We call it “static” electricity, but it can sure cause havoc when it moves. My office carpet charges me up when I walk across it, and if I am dumb enough to touch a USB port on my computer it causes problems from disabling every USB device to shutting down the computer. “Whack”. If I’m thinking, I touch the cabinet first, to discharge the static harmlessly. The USB port is a vulnerable point in the system.
I was awoke in the middle of the night years ago during a snow storm, by the noise. “POP!….snick…..POP!….Snick…” with perfect regularity, over and over. That’s something that’ll get your attention in a deep sleep in the middle of the night. I had a 40 meter “inverted vee” dipole antenna atop my trailer, but it was a crude experimental set-up with no grounding switch. For equipment protection I simply unscrewed the antenna connector when not in use. Static was building up on the wire outside, then jumping to a metal desk lamp nearby– “POP!” A second later it jumped onto a ground cable next to the lamp– “Snick”. I guess it took a second for the charge to migrate to the pointy piece of the lamp where it discharged. It was dark, so I could see the sparks. They were impressive. Stupidly, I grabbed hold of the cable to screw it into a grounded jack I had set up. Yow! That’ll wake ya right up. It’s amazing how much voltage can be pulled out of a snow storm in just a few seconds.
When we were kids, we had to wait at the Spokane airport for a long time one day. We found that the carpet there would build up an impressive charge on you, and when you touched a doorknob or something you’d get a pretty good jolt. So naturally we played a trick on our little sister. We told her to touch her finger to someone else’s finger. “Ouch!”
“Try it with someone else.”
“There must be something wrong with you. Here; try it on me.”
“Ouch!” After several rounds of this we had her convinced that it was all her– Something was wrong with her, and after facing the prospect of a lifetime of never being able to touch another person without causing pain, she started crying. Then of course we had to console her and explain the joke, feeling guilty about it.
One winter night while driving home at night in sub freezing weather I watched a lightning storm. It was a little, single, isolated thunderhead off in the distance. Normally a thunder storm is driven by warm, humid air condensing as it rises, releasing its heat energy thus causing more rising and more condensation, etc. Vapor to liquid– There’s a lot of energy involved in changes of state, but in this particular case it was quite cold outside. Compared to the more familiar springtime or summer thunderstorms, this one was very low energy. One strike only every several minutes. Could this thunder storm have been the result of a liquid to sold change-of-state system? Never heard of such a thing. I’ve seen winter lightening only twice in my life, and the other time it was just one strike.