SEP 14, 2017 6:46 PM PDT

Ouch, you shocked me!


Don't you hate it when you brush up against someone by accident and all of a sudden get a quick, sharp shock? But what's the science behind this zap factor? Have you ever heard of the triboelectric effect? This effect refers to what happens when you rub two electrically neutral things together, which builds up a static charge, positively charging one of the objects and negatively charging the other. Let's look at an example.

When you rub your feet on the carpet you create a reaction between an electron-receiver and an electron-giver, resulting in negatively charged shoes on a positively charged carpet. Those extra electrons can move from your shoes onto your skin and up your body because we as humans are good conductors. But you know what is an even better conductor? Metal. So guess what happens when you go to open the door...? The electrons on your body jump toward the doorknob, creating a tiny lightning bolt, the heat of which you feel as the pain of a shock. Want to know why this happens more frequently in the winter than in the summer? Watch the video to learn more!
About the Author
BA Environmental Studies
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 05, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
No, Gravity Doesn't Affect How Bubbles Collapse
NOV 05, 2020
No, Gravity Doesn't Affect How Bubbles Collapse
The ubiquitous presence of bubbles makes them a common phenomenon, but interestingly our understanding of this globular ...
NOV 12, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Can a Chemical Be Both Nurturing and Destructive?
NOV 12, 2020
Can a Chemical Be Both Nurturing and Destructive?
On August 4, a megascale explosion almost leveled half of Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. At the center of the negl ...
NOV 24, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Want to Keep Calm? Tap Water Might Help
NOV 24, 2020
Want to Keep Calm? Tap Water Might Help
The ongoing worldwide pandemic places the mental health of many communities on red alert. But there may be a remedy to e ...
DEC 11, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Cosmic Expansion: Universe Stretches, We don't
DEC 11, 2020
Cosmic Expansion: Universe Stretches, We don't
Physicists believe that we exist in an expanding universe. But what does that mean? Do our habitats, bodies, and atoms & ...
JUN 24, 2021
Space & Astronomy
European Space Agency to Launch Satellite Made from Plywood
JUN 24, 2021
European Space Agency to Launch Satellite Made from Plywood
Modern spacecraft are typically made out of carbon fiber composites. Now, however, the European Space Agency has announc ...
OCT 29, 2021
Health & Medicine
Can Playing Tetris Help Patients with PTSD?
OCT 29, 2021
Can Playing Tetris Help Patients with PTSD?
Intrusive memories are one of the most harmful symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Intrusive thoughts a ...
Loading Comments...