Here are two articles on landmark research explaining how we mis-understood two static physics phenomena prior to 2011: Static Friction and Static Electricity.
1. Static Friction
“How Earthquakes Can Be Predicted: Researchers Reveal New Means” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101130100524.htm
These researchers found the coefficient of friction can vary by five-fold when measured at molecular size. They also found three very different kinds of stick-slip friction: below, at and above the speed of sound.
“This new understanding has the potential to provide unprecedented predictive power, estimating both the rupture mode and extent of a future earthquake.”
2. Static Electricity
Normally explained as electrons moving from one object to another – Static Electricity is investigated with fresh eyes. It turns out that to concentrate Static Electricity you don’t need two dissimilar materials, and you don’t need to rub materials together.
At the scale of a micrometer surface charges appear in mosaic pattern, with areas of positive and negative charges.
What causes charge buildup remains unclear. The researchers believe it may be a chemical reaction or mechanical change of material.