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Van de Graaff generator display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pamela Gross demonstrates static electricity. A Van de Graaff generator is an electrostatic generator used to produce a high voltage, usually in the megavolt range. Physicist Robert J. Van de Graaff invented it. The generator creates a negative charge of static electricity. When the boy touches the dome the charge passes from the dome (where it would otherwise be stored) on to his hands, and through to his hair. As the individual hairs become charged they repel each other, causing them to stand on end. (1991)