The Mysterious Magnetism: Unveiling the Enigma Surrounding Paper’s Attraction to a Negatively Charged Rod

Paper is attracted to a negatively charged rod because of the principle of electrostatics. When the rod is negatively charged, it creates an electric field around it. The paper, having a neutral charge, is then attracted to the rod due to the interaction between opposite charges.

Comprehensive answer to the question

Paper is attracted to a negatively charged rod due to the principles of electrostatics. Electrostatics is the study of stationary electric charges and the forces between them. When an object, such as a rod, is negatively charged, it possesses an excess of negatively charged electrons. This surplus of electrons creates an electric field around the rod, extending out into the surrounding space.

The paper, which typically has a neutral charge (an equal number of protons and electrons), is then attracted to the negatively charged rod due to the interaction between opposite charges. According to Coulomb’s law, the force of attraction between two charged objects is directly proportional to the magnitude of the charges and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. In this case, the negatively charged rod and the neutral paper experience an attractive force, drawing them closer together.

A vivid description of this phenomenon comes from Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of physics and inventor of the lightning rod. Reflecting on the nature of electricity, Franklin stated, “We do not know what this mysterious force of attraction is, nor do we know whether it is something inherent in matter or if it is fluid emanating from its parts or if it simply arises from the rapid rotation and eddies caused by this unique fluid.”

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Here are some interesting facts related to this topic:

  1. The concept of electrostatics has been known for centuries. Ancient Greeks, including Thales and Plato, observed that amber could attract lightweight objects when rubbed.
  2. Electrostatic forces play a crucial role in various everyday phenomena, such as the way our hair stands on end when rubbed with certain materials.
  3. The study of electrostatics paved the way for the development of modern technologies, including electrical power distribution, telecommunications, and electronic devices.
  4. Electrostatic discharge, commonly known as static electricity, can cause sparks and shocks when objects with different electric charges come into contact.
  5. The principles of electrostatics are utilized in air purifiers, where negatively charged particles are attracted to positively charged plates or filters.

Table: Forces Involved in Paper Attraction to a Negatively Charged Rod

Force Description
Electrostatic Force The force of attraction between the rod and the paper due to their opposite charges
Weight The gravitational force acting on the paper, causing it to exert a downward force
Normal Force The force exerted by a surface perpendicular to the paper’s plane, balancing the gravitational force
Frictional Force The resistance encountered as the paper moves against surfaces, affecting the ease of attraction
Air Resistance The opposing force exerted by air as the paper moves through it, impacting the dynamics of attraction

In conclusion, the attraction of paper to a negatively charged rod is a manifestation of the principles of electrostatics. The negatively charged rod creates an electric field that induces an attractive force on the neutral paper. Understanding and harnessing electrostatic forces have been vital for advancements in various scientific and technological domains. As Franklin alluded to, the nature of this force continues to intrigue scientists, driving further exploration and discoveries in the field of electrostatics.

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Other responses to your question

Answer. The charges in the paper are polarised. Those of similar charge to the excess charge on the rod are repelled and those of opposite charge are attracted. This leaves an area of opposite charge near the rod and so since the paper scraps are so light they can be lifted up by this attraction.

When a negatively charged rod is brought near a piece of paper, the paper is not initially charged. It either has a charge induced on it by the rod, or it is polarised by the electric field of the rod. This works the same way whether the rod is positive or negative. For example, a positive rod would induce a negative charge on the paper, and the opposite charges attract. If a polythene rod is rubbed with cloth, the rod can lift small pieces of paper. This can be explained by stating that the rod becomes charged. A charged object will attract a neutral object until it touches and then it is repelled.

The pieces of paper are not initially charged. They either have a charge induced on them by the rod, or they are polarised by the electric field of the rod. This works the same way whether the rod is positive or negative. For example a positive rod would induce a negative charge on the paper, and the opposite charges attract.

If a polythene rod is rubbed with cloth, the rod can lift small pieces of paper. This can be explained by stating that the rod becomes charged. A charged object will attract a neutral object until it touches and then it is repelled.

Video answer to “Why is paper attracted to a negatively charged rod?”

In a YouTube video titled “Investigating charged rods,” the experimenter demonstrates a method to investigate the electrostatic forces on charged rods. Using two different types of cloth, they charge polythene and acetate rods by applying friction to their ends. When oppositely charged rods are brought close together, they observe an attractive force, whereas the same charged rods exhibit a repulsive force. The experimenter emphasizes that the strength of the force is dependent on the closeness of the rods.

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