But would you say that there are two separate kinds of water called “static” water and “current” water?
If surface charge starts flowing, it will still make your hair stand up. It will still attract dust, will still cause sparking… in fact, none of the characteristics of so-called “static electricity” will be lost if the “electricity” starts flowing along very non-statically.
In fact, what we call “static electricity” is just electric net charge. A conductor can have a net charge or an electric current or both. Net charge is not the opposite of current, so “static” electricity is not electricity which remains static.
But wait a moment. Net-charge exists an many places, including all electric circuits, but a flashlight battery won’t attract lint or make your arm hair stand up. The difference involves the level of e-field and voltage, and that’s the key to understanding. Our so-called “static electricity” has another name: HIGH VOLTAGE. If you rub a balloon on your head, you can easily create voltages on the order of 100,000V.
High voltage has nothing to do with surface charges remaining “static.” But then, the same is true of “static” electricity: the unmoving state is irrelevant. Static electricity is not electricity which is static, instead it’s electricity which involves high voltage.
Wimshurst machines and VandeGraaff generators and Holtz machines and all those other devices from the 1800s, those are mechanically-driven sources of high voltage.
Read a stack of K-6 grade science textbooks. Most of them say this: there are two different kinds of electricity, STATIC ELECTRICITY and CURRENT ELECTRICITY. So why don’ t they also teach kids that there are two different kinds of water, STATIC WATER and CURRENT WATER? What the heck is “current” water?
What all the K-6 grade school books are trying to say is this: electricity has two main characteristics: CURRENT and VOLTAGE. But instead they spend their time going on and on about “unmoving” electricity. As a result, most people haven’t the foggiest notion of what voltage really is. Those textbooks are supposed to teach kids about electricity, but instead they only teach us about current. Instead of teaching about voltage, they convince us that all the basic voltage phenomena are obsolete Ben-Franklinish stuff which only applies to dryer-cling and photocopiers. And they never even point out that “static electricity” involves voltage!
Heh. Suppose I have a circuit with 10 amperes DC, then I disconnect the power supply. The current has stopped. Please point to the “static electricity.” There are many hundreds of coulombs still there in the wires, and they’re not flowing anymore. Why doesn’t this “static electricity” make your hair stand on end? Simple. The hair-raise effect has everything to do with voltage and net charge, and nothing to do with electric charges which are “static.”
In other words, if we want to make some so-called “static electrcity”, we must separate the existing positive and negative charges, and doing so produces very high voltage. You could call it “separated opposite electricity”, but don’t call it “unmoving” or “static” electricity.
Because separated opposite electricity can flow along! SEPARATION IS NOT THE OPPOSITE OF FLOW.
Water analogy: “there are two kinds of water: pressurized water and flowing water.” Sound crazy? That’s what K-6 textbooks have always been trying to say about electricity. They fail in their task, because flowing electricity is not the opposite of “pressurized” electricity, and “pressurized” electrcity involves high voltage, not “static”-ness.
More electricity misconceptions