For maximum fun we want to combine… high-voltage, water, and dry ice. This is a little negative
ion generator. Puts out about seven thousand volts,
hooks right to AC. Couple of different places sell it.
“Electronics Goldmine” is one of them. The ground goes to the power line, and that’s the negative high-voltage. And then we need cookie tray painted black, or get a non-stick black cookie tray. Dry ice… chopped up into little pieces. Add some water… not too hot.
Room temperature water. We don’t want it ice cold, real hot water doesn’t work either. Some dry ice chunks. And support your cookie sheet on
high voltage insulation. Styrofoam, or plastic cups or something. Add high voltage. Oh, these things are about
sixty micro amps, so no real electrocution hazard. Plug the thing in… And if it works I should get
little zaps. Oop, yeah. Let’s move the chunks
out of the way so we have a nice layer of fog in the middle. And wave your hand around. Ooo, see that? If it doesn’t work, lick your fingers and touch them to clothing, because you want to pick up
microscopic pieces of lint. There’s a good one. Look at that.
Or actually two. Oops, running low on dry ice. Here’s a piece of paper:
torn, paper strip taped and shaped into a triangle. If I hold
this above it watch what happens. See the triangle?
Oh, let me try again. Millions of little air flows come off the torn lint, torn fibers of the paper. It’s electric wind, following the lines of the E-field Oh here are some sharp needles from
the negative ion generator. They have a different effect. Pow! Blowing huge air flows, disrupting the fog layer. It appears that conductive metal shoots out fairly high current. So, microamps. Whereas organic fibers, they’re down in the nanoamps or
maybe picoamps. but still there’s enough of an air flow
or ion flow, or whatever this is, to punch little slots in the fog. More experiments with this high voltage “air thread” phenomenon are on my website. There are things like… you can use deflection plates. I had sixty cycles
of a few thousand volts, and made the threads
move back-and-forth, and when i moved a charged object
near them as well, I could see a sine wave. So I’d
made a mechanical oscilloscope. Drawing sine waves in the fog. If you blow across them
with a soda straw, it doesn’t disrupt them. They’ll move
a little bit. So whatever these are, they’re going very fast, like maybe ten or twenty miles an hour compared to the flow of air through a soda straw. The original phenomenon was
discovered by the late Charles Yost, a Tesla coil experimenter. He ran
“Electric Spacecraft Journal.” That journal is still going. But he discovered
them using Schlieren Photography. He was looking to see if any kind of E-field phenomenon was visible, and he found these strange lines. I always wondered how you could visualize or work with those
besides using Schlieren photography, and then in 1998 at a
Seattle Weird Science meeting, we were playing with dry ice chips and I happened to have a
high voltage power supply, and I was using needles to
blow the dry ice fog around, and when the high voltage wire
sort of swung across the layer of fog, it carved all these little
valleys in there. I wondered what the hell was going on. It turned out that lint clinging to the high voltage wire on
another negative ion generator, used as power supply, the lint on the wire was spitting out
these little little filaments of whatever it is. And as that moved across
the dry ice fog layer, and the hot water, it made little lines. That’s how the current bunch of “air thread” experiments started. Oh, if you do a lot of work with these
little seven thousand volt, low current power supplies, you might want to build one
into a nice little case. Less chance of spilling water on the
120 volt connections.