×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Static Electricity Defies Simple Explanation

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the mr.-wizard-lied-to-me dept.

Science 86

sciencehabit writes: "If you've ever wiggled a balloon against your hair, you know that rubbing together two different materials can generate static electricity. But rubbing bits of the same material can create static, too. Now, researchers have shot down a decades-old idea of how that same-stuff static comes about (study). '[The researchers] mixed grains of insulating zirconium dioxide-silicate with diameters of 251 micrometers and 326 micrometers and dropped them through a horizontal electric field, which pushed positively charged particles one way and negatively charged particles the other. They tracked tens of thousands of particles—by dropping an $85,000 high-speed camera alongside them. Sure enough, the smaller ones tended to be charged negatively and the larger ones positively, each accumulating 2 million charges on average. Then the researchers probed whether those charges could come from electrons already trapped on the grains' surfaces. They gently heated fresh grains to liberate the trapped electrons and let them "relax" back into less energetic states. As an electron undergoes such a transition, it emits a photon. So by counting photons, the researchers could tally the trapped electrons. "It's pretty amazing to me that they count every electron on a particle," Shinbrot says. The tally showed that the beads start out with far too few trapped electrons to explain the static buildup, Jaeger says.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

A simple explanation still works. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47029609)

The particles could be getting charges from other sources. Just dropping the particles through air could give them enough charge from the friction to change the outcome.

Re:A simple explanation still works. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47029647)

Wrong.

Re: A simple explanation still works. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47034237)

Thank you, I thought I would have to state the obvious. What would really bake your noodle is what happens when it's done in a vacuum. Same thing, any guesses as to why? Perhaps matter is not as solid as we think. Do atoms breath? If so is air really enough to stop their respiration?

I'm pretty sure that this article (4, Funny)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | about 7 months ago | (#47029649)

will spark a lively discussion!

Re:I'm pretty sure that this article (2)

NotInHere (3654617) | about 7 months ago | (#47029731)

will spark a lively discussion!

It won't be lively, but rather static.

Re:I'm pretty sure that this article (2)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 7 months ago | (#47029843)

But static electricity never changes!

Re:I'm pretty sure that this article (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 7 months ago | (#47030207)

"a photon is emitted," is the electron "less?"

Re:I'm pretty sure that this article (1)

Urquhardt (3529035) | about 7 months ago | (#47030365)

given that a photon is energy and energy is mass then "yes"

Re:I'm pretty sure that this article (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030583)

No, a photon is emitted when an electron looses energy, moving from one excited state to a "lower" excited state, or dropping valence levels (remembering from high school level quantum mechanics, so probably not *exactly* correct)

Energy->Energry, not Mass->Energy.

Re:I'm pretty sure that this article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47032297)

Energy->Energry, not Mass->Energy.

It is both, because that mass of something includes both the rest mass of the individual components, minus any binding energy that is involved. An electron in a lower state has a higher biding energy than an electron in an higher state (or removed from the atom completely), and the energy released represents a loss in mass of the atom. It is much more noticeable in something like a nuclear process than with electrons, but is the same idea.

Re:I'm pretty sure that this article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47032849)

"remembering from high school level quantum mechanics"

Bullshit

Re:I'm pretty sure that this article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47033487)

Everyone says that when I say I learned basic quantum mechanics in high school. But I did. Product of not going to a crappy high school. We also did calculus, and used matrix equations to solve wave interaction problems in physics. My physics teacher's night job was designing optical targeting systems for the army - no joke. The first couple years of college was a cakewalk, except for biology, which always sucks.

Funny thing is, the school system my children go to now pays their teachers 30% more than the schools I went to, and they are significantly crappier. Go figure.

Re:I'm pretty sure that this article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47034189)

Funny thing is, the school system my children go to now pays their teachers 30% more than the schools I went to, and they are significantly crappier. Go figure.

While I'm sure you pulled that number out of your ass, you need to try harder next time. Inflation over the last 18 years has been 51%, so those teachers you're griping about are being paid less well. You want good teachers, pay for them. It's a free market now. Teachers aren't just smart women who can't get real jobs anymore.

