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I have read many times in the topic of induction that a glass rod when rubbed against a silk cloth acquires a positive charge. Why does it acquire positive charge only, why not negative charge?

It is also said that glass rod attracts the small uncharged paper pieces when it is becomes positively charged..ok i understand that positively charged glass rod attracts the uncharged pieces of paper because some of the electrons present in the paper accumulate at the end near the rod,but can't we extend the same argument on attraction of negatively charged silk rod and the pieces of paper due to accumulation of positive charge near the end.

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See this video –  Vijay Murthy Apr 10 '12 at 15:14
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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

You might know that all matter is made up out of atoms. Now, atoms themselves have a core, or nucleus, and electrons orbiting around the nucleus. The core has positive charge, the electrons have negative charge.

When you are rubbing the glass rod with the silk cloth, electrons are stripped away from the atoms in the glass and transferred to the silk cloth. This leaves the glass rod with more positive than negative charge, so you get a net positive charge.

Why do the electrons go from glass to silk and not from silk to glass? That depends a lot on the minute details of the material. Ultimately, for every two materials there is one of them where electrons are happier. It just turns out that for glass and silk, electrons are happier at the silk cloth.

Now to your second question. Here, the important thing to note is that in your typical solid material, the positive charges, which are the cores of the atoms, cannot move around much. They are locked into a rigid structure. The tiny electrons, however, can move around much better. That's why the glass rod can induce a net negative charge at one end of the paper clips.

EDIT: Let me add that there should also be some attraction between the silk and a bunch of paper: The electrons in the paper will be pushed away by the electrons in the silk, leaving the end of the paper that is closer to the silk with a net positive charge that then gets attracted. However, it might very well be that in your silk cloth the electrons are overall too spread out to have a strong enough attractive effect.

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This is because glass is above silk in the triboelectric series (attracts electrons less than silk) and when rubbed, silk 'takes' its electrons. And yes, if you had a silk rod it would also attract neutral paper, because paper pieces are turned into dipoles, as you explained.

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According to Lagerbaer negatively charged silk rod cannot attract the paper pieces..and his explaination seems quite convincing. –  Manisha Apr 10 '12 at 15:22
    
you are giving circular answer....the question boils down to why is glass above silk in triboelecrtic series! –  Vineet Menon Apr 10 '12 at 15:22
    
I'd guess figuring THAT out requires quantum mechanics. –  Lagerbaer Apr 10 '12 at 15:26
    
Vineet I am just asking that if positively charged glass rod can attract the paper pieces than why cant negatively charged silk cloth do the same.. –  Manisha Apr 10 '12 at 15:26
    
Lagerbaer!do you mean that silk rod cannot attract the pieces of paper for the reason you gave...?just wanted to confirm.. –  Manisha Apr 10 '12 at 15:30
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As we all know that matter in our environment is made up of basic element "atoms" well silk is obtained from cocoons that are living thing thus made from "amino acid" that is the fundamental compound of living being and the components of amino acid are H2NCHRCOOH enter image description here thus we see that R letter then requires to gain electron thus then making it rubbed by a glass rod gives +ve charge to the rod.

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It is a convention to call the charge aquired by a glass rod when it is rubbed with silkas positive . Scientists has`nt decided that it is negative or positive because they doing many eeforts to improve our knowledge

the other kind of charge is said to be negative...............

The electric charges generated by rubbing are static.

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electromagnetsism –  user36581 Jan 1 at 7:09
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