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Electrostatics: Exploring, Controlling, and Using Static Electricity

A. D. Moore


248 pages

For those with a curiosity for the phenomena of static electricity, this sought-after classic remains the layperson's guide and introduction to electrostatics. Originally published as part of MIT's Science Study Series, it can be enjoyed and easily understood by anyone from high schooler searching for a science fair project to an industry professional.

This volume takes the mystery out of electrostatics with clear, concise explanations of the theory behind the spark. It is especially prized for its numerous demonstrations of electrostatic phenomena, some of which have never been fully explained.

After the initial publication of this book, A. D. continued working on his Dirods and demonstrations to simplify their construction and make them accessible to everyone. Now, for the first time, part 2 of this second edition includes his Dirod Manual and documents these hints and techniques.

The late A. D. Moore spent his years after retirement from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, lecturing and to demonstrating his "Electrostatic Zoo" to high school and college classes throughout the U. S., Canada, and Europe. This second edition of the book represents the first opportunity to read all of A. D.'s refreshing and creative approach to electrostatic experimentation. The master of the demonstration has influenced countless inventors and science teachers-you will also be energized to step into the lab and generate your own sparks.

Reviews of the Book

Electrostatics is more than a book about static electricity. It is the reader's opportunity to learn from A. D. Moore (1895-1989), the author and unquestioned authority on static electricity, as he recounts his lifetime of experimentation and invention. The book is written in an exceptionally clear and direct prose that is so conversational that the reader might think he or she is actually hearing the author talk about the history of the exploration of static electricity, the discoveries leading to its harnessing, and the applications to which it has been put. Moore's explanations of atomic structure, electrical fields, capacitance, coulomb forces, and so forth are so simple that they are easily understood at the high school level. This book is so full of information that it will also serve college students well. Examples and historical anecdotes reinforce factual information. Teach ers can profit from studying Moore's style of presentation. The first section of the book focuses on the theory of static electricity and the evolution of the theoretical principles. Proper attention is given to earlier contributors such as Franklin, Faraday, Kelvin, Maxwell, and Van de Graaf. The second section of the book explains how to construct one's own electrostatic generator. The explanations are clear and precise with easy-to-follow diagrams and a list of materials. Any teacher who wants an electrostatic generator can easily construct one as a class project. The third section of this book is a series of 25 demonstrations of electrostatic properties and phenomena that can be used in classrooms or as the basis for science fair projects. The demonstrations represent a broad spectrum of sophistication-from the repulsion of two Styrofoam cups to the "pizza pan perpetual motion" experiment. Demonstrations, however are not limited to this section of t book. Soap bubbles, candle flam' kitchen-made capacitors, and smo precipitation are but a few of t demonstrations throughout the boc The book was first written 1968, but to the credit of the autk it has a freshness that makes it instructive and highly interest) book for today. It is a good additi to the school or classroom library. Noojin Waalker, The Science Teacher Magazine, Dec. '98.

"Moore has captured the broad field of electrostatics and its applications...to evoke near universal reader appeal. Designed primarily for the young student or layman, it should be a rich source of diversion and inspiration to the engineer, scientist, and experimenter. He presents the material in a thoroughly fascinating, understandable, accurate way without resorting to distracting mathematical proof...Highly recommended for specialists, informed readers, and the young adult." Library Journal

"A.D. Moore, a pioneer in electrostatic generation, obviously had a passion for designing and building machines that generate high voltages through theuse of electrostatics. His conversational approach to describing theoperation of electrostatic machines makes for an enjoyable, easy to read book. At first glance, you might think this book is too simplistic for use in an industrial or university laboratory. But surprisingly, there are plenty of very practical and insightful techniques for measuring and understanding high voltage and electrostatic charge. This book would be useful for an experimentalist or hobbyist interested in designing, building, and experimenting with electrostatic generators. Some of the topics covered include: fundamentals of electrostatic charging, building induction generators, constructing high voltage capacitors, building the dirod generator, techniques for reducing corona, measuring high voltage using neon lamps and sphere gaps, and generating electric wind. Safety is stressed through out the book." IEEE Electrical Insulation Magazine

"What a joy it was to find A.D. Moore in print again after all these years...it remains one of my favorites. I look forward to introducing my young son to the pleasures of 80 KV dirod generators. What a wonderful job, to be able to bring this information to new generations!" Scott Miller, Senior Research Scientist, Battelle Memorial Inst.


