Electric charge in nature: some curious facts
Do we all know about such a value as an electric charge? After the ancient Greeks had guessed its existence, a fair number of centuries passed. Nowadays, electric charge and its properties are described in detail in electrostatics and electrodynamics, and practically every student knows the Coulomb's law and the formula by which it is possible to calculate the interaction force between charged particles. However, nature still manages to present some surprises to man, and we want to tell you about some of them.
Electric charge is a fundamental physical quantity that determines the strength of electrical interactions. In the modern view, it is in the same row with such microparticle properties as its mass or spin. The main properties of the electric charge are as follows:
- the existence of two types of charges ("plus" and "minus");
- quantization (divisibility) into elementary components;
- saving values in an isolated system;
- relativistic invariance, i.e. Constant charge when choosing an inertial surveillance system.
The fact that the cover of insects carries some electrical charge, science has long been known. In principle, this is not surprising, because when flying inevitably, friction of the chitinous shell on the air arises, and the result is an effect similar to that shown to us at school with the help of ebonite sticks and wool fabric. It turns out that this fact is well known not only to people, but also to spiders, who have long learned to use it to catch their victims. As is known, most of these insects use special, lubricated with a sticky substance threads in their networks. When the victim falls on them, then any attempt to escape from the trap leads to even greater gluing. The spider itself uses "dry trails" to move, and therefore nothing interferes with its movement. Nevertheless, there are individuals that do not produce an adhesive substance, such as the house spider Tegenaria domestica, often living in country houses and city apartments.The question arises: what then helps him catch his prey, because practically nothing keeps insects in the "dry" net? As researchers from the American University of California (Berkeley) were able to detect, the key is that the web carries a small electrical charge with a “-” sign. When an unlucky flyer gets close enough to such a trap by carelessness, it immediately starts to bend in his direction and attracts the insect to itself. Scientists believe that it is precisely static electricity that does not allow production to be pulled out. Perhaps when the insect begins to resist, as a result of friction, its force increases, which further strengthens the bond with the cobweb.
Electric charge in the service of the bumblebees
In principle, the use of current in nature is not such a rare phenomenon - it suffices to recall electric stingray and electric eel. But the charge registration is something new. As it turned out, Bombes of the species Bombus terrestris learned how to successfully use the properties of an electric charge to search for nectar. How does this happen? Like many other pollinators, due to the rapid movement of the wings of these insects receive a positive electric charge.And when they land on a flower, part of it goes to the plant. However, before scientists did not know whether bumblebees are able to feel the electric field. In order to find out, an interesting experiment was carried out. First, through a hollow conductor, scientists were convinced of the presence of a positive charge on flying bumblebees. Then they determined what part of it these insects transmit to the flowers of petunias after landing on them. And finally, the researchers slipped artificial plants to bumblebees, one part of which was grounded and carried a bitter liquid, while the second was supplied with a sugar solution and had a positive charge. Initially, insects flew only to the charged flowers. But when the scientists deprived the charge of both groups of plants, they immediately lost their orientation and stopped distinguishing the bitter feeders from the sweet ones.