Part of the reason the airplane had to have maintenance this week was because we had a broken static wick. According to our MEL (Minimum Equipment List), we have to have at least one static per moveable surface on the airplane.
Why and what are static wicks...?
According to Wikipedia:
Static dischargers are commonly known as static wicks or static discharge wicks. They are used on aircraft to allow the continuous satisfactory operation of onboard navigation and radio communication systems. During adverse charging conditions, they limit the potential static buildup on the aircraft and control interference generated by static charge. Static dischargers are not lightning arrestors and do not reduce or increase the likelihood of an aircraft being struck by lightning. Static dischargers are subject to damage or significant changes in electrical resistance as a result of lightning strike to the aircraft, and should be inspected after a lightning strike to ensure proper static discharge operation. Static dischargers are fabricated with a wick of wire or a conductive element on one end, which provides a high resistance discharge path between the aircraft and the air. They are attached on some aircraft to the ailerons, elevators, rudder, wing, horizontal and vertical stabilizer tips.
So now you know!