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Name: Isaac T.
Status: student
Age: 13
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 9/30/2003


Question:
Why can a charged balloon stick to a neutral wall?


Replies:
Isaac,

When the charged balloon approaches the wall, it repels charges in the wall that are the same as those on the balloon as it simultaneously attracts charges in the wall that are opposite to the balloon charges. Thus, the opposite charge between balloon and wall holds the balloon on the wall.

Regards,
ProfHoff 733


The wall is not grounded, or at least not well grounded. Dry wall, plaster, and paint are pretty good insulators. It picks up the opposite charge on the balloon.

Vince Calder


Isaac,

A neutral object actually has both positive and negative charges: protons and electrons. When a charged object comes near a neutral surface, the charges of the surface rearrange themselves. The attractive charges that are opposite the balloon's charge are pulled a little toward the balloon. The repulsive charges that are the same as the balloon are pushed a little away. This makes the closest wall charges attractive, giving a little attraction to the balloon. Because the balloon is so light, this is enough to support the balloon.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Physics Professor
Illinois Central College



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