If you walk briskly down the carpeted corridor of a hotel, you often experience a spark upon touching the doorknob. A) What causes this? B) How might it be prevented?
OCW Scholar - Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism
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When you walk, you exchange charges with the carpet. You may then have an excess or deficiency of electrons (depending whether you have become negatively or positively charged respectively).
Now, assume that the door knob it neutral and you have an excess of electrons (i.e. you have become negatively charged after rubbing with the carpet and the carpet therefore becomes positively charged).
As soon as you touch the knob, your excess electrons will flow to the neutral door knob in order to balance the charges.
This means a current is flowing. Hence you get a mild shock.
To prevent this from happening try using gloves or clothes that are very bad conductors of electricity.
Nylon clothes give a stronger shock. The shock is also stronger in Autumn.