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I'm doing a science project about electricity (actually, it's energy in general, but I prefer to do something on electricity), and I'd like to know if something like the following would be possible. I have three ideas, one that I'll test as soon as I get the supplies, another simple one that's a super back up plan, and this other thing that I'll try to do if it's even possible on earth. It's basically an attempt in transferring an electrical charge from one end of a wire to another. The hitch is that the wire has at least a free inch of space between two wires. So, to attempt to allow any amount of the charge to reach the end, I'm using a series of magnets. Another way would be to send a huge charge through a thick wire and form a weak magnetic field around the area of which the charge would be making a 'free fall' through.
Question Date: 2006-01-08
Answer 1:

I have no idea what you are trying to do here, but it sounds dangerous! Are you trying to get a spark to jump across a gap between two wires??? First of all, DON'T DO THAT! It's dangerous! You can make a small spark jump across a small gap by dragging your feet in socks across a carpet on a dry day, and bringing your finger close to a metal doorknob.You will get a shock when the charge on you "jumps the gap", and you may see a small spark. But to do this with wires, you need many times the voltage, and it is dangerous!!!

Secondly, you can't make charges move with magnets the way you are describing. You cannot accelerate a charge "to reach the end" (quoting what you said) with a magnet; electromagnetism just does not work that way. You can only make a moving charge curve around in a circular path with a magnet, by keeping the magnet perpendicular to the plane in which the charge is moving. But you'll never get a charge "to reach the end" of a wire by putting a magnet in front or behind it - you need another charge to do this.

Before you attempt to do anything with wires and batteries, you need to read up on electricity. Then, convince yourself that electricity can be DANGEROUS. To convince yourself of the danger, you can try this, which is only mildly dangerous: take one flashlight battery. Take a piece of wire that has plastic coating around it - cut it off a spool of wire that your mom or dad has in the garage. Then strip the plastic coating off the ends so that you have bare copper wire - get someone who knows how to do this to do it for you, if you have never done it before. Now hold the bare ends of the wire onto the terminals of the battery. You are now making the current flow through the wire - what happens to the wire and the battery? THEY GET HOT, rather quickly!

Of course, you can let go as soon as it becomes uncomfortable, so it is not really dangerous. And you won't start a fire with this experiment. I suggest you try this so that you can convince yourself that playing with electricity can be very dangerous if you don't know what you are doing.That battery has only 1.5 volts of electric potential across it. The wire has only a little bit of resistance. There is a relationship that tells us:

I = V/R,

or "current = potential / resistance."

Since the resistance is very, very teensy, 1/5 volts / a very teensy, weensy number = a very substantial current!Imagine that if you try a fatter wire and a larger battery, (like you were saying in your question, that you want to get a huge amount of charge to move...) without any resistance, how hot the wire could get -you could start a major fire!

Answer 2:

If I am understanding correctly, you would like to find away to transfer charge from one conductor (metal rod or wire) to another without them physically touching.So the problem becomes how to liberate charge from one of the conductors and cause it to go to the other one. The ways I can think to do this are probably a little extreme -charging up one rod enough that the air "breaks down" and creates a conductive path (like what happens in lightning)or hitting the rod with high energy radiation which will kick off electrons which can then be directed to the other rod. You can also put the two rods in some sort of conducting solution but maybe this is cheating. Hope this helps.

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