Lecture 6: High-Voltage Breakdown, Lightning, Sparks - St. Elmo's Fire

author: Walter H. G. Lewin, Center for Future Civic Media, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
recorded by: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
published: Oct. 10, 2008,   recorded: February 2002,   views: 25154
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike (CC-BY-NC-SA)

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"Last time I mentioned to you that charge resides at the surface of solid conductors but that it's not uniformly distributed. Perhaps you remember that, unless it happens to be a sphere.

And I want to pursue that today. If I had a solid conductor which say had this shape and I'm going to convince you today that right here the surface charge density will be higher than there. Because the curvature is stronger than it is here. And the way I want to approach that is as follows. Suppose I have here a solid conductor A which has radius R of A and very very far away, maybe tens of meters away, I have a solid conductor B with radius R of B and they are connected through a conducting wire.

That's essential. If they are connected through a conducting wire, then it's equipotential. They all have the same potential. I'm going to charge them up until I get a charge distribution QA here and I get QB there. The potential of A is about the same that it would be if B were not there..."

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Reviews and comments:

Comment1 komkrit, June 2, 2010 at 8:33 a.m.:

Do you have full of above description?

Comment2 Ebrahim saffari, June 11, 2014 at 5:50 a.m.:

Would you please kindly let me know if all transcripts of Prof. Walter lewin lectures exist on internet or not.If exists please let me know the adress

Comment3 Science Fan, February 10, 2015 at 6:12 a.m.:

I liked the explosion at the end

Comment4 teja, May 4, 2015 at 11:54 a.m.:

could you explain how this process effects clearances between electrical equipment

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