Re:I'm pretty sure that this article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47035059)

That number came from last year's salary statistics, just released a couple weeks ago in our local paper. That's how I "Pulled it out of my ass" rather quickly. Our school district is ranked 200th in the state. My old school district is 50th - not too shabby given a couple of the best ranked school districts in the country are in my state. GreatSchools gives my old high school 10/10 - the main high school in my kid's district gets 6/10.

Re:I'm pretty sure that this article (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about 6 months ago | (#47039009)

Maybe everyone else got tired of having their children left behind and got better? Statistics and correlation and all that crap goes here...

Simple...logic! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47029653)

The extra charge is for the other two seats your mama needs on the plane.

Simple...logic! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47029887)

Nah, it's for the extra hookers you need because you can't get laid in your mother's basement reading /. all day

Re:Simple...logic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030325)

Your mama likes crack so much, she held a plumbers convention at the grand canyon.

Re:Simple...logic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030925)

Yo mama so fat, after sex she smokes a turkey.

Condescending Willy Wonka (3, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 7 months ago | (#47029685)

Gaussian surfaces, surface charges and boundaries, electrokinetics...

Tell me again your "simple explanation" of static electric charge.

Re:Condescending Willy Wonka (0)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 7 months ago | (#47029743)

It's simply astounding!

Re:Condescending Willy Wonka (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 7 months ago | (#47030385)

First, you have to explain how fucking magnets work.

Re:Condescending Willy Wonka (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030749)

Why would you want to fuck a magnet?

Re:Condescending Willy Wonka (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030775)

He field it up, now he wants more.

Re:Condescending Willy Wonka (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 7 months ago | (#47031961)

Because he's attracted to it?

Re:Condescending Willy Wonka (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47033143)

Maybe he's thinking of a solenoid [matrixmultimedia.com] ?

it's explained in the study (5, Informative)

Goldsmith (561202) | about 7 months ago | (#47029689)

This is a great study, really cool. The title is unfortunate (it's clickbait), saved only by the weak qualifier "simple".

The science question here is what is the charge carrier when you rub two identical materials together, electrons or ions? This study does a great job of showing that it's not electrons. At the end of the paper, they point out that small amounts of water adsorbed on the surfaces of these oxides should create H+ and OH- ions in a density that does explain the static generation effect.

This water layer ion creation effect is fairly well known in materials physics. Until now, I don't think it was well known that it played any role in static generation.

Re:it's explained in the study (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 7 months ago | (#47029705)

How difficult would it be to re-run the same procedure with fully dehydrated particles? Is this a 'just bake them under a modest vacuum for a bit' situation, or are these values of 'small' and 'adsorbed' the sort of thing where getting the water out would be a moderately heroic endeavor?

Re:it's explained in the study (4, Interesting)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 7 months ago | (#47029817)

How difficult would it be to re-run the same procedure with fully dehydrated particles? Is this a 'just bake them under a modest vacuum for a bit' situation, or are these values of 'small' and 'adsorbed' the sort of thing where getting the water out would be a moderately heroic endeavor?

Difficult, you'd need to run the entire process under an ultra-high vacuum. For reference, you to get water monolayer formation times greater than a second, you'd need pressures of roughly less than 10^-7 torr, or 10^-10 atmospheres. For reference (if WolframAlpha is to believed), the ISS is exposed to a pressure of about 10^-11 atmospheres. Molecular/ion pumps can get that low a pressure, so it's not impossible, just difficult.

Re:it's explained in the study (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030135)

A decent baking system and cryopump allows you to remove the water and have it trapped elsewhere. Once enough of the water is out of the system, it won't come back unless you have a leak to air or some source of hydrogen and oxygen. The question is how much is too much though, as a half-assed setup can get you well beyond just a monolayer, but removing "all" the water can require baking more than some practical for some components, or be a problem if there is any absorption in addition to adsorption.

Re:it's explained in the study (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 7 months ago | (#47030239)

So I'll take it that it could be done, even with the apparatus one might have, not merely in principle; but that my intuitions drawn from macroscale dessication are basically 100% irrelevant to the scale of the problem here.

