The Electron


So it goes ...
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London UK
I've posted this elsewhere:
BBC Radio 4, for those who can listen: In Our Time: The Electron with Melvyn Bragg.

But when a scientist started talking about atomic theory, this was fab:
"When you rub a balloon against your jumper, you rub off some of the surface electrons, so giving the balloon an charge ... coulomb theory ... and then you hold the balloon up to the ceiling, and it sticks, because the surface electrons on the ceiling are attracted to the gaps in the ballon left by the electrons you rub off ... " or something like that ...

Q: Is it possible, therefore, to rub off one too many electrons, and rather than the balloon sticking to the ceiling, there's a chain reaction and a nuclear explosion?
I do not think the electrons are rubbed off. Rubbing changes the properties of electrons, energy is given to electrons. When this comes near the ceiling, this affects the electrons of the material of the roof. That is why they stick. Rubbing a balloon is not going to result in fission or fusion.
I do not think Bragg was telling the truth. He was making it up.
I do not think the electrons are rubbed off.
I think a very simple analogy was being offered, she was talking about coulomb force.

Her actual words were, the process of rubbing the balloon excites the atoms and some of the electrons on the surface of the atoms on the surface of the balloon are 'taken away' giving the balloon a positive charge, which means it's attracted to the electrons on the surface of the wall or ceiling ... It's about 29 minutes in. I looked only and could make nothing of scientific explanations of the force!

The speaker is Victoria Martin, Professor of Collider Physics at the University of Edinburgh. Also present were Harry Cliff, Research Fellow in Particle Physics at the University of Cambridge And Frank Close Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Physics and Fellow Emeritus at Exeter College at the University of Oxford. They certainly didn't disagree.
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