For the 19th matter and interactions chabay pdf conceptual model of television, see Telectroscope. An electroscope is an early scientific instrument that is used to detect the presence and magnitude of electric charge on a body. It was the first electrical measuring instrument.
The first electroscope, a pivoted needle called the versorium, was invented by British physician William Gilbert around 1600. The pith-ball electroscope and the gold-leaf electroscope are two classical types of electroscope that are still used in physics education to demonstrate the principles of electrostatics. A type of electroscope is also used in the quartz fiber radiation dosimeter.
Electroscopes were used by the Austrian scientist Victor Hess in the discovery of cosmic rays. Electroscopes detect electric charge by the motion of a test object due to the Coulomb electrostatic force. Since the electric potential or voltage of an object with respect to ground equals its charge divided by its capacitance to ground, an electroscope can be regarded as a crude voltmeter. However, the accumulation of enough charge to detect with an electroscope requires hundreds or thousands of volts, so electroscopes are only used with high-voltage sources such as static electricity and electrostatic machines.
Electroscopes generally give only a rough, qualitative indication of the magnitude of the charge. An instrument that measures charge quantitatively is called an electrometer. The pith-ball electroscope, invented by British schoolmaster and physicist John Canton in 1754, consists of a small ball of lightweight nonconductive substance, originally a spongy plant material called pith, although modern electroscopes frequently use plastic balls.