MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Electric Motors and Earth's Electric Field

Date: Thu Nov 17 11:56:13 2005
Posted By: Lawrence Skarin, Rochester Museum and Science Center Technical Assistance Group
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1131781429.Ph

The practical answer, Nikolaos, is no.  What you want is called 
an "electrostatic motor."  To get significant power out of an 
electrostatic motor, you must draw current from the field.  In the absence 
of an energy source, like a thunderstorm, the voltage difference would 
disappear almost instantaneously.  Having said this, here is a website 
describing historical electrostatic motors, and the dangers that the 
needed high voltages present the experimenter (Remember Benjamin Franklin 
and his kite and key and thunderstorm experiment).

By the way, we all have to thank the Greek language for giving us the word 
for electron from the Greek word for "amber" which showed electrostatic 

Larry Skarin

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