Re:it's explained in the study (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47032067)

Why not run it in a glove box? (Inert atmosphere with a catalyst to remove water)

Re:it's explained in the study (1)

Razed By TV (730353) | about 7 months ago | (#47032459)

Maybe this whole experiment should have been run in a vacuum regardless. Couldn't a possible source of the electrons be the air, or particles in it?

Re:it's explained in the study (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47033083)

The paper says it was placed in a vacuum chamber, just not an ultrahigh vacuum.

Re:it's explained in the study (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 7 months ago | (#47044669)

That then begs the question of how long it takes to desorb that water monolayer, and to sufficiently dehydrate the interior of the particles to stop the monolayer from re-forming.

I guess you'd need to get your materials into the vacuum, then bake them to a quite high temperature (olivine from lavas at over 1000degC can easily contain thousands of parts per million of water - which considerably affects it's physical properties), stir them (to get the water out of the mass and the crucible and off into the vacuum pump and cold traps) ... then start your experiment.

This is getting to be a very non-trivial change to your experiments. And people want value for their tax dollars and don't want Golden Fleece Awards.

Re:it's explained in the study (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#47033107)

Why do the experiment on Earth with troublesome gear, when you can do the experiment at the ISS (well, just outside it)?

Re:it's explained in the study (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47033689)

In this case, they needed an experiment with relative acceleration from gravity and not be in free fall. So you would be replacing vaguely troublesome vacuum equipment with much more troublesome and expensive centrifuges or other replacement.

Re:it's explained in the study (1)

Monkey-Man2000 (603495) | about 7 months ago | (#47030451)

Well, I think it's pretty well known that you're more likely to shock yourself from static electricity in low humidity conditions (I haven't RTFA so will have to see how this observation jibes with the study). I always assumed it was because when there is higher water density in the air that charges are more evenly distributed in a room while in lower humidity charged surfaces are more isolated and when you touch something you make a conduit and feel the shock.

Re:it's explained in the study (3, Interesting)

ygslash (893445) | about 7 months ago | (#47030473)

The title is unfortunate (it's clickbait)... At the end of the paper, they point out that small amounts of water adsorbed on the surfaces of these oxides should create H+ and OH- ions in a density that does explain the static generation effect.

No, that's just one of two alternative hypotheses mentioned at the end of the article. The second is transfer of the zirconium itself between the particles. There could be other ideas. The point of this study is only to eliminate the widely assumed electron-transfer hypothesis, not to establish any alternative. So the title is quite accurate.

Re:it's explained in the study (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | about 7 months ago | (#47030831)

No, that's NOT mentioned in the actual study, just in the press release. Not sure why they're speculating about that at all.

Re:it's explained in the study (1)

ygslash (893445) | about 7 months ago | (#47031067)

The paper itself mentions only the ion hypothesis; the article linked by OP attributes the other hypothesis to "Keith Forward, a chemical engineer at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona". The point is that the study makes no claim about the validity of any hypothesis. It only rejects the previously widely accepted one. So the title of the article is quite fair; it's not "clickbait".

Re: it's explained in the study (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031107)

(...)by dropping an $85,000 high-speed camera alongside them

$85k? That's some science! Did they also test with $85 and $850,000 cameras.

Re:it's explained in the study (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47032235)

This study does a great job of showing that it's not ele

I'd say the study shows that it's not a specific kind of electron (those that are at a excited/higher energy level), which was the previously accepted theory. They are not even claiming to have shown that electrons are definitively not the charge carriers.

Re:it's explained in the study (1)

dkf (304284) | about 7 months ago | (#47032691)

H+

Ugh. Why do people talk about those when they don't really exist for real, at least in terms of meaningful chemistry? A real raw H+ would be just a proton, and those are really quite rare. What you actually get are hydroxonium ions (in simplest form, H3O+, though H5O2+ and higher forms also occur).

Raw protons are a meaningful thing in high-energy physics, of course. They just never occur in any quantity in solutions...

Re:it's explained in the study (1)

whit3 (318913) | about 7 months ago | (#47033011)

This water layer ion creation effect is fairly well known in materials physics. Until now, I don't think it was well known that it played any role in static generation.

While it might not be well known, it IS the best
theory I've seen for lightning (air currents and gravity sorting ice particles causing charge separation).

