How to catch a butterfly in 5 seconds

Equip­ment

• pa­per tow­el;
• scis­sors;
• plas­tic comb;
• piece of cloth;
• tape.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Cut Newt's pic­ture out of a pa­per tow­el and tape it to a ta­ble. Tape a pic­ture of a but­ter­fly to a plas­tic comb, rub the comb vig­or­ous­ly on a piece of cloth, and hold it close to Newt. Newt be­gins to jump!

Process de­scrip­tion

Ev­ery­thing around us is ul­ti­mate­ly made of atoms, and their com­po­si­tion in­cludes charged par­ti­cles: pro­tons and elec­trons. Pro­tons are pos­i­tive­ly charged, while elec­trons are neg­a­tive­ly charged. Nor­mal­ly, they com­pen­sate for each oth­er, re­sult­ing in an ob­ject with a neu­tral charge. When two ob­jects are rubbed to­geth­er, the sur­face lay­er of atoms of one ob­ject can give some of its elec­trons to the oth­er. Con­se­quent­ly, the ob­ject that do­nates its elec­trons be­comes pos­i­tive­ly charged, and the one that ac­cepts elec­trons gains a net neg­a­tive charge. When you rub the plas­tic comb on the piece of cloth, its sur­face ac­quires some elec­trons and it gains a neg­a­tive charge. An elec­tric field ap­pears around it, which can af­fect the charges in oth­er ob­jects. Like charges re­pel one an­oth­er, and op­po­site charges at­tract each oth­er. For ex­am­ple, you can use the plas­tic comb to at­tract a pa­per tow­el. The elec­trons on the comb re­pel the elec­trons in the pa­per and at­tract the pro­tons. As a re­sult, “Newt’s” pro­tons are dis­placed to­wards the comb, and its elec­trons are dis­placed away from it. The clos­er the charges are, the stronger they in­ter­act. There­fore, the net force turns out to be the force of at­trac­tion, and Newt's pic­ture jumps to the comb.

En­joy ex­plor­ing the world with a MEL STEM sub­scrip­tion!