• Louis J. DeFelice


A van de Graaff accelerator may seem like an odd place to start a book on the electrical properties of cells, but it is as good a place as any. Electricity is only charge (a mystery), the separation of charge (voltage), and the movement of charge (current). The van de Graaff machine illustrates these points about electrical charge: Charge piles up at one location, is placed on a moving belt, then it is transported to another place—a large metal dome. It builds up there and generates a large voltage difference—2 million volts in tandem machines—that is used to accelerate particles, like protons, to smash into the nuclei of atoms. If too many electrons are placed on the dome, exceeding the capacity of dome to hold them, you may say, the charge jumps off, sparks on the surrounding tank, then leaks to ground—more lightening (see Fig. 1.1). There you have it, all the essential ingredients for bioelectricity: charge (the essential element), separation of charge, movement of charge, then some secondary effects, like the storage of charge (capacitance) and the final resting place of charge (ground). Let us look at all of them in a little more detail.


Delta Function Voltage Versus Empty Space Metal Wire Preceding Equation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis J. DeFelice
    • 1
  1. 1.Vanderbilt University Medical CenterNashvilleUSA

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