Sparks, Arcs & Microscopes

At the heart of a spark, at the source of all light and in the beam of the world’s most powerful microscopes lies the electron.

Electrons are an integral part of all the atoms that make up the world around us, it is their mutual interaction that give matter it’s structure and their ability to slip free of the tightest atomic bonds that allows them flow through certain solids as an electric current. Although normally trapped within matter, the electron can be forced to break completely free. We are all familiar with the massive electrical discharges generated by a thunder storm, many of us have experienced the disconcerting effect of static electricity sparking up our backs as we remove a blouse or jumper, but how many of us associate these effects with the continuous discharge of a simple fluorescent light?

Continuous and interrupted discharges of both D.C. and A.C. currents and athigh frequency will be demonstrated to show that the concepts of Potential Difference ( Voltage ), Current and Energy are based on simple, experimentally observable, effects The interaction of free electrons with electric and magnetic fields will colourfully illustrate the role of forces in nature and with the use of images recorded with scanning electron microscopes we will see how science can now study a world too small to be seen with the naked eye or even the most powerful optical microscopes available today and ultimately allow us to see electrons themselves.