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Name: Rachel
Status: student
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Question:
In electrostatic induction, how does it work that the electrons move towards the charged object\are repelled by it- are not the electrons supposed to be orbiting the nucleus? How can they move away from their orbit? Does the whole orbital move, or just a few electrons?


Replies:
Rachel,

Electrons orbiting the nucleus is a simplified model of an individual atom, an atom separate from all else. When within a material, different kinds of atoms do different things. This is why the periodic table works out to be organized into different sections. Many of the elements are metals. The metals require very little energy to pull an outer electron from the atom. The presence of another electron is often enough. When many such atoms are joined together in a piece of metal, just the energy from the surrounding environment sets many of these electrons free to float around between the atoms.

In electrostatic induction, a nearby electric charge causes some of these electrons to move toward one side of the metal material, leaving the other side with too few electrons. When this metal is separated into two pieces, the extra electrons in one object can no longer get back to the other. One object now has too many free-floating electrons (i.e. negatively charged) and the other object has too few (i.e. positively charged).

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Physics Instructor
Illinois Central College


Rachel

You can have a population of free electrons accumulate on a substance.

The atoms that the electrons came from just end up with an overall positive charge.

Here is a more vigorous explanation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Static_electricity

When electrical charges build up to a high enough level, an electrostatic discharge occurs in a flash Between your finger and a door knob on a cold dry day or between clouds and the surface of the earth.

Sincere regards,

Mike Stewart



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