Static electricity – we’re still (somewhat) in the dark

You might think that 2.6 millennia* of scientific study would be enough to form a thorough and complete understanding of a phenomenon as ubiquitous as ‘static electricity’. Not so, says a foremost authority on the subject, the Electrostatics Society of America.

“Electrostatics is an exciting area of science, as its most basic scientific questions remain unknown and highly controversial … and yet its consequences are widespread. For example, the identity of the species transferred to generate charge when materials rub is being hotly debated in the leading scientific journals – some researchers argue that it is electrons, others that it is ions, and yet others that it is bits of material.”

Also see (static related) : Electricity and the colour of socks

* Note: The earliest written scientific accounts of ‘static electricity’ are believed to be those of Thales of Miletus, c. 600BC. He thought (correctly, but for the wrong reasons) that it was linked in some way to magnetism.