[sdiy] Amps and neons - here's a good one!

rburnett at richieburnett.co.uk rburnett at richieburnett.co.uk
Mon Feb 11 20:52:30 CET 2013

> That is what I thought, but I'd be really surprised if they were 
> reducing the gap by *that* much...

A cylindrical blob of metal wiggling about at the end of a thin wire 
would make quite a high-Q mechanical resonator.  Particularly in a 
rarefied atmosphere.  Wouldn't like to guess what the resonant frequency 
would be though - Maybe you could do a little experiment to find out 
what frequencies it illuminated at!?!?

> Didn't they treat the neon electrodes with polonium at one point
> (perhaps still)?...

Probably - It wouldn't suprise me.  Until quite recently Thorium was 
common in TIG welding rods because the radiation stabilised the 
low-voltage arc.  The thorium (or maybe thoria?) also used to get into 
the lungs in the form of welding fumes where it could wreak its nasty 
havoc on DNA :-(  These days I believe zirconiated is more common than 
thoriated for TIG rods but I'm no expert.

I think there's also some radioactive substance in voltage regulator 
tubes (valves in UK.)  I guess these are really just neons on steroids 
anyway though.


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