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Huge Tesla Coils Will Recreate Natural Lightning 199

jjp9999 writes "In order to study the nature of lighting, the team at Lightning on Demand (LOD) plans to build two, ten-story-tall Tesla coils—the largest ever—that will blast arcs of lightning hundreds of feet in length. LOD founder Greg Leyh said the project aims to reveal details on the initiation process of natural lightning, an area that remains a mystery, since smaller generated arcs have more trouble breaking through the air. It is believed that 'laboratory-scale electric arcs start to gain lightning-like abilities once they grow past about 200ft in length,' according to the LOD website, and so the team hopes to build Tesla coils large enough to do this. According to Leyh, 'Understanding how lightning forms [and grows] is the first step towards being able to control where lightning strikes or being able to suppress it completely in certain areas.'"
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Huge Tesla Coils Will Recreate Natural Lightning

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  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @07:18PM (#38184900) Homepage Journal

    The very first communications of human origin that alien civilizations might receive will come from Nikola Tesla's attempt to broadcast electrical power through the air a little over a century ago. Provided they have sensitive and directional enough receivers, and can somehow filter out the radio noise from the Sun, that would mean that any civilization within a little over a hundred light years might already be trying to respond to us.

    A while back I asked on an astronomy newsgroup, how far away could a civilization with the level of technology that humanity presently has, detect our own radio signals?

    The sorrowful answer was that it was only three light years, which is a light year short of the distance to our nearest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri, which is also not likely to have any planets that could harbor life. The SETI researcher who responded also said that our strongest radio transmitters are the Distant Early Warning radars that the United States uses to watch for an incoming nuclear attack from the Soviets. That implies that we are only "communicating" with aliens who are in a generally northward direction relative to the earth.

    I then asked how SETI hoped to hear from any aliens at all. His answer was that we expect that more advanced civilizations would transmit far more powerful radio signals. That doesn't seem right to me, unless they are specifically trying to communicate with other civilizations, as I would expect more advanced technology to result in lower radio power, rather than more, both to conserve energy and to enable more devices to use the available spectrum.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @07:38PM (#38185026)

    I'm betting he's gonna blow out all his own equipment the first time he turns it on.


    Tesla coils have an uncanny ability to short out modern electronics—anything from erasing voice mails to blowing out computer screens. To guard against this, the LOD teams usually places “nearby electronics in shielded enclosures,” or they run the coils “far, far away,” Leyh said.

    I know. I must be new here, I read TFA. After a while here, you don't read TFA. Later on still, you don't even read TFS.

    On the absolute existential plain of eternal bliss, you don't even read the title, either. You just post.

    However, I agree with your comment . . . which is why I want to be there when he fires that critter up, and all the ensuing pandemonium rages. Maybe it'll create a Black Hole, and the Higgs Boson will pop out of it. CERN really let us all down there, with the end of the universe, and an angry God appearing looking for His Particle.

  • Re:Exciting! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by germansausage ( 682057 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @07:38PM (#38185028)
    At the risk of sounding like a dick, I have to say that's not even wrong. Lightning and em fields don't work that way.
  • by turing_m ( 1030530 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @07:48PM (#38185092)

    The very first communications of human origin that alien civilizations might receive will come from Nikola Tesla's attempt to broadcast electrical power through the air a little over a century ago. Provided they have sensitive and directional enough receivers, and can somehow filter out the radio noise from the Sun, that would mean that any civilization within a little over a hundred light years might already be trying to respond to us.

    I wonder what exactly they are going to respond to us with. e.g. "Ahh... looks like another civilization just invented radio communications. Very smart of them. It seems their intelligence is only matched by their carelessness. I think it's about time to clue them in as to why they have yet to find intelligent life on any other planet in the galaxy. For a brief second or two they will finally know that there IS life on other planets."

