NCERT Class 8 Science Some Natural Phenomena

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In Class VII you read about winds, storms and cyclones. You learnt that cyclones can cause a lot of damage to human life and property. You also learnt that we can protect ourselves from these destructive phenomena to some extent. In this chapter we shall discuss two other destructive natural phenomena. These are lightning and earthquakes. We shall also discuss what steps we can take to minimise destruction caused by these phenomena.

15.1 Lightning

You might have seen sparks on a electric pole when wires become loose. This phenomenon is quite common when a wind is blowing and shacking the wires. You might also have seen sparks when a plug is loose in its socket. Lightning is also an electric spark, but on a huge scale. In ancient times people did not understand the cause of these sparks. They were, therefore, afraid of lightning and thought that the wrath of gods was visiting them. Now, of course, we understand that lightning is caused by the accumulation of charges in the clouds. We need not be afraid of lightning, but we have to take precautions to protect ourselves from the deadly sparks. The Sparks that the Greeks KnewAbout

The ancient Greeks knew as early as 600 B.C. that when amber (amber is akind of resin) was rubbed with fur, it attracted light objects such as hair. You might have seen that when you take off woollen or polyester clothes, your hair stands on ends. If you take off these clothes in the dark, you see even a spark and hear crackling sound. In 1752 Benjamin Franklin, an American scientist, showed that lightning and the spark from your clothes are essentially the same phenomena. However, this realisation took 2000 years.

15.2 Charging by rubbing

When a plastic refill is rubbed with polythene, it acquires a small electric charge. Similarly, when a plastic comb is rubbed with dry hair, it acquires a small charge. These objects are called charged objects. In the process of charging the refill and the plastic comb, polythene and hair also get charged. Let’s try to charge some other objects that are familiar to you.

15.3 Types of Charges and their Interaction

We will select some objects from Table 15.1 for the next activity. charges? Can we also say that the charges of the same kind repel each other, while charges of different kind attract each other? It is a convention to call the charge acquired by a glass rod when it is rubbed with silk as positive. The other kind of charge is said to be negative.

It is observed that when a charged glass rod is brought near a charged plastic straw rubbed with polythene there is attraction between the two. What do you think would be the kind of charge on the plastic straw? Your guess, that the plastic straw would carry a negative charge is correct. The electrical charges generated by rubbing are static. They do not move by themselves. When charges move, they constitute an electric current. You have been reading about electric current since Class VI. The current in a circuit which makes a bulb glow, or the current that makes a wire hot, is nothing but a motion of charges.


Select the correct option in Questions 1 and 2.

1. Which of the following cannot be charged easily by friction?

(a) A plastic scale

(b) A copper rod

(c) An inflated balloon

(d) A woollen cloth.

2. When a glass rod is rubbed with a piece of silk cloth the rod

(a) and the cloth both acquire positive charge.

(b) becomes positively charged while the cloth has a negative charge.

(c) and the cloth both acquire negative charge.

(d) becomes negatively charged while the cloth has a positive charge.

3. Write T against true and F against false in the following statements:

(a) Like charges attract each other (T/F)

(b) A charged glass rod attract a charged plastic straw (T/F)

(c) Lightning conductor cannot protect a building from lightning (T/F)

(d) Earthquakes can be predicted in advance (T/F)

4. Sometime, a crackling sound is heard while taking off sweater during winters. Explain.

5. Explain why a charged body loses its charge if we touch it with our hand.

6. Name the scale on which the destructive energy of an earthquake is measured. An earthquake measures 3 on this scale. Would it be recorded by a seismograph? Is it likely to cause much damage?

7. Suggest three measures to protect ourselves from lightning.

8. Explain why a charged balloon is repelled by another charged balloon whereas an uncharged balloon is attracted by another charged balloon?

9. Describe with the help of a diagram an instrument which can be used to detect a charged body.

10. List three states in India where earthquakes are more likely to strike.

11. Suppose you are outside your home and an earthquake strikes. What precaution would you take to protect yourself?

12. The weather department has predicted that a thunderstorm is likely to occur on a certain day. Suppose you have to go out on that day. Would you carry an umbrella? Explain.

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