Re:it's explained in the study (2)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 6 months ago | (#47037193)

Electrokinetic scientists hate him! Find out how generates static charge on identical materials with this one simple trick!

You know it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47029717)

Fucking static... how does it work?

Re:You know it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47029737)

Like magnets. Only moar.

subaday (1)

Old Fatty Baldman (3630557) | about 7 months ago | (#47029739)

"They gently heated fresh grains to liberate the trapped electrons and let them "relax" back into less energetic states...The tally showed that the beads start out with far too few trapped electrons to explain the static buildup" Jared!!!

Where *haven't* I wiggled a balloon? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47029883)

I wonder what the article is about.

Static Electricity, How Does It Work? (3, Funny)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 7 months ago | (#47029895)

It must be a miracle! Just like Climate Change and Magnets!

Static Electricity, How Does It Work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47029901)

Might as well just say God did it and start a huge flamewar here

Re:Static Electricity, How Does It Work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47032627)

That's not how flamewars work.

Natural philosophy (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about 7 months ago | (#47029921)

My interpretation of this is that the original hypothesis missed an important... law of nature? Mathematical necessity? Well, this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

the energy used in observation? (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 7 months ago | (#47030149)

You "record" a particle of energy (photon) doing something, but it takes energy (photons) to do it. So, in observing the process, photons are emitted and lost per 2nd law thermo?

Explains itself.... occams razor. (0)

savuporo (658486) | about 7 months ago | (#47030227)

"It's pretty amazing to me that they count every electron on a particle," Shinbrot says. The tally showed that the beads start out with far too few trapped electrons to explain the static buildup,

They probably did not count every electron, then.

Re:Explains itself.... occams razor. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030481)

Right, because only the things within the grasp of limited imaginations are likely to exist.

Little known item: Occam was a monk who came up with his logical razor in an effort to prove the existence of god. "Because God made it so" is always simpler and requires fewer steps than any other explanation.

People have been mis-using and mis-understanding Occam since that Jodi Foster movie.

Re:Explains itself.... occams razor. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47032685)

They probably did count every electron, since we can measure electrons and that was the point of the peer-reviewed experiment. If you can explain how they didn't, your assertion might be interesting. Right now, it's simply -1 trolling (spreading misinformation for the purposes of argument).

Roughly 70% of the energy in the universe exists in the nothing between matter and within matter itself (the phasing of quantum matter in a proton : https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] ). It would be plausible that static electricity could coalesce electrons from a quantum interaction. Instead, it just looks like static electricity requires moisture (or some ionizing analogue).

Static must die! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47030321)

Most of the damn year I curse the static electricity, especially in the winter when unloading steel trolleys covered in plastic wrap.

Some day I will get a time machine and go back in time to murder the parents and grandparents of the asshole who invented plastic wrap and leave a note that says "this is what happens when you invent plastic wrap". Then I come back to present day to see if anybody else has invented it. Rinse and repeat until the most baffling mystery of humanity is an enormous amount of strange notes stapled on the foreheads of dead people and scientists are soiling themselves and repenting their sins whenever they dare to even think of developing a plastic wrap.

Then I get a long list of winning lottery numbers and stock data and go back in time to make money in order to buy a golden mansion and whole harem of porn star concubines to the guy who invents new materials that free the humanity from the horrors of static electricity forever.

Yet More Belief Biased Science (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 7 months ago | (#47030693)

It's pretty obvious from the paper that this is just more pseudo scientific "Static!" scaremongering to get folks to buy those stupid ESD bracelets and "non edible" silica packets. Let me get this straight: Not only are my delicate circuits vulnerable to some "invisible force" that only "scientists" can see, but now you tell me this because they're covered in a thin layer of water?!

Millikan (1)

seven of five (578993) | about 7 months ago | (#47030933)

It's pretty amazing to me that they count every electron on a particle," Shinbrot says.

Millikan did that in 1909. [wikipedia.org]

Doubt that Static is Caused By Much by Friction (1)

BrendaEM (871664) | about 7 months ago | (#47031231)

When you think of things that make static, cling wrap, the belt of a Van de Graaff generator both seem to violate the friction idea. We have contact and surface area.

