Static electricity is an excess of electric charge trapped on the surface of an object. The charge remains until it is allowed to escape to an object with a weaker or opposite electrical charge, such as the ground, by means of an electric current or electrical discharge. Static electricity is named in contrast with current electricity, which flows through cables or other conductors and transmits energy.
A static electric charge is created whenever two surfaces come into contact and separate, and at least one of the surfaces has a high resistance to electrical current (and is therefore an electrical insulator). The effects of static electricity are familiar to most people because people can feel, hear, and even see the spark as the excess charge is neutralized when brought close to a big electrical conductor (for example, a path to ground), or a region with an excess charge of the opposite polarity (positive or negative). The familiar phenomenon of a static shock–more specifically, an electrostatic discharge–is caused by the neutralization of charge.
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