When I use the Van de Graaff generator in the classroom, it’s funny to see the hair on my students’ heads stand straight out. Why does their hair stand straight out?
- 2 months agoFavourite answer
The Van De Graaff generator is designed to build up a charge on its dome. When your students touch the dome, some of that charge is imparted to them as the charge tries to spread out.
The reason the hair sticks out is because all of the like charges in their hair will repel each other, as predicted by Coulomb's Law. This will fight the weight force on the hair (hair is pretty light) and try to move the hair into a shape where the charges are as far separated as possible.