Hauksbee Electrostatic Generator

Hauksbee Electrostatic Generator (Illustration) Visual Arts STEM World History Education

This image depicts a Hauksbee electrostatic generator, circa 1705. Its creator used this invention to delight audiences who attended Royal Society meetings in London during the early 18th century.

The Hauksbee electrostatic generator was an apparatus consisting of a glass globe which could be rotated rapidly by a hand-cranked wheel, making it possible to generate an electric charge by rubbing the glass globe with a cotton cloth or by hand.

While spinning the large wheel, Francis Hauksbee placed his other hand over the rotating globe at the top of the device (from which he had previously pumped-out all the air).  This caused the globe to produce a light which stunned people who were used to reading by candlelight or oil lamps.

Note, however, that if air remained in the glass globe—instead of being evacuated—Hauksbee's device would not produce light.

Devices such as this, which generated static electricity, were the main producers of electricity in the early 18th-century. Although such machines could fuel experiments and demonstrations, involving electrical charges, they were incapable of storing electrical charges (for later study and experimentation). 

They were also incapable of producing a continuous flow of electrical current.

Hauksbee’s new design was soon transformed by other experimentalists who made various innovations (like introducing a metal tube which allowed the transmission of static electricity to a desired location).

0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
2 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 20, 2014

Updated Last Revision: Jun 02, 2016

Media Credits

This image depicts a drawing of Francis Hauksbee’s static-electric generator.  It appears in the second edition of "Physico Mechanical Experiments" published, in London, during 1719.




To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Hauksbee Electrostatic Generator" AwesomeStories.com. May 20, 2014. Feb 21, 2020.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips