Our friend and University of Arizona Atmospheric Sciences instructor Chuck Weidman uses our Classic Wimshurst Machine and Classic Van de Graaff Generator in his classroom to help teach the course “Atmospheric Electricity”!
As a company focused on customer satisfaction, we do follow up with customers to ensure that they are happy and most of all, enjoying our products. I was very lucky to have spoken with Chuck last week, as I thoroughly enjoy speaking about electrostatic machines, various experiments and the subject in general, as does he.
During our half hour conversation, some very dear compliments were paid to both machines used in a lecture entitled “Historical Developments in Atmospheric Electricity“. The lecture starts off by explaining how people began to start trying to understand exactly what electricity is starting in the middle 1700s. Of course, the first electric generators were friction machines, similar to a Van de Graaff in principle and later on influence machines as is the Wimshurst.
He noted that “your Wimshurst machine is not only a beautiful piece of art, but generates some very large sparks” and “the Van de Graaff generator I bought performs far better than the institutional versions that sell for many hundreds of dollars”.
After receiving such kind and sincere compliments, not only did i experience the feelings of accomplishment and flattery, I felt as though lightning bolts were shooting from my fingers! I’m also glad to hear that many of his students found the demonstrations fascinating, hopefully sparking interest in the somewhat obscure subject of electrostatics.
After all, clouds moving over the Earth accumulating electrostatic charges and discharging them to ground in the form of lightning produce far more energy than the largest Van de Graaffs. Without hyperbole, moving clouds were the first and still the most powerful electrostatic generators on the planet.
I’ve embedded Chuck’s lecture notes for “Historical Developments in Atmospheric Electricity”. He also mentions the working principles of electrostatic motors, Leyden Jars, Franklin’s bells and Volta’s Hailstorm. Definitely worth reading.
Thanks again Chuck!
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