The edge of that electric field would feel to you exactly like you were a magnet of the same pole trying to move into it.
Per some other comments here the biggest risk would no doubt be creating a conductive path for the charge to dissipate. At those levels it can and does ionize air and create lightning.
Would be great to get a picture of the factory setup. I bet you could trace the charge sources. In physics 101 we had to compute how much charge you would have to have on your body to levitate off the ground. It was a lot less then you might imagine, the challenge of course was keeping it on your body and not zapping things nearby in the occasional ionizing discharge. I was busily thinking up high K clothing concepts for a while to try to solve that issue but alas, nothing came of it.
I expected longer discharges in dry weather -- nope, it does better in moderate humidity. I expected styrofoam peanuts to be consistently attracted (or maybe repelled) when thrown at the sphere, not to be attracted at first and then rapidly repelled at some small distance from the sphere. I expected the strongest discharges to occur when the generator was operated with no large objects nearby; instead, positioning it within a few feet of a tall wooden bookcase results in sparks (in any direction) at least 25% longer.
So I'm not too surprised at tales of strange force fields in a cellophane-tape factory. I am surprised that the rollers didn't have grounding brushes all over the place... but given my experiences with the VDG, for all I know that would have made things worse.
What my guess would be is that the mechanical energy from forcing the charged cellophane into compact rolls was forcing the free-electrons off of the cellophane belt and they were simply carrying on travelling. By the description it sounds like the rolling phase was giving the electrons a downward motion if it was a "tent" shape operation.
My guess it that it was simply a voltage-potential field. If the energy had found a way to ground itself it would have, and anyone walking around on a concrete floor wasn't going to provide a quicker route to ground. Probably similar to how a pigeon doesn't explode sitting on a power line, because despite sitting on a line with millions of watts of potential energy, until it comes actual energy (like when a tree branch hits across the lines) it's not dangerous.
> I think the best explanation has to do with the film being at or vaery near the theoretical charge density limit and just the right combination of resistance between the person and floor. With the electric field at its maximum at the center of the tent formed by the film, the conductive body (person) approaching the center was actually pinned to the floor. Had the floor been more conductive, the person would have been closer to ground and probably would have received a massive shock from a propagating brush discharge. But being isolated from ground, no charge separation occured resulting in the electrostatic "pinning" effect.
Or we could say "Pretty likely that D. Swenson installed electrodes to quench the effect ...which task he was called in to perform." And Murphy's Law for experimental replication is that the desired phenomenon refuses to emerge except under identical conditions using only the original equipment.
Corrected that for you. ;-)
The most interesting section is how UCLA researchers created such powerful results that they were able to x-ray fingers.
There are also a couple of videos on Youtube that show the effect in action.
The point is that if the tape spool can create such a strong field then there is more than likely a visible light being created at the interface of the spool and tape caused by the charged atmospheric nitrogen which releases a photon when leaving the excited state.
Because it can kill you, that's it.
Electrostatic motors(capacitive) are older than electromagnetic(inductive), but using way more voltage than current means touching it will kill you.
A lot of people have died from industrial plastic bags electrostatic charge with friction, so it now uses wire to ground it.
What am I missing?
Mythbusters should definitely try this!
Also, this definitely reminds me of all those "free energy/orgone/powah of da pyramids" kind of things that people without a decent physics education get suckered into. Run your car on water!
If you have heat from friction you expect the heat along the length of the ship.
If you have heat from compression you expect it at any point where the ship is not parallel to the air - but not along the length of it.
Heat from friction can be aided by a low friction surface material.
Heat from compression can be aided by not having any surface very perpendicular to the air (spread out the change in angle over a distance).
With heat from friction you want a short ship - so just have the angled surface and be done with it.
Heat from compression would benefit from a longer ship so you have space to gradually change the angle of a surface.
How in the world does that follow? Heat from friction will be generated in proportion to cos(angle) between the airflow and the surface at any given point, just like heat from compression would. It will flow along the ship's surface and soak into its interior volume just as if it were generated by compression.
And I would not automatically say that's where the majority is. Some is created there from compression, some from friction by flowing along the length of the ship.