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Name: Andrea
Status: student
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Question:
I wonder if you can help, I work with science teachers and have recently been given an Aepinus condenser. I have never come across one before and having searched for ages on the Internet cannot find out how to use the equipment. Can you please explain to me how you operate one?


Replies:
How about presenting it as a simple charge storage device like a Leyden Jar? It should be able to accept a fairly large number of electrons and store them until discharged with an acceptable shorting device (and a spectacular spark?).

Depending upon the size of the plates and atmospheric conditions, I would think there could be a significant charge accumulated. I would need to go back to my College Physics Book to decipher just how much. Of course inserting an insulator such as a plywood disk should obviously affect things.

An explanation of the beast would include the following:

The excess electrons from the generator are stored on one plate making it negative in polarity. This accumulation of negative charges repels the electrons on the second plate (like charges repel and the ground gives them somewhere to go), causing it to have a positive charge.

The air separating the plates serves to prevent electrons from flowing from plate to plate until the amount of charges accumulated produces a potential (voltage), that overcomes the air's resistance and arching occurs. The wider the gap, the higher potentials that can be achieved, although, the charge will dissipate more quickly than in a modern capacitor.

The setting would lead to discussion and calculations about potential, charge density, and electron flow, static charge, amongst other things.

R. W. "Bob" Avakian
Instructor
B.S. Earth Sciences; M.S. Geophysics
Oklahoma State Univ. Inst. of Technology



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