I wonder if you can help, I work with science teachers and
have recently been given an Aepinus condenser. I have never come
across one before and having searched for ages on the Internet
cannot find out how to use the equipment. Can you please explain to
me how you operate one?
How about presenting it as a simple charge storage device like a Leyden Jar?
It should be able to accept a fairly large number of electrons and
store them until discharged with an acceptable shorting device (and
a spectacular spark?).
Depending upon the size of the plates and atmospheric conditions, I
would think there could be a significant charge accumulated. I would
need to go back to my College Physics Book to decipher just how
much. Of course inserting an insulator such as a plywood disk
should obviously affect things.
An explanation of the beast would include the following:
The excess electrons from the generator are stored on one plate
making it negative in polarity. This accumulation of negative
charges repels the electrons on the second plate (like charges repel
and the ground gives them somewhere to go), causing it to have a
The air separating the plates serves to prevent electrons from
flowing from plate to plate until the amount of charges accumulated
produces a potential (voltage), that overcomes the air's resistance
and arching occurs. The wider the gap, the higher potentials that
can be achieved, although, the charge will dissipate more quickly
than in a modern capacitor.
The setting would lead to discussion and calculations about
potential, charge density, and electron flow, static charge, amongst
R. W. "Bob" Avakian
B.S. Earth Sciences; M.S. Geophysics
Oklahoma State Univ. Inst. of Technology
Click here to return to the Physics Archives
Update: June 2012