The Basics and the Conservation of Charge

The Basics and the Conservation of Charge

Charge is a property of certain particles. A particle with charge will experience a force in an electric field (or in a magnetic field if the charge is moving).

Charge is either positive or negative. Objects with a similar charge will repel. Objects with opposite charges will attract.

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Charge is measured in coulombs, C. The amount of charge on an object can be found using a coulomb meter.
An electron always has a negative charge of -1.6 x 10-19 coulombs. Protons have an equal amount of positive charge. One coulomb is equal to the charge on 6.25 x 1018 electrons, which is a serious number of electrons.

It is not possible to destroy or create charge.

You can cancel out the effect of a charge on a body by adding an equal and opposite charge to it, but you can't destroy the charge itself. That's the Principle of the Conservation of Charge.

Static electricity is caused by the transfer of electrons from one object to another. Normally neutral atoms can lose or gain electrons to become either positively or negatively charged. These charged atoms are called ions.

Static electricity is never caused by the movement of protons.

The easiest way to charge an object with static electricity is by using friction. The Van de Graaff generator uses friction to charge up a metal dome.

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As the rubber belt is rotated negative charge is sprayed onto the belt by the first brush. This charge is then transferred to the metal dome by the second brush. School Van de Graaff generators can reach voltages up to 100 kV!

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