As far as everyday, invisible forces go, static electricity doesn't get the respect of magnetism or gravity. But static electricity has a a hidden advantage to help make up the slack. It is very good at party tricks. Brusspup shows off nine great ones.
Humans have been aware of static electricity since Greek times, when rubbing hair or animal fur before touching dead grass was seen as noteworthy. But it wasn't until 1775 that the force started to become more well known and understood. That was the year Alessandra Volta, the famed Italian physicist, what he called a "perpetual electrophorus," a device that could transfer an electrical charge from one object to another.
A giant electrophorus, which today we would call a manual capacitive generator, was used a few years later by German physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg to create stunning images known as Lichtenberg figures. He had discovered that he could capture images created by static electricity onto paper, thus leading to the basic ideas of xerography, leading to the basic science behind copy machines. Not bad for a party trick.