Why Do Some Charged Things Attract?


Quick Answer

Some charged objects attract one another because opposing charges create an attractive force. If one object is positively charged and the other is negatively charged, the resulting magnetic force draws them together, but two objects that share the same charge repel one another.

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Full Answer

The charge of an object is determined by whether it has a greater or fewer number of electrons than it should. If two insulated objects are rubbed together, one transfers electrons to the other. The one that loses the electrons becomes positive, while the one that gains electrons becomes negative. For example, if a boy rubs a balloon on his hair, the balloon becomes negatively charged while the strands of hair become positively charged. Each strand repels those around it because they all share the same charge, causing the boy's hair to stand up. Each individual strand, however, is attracted to the negatively charged balloon.

Opposites attract because the interaction of the two charges' electrical fields generates a force that draws the two objects closer together. If the opposing charges are great enough, the two objects may experience an electrostatic shock when they touch. This is a sudden burst of electricity caused by the redistribution of electrons between the two objects.

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