# Static electricity discharge, what gets transfered?

Ive been studying Maxwell equations at school and I solved several excercises regarding electrostatic fields, however, I still have some very basic unanswered questions:

When a non conductive object is charged with negative charge and a second non conductive object with positive charge approaches, there will be a discharge or transference of charge from one object to another, Is that discharge actual electrons going from one object to the other? or is it only "charge" as in energy flowing from one to the other?

To further clarify my question: imagine a lightning striking the ground, is the electric arc ( the lightning itself) a bunch of electrons going from the clouds to the ground?

• This question would be a better fit on physics.SE. Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 16:17
• There is a tag called "electromagnetism" which in my opinion allows these question without having to go to physics.SE, it says and I quote: "The kind of magic without which all of this wouldn't be possible. This tag should be used for questions about the physics of the fields that charged particles create and how these fields interact. It should not be used for all questions involving electromagnetism, that would be everything "
– S.s.
Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 20:02

## 2 Answers

When a non conductive object is charged with negative charge and a second non conductive object with positive charge approaches, there will be a discharge or transference of charge from one object to another, Is that discharge actual electrons going from one object to the other? or is it only "charge" as in energy flowing from one to the other?

It is electrons that flow from one object to the other and electrons have a charge of 1.602e-19 coulombs so you can say the answer is both. Also don't interpret charge flowing as energy flowing - the two don't numerically equate.

To further clarify my question: imagine a lightning striking the ground, is the electric arc ( the lightning itself) a bunch of electrons going from the clouds to the ground?

The electric arc is current flow which of course is flow of charge

• To clarify - energy in this case has dimensions of "charge × potential difference", i.e. coulombs × volts. Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 16:37

Have you ever seen an electron microscope image of the damage done to circuitry by an ESD? It can be a fallacy to regard electrons or other Tau particles as physical objects, when we know they quite often behave as concentrated charge waves. A welder's torch can melt things, but we can never truly touch the flame (or arc). After years of working with IEC 61000 and other standards, I've come to the conclusion that there IS ma compressional component that preserves momentum...much like a particle, that does real physical damage to circuitry. Of course, the field collapse during an ESD event induces damaging currents in adjacent circuitry, but when you look at the imagery, you can often see damage that is way more violent than simple melting. Here is a citation that might interest you: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303821980_Longitudinal_electromagnetic_waves_in_the_framework_of_standard_classical_electrodynamics

• If you are finding tau leptons to be a problem then you probably shouldn't be standing so close to the beam of a particle accelerator. Commented Nov 26, 2022 at 16:52
• Tau leptons and electrons are very different things. Commented Nov 26, 2022 at 17:51