What is electrostatics?
Static electricity is invisible to the human eye
Static electricity is invisible to the human eye and thus cannot be readily identified until it discharges. The “zap” when touching the door handle, the crackle from a high speed film web – all these are harmless manifestations of the same phenomenon.
Even the “Old Greeks“ knew them
The first description of this natural force also comes from ancient Greece: Thales of Milet, philosopher, living around 600 B.C. It was he who first coined the word “electrostatic,” meaning electricity at rest.
Electrostatics in nature
Electrostatic energy and health: For several decades health resorts and spas have used the beneficial effect of inhaling water aerosols with negative charges (waterfall electricity). The discovery of these positive effects goes back to the natural scientist J.G. Tralles in 1790. The lightning seen during thunderstorms is also an electrostatic phenomenon. This shows what immense power electrostatic energy can develop.
The following article is based on a real incident and demonstrates quite dramatically that static energy is not a trifling matter: almost anything can (and will) develop highly dangerous charges with potentially disastrous results:
The Shocking Truth About Static Electricity
The problem. "The operator walked across the factory to check the delivery quality on his film coating machine. Pleased with the results, he ran his hand gently over the film and then turned his attention to the solvent tanks beside the coating head. As he reached for the lid of one of the tanks to check the level, he was engulfed in a ball of flame.”
The cause? – Static Electricity generated in his body when he touched the film had discharged and ignited the solvent vapour beside the tank.
The Reason? The average human body can store and generate static charges in excess of 10,000 volts. When this charge is discharged, usually through a spark from a finger tip, the effect is similar to that of being stabbed by a hot needle, and produces a reflex "pull back" from the discharge point which may cause us to hit a nearby object, causing more pain. More importantly, the energy dissipated can be high enough to ignite most solvent vapours used in film coating and would destroy any electronic components which it contacted.