I like High Voltage

Van de Graaf generator

Steve lets his hair down and puts it to use evaluating the performance of the high voltage Van de Graaf generator. Hair is a natural high voltage corona detector since the strands stand up as they become charged by the electric field. The generator was basically junk when it arrived at the space, so Steve used the opportunity to experiment with different collector electrode geometries and belt materials. The most obvious change in the machine is the belt material. Several types were tried out. In terms of producing a charge and being mechanically stable, nylon fabric with a stitched seam is so far the best. The Van de Graff will deliver approximately 1 inch sparks about 2 seconds apart. And yes, they hurt.

Can the particle accelerator be far behind?

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05 2012

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