600 BC – Attraction of static electricity

600 BC – Attraction of static electricity – Thales of Miletos

(624 BC -546 BC)

Thales also observed that after rubbing amber with certain items it attracts small objects.

Amber is fossilized tree resin. It is hard transparent yellowish (amber) colored substance that was used for jewelery and buttons. We can reproduce Thales observations with other objects too.

The word electricity came from the latin word electrious which means to “produce from amber by friction”. Electrious has is root in the greek word for amberηλεκτρονelectron)ew,monospace;”>


Experiment – attraction of small objects I

Items needed:

  • Ballon – replacing the amber that Thales wrote about
  • Crispy Rice Cerial
  • Wool, fur or hair
  • Optional materials: unflavored gelatin, small pieces of newspaper, small pieces of aluminum foil, small pieces of styrofoam.

The experiment:

  1. Put the Rice Krispies in a 2 inch circle, 1 layer thick

  2. Rub the balloon on on the wool,fur or your hair
  3. Slowly move the part of the balloon that was rubbed over the Rice Krispies
  4. Slowly lower the ballon closer to the Rice Krispies
  5. Write down your observations
  6. Try some of the optional materials (like pepper, cut up pieces of newspaper of aluminum foil)

Items needed:

    • Ballon

    • 6 inches Twisted cotton string (the kind used to tie packages)

    • Some kind of weight to hold the sting.

The experiment:

    1. Untwist and separate the strands of about 1 inch of the string

    2. Rub the balloon on on the wool, fur or your hair

    3. Slowly approach the string with the balloon

    4. Write down your observations




Experiment – attraction of small objects III


Items needed:

    • Ballon

    • Wool, fur or hair

    • water facet

The experiment:

    1. Turn the water facet, so that you have a very fine stream.

    2. Rub the balloon on on the wool, fur or your hair.

    3. Slowly approach the water with the part of the balloon that was rubbed.

    4. Write down you observation


When you rubbed the balloon, it took electrons from the object. Electrons are negatively active sort like a magnet. The items in your experiments experienced the magnetic field of the extra electrons, but instead of aligning the orientation of the atoms the electrons were repelled, leaving the atoms so they could move away from the balloon. This made them positively charged and then they were attracted to the balloon. They are attracted because like in a magnet the opposite charges are attracted to each other.

Once they touched the balloon they took some of the electrons from the balloon and were no longer positively charged and were no longer attracted to the ballon.


When the balloon approached the string, you probably noticed that the strands separated from each other and were attracted to the balloon. This is because the string became positively and therefore the strands had the same charge and repelled each other, but at the same time where attracted to the balloon.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *