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Electric Charge and Electric Force

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Lightning in Your Mouth

Lightning in Your Mouth

Credit: Windell Oskay
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oskay/768595916/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

You probably recognize the lifesaver shape of this familiar candy. You may have heard that you can create sparks in your mouth by crunching the wintergreen flavor of the candy in a dark room. It’s a good trick, but do you know how it works?

The Back Story

  • The wintergreen lifesaver trick actually demonstrates two physical processes. One is an interesting natural method of producing electricity. The other is a relatively unusual way of producing visible light.
  • Besides creating a good trick, the processes have some useful, real-world applications.
  • You can watch a classroom explanation and demonstration of the process in the first video below. In the second video, you can actually see the sparks. Try it yourself when you get a chance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4-eY8dZB9k

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgnIk7ZMzN8

Can You Apply It?

Learn more about making “lightning”with wintergreen lifesavers at the link below.Then answer the questions that follow.

  1. What do you see when someone chews a wintergreen lifesaver in the dark?
  2. What is piezoelectricity? What does it have to do with lifesavers?
  3. What are some useful real-world applications of piezoelectricity?
  4. What is triboluminescence? What causes triboluminescence when wintergreen lifesavers are chewed?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Windell Oskay; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oskay/768595916/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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