have you ever tried that party trick where you rub a balloon on your pullover 20 or 30 times? If you rub enough, you can make the balloon stick to your clothes all by itself. What you see isn't magic: it's static electricity. When you rub the balloon, you give it an electrical charge. At the same time, you give your pullover an opposite electrical charge. Unlike charges attract, so the balloon sticks to you.Photo: Look, no hands! Static electricity can "glue" things together using opposite electrical charges. This science is put to practical use inside a photocopier.How does this happen? As you rub the balloon, electrons (the tiny negatively charged particles inside atoms that carry electricity) move from your pullover onto the balloon. In other words, the balloon gains more electrons than it should have and picks up an overall negative electrical charge. Since the electrons have left your pullover, it has fewer electrons than it should have and an overall positive electrical charge. Now things with an electrical charge are a bit like magnets. Two objects with an opposite electrical charge tend to move toward one another, or attract, just like two magnets with opposite poles. (Our article on static electricityexplains all this in much more detail.)
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