Heimhenge wrote:We do have a good answer for the hair/balloon/lightning thing ... it's called the tribolectric effect. What's wrong with that? Too empirical?
The fact that we have a name for it doesn't help on its own.
"Why does an ice skate on ice have almost no friction in the direction parallel to the skate?" "Because it does."
"Why does static buildup occur when I rub my hair with a balloon?" "Because it does, and when it does we call it the triboelectric effect."
One does have to accept a "because it does" explanation if one goes deep enough in any physics question. But I'm a lot more happy
, subjectively, when the eventual "because it does" explanation is at least one or two levels "deeper" than the original question, or regards a question of fundamental forces/particles.
"Why are some things one color, and other things another color?" "The most common way that things acquire their color is for those things to absorb some wavelengths of photon and scatter others. Photons that are scattered enter our eye and contribute to our perception of the thing's color." On its own, that explanation does require me to accept a "because it does" regarding the wavelength-dependent behavior of photons when interacting with common objects, but such an explanation also leaves me with more information, and is made of pieces that can be used to explain / predict other situations. Therefore, it's more satisfying to me.
Now, if we had a working model of triboelectric charging that would let us precisely predict whether a given pair of materials would exhibit the effect, and to what degree...
sociotard wrote:the guy explaining it said nobody had gotten around to sticking a happy cat in an MRI. Really? that just seems like an easy thing to satisfy curiosity for.
I imagine the difficult part would be maintaining the "happy" status of the cat during the process of forcing it into a confined space full of loud noises.