Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What's with the "hairy" lightning?

Look closely at the discharge path of this giant van de Graaff generator. The full image is here. The generator dome is on the right, the discharge sphere is to the left. The primary discharge path is nicely bright. But look at the faint ("darker") blue spray. It follows the direct path where the discharge drops down to make the U-shaped part of the path. But there are other "hairs," too. Is that a clue as to the sign of the charge on the main dome? What do you think?

There are more discharge images here.


Anonymous said...

Theories expressed so far:
1. The blue spray shows a conducting paths that didn't connect.
2. The blue spray results from the motion of the conducting path and the length of the exposure (1/60th of a second?).

I would be happier if the van de Graaf dome were collecting a positive charge while in operation. But I don't know whether or not that's the case.

Anonymous said...

Hi ;)
hey... what mad comments!
what do you suppose about it?