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I often see pictures of Leyden jars that have a small ball attached to the end of the upper connector, was it just a question of aesthetic ?

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Having a sphere means that the jar can retain the maximum amount of charge, as opposed to a shape with sharp edges which will discharge through corona discharge.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So if I correctly understood, this spherical symmetry provides an optimal transfer of charge when we're charging the jar, does it ? \$\endgroup\$ – Hilbert Apr 20 '19 at 13:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ I effect just the opposite. To simplify: High voltage on sharp point starts to 'spray' the electrons out. By having a round end the bottle does not self-discharge so quickly. If you look at high voltage systems (e.g. Tesla coils) you will notice that the high voltage end is connected to all round shapes. Except where you want the disscharge. There you find a 'sharp' object. (Again look at Tesla coils) \$\endgroup\$ – Oldfart Apr 20 '19 at 13:26

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