sleeping bag fill.
    What thermal insulation is used in your comforter ?
  9. Jan 28, 2017 #8
    I have a fleecy robe that puts on a light show when it's moved around in the dark. Static electricity.
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