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Kelvin's Thunderstorm
Kelvin's Water Static Machine

In 1867 Lord Kelvin – William Thomson (1824-1907) demonstrated that static electricity could be produced from dripping water.

His experiment consisted of a metal tank filled with distilled water suspended above a table. The bottom of the tank contained two drains with taps to control the flow of the dripping water. Below each tap was a metal can that collected the water. A copper loop was placed just below each tap, between the tap and the can, so that water dripped from the tap through the loop and into the can below. The loops and cans were cross-connected with a wire (i.e. the loop under the the tap on the right was connected to the can under the tap on the left, and visa versa.)

As the water drops through the air towards the collection can, it obtains a small static charge through induction. Over a period of time the charges build up in the Leyden jars until a spark occurs at the gap.

[Description courtesy of sparkmuseum.com]

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