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Thought experiment with static electricity

  1. May 29, 2009 #1

    Please excuse my poor electricity knowledge.. also if this is in the wrong place to post, let me know and I'll move

    Someone raised this simple thought experiment with me and I want to understand better:

    If you will, imagine a series of balls inside balls (ie multiple layers - for visualization: Russian doll-like) made of conducting material. In the middle (deepest ball) of said balls is a filament, which is holding a static electric charge. The filament is suspended and not touching the sides. Now: How would i be able to 'liberate' the static from the filament? I know that if I pressed the layers against the filamant I would create a circuit and the static would be released into my finger- but how could I do without contact? I.e. If I understood the polarity of the charge(using a magnetometer), would a magnet do the trick? Could I work out how strong and how close the magnet would need to be, if I measured the charge with an electromoter? Perhaps pull with magnet and then leech with a current... i dunno
    What if the ball material was not conductive - would it be impossible to release the charge?

  2. jcsd
  3. May 29, 2009 #2
    Let me first tell you about a principle..
    There is a principle called conservation of charge ..you might already have heard of it..
    It means that if there is charge disappearing from somewhere, it should appear in the same quantity somewhere else..
    But it runs deeper..we talk about local conservation of charge...it means charge cant go from point A to point B without going through all points of some curve joining the two..that is it cant just vanish from A and appear at B unless A and B are nearby points..

    So..what do you think? Can we use a magnet to remove the charge if we have insulator material in the balls?

    As far as conductors are concerned, read up on electrostatic shielding....

    And maybe this question should have gone to the homework help section..
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