  • by datavirtue ( 1104259 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:07PM (#38185210)
    I have a book that is comprised of transcripts from lawsuits that Tesla was involved in where he used the court proceedings to document some of his tech. He was dealing with some very powerful industrialists, people who basically owned the world as everyone knew it. I have seen documentaries where it is demonstrated that Edison was worshiped by Presidents and important people the world over where Tesla isn't even mentioned--even in passing. When I first learned of Tesla I realized that I never questioned a lot of the things I take for granted and it wasn't well known who invented or developed them, now I know.
  • Re:Exciting! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:28PM (#38185352)

    I will never forgive the SyFy channel for perverting the spelling of "Sci-Fi".

    Bonnie Hammer's successor stated that it was because they couldn't get copyright on "Sci-fi".

    Not to mention killing off Stargate... or any decent show for that matter. We're now stuck with rubbish like Eureka.

    They've had a history of that. Take Sliders for example. They tried very hard to kill it off because "it wasn't getting the numbers we wanted." Cast changes, writer changes ... but it was still popular. Ms. Hammer, in her infinite wisdom, ultimately decided that Sci-Fi couldn't afford to keep it in production because they'd committed to a season of "Next Wave", in her words "a guaranteed hit." Turned out to be a guaranteed flop, but by then Sliders was history.

    Maybe they've done some surveys and decided that their target audience should actually be a bunch of retards.

    Yes, considering that they've put on psychics, wrestling, and a number of other drain-bamaged shows in an effort to broaden their viewer base. Hey, dimbulbs ... what color is the sky in your world? John Edwards is not science fiction! There are plenty of other cable channels that cover that crap: I tuned in to their channel because they were offering something special. In the end, what they achieved was the alienation of the viewers who watched their programming because it was the SCIENCE-fiction channel!

    The only retards here are the drain-bamaged fools run that operation. The Sci-Fi Channel, back in its heyday with the likes of Sliders, Stargate and other great shows was about the only reason I bothered to have cable TV. Certainly wasn't for the lame selection of movies that most cable companies offer. Now they spend millions making some of the most incredibly bad movies (and I mean bad ... not "so bad they're good", they're just stupid) rather than pumping that capital into some more quality TV series.

    It's even more depressing when I see all the ex-Stargate actors and actresses showing up in SyFy's movies.

  • by nido ( 102070 ) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .65odin.> on Sunday November 27, 2011 @09:21PM (#38185746) Homepage

    One of the neater things I've read about is how Lockheed Martin went back to Tesla's technology to make a communication system for miners:

    A magnetic-wave generator developed by Nikola Tesla over 100 years ago as a wireless communication device has been updated by engineers at Lockheed Martin to save lives after mining disasters.

    Magnetic waves -- unlike radio waves -- can penetrate hundreds of metres of solid rock. MagneLink, the fridge-sized device developed by Lockheed Martin, allows for phone calls and text messaging. It was tested this year at a mine in Virginia, and production is expected before 2011.

    -Nikola Tesla’s patent redux [] (very short)

    Heres another link: Tapping Tesla to Save Trapped Miners []

    If Tesla was 100 years ahead of everyone else, that means we should be plugging our devices into the Aether ("The wheelwork of nature" []) soon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 27, 2011 @11:42PM (#38186486)

    Hi Kurt,

    Since we're attempting to trigger a relativistic runaway breakdown, all that matters is that the formation time is short compared to one period of AC.

    The predicted formation time for a relativistic avalanche is 10's of microseconds, and the 10-story coilforms resonate at a very low frequency (about 5200Hz) so for all practical purposes the slow-moving coil output will appear as high voltage DC during the avalanche.

    -Greg Leyh

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 27, 2011 @11:52PM (#38186542)

    Actually, the radiated output from the coils will be quite low, owing to several factors:

    A) The operating frequency is *very* low, only 5200 Hz. This is actually *below* the frequency range the FCC controls.

    B) The wavelength (over 35 miles) is *very* long compared to the coil height, so it's radiation efficiency is almost zero.

    C) The two coils operate in opposite phase, so the electric fields will tend to cancel at a distance.

    Of greater concern will be the actual *acoustic* noise... which might be upwards of 10's of kilowatts.
    -Greg Leyh

"In matrimony, to hesitate is sometimes to be saved." -- Butler