Demonstration of Hauksbee's electrostatic machine, c 1960s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A demonstration using a reconstruction made in 1927 of Hauksbee's electrostatic machine. In about 1705 Francis Hauksbee (1666-1713) built a machine for producing an electrostatic charge. It consisted of a glas globe and a mechanism for rotating the globe. When the demonstrator put their hand against the globe, friction between the hand and the globe caused electric charge to be transferred to the demonstrator. If they were standing on something that insulated them from the ground the charge would build up, and make the demonstrator's hair stand on end, or cause sparks to pas to another person.