Self-Excited Electrostatic Pendulum Showing Electrohydrodynamic-Force-Induced Oscillation
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The electrohydrodynamic (EHD) effect ("ion wind") associated with corona discharges in air has been extensively investigated and modeled. We present a simple experiment that shows how both the magnitude and direction of EHD forces can change in such a way as to impart energy continuously to an oscillating electrostatic pendulum. The amplitude of oscillations of an electrostatic pendulum subject to EHD forces can grow approximately exponentially over a period of minutes, and we describe a qualitative theory to account for this effect, along with implications of these experiments for theories of ball lightning.