My husband loves static electricity. More to the point, he loves shocking me with static electricity. He thinks it’s hilarious to shuffle across the carpet in his socks and zing me with a fingertip-laden shock. And I’ll admit, sometimes it is hilarious. And sometimes it’s just annoying. Which I guess sums up marriage in general.
What is static electricity, exactly? Well, it involves protons and electrons and the transfer of positive and negative charges. AKA all those things you learned in grade school and then completely forget about. But maybe I can jar your 4th grade brain a bit.
All objects are made up of atoms. And those atoms are made up of protons, electrons, and neutrons. Protons carry a positive charge, electrons carry a negative charge, and neutrons are neutral. Neutrons are basically the Switzerland of atomic particles. Because objects are made up of these charged particles, objects can also carry a positive, negative, or neutral charge. Static electricity is the result of an imbalance between the negative and positive charges in an object.
For example, when you rub your socks on the carpet, your body builds up negative electrons. But when you then touch your unsuspecting wife, that charge is released in the form of a shock, sometimes visible as a spark. I refer to this scientific phenomenon as “My Husband’s Joy Made Real.”
FUN FACT: Static electricity is one of the oldest scientific phenomena ever observed. It was first recorded by the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus, when he noted that if you rubbed amber hard enough, small dust particles would stick to it. PRO-TIP: Don’t google “Rubbing Amber Hard Enough.”
During the 1800s, stage performers and magicians found good uses for static electricity. Stephen Gray demonstrated it in his “flying boy experiment,” where he used a Leyden Jar to charge up a kid suspended from silk cords. The kid would then perform “magical feats” like turning book pages or lifting small objects using static electricity.
Nowadays static electricity has a variety of real-world uses. Printers and copiers use static to attract the ink toner to the paper. Air fresheners eliminate bad odors by discharging static electricity onto dust particles, which gets rid of the bad smell. And my husband uses it to test the bonds of love in our marriage.
ANOTHER FUN FACT: Static electricity travels at the speed of light, and one spark of static can measure thousands of volts. Humidity decreases the chances of being shocked by static electricity, which is why you get shocked more during the dry winter months. Don’t believe me? Shuffle across your carpet and touch a door knob in January.
Kids love static electricity because of its unlimited potential to be annoying. You can shock your friends, your dog, and yourself. You can even make your hair stand up using static electricity.
And you can have tons of fun using static electricity to stick balloons to your head. Just look at how much fun this man’s having!
(FULL DISCLOSURE: This is not my husband. Although my husband and this guy would probably get along.)
So I guess my husband’s love of static electricity means he’s really just a big kid at heart. And for that, I salute static electricity and him.