Part 1 Electrostatics

High Voltage
Electrical Hazards
Discharges from Small Electrostatic Generators
Frictional Electricity
The World's First Generator
Friction-type Generators
The Van de Graaff Generator
Frictional Electricity: Troubles and Hazards
What Goes On Here?
Let's Talk About Charges
What This Chapter Will Do for You
Atoms, Protons, Electrons, and Ions
Some Practice with Big Numbers
A Little Aluminum Cube
An Enormous Force
What Is Charge?
The Dirods: Induction-type Generators
Induced Charges
Collecting the Charges
Generator Buildup, and Compound Interest
Where Does a Dirod Get Its Initial Charge?
How Do the Charges Move Around? The Electron Cloud
Conduction and Conductors
The Dirod Family
Improving the Generator and Learning More about Electrostatics
More Rods and Faster Build-up
Generator Spark-over: the Spark Shield
The Brush Problem
What Comes Next?
Electric Fields
The Field of Two Parallel Rods
The Nonuniform Field
Potential Difference and Field Intensity
Electric Flux
More about Forces: the Coulomb Force
Alignment with the Field: Field Shape Indicator
A Nonuniform Field and the Uniform Field
The Sphere Gap and the Rod Gap
Induction of Charge, and Field Shape
Conductors and Insulators in a Field
Faraday's Famous Ice Pail Experiment
The Faraday Cage
Visible Corona
Active and Passive Electrodes: The Breakdown of Air
More about Corona in a Dirod
Balanced Corona, and an Analogy
Generator Voltage Not Fixed by Speed
Suppressing Corona
The Electric Wind; Other Corona Effects; Precipitation
The Electric Fly, or Pinwheel
The Electric Blower
Demonstration of Smoke Precipitation
The Uncertain Soap Bubble
The Electric Wind and the Candle Flame
Electrostatic Precipitation Put to Use
How These Precipitators Work
More Demonstrations; Separation of Mixtures
The Little Island That Runs Away
The Electrified Water Spray
The Clapper
Franklin's Electrostatic Motor
The Dirod as a Motor
The Interdigital Motor
The Plateful of Balls
The Ball Box
The Electrostatic Separation Industry
Demonstrations with Liquids
One Type of Electrostatic Separator
Separation without Corona
More Service from Corona: Electrocoating
Electrostatic Sandpaper
Carpets, Upholstery, and Velvet Walls
Electrostatic Printing
Electrostatic Spray Painting
Fun with Capacitors
What Is a Capacitor?
Amount of Capacitance: the Farad
A Kitchen-made Capacitor
The Horizontal Capacitor
Sphere Gap Discharge of Capacitor
Separately Excited Dirod
Dirods in Parallel
The Roller
The Rockers
Capacitor Relationships
More about Certain Capacitors
Unexpected Shocks from Capacitors
Connectors; The Vertical Capacitor; Figuring Capacitance
The Vertical Capacitor
Other Experiments
Figuring Capacitance
Capacitors with Dielectrics
Combinations of Capacitors
More Remarks about Capacitors
Atmospheric Electrostatics
Charged Clouds, and the Electric Field We Live In
Lightning Rods
Ball Lightning
Ions Charging Cloud Droplets
Charges Induced on Raindrops in Clouds
Charged Droplets from Bubbles Breaking
Are Tornadoes Powered by Charges?
Some More Electrostatic Generators
The Kelvin Generator
The Flapper
The Neon Lamp Bank
Shake-sphere Generators
The Swing Generator
More about the Radial Dirods
Dream Up Your Own!
On This and That
Why Dust Sticks
Are Negative Ions Good for Us?
Ions in Liquids and Solids
The Electret
The Electrostatic Speaker
The Most Remarkable Capacitors Are Inside of You
Some New Electrostatic Developments
The Future of Electrostatics
Some Final Hints
Corona Phenomena in More Detail
Sphere Gap Data
Field Shape Indicator Details
Plans for the Kelvin Generator
Materials and Methods
More about the Dirod Family
Building Dirod Junior
Building Radial Dirod Junior

Part 2 The Dirod Manual

The Teaching of Electrostatics
Science Fairs
How a Dirod Works
How a Dirod Charges Up
Buildup is Geometric
Electrical Discharges: Sparks and Corona
Watching Corona
Designing for High Voltage
Dirod Polarity Reversal
Materials, Sources, Methods
Brass and Aluminum
Brush Material
Corona Shields
Epoxy Adhesive
Corona Dope and TV Tubekoat
Nonmetallic Inductors and Collectors
Building Your Dirod
The Drawings
Two Ways to Make a Dirod
The Base
Bearing Posts
Shaft, Bearings, and End Stops
The Panel
The Rotor
Making the Disks
Mounting Discs on Shaft
Rodding the Rotor
The Pulley and Belt
The Motor and Speed Control
The Brushes
The Neutral Connector
The Dirod Terminals
Lengthening the Machine
The Self-excited Dirod
Separate Excitation
The Capacitor
Making the Accessories
The Bobber
Plugs and Receptacles
Connectors: Capacitor Plates to Inductors
Operational Flexibility
More about Capacitance
Two Kinds of Connectors
The Rod Gap: Measuring High Voltage
The Demonstrations
Preliminary Demonstrations Notes
Dirod Behavior when Loaded
Polarity Indicator
Cups that Repel
The Ping Pong Pair
Water Spray
Two-ball Clatterbox
Lid Motor
Marble Motor
Cup Motor
Electric Pinwheel
Electric Blower
The Hailstorm
Separating a Mixture
Franklin Motor
Field Indicator
Leyden Jars
The Jumper
The Rockers
The Ball Race
"Perpetual Motion"
Tassels Terrific
Spray Painting
A Final Word
Electrostatic Hazards
Materials List
Afterword: A. D. Moore Remembered by his Children