13 Oct 2003 ncm   » (Master)

I just did something fun with high voltage. It involved two metal mixing bowls, aluminum foil, thread, a metal bottle cap, and a TV. Drape foil across the top of the TV and covering half the screen, and put one of the bowls on it. Put the other bowl near it on another scrap of foil, not touching. Hang the metal bottle cap from a thread between the bowls. Attach the scrap of foil under the second bowl to a wire to a good ground, such as the third prong of an outlet, or a water pipe.

When you turn on the TV, it sends a nice static charge into the foil on the screen, and the bowl on it. The bottle cap swings over and gathers charge, and then swings to the other and dumps it into that side, and swings back again, ringing like a gong. This is called "Franklin's Bells", and is perhaps the first electric motor. He attached his to a lightning rod instead of his TV, and used it to detect incipient lightning. For more fun, see scitoys.com, e.g. this one.

That guy who plays Morpheus in the Matrix movies may have had the best role of his career as Cowboy Curtis in Peewee Herman's "Peewee's Playhouse" series, now available on video.

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