"The best way to predict the future is to invent it" --- Alan Kay , 1971, PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), invented computer program that was the inspiration  for the windowing based systems used in the MacIntosh and and Windows operating system - click here for details on this quote.


  Current / Previous Experiments Creating Ball Lightning Links 
                                        Jeff Driscoll            hcarbon2@gmail.com


Creating Ball Lightning

This was not a Cold Fusion experiment but more of a fun thing to try!

There are methods described online on how to make ball lightning in the laboratory.   The ball lightning created in the laboratory may or may not be similar to the ball lightning described in many thunderstorm and lightning stories. 

Below are links describing how to create ball lightning in the laboratory.  The first link gives a schematic of the setup.



 http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/av/dn9293.avi      (video made by Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics)


Below are photos and details on our attempt to create "Ball Lightning"

Five capacitors were connected in parallel.  Each capacitor had the following capacity:  800 uF,  5000 V,  160 lbs, 10,000 J energy. 

In total, all five capacitors in parallel equaled: 4000 uF, 5000 V, 800 lbs, 50,000 J energy.


A high current / high voltage switch (not shown) was used to connect the capacitors to the load.  The high voltage switch consisted of  spring loaded arm with brass balls as the contacts. 

The ball lightning is created at the electrodes which are in a bucket of water. 

Ground Electrode.   The ground electrode is a copper shaped ring at the bottom of the bucket.   

Positive Electrode.   The positive electrode has bends in such a way that it loops over the edge of the bucket, down into the water and then pokes out at the surface in the center of the bucket.  Only a 1/4" diameter by 1/8" long section of metal pokes out of the surface of the water.  This electrode  is mostly insulated with silicone tape except for the exposed tip at the surface of the water in the center.


The five capacitors were charged up to 3000 Volts (lower than the 5000 V capacity) and the high voltage switch was triggered by pulling on a piece of fishing line.  The following images and videos were captured.  

The water is normal tap water.  During the capacitive discharge, a small mushroom cloud erupts from the surface of the water.  In the photos and in the video with the black background, you can see the mushroom cloud dissolves into a big green afterglow for a split second.  Oxygen emission lines account for the green color.


Click Here for Video of Capacitive Discharge (slow motion)

Click on the photos below for a larger image (photos captured from the video).


Small mushroom cloud created during a capacitive discharge .




Capacitive Discharge giving a "green" afterglow.


  Current / Previous Experiments    (click here) Creating Ball Lightning  (click  here) Links