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Twisted Physics

T is for Tesla (Coil)

9 Sep 2009, 04:31 UTC
T is for Tesla (Coil)
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Is there anything cooler than a Tesla coil? Ever since Nikola Tesla caused a power outage in Colorado Springs with his gigantic Tesla coil in 1899, science enthusiasts have thrilled to the sight of electrical arcs shooting out like electromagnetic tendrils. It's a staple of science demos, for good reason: people love a good light show, and a small Tesla coil can also cook a hot dog in mere seconds. (Some of us like a bit of charring on the outside.) And some folks get downright creative with the technology.For instance, Simon Singh is a prolific author -- The Code Book is one of my all-time faves -- but he is also something of a scientific performance artist. He and collaborator Richard Wiseman (psychology professor by day, magician by night) performed a few years ago in Theatre of Science, playing first in London and then briefly in New York City. The highlight was the "coils of death": two gigantic Tesla coils capable of passing one million volts of electricity in a live, on-stage lightning display. Singh and Wiseman wheeled in the "coffin of terror", a narrow sarcophagus made of chicken wire. Singh got inside, and was "zapped" by two million ...

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