At a job, I pulled fiberglass parts from molds, a situation where you often have very little friction, but a whole lot of surface area, and dielectric materials like glass rods, polyester and epoxy resin. The parts wouldn't come out of the waxed and PVA'ed molds if there was a lot of friction.

When I pulled the parts from the molds, I converted the mechanical energy into electrostatic energy. The problem is: if an electrostatic potential existed in the parts to begin with, separating the plates should diminish it, because if you squish a capacitor the charge is supposed to increase. So, in inverse must be true, right?

So maybe this happens. Let's assume that the charge on the part and mold are neutral, that there is no potential difference or electrostatic field. When I was pull the part from the mold, I apply work that separate plates on a capacitor, with very little static charge, but I am guessing that it does create a small amount of negative potential, which is multiplied as I peel the two surfaces. Perhaps also, some current may flow along the sheet I am pulling through the dielectric. Perhaps those polarizing properties of it being a dielectric allow some current flow, just as capacitors leak

The part and the mold are connected at one end, and in the state of separating at another. I wish I could measure the static field just as the part comes from the mold.

Re:Doubt that Static is Caused By Much by Friction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47032011)

When you think of things that make static, cling wrap, the belt of a Van de Graaff generator both seem to violate the friction idea. We have contact and surface area.

I'm not sure how either violate the idea of generating electricity by the triboelectric effect. The Van de Graaff directly involves friction for generating electricity (unless you have one of the less common types that uses a high voltage DC supply instead). Plastic sheeting use and production involves a lot of friction too, especially when it is produced where you will find industrial scaled anti-static devices at key points in the production line to prevent it from becoming too bad (one example being a ion source from passing air through a decent string alpha radiation source). There is definitely some evidence of transport of electrons with various plastic sheets, as they are no being studied for generation of x-rays when peeled apart in vacuum.

The problem is: if an electrostatic potential existed in the parts to begin with, separating the plates should diminish it, because if you squish a capacitor the charge is supposed to increase. So, in inverse must be true, right?

This depends on if there is an electrical connection that can supply or remove charge. If you are dealing with an insulator with limited charge mobility, then pulling them apart or moving them closer together with change the potential difference, not the charge. In order to maintain the same potential and have the charges move change on both sides needs essentially some voltage source to maintain that potential difference.

Re:Doubt that Static is Caused By Much by Friction (1)

Sanians (2738917) | about 7 months ago | (#47032721)

The problem is: if an electrostatic potential existed in the parts to begin with, separating the plates should diminish it, because if you squish a capacitor the charge is supposed to increase. So, in inverse must be true, right?

A capacitor with plates closer together has a higher capacitance. This means that a voltage applied to that capacitor will cause more charge (a.k.a. electrons) to move between the plates, or in other words, it means that less voltage is required to cause the same amount of charge to move between the plates. So if you have two capacitors with identical charge, the one with plates closer together has a lower voltage, and the one with plates further apart has higher voltage.

So whatever charge is on two surfaces, when you pull those surfaces apart, you increase the voltage between them.

I love when modest science take the air out of pom (3, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 7 months ago | (#47031311)

I love when modest science take the air out of pompous science; I say this in that so many scientists act like they have all the answers; (I'm looking at you climate science.) When there are some first order bits of science that people don't understand: Things like why water freezes at the temperature it does, or what makes up the majority of the universe, and now static electricity.

I am not saying that they are a bunch of halfwits, not at all, just that I respect the scientists who are clear on the idea that there is so much that we don't know. I don't respect the scientists who ever even hint that we are "reaching the end of science".

If I were to have become a Physicist (my unrequited dream) this is all I would study, the little mysteries. I suspect that it would be harder to get a grant for static electricity than for something involving military devices, but based upon previous history, a discovery this fundamental would probably have huge technological repercussions. I have long thought that some of the biggest experiments such as the monster Fusion reactor in Europe (ITER) would find that money so much better spent on a zillion little plasma experiments. I think the budget blew well past $20 billion. I am 100% sure that if you gave 4000 of the world's top physicists $500,000 per year for the next decade that they would make leaps that would then make a fusion reactor a snap. My worry is that as they get the ITER turned on that they will find that they are having to wrap it in more and more duck tape to solve one problem after another. If this starts to happen during an economic crisis then the project will be shut down and all that time and effort will have been wasted. But think of the pomopsity of the scientists who are running that project. They will be able to preen themselves and go to all the best conferences where officials will swoon over them hoping to get a tiny piece of the budgetary pie. But they will go an entire career without ever turning the machine on so it doesn't matter if it works or not for them. A functioning machine would be a bonus. A functioning budget is all they care about; oh and good PR.

