Atmospheric Electricity

Edgar H. Booth


It is very difficult to tell even a little about electricity in our atmosphere without telling a lot, because many pieces of information fit in together to form a complete picture of what is taking place. A few definitions and explanations will help. Lightning. is an electrical spark-an electric discharge between two portions of a thunder cloud, between two clouds, or between cloud and earth. When we talk about "earth", we mean not only the ground itself, but all things connected with the ground, such as houses, trees, animals, people, and even the blades of grass ; the electric charge reaches the actual earth in all cases where it strikes objects connected with the earth. Electric charges are of two kinds, positive and negative; a body which has equal quantities of positive and negative electricity is said to be neutral; one which has more positive than negative is said to be positi,vely charged, and one which has more negative than positive is said to be negatively charged. The earth is negatively charged, and other positively charged bodies or positive charges of electricity are attracted to it. Unlike charges attract one another, like charges repel one another. The unit of quantity of electricity, or electrical charge, to which I will refer in this article, is called a coulomb, and represents a certain arbitrarily fixed amount of electricity; if I pull it away from where it wants to go, I have to do work; the further I move it against the force, the more work I have to do.

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