Bending water with static electricity

Static electricity works on similar principles as a magnet. It can create a positive or negative charge that can either attract or repel other objects. 

Water, which is two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, is also made up of charged particles, with the two hydrogen atoms having a positive charge. Because in water’s liquid form these atoms are free to move around any which way, it can easily be affected by a static electrical charge. 

When a plastic tube is rubbed with a rag, negative charges (electrons) move from the rag to the surface of the tube, giving the tube a negative charge. The water dripping out of the bottom of the bottle is made out of positive and negative pieces that are all jumbled together. But as the negatively charged tube approaches the stream, the positively charged parts of the water molecules (the hydrogen atoms) are attracted to the negative charge and move the whole stream toward the tube. 

Why doesn’t the water get pulled all the way sideways to attach itself to the surface of the tube? Even though the static electric pull between the negative and positive forces is strong, the water is still heavy enough to be pulled down by gravity. So when you take the charged tube away from the stream, gravity takes back over entirely and pulls the water straight down. 

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