BCIT Physics Department

Demonstration Manual

Electricity and Magnetism

DEM03 - Electrostatic Point Discharge, Electric Whirl


- To illustrate discharge from a point..



One lead from the Wimshurst machine is connected to the pivot of the propeller. Another lead is connected to the metal cart. Rapid rotation is caused by reaction forces due to the repulsion of electrons from the points.

The Electric Whirl spins rapidly in a direction that is away from the points. Since the spokes are continuously charged, the ionized air particles are repelled and the spinning results from an equal and opposite force reaction. Even if it is given an initial spin in the opposite direction, it will stop and reverse.