Robert, great page! I remember our in class demo, where Alvaro place his hands on the generator, but it didn't work. He didn't feel anything, nor was there any cool hair stuff going on, were there factors that we were unaware of? How come it didn't work? Sarah Poley

An excellent question. There are any multitude of reasons why alvaro's hair didn't go quite as willy-nilly as the girl's hair in the picture on my page. The first possible explanation is that the voltage simply wasn't high enough. I recall that our teacher was being very careful with the voltages, because he knows what can happen at high settings, and perhaps set it too low as a result. Another possible explanation is that Alvaro came into class late, having just showered, and as a result had wet hair which doesn't work for reasons I list below. Anyway that was a good example of a bad example of a Van De Graaff Generator, and I hope it doesn't cause you to doubt the power of the generator in future instances. -Robert Townley

How exactly can a van de graaf generator be converted into a particle accelerator? What is triboelectricity? And what kind of experiments can it conduct with gamma radiation?

Very good questions, I'll do my best to answer them. A Van de Graaff generator isn't "converted" into a particle accelerator, but rather, it just provides the necessary consistent, and amazingly high voltage electricity to the particle accelerator. A VDG generator is to a particle accelerator as a gasoline pump is to an automobile.
Triboelectricity is electricity that is generated by rubbing two materials together. Think of what happens when you rub your hair against a balloon, it sticks up. A triboelectric material is a material that generates electricity after being rubbed against a complementary triboelectric material. I've updated my page to include a description of triboelectric materials to avoid further confusion.
I'm not a quantum physicist, but some experiments that test gamma radiation can include observing the affect of energy on a single molecule, and the bombardment of that molecule. Gamma radiation also has very many practical applications, and can perhaps provide further insight into quantum mechanics.-Robert Townley

How come the van de graaf generator will not work on wet hair? if a person's hand was wet when they touched the generator could they get an electric shock?

A Van De Graaff generator will work on wet hair, but because water is a polar molecule, it attaches itself to the hair's charge, making it too heavy for the safe levels of electricity that are used in the touch experiment to provide adequite lift.
Technically they're already being shocked even when not wet. But the thing that keeps the person safe is the low levels of electricity and the ultimate grounding of the electricity, which direct all extraneous charge into the ground. Touching the generator while wet wouldn't have an extreme impact, as the human body is already 70% water, but since a potentially loose wire and water don't mix very well, it's still not advisable to touch the generator when wet.-Robert Townley

Whats the scientific purpose of a van de graaff generator? How is it helpful in the world of science? Its shocking how good this page is!! Magdalena

Well basically, the uses of a van de graaff generator are divided up between lower voltages, and higher voltages. Lower voltage models are used for science fairs, for messing up hair, and could (although they aren't normally) be used as a power source. High voltage models are used in quantum physics to power particle accelerators, produce gamma radiation, and sterilize food. For more detail, look at the uses section of my article. -Robert Townley

Are van de graaff generators used outside of scientific purposes? If so, for what? Great page, it was very informative! Sarah K

No not really, they're very scientific machines, and except for food sterilization (which isn't a very popular use for VDG generators) they haven't seen exceptional use outside of the scientific field. However, the little trick that you can do with your hair can be considered entertainment as opposed to science (Come on, when you saw that picture, did you say to yourself "Wow that girl's got a funny hairdo" or "Wow that girl's got a lot of electric energy that causes her individual strands of hair to repel eachother!")-Robert Townley

Why is this generator sometimes described as being closest to the "ideal" current generator? --Yuany 00:51, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

While it's never right to show favorites among electrostatic generators, the Van de Graaff generator has many admirable qualities. First of all, because of it's belt it produces a continuous current, it has very much reliability with very little waivering. Also, based on the speed of the belt and the material that it is composed of, it is possible to attain megavolts upon megavolts of electricity from a reasonably simple device. Also, these generators are so darn handy, how could anybody call them anything but ideal? -Robert Townley

Robert, I have no questions for you. Great job as expected. I like that you gave history on your topic because it provided me with awareness on what an advancement the "Van De Graaff Generator" was to its time. Great diagrams and nice pokemon pic.-Gianna

Your pictures make it really easy to understand!--katie starer

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