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Who invented the Van de Graaff generator?
When was the Van de Graaff generator invented?
- Amenda (age 14)
I went ahead and combined both of your questions into one.
The answer to your first question is very easy! The Van de Graaff
generator was invented by Robert Jemison Van de Graaff who was born in
1901 and died in 1967.
After hearing about Ernest Rutherford's work in Nuclear Physics,
Van de Graaf began trying to find a way to accelerate particles to very
high speeds in order to disintegrating atomic nuclei. The Van de Graaff
generator was officially invented in 1929 when he came up with the idea
of making a long tube and creating a big difference in charge at two
ends of the tube. The particles he was trying to accelerate would start
at one end of the tube, see that they were near a bunch of other
charges just like them and race toward the other end to get toward the
opposite kind of charge. In order to create this large difference in
charge, Van de Graaff hooked a belt up to a motor. This belt carried
the charges up to a large Aluminum sphere at the top of the device. The
first model created a difference of 80,000 Volts. Later versions were
constructed that were able to make differences of 1 million (1,000,000)
Volts and 7 million (7,000,000) volts. His device was patented in 1935.
A good reference about Van de Graaff Generators
is available from the Boston Museum of Science.
A biography about Robert Van de Graaff
is available from Brookhaven National Lab.
(republished on 08/02/06)
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