Again I am willing to bet that more good science could end up coming out of these grains of sand than the whole of ITER.

Re:I love when modest science take the air out of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47031801)

I am 100% sure that if you gave 4000 of the world's top physicists $500,000 per year for the next decade that they would make leaps that would then make a fusion reactor a snap.

There are several dozen fusion experiments currently or previously in the ball park of that price. While not quite 4000, they almost all seem to show a very parallel development process of the step above table top size not quite working as well as optimistically proposed, there being some new difficulties to over come, and eventually coming down to needing a bigger, multimillion dollar budget version needed. There have been a few surprises that benefit fusion instead of getting in the way (just like how bootstrap current was found in tokamaks), but alternative designs still seem to converge on needing at least a few billion for a fullsize reactor. I'm not saying such alternative designs are a waste, as some still could end up cheaper than tokamaks, but still quite expensive, and it seems unfortunate to see researchers promoting a new design to make the same over-optimistic mistakes as dozens before them.

Re:I love when modest science take the air out of (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about 7 months ago | (#47032341)

I don't respect the scientists who ever even hint that we are "reaching the end of science".

These scientists obviously don't want your respect, because they've been very naughty. Just push them down with your leathered heal and tell them they are bad boys. Also, we want their names in case any of them are not from Harvard, which is the only place you can get a "know-it-all" permit.

Re:I love when modest science take the air out of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47032843)

It's the other way around: The kind of "scientists" that claim that we know most about everything (ie. >= 99%), are the ones who tend to stomp on others for making suggestions to alternative possibilities and new hypotheses. The absolutely worst parasites call themselves "sceptics", without understanding that true scepticism must start with oneself and one's own limited perspective.

Re:I love when modest science take the air out of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47032889)

My worry is that as they get the ITER turned on that they will find that they are having to wrap it in more and more duck tape to solve one problem after another.

Wow. I think you've just managed to summarize the entire history of fusion reactor and plasma containment research in one sentence.

No seriously. Inertial confinement fusion is similar... Every time we thought we had all the plasma instabilities pinned down, run it a little longer or such... Kaboom, new instabilities manifest. Plasma really Really REALLY hates being confined, and since the dynamic times in reactors are on the order of maybe 50 nanoseconds while the scales of interest are of order seconds... Yeah, pretty much every instability that exists is going to show up.

Re:I love when modest science take the air out of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47036967)

It may come out one day that trying to make sustainable nuclear fusion without gravitational confinement (a star) is exercise in futility: trying to push together bunch of fast moving (hot) nuclei, so that they would become even more energetic in the process. You can't push against them with prodding matter, so you have to pour energy into a magnetic field. The more success you have and more energy gets unleashed, the more energy you'll have to put back in to contain it! How could such a plan possibly fail?

Ah, yes, modest skepticism. (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 7 months ago | (#47033043)

I love when modest science take the air out of pompous science; I say this in that so many scientists act like they have all the answers; (I'm looking at you climate science.)

Yep. Climate science: where the problem is not so much scientists who think "they have all the answers", but scientists who have answers that you personally find distasteful.

When a million results agree with one another, but are contradicted by a hundred results, the proper response is to figure out what's causing the contradiction, not to throw away the million results. Or the hundred.

Re:Ah, yes, modest skepticism. (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 7 months ago | (#47033087)

Actually I wasn't thinking about the global warming debate but the predicting if this coming winter will even be cold or hot. Wet or dry. They blah blah about chaos theory but the reality is that things like La Nina and El Nino even seem to baffle them. These are monster movements of water.

IPCC are liars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47033503)

And you're a fucking fagot believing them

Re:Ah, yes, modest skepticism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47036989)

Sounds like you're a little oversensitive. Did you lose your funding?

