Lightning

Dan Gendreau gendreau at rochester.rr.com
Thu Aug 3 17:58:04 CEST 2000


> Yes I have the kite... but i'm fresh out of string...
> Maybe you got some 30ga magnet wire laying around...?
> About a 500' spool ought to do...
> H^]   harry  (screw the squirrels... lets zap ourselves !!!)

Heh. The whole story about Franklin flying a kite in a thunderstorm is
actually an exageration. He flew the kite well before the actual lightening
started.

I saw a demonstration at the Boston science museum with their four(!) story
tall dual-lobe Vendegraf generator and their two 10' tall Tesla Coils! They
explained that Ben Franklin was not trying to get lightening to strike his
kite, and he was most certainly not holding the wire with his hands. He was
studying "St. Elmos Fire". Its an unusual effect where there is a visible
corona of light on the tips of a ship's mast or the tips of a kite before a
thunderstorm. Something to do with ionization of the air caused by the
storm. There was a key tied to the end of the wire, but it was suspended in
a special bell jar of some kind. Cant remember what that was for, but I
think the corona showed up around the key too.

Anyway, if you ever get a chance to visit Boston, dont miss the Science
Museum. Its really interesting!

Boston used to have a computer history museum too. You could walk through a
working Vacuum tube computer w/ core memory and sit on a real Cray
Supercomputer with the padded bench around it! Anyway, the Computer History
Museum closed and the Science Museum bought up the exhibits. I havent seen
any of them on display though.

-Dan G.




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