We did this expariment at home. It was a lot of fun.

But it got me thinking.

The water in this picture is atracted to the balloon because of static. so couldent a simular principle be used to creat artificial gravity with a large static generator on space ships?

enter image description here

P.S. you should try this at home. it also works with a comb that you hav just ran through your hair.

  • $\begingroup$ Static charges can lift the hairs of a person, but not the person itself. This force is to weak for artificial gravity. The maximum voltage is limited by the conductivity of the air, you need very dry air for those experiments. The voltage and charge is also limited if the astronauts should be save. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    May 18 '17 at 10:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe: Static charge can be a mighty force, but it easily becomes lethal at these levels. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    May 18 '17 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ @SF that is why I wrote the voltage is limited if astronauts should be save. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    May 19 '17 at 9:44

That works only as long as the two charge carriers (water and the balloon, for example) don't touch each other. When they do, the charges equalize and the attracting force drops to 0.

Also, a static charge strong enough to replace gravity is going to have a huge voltage. Probably high enough to discharge as a spark through the air.


Sadly no. The attraction by the balloon works, because it has a negative charge. It basically soaks negatively charged electrons and because of that it attracts positively charged things like the hair you rubbed it on (and by that lost the electrons to the balloon). The thing with the water is a bit more complex.

In space, you could charge something, but the astronauts would need to be charged positive aswell. This would cause the ground to discharge into the astronaut and get a shock, like an electronic fence. And even if the feet of the astronaut would touch the charged ground, not even the knees of him would feel the attraction. The electromagnetic force has a pretty short range (in fact it has infinite range, but looses its strenght by 1/r) and can be insulated from by basically anything with a charge.

Edit: Citation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_interaction

  • $\begingroup$ "The electromagnetic force has a pretty short range" citation very much needed. $\endgroup$ May 18 '17 at 1:40
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah you are right, i should stat that correctly, will edit that sentence. $\endgroup$
    – PSquall
    May 18 '17 at 7:47
  • $\begingroup$ There are electrostatic forces and there are electromagnetic waves, but these are very different. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    May 18 '17 at 10:10

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