Re:Ah, yes, modest skepticism. (1)

Trogre (513942) | about 7 months ago | (#47043005)

That's not how I read the GP at all.

While the current trends are undeniable and a strong case for human causation exists, climate scientists, or at least people dressing up as climate scientists, often make statements beyond their expertise.

I'm talking about bold predictions such as by year 20xx sea levels will rise by x mm or the polar ice caps will be xx% smaller or Chicago will be xx degrees hotter in winter.

That's what I thought the GP was getting at, but I could of course be mistaken.

Re:I love when modest science take the air out of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47033609)

ITER is a necessity despite the cost, but keep in mind all that money goes towards engineering problems that will inevitably be used towards any future reactor (if well documented). Really, I think we just need *more* money in science all together.

if you gave 4000 of the world's top physicists $50 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47034187)

It's not quite that but you might want to look at this crowdfunding appeal for a focus fusion experiment: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/focus-fusion-empowertheworld--3

It's a promising approach and they're trying to raise a couple of hundred thousand for an upgrade to their equipment.

Re:I love when modest science take the air out of (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 6 months ago | (#47037231)

I love the igNobels. There are so often such obvious things that people take for granted, then someone decides to do a rigorous scientific study on it. A lot of people find them funny, and a good few of them are, but like "The Origin of Static Electricity" so many are little fundamental things that were important to _someone_ and they went about scientifically proving or disproving them.

Re:I love when modest science take the air out of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47039401)

I love when modest science take the air out of pompous science; I say this in that so many scientists act like they have all the answers; (I'm looking at you climate science.) When there are some first order bits of science that people don't understand: Things like why water freezes at the temperature it does, or what makes up the majority of the universe, and now static electricity.

I am not saying that they are a bunch of halfwits, not at all, just that I respect the scientists who are clear on the idea that there is so much that we don't know. I don't respect the scientists who ever even hint that we are "reaching the end of science".

If I were to have become a Physicist (my unrequited dream) this is all I would study, the little mysteries. I suspect that it would be harder to get a grant for static electricity than for something involving military devices, but based upon previous history, a discovery this fundamental would probably have huge technological repercussions. I have long thought that some of the biggest experiments such as the monster Fusion reactor in Europe (ITER) would find that money so much better spent on a zillion little plasma experiments. I think the budget blew well past $20 billion. I am 100% sure that if you gave 4000 of the world's top physicists $500,000 per year for the next decade that they would make leaps that would then make a fusion reactor a snap. My worry is that as they get the ITER turned on that they will find that they are having to wrap it in more and more duck tape to solve one problem after another. If this starts to happen during an economic crisis then the project will be shut down and all that time and effort will have been wasted. But think of the pomopsity of the scientists who are running that project. They will be able to preen themselves and go to all the best conferences where officials will swoon over them hoping to get a tiny piece of the budgetary pie. But they will go an entire career without ever turning the machine on so it doesn't matter if it works or not for them. A functioning machine would be a bonus. A functioning budget is all they care about; oh and good PR.

Again I am willing to bet that more good science could end up coming out of these grains of sand than the whole of ITER.

While your ideals are laudable, you've entirely missed the point here.

Electron-hole recombination! What's new? (1)

Atl Rob (3597807) | about 7 months ago | (#47032625)

Who paid for this study! Electric charges are extremely well understood, have been for nearly a hundred years! Charge builds, electrons jump energy bands and recombine with the holes in the electron cloud thus emitting photons. Simple. The researchers didn't measure the feild strength properly, nothing to see here keep moving.

Re:Electron-hole recombination! What's new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47034087)

Umm, that doesn't explain static electricity at all. If you have holes and electrons in the same object, then there will be no net charge. If you have them in separate objects, then it is not so simple for them to recombine.

They must have missed the memo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47033375)

The science was already settled...

Bill Nye (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47033889)

explained static electricity in a simple explanation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_g100Y3T8gU

Heinrich Jager (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47035511)

Heinrich Jager rocks!

Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47044559)

There is this old law that states, energy can not be created or destroyed, only changed from one form to another.

So, would it not be possible that the static charge comes from the movement/friction?

Maybe I should RTFA ;)

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?