High voltage "Air threads"

Uploaded by wbeaty on 01.07.2007

For maximum fun we want to combine...
water, and dry ice.
This is a little negative ion generator.
Puts out about
seven thousand volts, hooks right to AC.
Couple of different places sell it. "Electronics Goldmine" is one of them.
The ground goes to the power line,
and that's the negative high-voltage.
And then we need
cookie tray
painted black, or get a
non-stick black cookie tray.
Dry ice...
chopped up into little pieces.
Add some water...
not too hot. Room temperature water.
We don't want it ice cold,
real hot water doesn't work either.
Some dry ice chunks.
And support your cookie sheet on high voltage insulation. Styrofoam,
or plastic cups or something.
Add high voltage.
Oh, these things are about sixty micro amps,
so no real electrocution hazard.
Plug the thing in...
And if it works I should get little zaps. Oop, yeah.
Let's move the chunks out of the way so we have
a nice layer of fog in the middle.
And wave your hand around.
Ooo, see that?
If it doesn't work,
lick your fingers
and touch them to clothing,
because you want to pick up microscopic pieces of lint.
There's a good one. Look at that. Or actually two.
Oops, running low on dry ice.
Here's a piece of paper: torn, paper strip taped
and shaped into a triangle. If I hold this above it watch what happens.
See the triangle? Oh, let me try again.
Millions of little
air flows
come off the
torn lint,
torn fibers of the paper.
It's electric wind,
following the lines of the E-field
Oh here are some sharp needles from the negative ion generator.
They have a different effect.
Blowing huge air flows,
disrupting the fog layer.
It appears that conductive metal
shoots out fairly high current.
So, microamps.
Whereas organic fibers,
they're down in the nanoamps or maybe picoamps.
but still there's enough of an air flow or ion flow, or whatever this is,
to punch little slots in the fog.
More experiments with this high voltage
"air thread" phenomenon
are on my website.
There are things like... you can use
deflection plates. I had sixty cycles of a few thousand volts,
and made the threads move back-and-forth,
and when i moved a charged object near them as well,
I could see a sine wave. So I'd made a mechanical oscilloscope.
Drawing sine waves in the fog.
If you blow across them with a soda straw,
it doesn't disrupt them. They'll move a little bit. So whatever these are,
they're going very fast, like maybe
ten or twenty miles an hour compared to
the flow of air through a soda straw.
The original phenomenon was discovered by the late Charles Yost,
a Tesla coil experimenter. He ran "Electric Spacecraft Journal." That
journal is still going. But he discovered them using Schlieren Photography.
He was looking to see if any kind of
E-field phenomenon was visible,
and he found these strange lines.
I always wondered how you could
visualize or work with those besides using Schlieren photography,
and then in 1998 at a Seattle Weird Science meeting,
we were playing with
dry ice chips and I happened to have a high voltage power supply,
and I was using needles to blow the dry ice fog around,
and when the high voltage wire sort of swung across the layer of fog,
it carved all these little valleys in there.
I wondered what the hell was going on.
It turned out that lint
clinging to the high voltage wire on another negative ion generator,
used as power supply,
the lint on the wire was spitting out these little little filaments of
whatever it is.
And as that moved across the dry ice
fog layer, and the hot water,
it made little lines.
That's how the current bunch of
"air thread" experiments started.
Oh, if you do a lot of work with these little seven thousand volt,
low current power supplies,
you might want to build one into a nice little case.
Less chance of spilling water on the 120 volt connections.