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How to positively charge something? Answered

I was sitting here in the middle of a thunder storm and I had a thought, usually the clouds are negatively charged during a lightning strike, so, if you used a large cannon to blast a positive iron ball into the air, you may be able to get lightning to strike it, then collect it to see what the lightning did. So, you would you charge a cannon ball? 

3 Replies

kelseymhBest Answer (author)2012-05-21

You don't need the positive charge. There is still a voltage (potential difference) between negative and neutral.

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frollard (author)2012-05-21

Kelseymh has it - There is actually a lightning 'observatory' study location (I don't know where off top of my head) -- where they launch model rockets which trail a thin line of magnet (enamelled) copper wire.

It's not superconductive, or even 'much' conductive - but it is enough to be the 'best shortest route' to ground. They then evaluate what the strike energy is, and it's characteristic pulse.

The hard part is figuring out when to fire the rocket -- they use a an antenna to detect the charge in the cloud - when it gets high enough to almost strike, but not high enough to naturally strike somewhere you don't want it to. The other consideration was they had to use a remote launch system that had no wires - a few million volts would really ruin your day - so they used air tubing and a diaphragm to press the button at the launch pad.

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bwrussell (author)2012-05-21

Why don't you just put the cannon ball on top of a platform, and ground it, in a field during a lightening storm?
The ball is simply going to conduct the energy through it and then it will arc to the ground. The ball will be very hot and maybe a little charred but besides that you probably won't see much difference.

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