January 9 is Static Electricity Day. Static electricity is different from the electricity that turns on our lights and appliances. For a clear definition, we’ll quote Wikipedia. “Static electricity is an imbalance of electric charges within or on the surface of a material. The charge remains until it is able to move away by means of an electric current or electrical discharge. Static electricity is named in contrast with current electricity, which flows through wires or other conductors and transmits energy.”
Static electricity occurs when the positive and negative charges of an atom are out of balance. When two insulators, such as cloth or plastic, are rubbed together they transfer electrons causing positive and negative charges. To rebalance these charges, static electricity is discharged when an insulator comes into contact with a conductor like a piece of metal. This release is what causes the shock from static electricity.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent getting shocked. During the Winter months, the air is drier than the humid air of the Summer months. Use a humidifier in your home to put moisture back in the air. Moisturizing your skin before getting dressed will also help. Synthetic fibers are better conductors than natural fibers. Wearing cotton will have less of a charge than polyester. Holding a key or metal pen will help discharge the buildup of static without shocking you. And finally, wear leather-soled shoes instead of rubber-soled.
Now that you know some new things, go rock down to Electric Avenue.