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Electric spark

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lightning is a natural example of an Electric spark.

An Electric spark is a sudden burst of electricity that takes place when a very strong electric field makes a path through something that usually doesn't conduct electricity, like air or gases. This can happen when there's a buildup of electric charge in one place and it suddenly discharges. Michael Faraday, a famous scientist, was one of the first to study how electric sparks form.[1]

When the electric field becomes strong enough, it overcomes the normal resistance of the material and creates a channel through which the electricity can flow. This channel becomes ionized, which means the atoms in the material lose or gain electrons, making it able to conduct electricity.

The strength of the electric field needed to create a spark depends on the material involved. For air, which is commonly where electric spark takes place, the breakdown strength is about 30,000 volts per centimeter at sea level. In other words, when the electric field reaches this level, it's strong enough to make a spark jump through the air.[2]

Electric sparks are often seen in situations like lightning during storms or when static electricity builds up and discharges, such as when you touch a metal object after shuffling your feet on a carpet.[3][4] They can also happen in machinery, electronics, and in scientific experiments.

Uses and Dangers[change | change source]

These sparks can be dangerous because they can cause fires or explosions if they happen near flammable materials or in environments with gases that can ignite. However, they are also useful in many applications, such as in spark plugs for igniting fuel in engines, in welding, and in certain types of sensors and detectors.

References[change | change source]

  1. Experimental Researches in Electricity, Volume 1. Project Gutenberg. 9 February 2005. Paragraph 69.
  2. Meek, J. (1940). "A Theory of Spark Discharge". Physical Review. 57 (8): 722–728. Bibcode:1940PhRv...57..722M. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.57.722.
  3. "Electrostatic sparks and shocks - Electricity - KS3 Physics". BBC Bitesize. Retrieved 19 March 2024.
  4. "When We Shuffle Our Feet On Carpet, How Does Electricity Appear?". Energized by Edison. 18 January 2018. Retrieved 19 March 2024.