What is it about Van de Graaff Generators that is so appealing? Their operation seems magical, so far removed from the behavior of electronics we interact with normally. Everyone’s felt the surprising shock of static electricity after shuffling across a carpet on a dry day, it’s normally an unpredictable, and unremarkable event not to be remembered for long.
Then you find a machine that seemingly automates that process. Automates it to the point that it buzzes and cracks, and the spectacle it creates, one usually reserved for the clouds, can be wielded freely for apparently the same reasons that petting my cat on a dry day turns into a shocking assault.
The average static shocks a person generates are not exactly the same as those generated by a Van de Graaff generator, the generator is set up in a way that exploits that phenomena, but such a device still triggers a deep yearning for understanding in me. An intimate facet of the physical world, and our interaction with it is revealed by our understanding and use of static electricity. It is for this reason that I intend on pursuing these generators, so that I may learn about them, and hopefully help others do the same.
Here on triboelectricity.wordpress i will catalog my creation of Van de Graaff generators in a way that I can help teach others to do the same, as well as catalog my learning of these remarkable machines.